Why Meditate?

No matter how long you’ve been meditating, or even if you’ve never meditated at all, it’s inevitable that you’ll ask, especially at a difficult moment: what’s the point? Why meditate?

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Yael Shy
Why Money Can't Buy You Happiness (According to Science)

Can money buy you happiness?

If you’re reading this blog, you probably expect me to say no.

On the other hand, I suspect that many of us, deep down, think that it can. Certainly, that belief is promoted by our culture. And if not money, then what about a relationship, or success, or achievement?

In fact, years of research have shown that none of these provide lasting happiness, in large part due to a powerful force that psychologists call hedonic adaptation.

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Sonja Lyubomirsky
Enjoy the View -- Not the Commentary

Here’s the scene: I am standing on top of an overlook in the foothills of the Green Mountains. I can see a 180-degree vista to the West that features the Adirondacks, tinged in pink, as the sun gets ready to set. Vermont’s famous Camel’s Hump sits majestically to the south.

My mind, however, is not appreciating this beautiful experience, at least not consistently so, because I am frustrated and disappointed in myself. I want to get some pictures of this awesome scene, but I have forgotten my phone and thus have no camera.

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Arnie Kozak
Forcing the Breath

One of my most frequent meditation habits is forcing the breath.

You may have experienced something similar. You sit down, you say “okay, time to meditate,” and that translates into taking big breaths, or rapid breaths, or otherwise forced, artificial breaths that are surprisingly easy to follow… only not so surprising, because you’ve made them impossible to miss by faking it.

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Jay Michaelson
Love in the Midst of Violence

We are living in difficult times, and this has been a difficult week.

Fear and anxiety are always part of life, but these days, people commonly tell me they wake up in a funk, tossed into sleeplessness by a refrain of fear. We fear the violence that we see every day, and in horrifying events like the shootings last week. We fear chaos. We fear being consigned to the category of people in this world who don’t count. We fear the kind of hatred spilling out through Western societies.

Increasingly, people tell me they even fear the kind of hatred spilling from their own hearts.

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Sharon Salzberg
How to Not Meditate

For years, meditation was one more activity I packed into my busy day.

It was yet another thing to check off my to-do list, like going to the gym or buying groceries. I would skid into my meditation session, set a timer, and dutifully bring my attention back to my breath, again and again, with a kind of grim determination. It was really not that much fun at all.

I was, in other words, bringing my everyday habits to the cushion. My overdrive, my overachieving, my over-everything.

Then, a few years ago, I hit a wall.

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Devon Hase
What Does “Progress” Look Like?

As of this moment, I still don’t know where my wallet is.

I’m pretty sure that by the time you read this, I will have found it. But as I’m writing these words, I have no [expletive] idea where my [expletive] wallet is. 

Maybe the baby put it somewhere. Maybe I put it somewhere so the baby couldn’t get it. I don’t know. All I know is that I was almost late to my meeting with Dan Harris because I couldn’t get out of the house.

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Jay Michaelson
The Science of Stress

Stress is part of evolution’s brilliance. It motivated us to run away from lions in the jungle. It’s your body’s way of trying to keep you safe.

The problem is, in today’s concrete jungle, we’re stressed out not by lions but by traffic jams, overflowing inboxes, and an insufficient number of Instagram likes. All of which our bodies treat as emergencies, What can we do about that?


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Dan Harris
How to be a Better Listener

“You’re not listening!” my friend Jeremy shouted in frustration.

We were standing in his kitchen and Jeremy was upset. Though I can’t remember the details, what I do remember is that he was right: I was only half-listening. I was waiting for him to finish so I could explain my perspective. Even though I was completely silent, making eye contact, and hearing every word, Jeremy could sense that I wasn’t really taking it in. I was building my case, preparing to defend myself.

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Oren Jay Sofer
How Nature Changes the Mind

Summertime, especially around the Fourth of July, is a time many of us in North America spend outdoors. It actually can be a hard time to sit indoors and meditate, because it’s so beautiful outside. Fortunately, being in nature can, itself, be a doorway to a valuable and refreshing capacity of mind that I call “natural awareness.”

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Diana Winston
What Does Mindfulness Have to do with Pride Month?

Pride Month is a funny thing. Of course, its main focus is on sexual and gender minorities; folks who don’t fit into the majority’s boxes of male, female, heterosexual, or cisgender. This week, after all, is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, a crucial turning point in the contemporary LGBTQ rights movement. But in recent years, Pride has become a holiday for everyone.


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Jay Michaelson
Edge vs. Edgy?

Before I started meditating, I assumed meditation would hinder my ability to compete in the sometimes cut­throat world of TV news. And also that I might be required to wear yoga pants to the office.  

I have come to believe that, applied correctly, mind­fulness enhances rather than erodes your edge – by which I mean, your ability to take on challenging work at home or in the office with rigor, intelligence, and effectiveness.

But I know there are many people who still have similar concerns.

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Dan Harris
Why I Meditate

I don’t know what I’d do without a meditation practice. 

These days, after many years, it’s a regular habit. But it wasn’t always that way. For years I tried to cultivate a regular practice, but I found it hard to stick to a routine. It was easier to hit snooze, or get up off my cushion before the timer went off, or skip the weekly gathering at the Zendo.

But I had an incentive: I was a hot mess.

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Sebene Selassie
Meditation and Climate Change

Every week, I hear from students and friends who are deeply fearful, anxious, and angry about global warming. For those informed about the issue, it’s not an abstraction; it threatens the lives our children will be able to lead, not to mention those of folks already caught in natural disasters exacerbated by global climate disruption.

If you’ve experienced any of that fear, anxiety, and anger, please read on, because I’ve found mindfulness to be a valuable ally in staying sane, staying engaged, and making a difference -- whatever your political and philosophical opinions.

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Jay Michaelson
The Risk of Honesty

A friend of mine works with a writer who constantly misses deadlines. In terms of work, it’s actually not that big of a deal, because my friend knows this about the writer, and course-corrects by giving him deadlines that are weeks prior to when my friend actually needs something turned in.

The challenges arise not because of the lateness, but because the writer can’t seem to accept this shortcoming about himself. He writes long emails with excuses as to why he’s late again—imaginative stories that my friend knows aren’t true.

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Koshin Paley Ellison
Is Your Mind an Amusement Park?

When some people hear about meditation, they may imagine that it’s a cool, calm chill-out with no distracting thoughts or feelings disturbing the Zen.

And then, since that’s not what anyone actually experiences, lots of people become convinced that they can’t meditate because their minds are so busy and distracted.

The truth is, though, distractions happen! Whether out in the world or seated in meditation, the mind will pretty much always find something to do - and it’s not always going to do the thing we might hope.

What can you do?

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Grace Livingston