meditation Archives - Susan Piver : Susan Piver


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I find meditation to be irritating! My eyes feel dry and uncomfortable. Can I still get the benefits of wakefulness if I meditate with my eyes closed?

June 19, 2017   |   Leave a reply

   Welcome to the Ask Susan podcast. This is episode #17.  I’m really excited to be able to offer this to you. Each week, I will answer a question about spirituality and meditation practice. Please click here to ask me your question. Hillary is accustomed to an eyes-open practice (as I teach it). But she finds it very uncomfortable and... READ MORE

How to stop suffering: Step #3

June 19, 2017   |   Leave a reply

The meditation begins at 12:46 Audio only version is here. Hello, Open Heart Project meditator. Happy Monday! Or Tuesday or whatever day it may be for you right now. Before today’s meditation, I take us through an overview of the third step along the Buddhist eight-fold path, Right Speech. (In the last two weeks, we looked at step one: Right... READ MORE

How to Stop Suffering: Step #2

June 12, 2017   |   2 Comments

The meditation begins at 8:45 Audio only version is here. Hello, Open Heart Project meditator. If you had a chance to see last week’s video, you know that I am taking us through each of the steps on the 8-fold path. The first step is Right View. To recap simply: Right View means not overlaying our projections onto reality, rather, we see... READ MORE

How and why would anyone become a Buddhist?

June 12, 2017   |   Leave a reply

   Welcome to the Ask Susan podcast. This is episode #16.  I’m really excited to be able to offer this to you. Each week, I will answer a question about spirituality and meditation practice. Please click here to ask me your question. This week’s question is about becoming a Buddhist. The ceremony for doing so is called “taking refuge”. What... READ MORE

How do I know if this practice is “the one”?

June 5, 2017   |   Leave a reply

   Welcome to the Ask Susan podcast. This is episode #15.  I’m really excited to be able to offer this to you. Each week, I will answer a question about spirituality and meditation practice. Please click here to ask me your question. Victoria from England is really interested in two different but equally meaningful spiritual practice. How important is it... READ MORE

How to stop suffering: Step #1

June 5, 2017   |   Leave a reply

The meditation begins at 7:48 Audio only version is here. Hello, Open Heart Project meditator! It is great that we can practice together. From a recent survey, I learned that many of you were interested in learning more about Buddhism, which is awesome. I am happy to share some of what I’ve learned over the years as a 20+ year... READ MORE

How do you find a spiritual teacher? Are you, Susan, my teacher?

May 22, 2017   |   Leave a reply

   Welcome to the Ask Susan podcast. This is episode #13.  I’m really excited to be able to offer this to you. Each week, I will answer a question about spirituality and meditation practice. Please click here to ask me your question. This week’s question comes from Edith in Scotland. She is curious about the teacher-student relationship in Buddhism. How... READ MORE

Can you practice meditation while you are experiencing physical discomfort?

May 8, 2017   |   1 Comment

   Welcome to the Ask Susan podcast. This is episode #11.  I’m really excited to be able to offer this to you. Each week, I will answer a question about spirituality and meditation practice. Please click here to ask me your question. Claudia’s meditation practice was going really well…until she developed tinnitus. Is it possible to meditate on your breath... READ MORE

Is it important to commit to a particular meditation technique?

April 24, 2017   |   1 Comment

   Welcome to the Ask Susan podcast. This is episode #9.  I’m really excited to be able to offer this to you. Each week, I will answer a question about spirituality and meditation practice. Please click here to ask me your question. This week’s question is about deciding on a particular technique. Is it necessary? What if I derive benefit... READ MORE

Ask Susan podcast episode #7:Meditation is Not About Becoming Perfect, It’s About Becoming Genuine

April 10, 2017   |   Leave a reply

  Welcome to the Ask Susan podcast. I’m really excited to be able to offer this to you. Each week, I will answer a question about spirituality and meditation practice. Please click here to ask me your question. In this week’s episode, our caller reports that her meditation practice brings her face-to-face with difficult emotions, which she was taught to... READ MORE

Ask Susan podcast episode #6:What Should I Do if My Foot Falls Asleep?

April 3, 2017   |   Leave a reply

  Welcome to the Ask Susan podcast. I’m really excited to be able to offer this to you. Each week, I will answer a question about spirituality and meditation practice. Please click here to ask me your question. This week’s Ask Susan question is a very practical one! When Marsha sits down to practice, her “feet go dead.” For all... READ MORE

Ask Susan podcast episode #4: Compassion and boundaries

March 20, 2017   |   Leave a reply

  Welcome to the Ask Susan podcast. I’m really excited to be able to offer this to you. Each week, I will answer a question about spirituality and meditation practice. Please click here to ask me your question. This week the question is about showing compassion for others and also protecting our own boundaries, which is an excellent point to... READ MORE

Ask Susan podcast episode #3: Basic goodness

March 13, 2017   |   Leave a reply

  Welcome to the Ask Susan podcast. I’m really excited to be able to offer this to you. Each week, I will answer a question about spirituality and meditation practice. Please click here to ask me your question. This week’s question comes from a listener in Amsterdam. The question is What is meant by basic goodness?” Basic Goodness is the... READ MORE

Ask Susan podcast episode #2: Patience and kindness

March 6, 2017   |   Leave a reply

  Welcome to the Ask Susan podcast. I’m really excited to be able to offer this to you. Each week, I will answer a question about spirituality and meditation practice. Please click here to ask me your question. This week’s question is one many of us share. It is about discovering deeper wells of patience and kindness through our practice... READ MORE

Ask Susan podcast episode #1: Staying focused

February 27, 2017   |   Leave a reply

  Welcome to the Ask Susan podcast! I’m really excited to be able to offer this to you. Each week, I will answer a question about spirituality and meditation practice. Please click here to ask me your question. Our first episode answers a question from Lisa, How do I stay focused during my meditation? How can my mind be more... READ MORE

Everything’s Better When Mommy Meditates – Part 2

December 20, 2016   |   Leave a reply

In Part 1 I talked about the top five benefits of meditating when you’re a mom. In Part 2, I discuss the major obstacles and how to overcome them. There are plenty of barriers to creating and sustaining a meditation practice for any of us, but when your life centers on caring for small humans, that ups the ante. In... READ MORE

Everything’s Better When Mommy Meditates – Part 1

December 19, 2016   |   Leave a reply

When my son was 10 months old, he already had 8 front teeth and an appetite to match. Without molars, however, he could literally bite off more than he could chew. Nevertheless, anything that neared our mouths was exactly what he wanted. One afternoon, at a bistro with my mom, that anything was a hunk of baguette. Just two weeks... READ MORE

Love in the Time of Crankiness. Part Two.

November 4, 2016   |   10 Comments

In a recent post, I wrote about my choice to respond to hateful comments even though the general consensus is to delete. Go back and read it if you like, but you don’t have to. Here are some additional thoughts on how one might go about doing this without creating more insanity. What usually happens is this: You yell at me,... READ MORE

Love in the Time of Crankiness. Part One.

November 3, 2016   |   15 Comments

As a writer, blogger, Buddhist teacher, and self-employed person who depends on her web presence for all sorts of reasons, I have often heard this admonition: Ignore flamers. Don’t respond to anyone who wants to fight with you or challenge your position unless they are polite and measured. Do not react to aggression, ridicule, shaming, insults, projections, and taunts. Delete,... READ MORE

November 9: Time to Move Forward

November 2, 2016   |   Leave a reply

It has been a crazy, painful election season here in the United States and we know that people all over the world have been feeling it too. No matter what “side” you are on, there has been so much chaos, vitriol, and aggression.   On November 9th, it will be time to move forward.   Can we find a way... READ MORE

Five Mindfulness Lessons Every Coach and Therapist Can Use

October 27, 2016   |   1 Comment

Within the first few nutrition therapy sessions with a new client, I inevitably ask her (or him) to do something that seems impossible: to stay in the icky, fearsome, claustrophobic space between having a painful emotion and automatically reacting to it by overeating. This might not sound like much, but to someone struggling with emotional overeating, learning to stay with... READ MORE

Loving the People You Hate/Donald Trump

March 7, 2016   |   85 Comments

During this election cycle in the US, I find tremendous cause for hate. Spoiler alert: I HATE Donald Trump—hate him with a passion I would otherwise reserve for terrorists, power-mongers, fundamentalists of any stripe, baby slappers, and puppy murderers. HATE. I fucking hate that guy. He is a liar. A charlatan. A cheat. Someone who degrades others. An egomaniac who... READ MORE


March 7, 2016   |   Leave a reply

Durante este ciclo electoral en Estados Unidos, encuentro tremendos motivos para el odio. Revelación: YO ODIO a Donald Trump-lo odio con una pasión que además reservo para los terroristas, traficantes de poder, fundamentalistas de cualquier índole, maltratadores de niños y asesino de cachorros. ODIO. Carajo que odio a ese tipo. Es un mentiroso. Un charlatan. Un tramposo. Alguien que humilla... READ MORE

Helping victims of violence

November 20, 2015   |   8 Comments

…which is basically all of us at this point. After the brutal attacks in Paris last week, like everyone, I felt enraged, grief-stricken, and, perhaps most of all, lost. What could I, one person, do in response to this horror, not to mention other horrors in Beirut, Nigeria, and in the skies above? If only there was some way to... READ MORE

Your questions answered here!

April 15, 2015   |   1 Comment

Thank you, Kris, for these excellent questions. Q1: As for putting our attention on our breath, would you want to speak to the relationship between putting my attention on my thoughts and (not) sort of leaving my body? I feel like sometimes what is happening for me is that while focusing on my breath, and labeling my thoughts, I lose... READ MORE

Tears, Tails, Dickey and Duane

September 17, 2013   |   35 Comments

“I love being alive and I will be the best man I possibly can. I will take love wherever I find it and offer it to everyone who will take it…I will seek knowledge from those wiser and teach those who wish to learn from me.” Duane Allman Today has been a crying kind of day. Perhaps you’ve had such... READ MORE

#Inbound13 and the Culture of Caring

August 23, 2013   |   25 Comments

I have really got to get out of the house more often. I was honored to have had the chance to offer a “Bold Talk” this week at the 2013 Hubspot Inbound Conference. Hubspot is a company that provides marketing software to small businesses and this year there were over 5500 attendees at the event, about twice as many as... READ MORE

Home Retreat: The Practice of Doing Exactly What You Want

July 4, 2013   |   23 Comments

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful time of year, whether it is summer or winter where you are. Here in Boston, the sun is shining on this Fourth of July and we are delighting in corn, tomatoes, and squash. And I am getting ready to do my annual summer meditation retreat. (I usually go on retreat two to four... READ MORE

Prayers for Boston

April 17, 2013   |   Leave a reply

This lovely meditation from Sakyong Mipham has been so healing for me. I invite you to share in it.

In which we listen to music and search for our hearts

September 10, 2012   |   8 Comments

Today our topic is feeling: What it means to feel, how we meet our feelings in helpful and unhelpful ways, and how it is just plain difficult for so many of us to even know what it is we are feeling. The question, “what do you feel right now,” presents problems for many of us. Some people will tell you... READ MORE

Eyes open in meditation? Really?

September 3, 2012   |   Leave a reply

One of the most common questions I hear about meditation is “why do we keep our eyes open in meditation practice?” This is a very good question and I thought I’d take this opportunity to revisit some of the reasons. There are eyes-closed and eyes-open meditation styles and while both are valuable, they can have slightly different flavors.

On Posture

August 29, 2012   |   5 Comments

When you practice, should you sit on a cushion? In a chair? What are the various ways a person could sit to avoid pain? These photos could be helpful in figuring it all out.    knees and pelvis create a supportive triangle: if you can sit in this way, it is ideal. for some, though, it is too stressful on... READ MORE

On boredom and the radical act of doing nothing

August 17, 2012   |   21 Comments

Eventually, almost all meditators run into the same problem: boredom. Boredom usually arises in one of two ways—as a constant sense of sleepiness or as a kind of free floating anxiety and agitation. Yes, agitation. I would like to tell you right now that you do not have ADD. If I had a dollar for everyone who said to me... READ MORE

What does it take to really, truly establish a meditation practice?

June 18, 2012   |   30 Comments

I’m sure you know, either from experience or research, that meditation practice is very, very good for you. It helps maintain physical health. It creates stability in your mind. It opens your heart. It’s actually kind of amazing. Nonetheless, most of us (myself included) struggle with maintaining the discipline of a regular practice. Whether you’ve been practicing for one year... READ MORE

Seth Godin, meditation, the enneagram, and what it means to pay attention

May 24, 2012   |   27 Comments

Seth Godin, the marketing genius, writer, teacher, and all-around awesome person is one of my idols. I receive his blog posts every day and, although our topics are different, in many ways I model my work on his for its clarity, usefulness, and soulfulness. His post today was about empathy as a most important component of strategic marketing. If we... READ MORE

Not too tight, not too loose

May 22, 2012   |   7 Comments

As you have learned (or will learn if this is your first time meditating), our practice requires us to be mindful of three things. First is mindfulness of body—we hold our posture in a certain way. Second is mindfulness of breath—we place attention on breath and, when it strays, bring it back. Third is mindfulness of mind. But what does... READ MORE

Eyes open meditation?

May 17, 2012   |   27 Comments

Often, when I teach our meditation technique to people for the first time, I hear this question, “why do we have to keep our eyes open?” Sometimes people say it’s easier to concentrate with eyes closed or there are just too many distractions or I keep seeing weird things, or simply become overly conscious of their vision. This is totally... READ MORE

Meditation: How do I know if I'm doing it right?

May 15, 2012   |   15 Comments

One of the questions that most of us will end up asking about our meditation practice is “how do I know if I’m doing it right?” We sit there minute after minute, day after day, month after month and it is totally natural to wonder, am I really doing anything? Is there a right way to meditate? How do I... READ MORE


May 9, 2012   |   17 Comments

In the last newsletter, I offered a review of some basic “don’ts.” Today is part 2: the “dos.” I know that some of you may have heard these things before, but, really, we can’t hear such things too many times. Without further ado, please do:


May 6, 2012   |   18 Comments

Some thoughts on some of the most basic misconceptions and nutty side trips we all make when it comes to meditation We can’t hear these things too many times. And now, without further ado, please do not:


May 3, 2012   |   17 Comments

This past weekend, I was teaching at the Providence, RI Shambhala Center. We spent the entire time talking about fearlessness—what it was, how fear maintains its grip on us, how to loosen it, and how to manifest fearlessness in our lives. My final talk was on confidence and it was meant to be a culmination of the entire program. As... READ MORE

The 3 Qualities of the Awakened Mind: 3. Power

May 1, 2012   |   4 Comments

Last week, we discussed two of the three aspects of the awakened mind—compassion and wisdom. Today I’d like to offer a (very) few thoughts on the third quality—power. When we think about the quality of power, I’m sure many things come to mind. Some are positive—the certainty of a strong ruler or the beneficence of a saint. Some are not... READ MORE

The 3 Qualities of the Awakened Mind: 2. Wisdom

April 25, 2012   |   15 Comments

Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of wisdom (Detail from a thangka painting by Greg Smith) As mentioned in the last post, according to Buddhist thought, the awakened mind has three qualities. The first is compassion. The second quality, wisdom, is the topic of today’s post. When it comes to what it really means to be wise, it’s easy to posit all sorts... READ MORE

The 3 Qualities of the Awakened Mind: 1. Compassion

April 23, 2012   |   25 Comments

According to Buddhist thought, the awakened mind has three qualities. Although I’ve said many times that having goals for your practice is a bad idea, I’m now going to suggest that there actually are goals and they are to realize these three qualities. However, the path is not accomplished by conventional means. Interestingly, these qualities arise spontaneously when we let... READ MORE

You are good

April 18, 2012   |   20 Comments

I want to speak to you about the most controversial, incendiary notion in the entire world, the one that, if you are looking to cause a commotion, disturb the status quo, or get into a fight, is the thing you should say. Are you ready? Are you sure you’re ready? All beings are basically good. There, I said it.

Choosing a path: Taking Refuge

April 16, 2012   |   4 Comments

The Open Heart Project is designed to help you find your unique path with meditation as a support. Whether you are a Christian, Jew, Atheist, or none of the above, meditation provides a powerful foundation from which to explore your world. No one has to be (or pretend to be) a Buddhist to receive this support. However, sometimes members of... READ MORE

Meditation: Am I Doing it "Right?"

April 11, 2012   |   15 Comments

This past Monday, I went to hear a talk from the wonderful Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Tsoknyi Rinpoche who has a new book called Open Heart, Open Mind. I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds great. And I loved what he had to say about it. He started out by saying that when he first came to the West to teach,... READ MORE

What's with all the bowing?

April 9, 2012   |   12 Comments

At the end of meditation or yoga practice, it is common for the teacher to bow. Maybe you bow back, maybe you don’t, but it’s worth taking a look at the gesture in any case. Bowing has actually become a semi-normal part of pop culture. I’ve seen politicians bow after making a speech, actors on sitcoms bowing to indicate some... READ MORE

The Joy of Community

April 4, 2012   |   14 Comments

When it comes to meditation, it is great to practice at home alone but it is also valuable to practice with others. It seems to provide buoyancy for our practice. It is a joy. In fact, it is more than a joy—practicing within community is considered vital to the spiritual path, so much so that it is one of the... READ MORE

Mindfulness-Awareness, Mom and Dad

March 14, 2012   |   29 Comments

I am with my parents right now and in being here with them, I am reminded of how much they were my very first dharma teachers. There is a tradition in Tibetan Buddhism of using slogan practice to refine your mind and dissolve negative mental habits by contemplating such statements as “Regard all dharmas as dreams,” “Drive all blames into... READ MORE

Problem #1 when it comes to meditation? Laziness. Luckily, there are 4 antidotes

March 5, 2012   |   6 Comments

We all have difficulty with committing to the meditation cushion. I totally understand. When you sit on the cushion, you’re agreeing to sit down with the unknown. Sometimes this feels terrifying, sometimes exciting but, mostly, it’s just kind of ordinary–and it’s this ordinariness that might make us think “nothing is happening” or “I must be doing this wrong.” And then... READ MORE

Relaxation, Meditation & The Self Help Demon

February 27, 2012   |   30 Comments

Every now and then, I see ads for meditation that describe things like short cuts and fast tracks, which are often numbered and qualified, as in: “Meditation: 5 Steps to Easy-Peasy Peace” or “Meditation: Bliss in Just 3 Minutes a Day” and such. I’ve been meditating for about 15 years. I’ve spent countless hours on the cushion and a significant... READ MORE

On Equanimity (and happy new year!)

February 22, 2012   |   13 Comments

Happy new year! Today is Tibetan new year and as I am a student in a Tibetan Buddhist new year, I say to you: Happy New Year!! Today is the day a new cycle begins. (And it’s the one year anniversary of The OHP—so, yay!!) Today marks the beginning of the year of the dragon, which basically means this: fasten... READ MORE

Establishing a meditation habit

February 8, 2012   |   15 Comments

Beginning a meditation practice is a wonderful thing. Beginning a meditation practice with crazy expectations–as in, “I’m going to meditate from now on, every day of my life”–is a nutty thing. Establishing new habits takes time and an unswerving focus on incremental steps. Here are some thoughts about how to slowly bring your practice to life in such a way... READ MORE

Do you have questions about meditation practice? I will try to answer them.

February 7, 2012   |   30 Comments

This is me*, awaiting your questions about meditation practice. Please post in comments and I will do my best to offer you a helpful answer. *I have been a student of Shambhala Buddhism since 1995. I teach meditation workshops all over the world. I graduated from a Buddhist Seminary in 2004 and was authorized as a meditation instructor in 2005. I... READ MORE

Can I practice Buddhist meditation and still be a Christian/Jew/Atheist/Etc?

February 6, 2012   |   32 Comments

I recently wrote about the benefit of choosing one meditation path and sticking with it. I received a lot of really interesting feedback from you, including this question from an Open Heart Project member: Will Buddhist meditation practice interfere with the commitment to my Christian faith? Meditation is making a very positive difference in my life and, to me, enhances... READ MORE

Choosing One Path

February 1, 2012   |   25 Comments

The other day, I received an email from a member of the OHP who was wondering about continuing to do shamatha meditation (the practice we do together) while also participating in a local Zen center’s introductory course. The Zen center had requested of its students to forego other practices during this training. But this student enjoys both practices. She loves... READ MORE

Question from a reader: Can I do more than one meditation practice?

January 31, 2012   |   13 Comments

I recently received this very excellent question from a member of The Open Heart Project: Q. This Shamatha meditation you are teaching is giving me good results (I become more compassionate to myself and to other people around me, and I become more objective with my feelings and thus not easily bruised). I have joined a Zen Meditation group (where... READ MORE


January 25, 2012   |   13 Comments

mindfulness and awareness practice and study form and emptiness precision and letting go unconditionality and tenderness word and story voice and song concentration and intuition luminosity and emptiness What do these pairs of words have in common? As we practice shamatha meditation (sometimes translated as the practice of tranquility), we come to see that it is actually comprised of two... READ MORE

Finding a path. Or how I became a Buddhist.

January 18, 2012   |   31 Comments

[vimeo][/vimeo] Hello everyone. Yesterday a member of the Open Heart Project asked me how I became a Buddhist and I told her I would answer the question in a post. Each of us comes to our spiritual path in a unique way and, as the poet Rumi said, there are a million ways to kneel and kiss the ground. There... READ MORE

Meditation misconceptions revisited

January 11, 2012   |   14 Comments

Whether you’ve practiced meditation countless times or this is your very first time, it cannot hurt to review some of the biggest meditation misconceptions: 1. To meditate, you have to stop thinking. This is the big one. Somehow, people have the idea that to meditate, you must “clear the mind of thought.” What does that even mean? Please think about... READ MORE

How Meditation Makes You Fearless

January 4, 2012   |   10 Comments

In the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, we say that meditation trains us to be warriors in our lives—fearless, open hearted, and genuine. Today I want to talk about fearlessness and its connection to meditation practice and I’ll start out by relating a story I heard Pema Chodron tell in one of her books. It is about her teacher, the founder of Shambhala... READ MORE

Day One: Reflecting together into 2012

December 26, 2011   |   9 Comments

As we move into a new year, I want to offer you a few personal reflections, some suggestions for your own process of reflecting, and opportunities to practice together into 2012. For me, this week provides the perfect circumstances for turning within and asking myself honestly, how did I do in 2011? What do I hope for in 2012? How... READ MORE

New Year's Resolutions: Part 2

December 21, 2011   |   4 Comments

[vimeo][/vimeo] In the last newsletter, I mentioned one idea for creating new year’s resolutions in such a way that they become part of your spiritual path rather than an exercise in psychological self-torture. It was to attune to the presence of what you seek in your environment and connect with its energy on the spot. In this way, we build... READ MORE

What is the meaning of non-attachment?

December 14, 2011   |   8 Comments

[vimeo][/vimeo] I continue to receive excellent questions from members of The Open Heart Project. Q: Don’t most schools of Buddhism advise against attachment? Does attaching yourself to other humans make your awareness grow or be clouded, in your opinion? A: I used to work for a guy who would change direction on our projects without telling me. He kept moving... READ MORE

The essence of loving kindness.

December 13, 2011   |   3 Comments

I’m sure you have felt gentleness time and again for those you love or admire: your child, lover, a hero of music or politics, even your pet. You think of this creature and your heart melts. You feel how deeply you wish for their ease, and not because they “deserve” it. There actually is no reason at all for this... READ MORE

Meditation Question

December 10, 2011   |   3 Comments

[vimeo][/vimeo] Members of The Open Heart Project come up with the most excellent questions. Please join this growing community of meditators to receive meditation instruction 2x weekly via videos sent right to your inbox. It’s free. See the video above for more info. And then pose your own question(s)! Q: I often find that when I am getting ready to... READ MORE

Dorkiness and the path to mastery

December 6, 2011   |   3 Comments

[vimeo][/vimeo] Late last year, I flew out to Shambhala Mountain Center, a beautiful retreat center in the Colorado Rockies where I teach frequently, to be one of a bunch of meditation instructors staffing a month long meditation program. In my sangha, this program, called Dathun (which means month-long retreat in Tibetan, unsurprisingly), has been going on for over 30 years and has a... READ MORE

You are good.

December 1, 2011   |   14 Comments

If I had to identify the #1 issue that stands between most of us and the ability to be happy, it is disbelief in our own inherent goodness. Nearly every thought, action, and yearning is immediately followed by a critique, a view of ourselves through a reverse lens: How is this playing out? How does this make me look? What... READ MORE

Meditation, Anxiety, and Kindness

November 21, 2011   |   5 Comments

Recently, a member of the Open Heart Project wrote asking if I knew of any meditations for dealing with anxiety and this really started me thinking. I struggle with anxiety myself and it has been through attempting to apply the dharma to my own experiences that I have come to see its extraordinary applicability. As such, I have several suggestions... READ MORE

To really change, give up all attempts at self-improvement

October 17, 2011   |   5 Comments

[vimeo][/vimeo] It is quite natural to begin a meditation practice because you want to change or improve something about your life. Otherwise, why would you even try it? Of course you want to be less stressed, more patient, boost your confidence, feel less pain of all sorts. Your meditation practice will definitely help with these things–but only if you give... READ MORE


October 3, 2011   |   25 Comments

A question from a new member of The Open Heart Project. She wonders: “How has meditation made a difference in people’s lives- maybe some testimonials?” If you have anything to say on this question, I know I’d love to hear it, as would she.

Too agitated to meditate? 3 suggestions.

October 3, 2011   |   10 Comments

[vimeo][/vimeo] Sometimes we are just too agitated to meditate. It’s not even that we can’t find 10 minutes–it’s that when we do, it just feels too uncomfortable to sit. All the things on our to do list come up. The heart starts racing. The mind flips out. The more we sit, the more we freak ourselves out. Sound familiar? This... READ MORE

Mindfulness doesn't mean peacefulness

September 28, 2011   |   4 Comments

From a participant in The Open Heart Project: Q: “How can I increase my mindfulness when all the stressors of my life come into play at once?” A: I really appreciate your question about becoming more mindful when you are experiencing moments of particular stress. This is totally doable. However–if by becoming more mindful, you mean ceasing to feel stress,... READ MORE

Do meditators get pissed off?

September 19, 2011   |   11 Comments

I wrote this in response to a friend who was feeling bad because one of her possessions was stolen–something that she had cared for, paid for in full, and would be expensive to replace. She wrote me feeling that her practice had failed her because she felt so violated and angry that she was questioning the goodness of her fellow... READ MORE

The spiritual path in 3 (inseparable) phases

September 8, 2011   |   2 Comments

Hello wonderful Open Heart Project subscribers and other readers. I think about you all the time. I wonder how you’re doing and if you are finding a way to make your own personal connection to meditation practice. I hope so! I even think about you when I’m on vacation, which is right now. I’m in beautiful coastal Maine in an... READ MORE

Practicing on vacation.

September 6, 2011   |   6 Comments

Right now, I’m in Maine on our annual vacation. Duncan (my husband) and I come up here once a year. He has been doing so since he was a child and I’ve been coming here with him for the last 15 years. It’s the one time of the year where we leave everything–our stresses, concerns, chores, work responsibilities–at home. Or... READ MORE

How to choose a meditation practice

August 30, 2011   |   8 Comments

Some thoughts to consider: 1. Choose a practice that is rooted in a lineage that is older than, say, 2,500 years. Not saying you have to adopt another culture or act all eastern, just that it’s good to find something time-tested and honed. Thus you can have confidence–and confidence in the practice is always step one along the spiritual path.... READ MORE

Enlightened Reading list, continued

June 20, 2011   |   6 Comments

If you were to ask on Twitter, “What is your #1 book on meditation or spirituality?” this is what you would get. At least from my Twitterverse. Enjoy! Read them all! Or just read one with absolute comprehension! Become enlightened!

On finding love.

May 11, 2011   |   16 Comments

I’ll try to keep myself open up to you. That’s a promise that I made to love. Joni Mitchell I read this quote today on someone’s Facebook page and a better instruction for love, I can’t find. The foremost allegiance is to love itself and this is a pledge you can actually honor, as opposed to the pledge to always... READ MORE

On Compassion and Enemies

May 4, 2011   |   118 Comments

On Monday, I wrote a little about my response to Osama bin Laden’s killing. Upon hearing of his death, most people expressed heartfelt and understandable relief that our hunt for one who wished to destroy us was over. Others participated in “celebrations” that seemed tinged with what could be described kindly as poor sportsmanship. The question I was trying to... READ MORE

Question from a reader: how to fit meditation into a mom's life with three kids under 5 and how not to fall asleep? Answer from Karen Maezen Miller!

April 18, 2011   |   7 Comments

A exciting first for a guest blog post! This one is from the talented and soulful Karen Maezen Miller, a Zen Priest and mother. Her book, Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life (New World Library, April 2010) is a memoir about spirituality in everyday life. I had received several questions from mothers about how to integrate... READ MORE

START. (How to make lasting changes)

April 6, 2011   |   15 Comments

When it comes to creating real change in your life, there is only one action item that is critical. The most brilliant organizational strategies and profound insights into human behavior are 100% meaningless without it. If you are not doing this one thing, nothing else matters. I’m not being poetically licentious; I’m telling you the truth. That thing? Start.

Can meditation help with panic attacks? No. And yes.

April 5, 2011   |   12 Comments

I received this from a reader the other day: Q: “I was wondering if the meditation practice can help with panic attacks at all? Or if you know anyone who has suffered from panic attacks and been able to overcome them through meditation?” A: I know someone who has suffered from panic attacks. Me. I still suffer from them, although... READ MORE

Meditation Questions: Q1: What to do about distractions, like noise?

March 30, 2011   |   2 Comments

I’ve really enjoyed making and sending these emails and videos about meditation. It is so inspiring to see and hear about people’s heart-opening experiences. No matter how many times I see the effects of meditation practice, I’m still so blown away by this truth: If we open our hearts, we can change the world. Some of you have been good... READ MORE

From Ishita: #3

March 15, 2011   |   2 Comments

From Ishita: Last night I physically had to force myself to sit down to meditate. Despite the fact that I feel good about doing it and sometimes it brings me peace, the act of sitting down is one I have to force myself to do. I had to laugh because I moved from bed to chair (where i meditate) bed... READ MORE

From Ishita: Post #2

March 11, 2011   |   Leave a reply

From Ishita: morning time for me is sacred. I cherish the hours of 6-9a.m. and it is where I feel most connected to myself and the world. It’s a perfect time for me to practice meditation. So when susan said “somewhere it is always morning.” i just loved that. it was a visual that put me back into my heart.... READ MORE

Third (and final) meditation misconception

March 11, 2011   |   2 Comments

Meditation is not a form of self-improvement. [vimeo][/vimeo] 2:38 Good morning, lovely people. In the last two posts, I talked about the first two meditation misconceptions. The 3rd and final misconception is actually the most difficult one to drop and it is that meditation is a form of self-improvement. In our meditation practice we take the view that no improvement... READ MORE