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No More Excuses

If not myself, who?
If not this experience, which one?
If not now, when?
If not here, where?
If not for all beings, why?

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Laurie Arron and I will be teaching another Intro to Buddhism and Meditation class starting in January 2014. There are only ten spots available, so if you are interested, sign up early to get a spot:
http://introtomeditation2014.eventbrite.com/

Overview:
This is an introduction to Buddhism and different types of meditation taught by Paul Baranowski and Laurie Arron. No experience necessary. Each week will start with a meditation, then study of a topic, then general discussion and Q&A. If you are trying to piece together exactly what meditation is, how to do it, and how all the practices and teachings fit together, this class is for you.

Please sign up only if you can make it to all 6 weeks. It is very important to attend all the classes. You will be asked to practice meditation every day during the 6 week period as well.

Class will be held weekly on Saturdays from 10am-1pm.

The class is offered to help you make sense of Buddhist teachings as a whole, so that when you hear a teaching you will have a better idea of how to use it in your life and what it is for. Buddhism is simply a way to happiness, it is not a religion in the sense we usually think of one.

Some testimonials:

“Two-thumbs up! I never received so much information and wisdom from any other Buddhist teachings, directly or from books, as I did from this course.”

“This class has definitely put me in a different place that I was before I took this class. Your dedication towards this work was so great that it made me curious about mindfulness. I would like to experience what it is like being mindful every day. You lit up the path and even finished the pavement so all I have to do is walk down the path. I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to be in your class. Also your sharing on your personal experience/challenges really helped me to look deeply into my issues with an open heart. Thank you.”

“Take this class if you want to learn the wisdom of Buddhism in an easy, straight-forward manner, taught by compassionate and wise teachers.”

“Thanks very much for sharing your personal experience and moments of your life as you explained certain concepts, very useful!”

“I am astounded at the extent of what you know, how well things were presented, and your ability to answer questions that arose.”

“This course has brought the concepts of my practice closer to my life experiences.”

I am running another 6-week Intro to Meditation and Buddhism class, starting on Sept 22. More info here:

http://meditationclass-2013.eventbrite.ca/

I recently landed a job at InteraXon, a company that makes a headband that can sense your brainwaves. This device can help teach you mindfulness, among other things. They have a demo setup with the headband hooked up to a beer keg, and the computer programmed with the “meditation algorithm”. To turn on the beer, you have to produce a steady state of mind. There is a set of lights that indicate how you are doing – the more lights and the brighter they are, the more stable your mind. Once you get to five lights, the beer starts to flow. This is the video of my first time trying it out. So I tried basic mindfulness of breathing. It’s hard not to get more excited as more lights light up, but I did it! Finally my mindfulness is good for something! ;) Seriously though, this was one of the most amazing experiences ever – controlling something with only my mind. Everything else we do requires movement of some sort.

Shameless plug: If you are interested in getting one of these headbands for yourself, you can preorder one on the website.

If you feel like the meditation chairs in the last post were a little too cheap at $369, here is a way to get rid of a pesky $1800 you might have lying around. What you get is pretty amazing – a real office chair that you can sit cross-legged in, with adjustable support for your legs and a back that doesn’t make you hunched over:

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Check out their video here:

If anyone feels like buying me one, I won’t say no.

One of my friends just pointed these meditation chairs out to me…seems like a great thing for people who have trouble with sitting on a cushion. It’s also nice that it is a normal looking piece of furniture that can double as a regular chair. Here’s a pic: seagrass-08

Here’s the link: http://www.stillnessroom.com/

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The book I’ve been writing/compiling for five years, “Interdependent Liberation: The Unofficial Guide to the Zen Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh” is finally finished.  Well, at least I got tired of revising it and so it is now deemed finished. This book is a straightforward, no-nonsense guide to the tradition for people who do not want to read dozens of books and go to a bunch of retreats before they are able to put everything together into a coherent whole. It is more of a guidebook than something you read straight through and thus is mainly focused on facts and techniques. Most newbies have a lot of questions when they show up and this is meant to answer most of their basic questions. Every topic covered has a “recommended reading” section if you want to dive into the details of any one particular aspect of practice. It is also a great guidebook for those wanting to start a local sangha.

I used portions of this text for my six week classes called “Introduction to Buddhism and Meditation”. So the material is rooted in the experience of teaching others. A number of practitioners have also read through the drafts and helped to improve the content. Thanks to all of you who helped out.

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction (Background on buddhism, how to find a teacher and a sangha, how much does it cost, what a sangha can and cannot do, wisdom traditions, etc.)
  2. Weekly Meditation Practice
  3. Introduction to Buddhism
  4. Additional Meditation Techniques
  5. Practice in Daily Life
  6. The Development of Virtue
  7. Retreats
  8. Entering the Buddhist Tradition
  9. Organizational Structure
  10. Mindful Conflict Resolution
  11. Overview of Buddhist Schools
  12. Appendix: Recommended Reading
  13. Appendix: Guided Meditations & Gathas

You can order a hard copy or download a PDF. If you go to the True Peace meditation sessions, they will be available to buy there.

Please let me know what you think and if you find it helpful. It’s one of those books that will need to be revised and re-released every few years (like travel books).