Concentrating the Hell Out of Mind: Jhana

March 29th, 2013

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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.

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Host Jari Chevalier Interviewed on What Now Show

November 21st, 2010

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Host of Living Hero, Jari Chevalier, speaks about her work as a multidisciplinary artist, on the What Now show with Ken Rose, KOWS Radio, November 1, 2010.

Link to the interview.

The recurring theme of this relaxed, off-the-cuff discussion was uncertainty and the unknown. Acknowledging our true position in our collective uncertainty can bring empathy, clarity, and equality like nothing else. We also talked about personal change and disengaging from the culture of machines.

Image: American Legacy, inlaid paper collage and acrylic on canvas. Part of the Mathematics of Ecstasy show. See the full set of images at jariart.com.

Enjoy Ken Rose's full list of interviews at pantedmonkey.org.

Gabor Maté at The Rubin Museum in New York

July 18th, 2010

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Living Hero Gabor Maté, M.D. appeared on July 7th at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City to kick off a seven-part series of live events related to The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Dr. Ramon Prats, curator of the contemporaneous Bardo exhibition, conversed with Dr. Maté on stage and then invited questions from the audience.

Dr. Maté is author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. He explained that the hungry ghost realm is a symbol for a state of being, part of the Wheel of Life, described in The Tibetan Book of the Dead. This is a state of unquenchable longing and craving, a state well-known to the addicts Dr. Maté treats in Vancouver, British Columbia’s downtown eastside.

Maté began by stating that 2500 years ago Buddhism presaged almost every discovery of contemporary neuroscience. For example, it has been scientifically corroborated that neurologically there is no abiding self to be found in body or brain. This is one of the central teachings of the Buddha. What we perceive as a continuity of self is but a stream of micro-second mind-states, which can be remembered; electrical information that follows patterns conditioned by former mind-states.

These brain circuits were fundamentally conditioned by our earliest experiences. Maté says that the “anti-infant North American ethic,” which permits a parent to just let their infant cry and cry to exhaustion, conditions that infant to become a human being resigned to a world that “just doesn’t give a damn.”

The addicts he works with have all been severely abused, and without exception all the women have been sexually abused. These people’s minds and brains have been deeply conditioned to expect to live in a hostile, dangerous, uncaring world.

Gabor Maté says there are two fallacies currently operating in the treatment of addicts in our society and that both of these fallacies erroneously take society off the hook of responsibility. The first one is the fallacy of choice, the idea that addicts choose to be addicts. They don't, he says, and the whole legal structure, the systems that punish them would have to come apart if you correct this fallacy.

And the second fallacy is the genetic disease fallacy. Addiction is not a result of genetic potentiality, but of the combination of nature and nurture, of genetic potential and the conditioning forces of the environment.

All of Dr. Maté’s various books underscore the importance of early attachment relationships in the formation of human lives. A healthy attachment in early life brings about a self-regulated, satisfied, and socially connected adult. In the abused child, these circuits don’t form properly and the person is then likely to replace those necessary healthy attachments with self-destructive ones.

The Buddha taught that habit energies wrestle the untrained mind. And so, strengthening the mind with the training of concentration, of self-observation, gives people an opportunity to perceive their own thinking-and-feeling processes and thereby realize that there’s more to us than our conditioning.

The consistent observation of one’s own mind can have the power to create new neural circuits that can override the conditioned patterns established in early experience. Based upon actual self-awareness, such mindfulness helps to create emotional balance, spiritual ease, and an increased capacity for self-regulation.

Dr. Maté reminded the audience that Christ had said: you can do everything I can do; and that Buddha nature and Christ nature are actually human potentials. What makes these potentials realizable is getting the conditioned mind and false attachments out of the way.

One of the questions posed by an audience member was about free will. “Freedom of choice is relative and it’s conditioned,” Maté said. What promotes free will? What liberates people? When it comes to individuals working on their own, what promotes choice is awareness; among people it is compassion. Stress hormones, on the other hand, interfere with our power of choice.

In the spirit of compassion, Dr. Maté acknowledged the difficulties people, especially Westerners, have in cultivating mindfulness. He confessed that he, himself, has not sustained a meditation practice and admitted that he is actually terrified of his own mind because of the traumas he endured as an infant.

Speaking further of Western culture, he referenced Sogyal Rinpoche, who wrote The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, based on the traditional Tibetan Book of the Dead. Sogyal Rinpoche says that Westerners, in general, have an active form of laziness, one in which they cram their minds so full of stimuli that there’s no time at all to confront their relationships.

Maté turned things around a bit and asked the audience a question, “What would you think if someone in your life kept on boasting: ‘I’m the greatest; I’m the most creative; everyone wants to be like me’? You’d think this person is really insecure! At the heart of the American dream there’s a terrible insecurity.”

Can we get over our vain insecurity? Both Dr. Prats and Dr. Maté spoke of how the term “rebirth,” found in Buddhist literature, refers to a process of recreating ourselves (our patterns of thought and perception) moment by moment. The Buddha taught humanity how to not rebirth that same pattern of self; how to free our minds; how to die without dying, to let the painful conditioning of our minds die back as our bodies live on, so that we may realize a liberated state and live out of our deeper nature.

How common it is to live without living. But to die without dying is rare.

©Jari Chevalier

Interview with Terry Riley

December 4th, 2009

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“Death costs a fortune, but life is free,” writes Living Hero Terry Riley, in a lyric for his composition Missy Gono. Riley is a true original, recognized worldwide for first bringing minimalist musical composition into circulation in 1964 with his now classic In C and thereby influencing a new generation of avant garde composers and acid rock bands. Dedicated to a life of deep listening, composition, and inspired performance, Terry joins us to share his insights into art, a healing spirit and life.

We talked about:

The inner experience of originality ● Terry’s Time Lag Accumulator ● Dipping into a sound current ● Music and altered states ● Creativity, discipline, spirit and nature ● Psychedelics and spiritual practice ● Our world and our path to healing ● Urban sound and sensitivity ● Raising kids in a creative household ● Terry's ongoing relationship with his works ● His creative influences ● Imagination as an aspect of intelligence ● Music as philosophy and a model of the world ● The story of Missy Gono ● 6500 pipes in the wee hours at Disney Hall

Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 40 minutes.)

Listen at your convenience!

Click through to buy some of Terry's CDs on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left.

Visit Terry's website at terryriley.net

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Interview with Dr. Richard Davidson

November 1st, 2008

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The Living Hero program presents an interview with celebrated neuroscientist, Dr. Richard Davidson. Dr. Davidson is a William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He directs the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior where he conducts research on the short- and long-term effects of meditation practices on human emotion and the circuitry of the brain.

He holds a doctorate from Harvard University and has published more than 250 articles, chapters and reviews. The founding co-editor of the new American Psychological Association journal, EMOTION and he has also edited 13 books.

One of Dr. Davidson's most valuable findings is that happiness and compassion are trainable skills that can be developed, just as we can learn to play a musical instrument; that it is possible to train a mind to be happy and peaceful.

We talked about:

• What prompted Dr. Davidson's career path • Meditation as a path of transformation • The different forms of meditation • How meditation changes the brain • Meditation in health and in education • Long-term effects of meditation on brain function and gene expression • Meditation and Christianity • How to learn more about Dr. Davidson's work

Numerous honors and awards of distinction have come to Dr. Davidson, including the most distinguished award for science given by the American Psychological Association – the Scientific Contribution Award. He has also received the Research Scientist Award and the MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH); and many other honors recognizing his groundbreaking contributions.

In 2003, Dr. Davidson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2004, to the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. In 2006, he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.

Davidson maintains a close, collaborative relationship with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, the world's best-known practitioner of Buddhist meditation. The Dalai Lama first invited Davidson to his home in Dharamsala, India, in 1992 after learning about Davidson's innovative research into the neuroscience of emotions. Dr. Davidson has had the opportunity to study the brains of many of the world’s most advanced meditation practitioners.

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Visit these websites for more information:

Waisman Lab website

U of Wisconsin Psychology Department website

Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 25 minutes)

Listen at your convenience!

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Interview with Daniel Pink: A Whole New Mind at Work

February 19th, 2008

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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!

WiredRevengepic.gif 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!

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Interview with Robert Stickgold: Sleep, Memory, Creativity & Dreams

January 15th, 2008

Welcome to the Inaugural Living Hero Podcast!

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Sleep, Memory, Creativity and Dreams, an interview with Dr. Robert Stickgold

• How sleeps helps us learn • Creativity and stress • Meaning and insight • Deep sleep and consciousness • Sleep and meditation • Lucid dreaming • Symptoms of sleep deprivation

Enjoy the podcast! (you can download the mp3 file, which will play in iTunes, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player and other media players). The interview is 57 minutes. You can also listen to it right here by double clicking on the purple media player below.

AND SOME BREAKING SLEEP RESEARCH NEWS: By demonstrating that worms sleep, David M. Raizen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, in collaboration with other researchers at the Penn Center for Sleep have not only demonstrated the ubiquity of sleep in nature, but also propose a compelling hypothesis for the purpose for sleep.

They propose that sleep is a state required for the nervous system to grow and change, there must be down time of active behavior.

Other researchers at Penn have shown that, in mammals, synaptic changes occur during sleep and that deprivation of sleep results in a disruption of these synaptic changes.

Listen whenever it's convenient!

Want the 21-page transcript of this first Living Hero interview in PDF format? Just ask! Please use the questions/comments box on the right side bar and leave me your name and email so I can send it to you.

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