March 29th, 2013
Join some of the West's great adepts of Jhana, Concentration Meditation Practice. Jhana is an extraordinary human potential of the mind with deep and lasting rewards of peace, freedom, clarity, agility . . . and mastery. However, Jhana is especially exquisite in its preparatory role in the life of a meditator, bringing about capacities and factors of mind that prepare us for insight knowledge; direct, unshakeable experiential knowledge of the nature of reality.
Our jhana teachers and guides are, in order of their photographs, above:
Shaila Catherine, who has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience. She has taught since 1996 in the USA, and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand. Shaila Catherine has practiced under the guidance of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw since 2006. She is author of Focused and Fearless: A Meditator’s Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity and Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana. Shaila Catherine founded Insight Meditation South Bay, a Buddhist meditation center in Silicon Valley (www.imsb.org). Click here for Shaila's schedule of retreats.
Leigh Brasington, a former computer programmer and now teacher of Jhana retreats, is currently at work on his first book, the working title of which is The Buddha's Jhanas. Click here for Leigh's resume and find all his resources and his retreat schedule at his website leighb.com
Dr. Judson Brewer, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and Medical Director of the Yale Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic, is a board-certified psychiatrist who has been investigating the neural underpinnings of Mindfulness Training and its clinical efficacy for disorders such as addictions. Dr. Brewer received his AB from Princeton University and MD/PhD from Washington University in St. Louis. After training in mindfulness meditation during medical and graduate school, he shifted his focus from animal models of stress, to the elucidation of neurobiological mechanisms underlying the interface between stress, mindfulness and the addictive process.
Tina Rasmussen, PhD, learned to meditate in 1976, at the age of 13. In 2003, she completed a year-long silent solo retreat. In 2005 she was ordained as a Theravadan Buddhist nun by Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw of Burma who later authorized her to teach. Tina is the co-author of Practicing the Jhanas (with Stephen Snyder). She has worked as a professional coach and OD consultant for more than 25 years. She completed her Ph.D. in 1995, and has authored several published books on humanistic business practices.
Stephen Snyder, JD, began practicing Buddhist meditation in 1976, and has had a daily meditation practice since. He practiced for 20 years with several Western Zen masters, participating in more than 50 retreats and receiving several ordinations. In 2005, he completed a retreat with Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw of Burma, who later authorized him to teach. Stephen is the co-author of the book Practicing the Jhanas (with Tina Rasmussen). Stephen has been a practicing lawyer and mediator since 1987.
Tina and Stephen are a married couple, and offer teaching and retreats to students worldwide. For more information about them, please visit their website at www.JhanasAdvice.com.
January 5th, 2013
Hello Living Hero People!
In contemporary life, people who effectively take a creative and unconventional path, who find ways to resist that which is destructive, unwholesome or lacking in integrity are to be considered heroic and visionary!
Artists, researchers, activists, authors, wisdom figures ~ with musical accompaniment and interludes ~
May we enjoy moving from a toxic, alienated and fragmented culture to one of holistic integrity and social cohesion.
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For the greater good,
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February 29th, 2008
Our fingerprints and faces tell us we are each “sui generis,” (one-of-a-kind), although most of us were raised to conform to, and plug into, a social structure, rather than encouraged to discover and display our distinctive gifts.
I often imagine a world of people brought up to shine as one-of-a-kind, creative expressions of humanity and wonder what such a world would be like. Each child would be approached with utter curiosity and a sense of reverence for the unforeseen gifts they might bring to both family and society. Their sui generis idiosyncracies would be nurtured by parents, teachers, leaders and the culture at large.
Would this approach help to bring about whole and fulfilled people, people who feel unashamed, confident, and appreciated for who they truly are?
Most kids have jumping-for-joy natures, abounding life energies and strong emotions. Yet, their unusual thoughts and insights, self-love, love of pleasure and of life are considered, at best, adorable in the cute way, rather than the worthy-of-adoration way. They are asked, in so many instances, to conform to what’s expected of them, to apply themselves to finding their place (a.s.a.p.!) in existing models, roles and societal structures, rather than to engender new systems and create new forms.
We may, in fact, be asking children to thwart their natural love of life to better fit into a system that is stressful, unhealthy and inhumane. Young people, whose heart-intelligence and innate compassion are still very much in tact, are one day treated to a movie about how sweet and wonderful penguins are and the next day informed of the destruction of the penguin habitat due to human profligacy. What tools do we provide them for dealing with their feelings about such ironies and inconsistencies?
When children object to societal emotional confusion, in their immature sui generis way, their rebellions are often attacked, shamed, undermined. I recently witnessed a young boy of about seven with his mother in front of a fish counter at Whole Foods. I saw him looking up at her and overheard her say, dismissively, unwilling to look down to meet his eyes, "There are plenty of fish in the sea, Johnny; it’s perfectly fine for us to eat them."
The point is not the fish here, the point is this boy’s heart and how his mother responded to his heart’s cry. And we wonder how the steep rise of childhood mental health disorders, and all the consequences associated with them, could be happening in such a wonderful place as the suburbs of the United States!
The erroneously attributed Chinese dish named Chop Suey is a bland, overcooked, and unpalatable dish of cheap, canned vegetables and water chestnuts held together with corn starch, invented in America and passed off as Chinese.
Do American adults turn their children into Chop Sui, while worrying that the Chinese are taking away their opportunities and wealth, spoiling their American Dream?! Would the children, if they knew what the choices were in our world, even choose the values of the American Dream?
The futurist author Daniel Pink details Six Senses needed in the coming generations in his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future. These senses are Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. I believe Empathy is the most important one of these senses to encourage and develop in the lives of children. Empathy is the ability to feel what another is feeling, to really meet other people and other creatures where they live, so to speak. Just imagine what a world this would be if empathy were an aptitude highly developed and prized in society at large, right from the way children are conceived, carried and birthed!
Imagine how that value of tenderness and care would naturally change the nature and aptitudes of their imaginations and contribute to the sensitivities of their other senses. And extend this imagining to how the products and services that drive the economy would also, organically, change in response to increased and concerted empathy in mass culture.
Imagine how a robust sense of empathy would influence the questions each individual would be asking about society; such as: Just what are we putting ourselves in service to? Are our enterprises honest and caring? How are we making and interpreting meaning in our educational and media presentations? How are we putting all the informational pieces of our society together? What are our fundamental narratives about? What are we designing and for what purposes?
In the presence of pervasive and abiding empathy, all our activities are in service to a healthier, more integrated way of life. And, I might dare to add, true empathy is what makes it possible for the sui generis nature of each face, each individual, each living thing, to truly shine and be held dear.
©2008 Jari Chevalier
February 19th, 2008
Living Hero is pleased to present an interview with author and futurist Daniel Pink
• The increasing value of right brain skills and capacities • The global forces giving rise to A Whole New Mind • The one cognitive skill common among corporate star performers • Reckoning with unfulfillment • Dan’s own creative process and methods • The Adventures of Johnny Bunko
Listen at your convenience!
Link to Dan Pink's Feb 2005 Wired magazine article "Revenge of the Right Brain"
Click through to buy his books on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left. Don't miss them!
February 6th, 2008
". . . the greatest economic competition in the world going forward is not going to be between countries and countries. And it’s not going to be between companies and companies. The greatest economic competition going forward is going to be between you and your own imagination. Your ability to act on your imagination is going to be so decisive in driving your future and the standard of living in your country. So the school, the state, the country that empowers, nurtures, enables imagination among its students and citizens, that’s who’s going to be the winner."
--Tom Friedman (The World is Flat)
from an interview with Daniel Pink (A Whole New Mind)
We are a people longing to see beyond our current dilemmas and dangers to a future that is reasonable and sustainable. But we need more than reason to get to reasonable. We need imagination.
How can we become visionaries and nurture our visions in the reality of community? How can we recognize a vision worth pursuing when one comes along?
The world’s best and brightest leaders, philosophers, artists and inventors have always relied on imagination to envision a better future and to bring it to life through creative expression and invention.
Now it is time for all of us to actively put our imaginative powers to work, to open our minds and to face the imperative of envisioning a future that will truly work for the global community.
This means strengthening and nurturing a healthier balance of thought and feeling, which will bring more wisdom to bear as we imagine, work, create. Getting to this healthier balance in the midst of our high-pressured, busy days is a real challenge and we are all in this together.
Our next podcast (scheduled for late February) will feature futurist Daniel Pink talking with us about how he sees practices such as yoga, art and meditation contributing to the shift he describes in his latest book A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers will Rule the Future. He’ll explain how he came to use the creative genre of manga (Japanese for "comics") for his upcoming business book The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, due to be released on April 1st.
He’ll also speak about the early adopters and also any resistors of the whole new mind he describes and share what’s on the creative horizon for him after The Adventures of Johnny Bunko.
To make the most of the podcast, please enjoy A Whole New Mind prior to listening! Get it right here!
January 4th, 2008
As I've been reviewing the material for the first two Living Hero shows, I find a common thread that ought to be of interest to artists, scientists, educators, caregivers and business people alike: the capacity of our minds to recognize patterns and harness the advantage of having done so and, most importantly, how to develop this capacity.
Dr. Robert Stickgold, who studies the brain in relation to sleep, memory and dreaming, tells us that in sleep the brain processes the new information received during the day and indexes it in relation to that to which it has already has been exposed, adding to its "maps of probability" and better equipping it to recognize patterns of relationship in the future.
We are urged by Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future to develop our capacity to not only see the big picture, but also to perceive the many relationships that can make a whole coherent and satisfying, which he calls “Symphony.”
My interest is in HOW we develop these abilities. I think that one key answer lies in both physical activity and deep relaxation.
My work involves teaching people to use integrative movements, acupressure and self-massage, breathing and stress reduction techniques to foster an ideal state for creative work or performance of any kind. There’s a teacher named William Westney who uses movement in what he calls his “unmaster classes” with musicians. Actors, athletes, and body-oriented performers have always used physical warm-ups to reduce anxiety and do a better job.
I am suggesting that physical warm-ups boost performance for all kinds of work, and evidence of this has not shown up in practice enough in schools and in the workplace—yet!
Mindfulness and meditative practices also help develop your capacity for R-directed thinking and you can stay tuned here for more in-depth coverage and exploration of these subjects!
November 20th, 2007
Our educational system over-stresses the importance of logical, linear and verbal skills--all of these processed primarily by the left brain. In order to advance our capabilities now, to balance ourselves and come to wholeness, we need to regenerate our innate ability to tap into the irrational, metaphorical, symbol-making, intuitive, tonal and imaginative right brain.
Although most Americans watch a lot of television and see a lot of movies, which are, indeed, image-based, most of us have been rendered passive before images. Pop culture images are predictable and put together by professionals according to formulas.
Our imaginations are stunted. And, as Einstein stated, "imagination is more important than knowledge." So, we need to reactivate and strengthen our right-brain functions and, more importantly, to simultaneously integrate those with our left-brain functions to become whole-brained, integrated beings.
November 15th, 2007
E.O. Wilson, one of our most brilliant living heroes, preciently wrote in his 1999 bestseller, Consilience, "Thanks to science and technology, access to factual knowledge of all kinds is rising exponentially while dropping in unit cost. It is destined to become global and democratic. Soon it will be available everywhere on television and computer screens. What then? The answer is clear: synthesis. We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely."
Many other luminaries have echoed this call for synthesis. One of Howard Gardner's Five Minds for the Future is "Synthesizing Mind," and Daniel Pink devotes a chapter of his recently released A Whole New Mind to "Symphony," the ability to draw together details from many different disciplines while holding in mind the big picture and what it takes to achieve harmony, balance, and beauty.
This whole-brain capacity has been the gifted and treasured realm of artists, writers, philosophers, and spiritual leaders all along, but these are realms of activity that our culture has not rewarded financially. Is this going to change now? How will we see this change?
This blog is devoted to providing a forum for the exploration and discussion of these and related topics. I invite your thoughts and wish to know specifically whom you would most like to hear from in an interview or panel discussion and what your most burning questions on these topics are.