Mindfulness and Depression

by Peter Carlson on May 5, 2016

This talk continues the exploration of what Peter terms “self-state conflict”, with discussion of the characteristic symptoms of depression in the context of Buddhist concepts and practices.  One of the primary causes of depression is what is called “intrusive negative rumination”; from the Buddhist perspective, this is understood as the manifestation of craving and clinging to a self-organization that is dysfunctional.  Peter mentioned that this consumer culture creates “needs” that were unheard of in the Buddhist world until the 20th century, and that one cause of depression for this era is misconceiving a marketing generated ideal self as real and important.  The application of mindfulness of breathing, noting distracting thoughts and impulses and refusing to feed them with attention will diminish the conditions that produce depression.  These insights were related to Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, which modern research suggests can prevent relapse back into depression, provided that the meditation practice is maintained on a daily basis.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  MINDFULNESS AND DEPRESSION

Next week’s talk will continue to explore “self-state conflicts”, focused on the prevalence of substance and process addictions in this culture.

Mindfulness And Emotional Intelligence

by Peter Carlson on April 14, 2016

During this talk, Peter describes how mindfulness meditation supports the development of “Emotional Intelligence”, which is the title of a book written by Daniel Goleman.  Emotional intelligence provides internal resources such as self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation and empathy to foster social competency.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk: MINDFULNESS AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Next week’s talk will focus on how mindfulness effectively addresses the range of anxiety from restless agitation to panic attacks.

How The Brain Creates A Self March

by Peter Carlson on March 19, 2016

During this talk, Peter reviewed the extensive research literature that supports contemporary understanding of self-organizing functions.  Prior to this era, Buddhist concepts were derived from culturally determined mythology, which is hard for contemporary Westerners to believe and make best use of for spiritual development.

Next week’s discussion will focus on how the practice of mindfulness of breathing and lovingkindness meditation practices effectively change the structures of the brain described in this talk, enhancing self-awareness, self-regulation and social harmony.

Compassionate Relationship

by Peter Carlson on November 19, 2015

This discussion began with a quote from the Upaddha Sutta: “…Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life…” because the emphasis for this week focuses on the lojong commitments regarding interpersonal responsibility.  Three commitments were described: “Don’t indulge in malicious speech or sarcasm”, “Revenge is not sweet, but toxic”, and “Don’t throw your pain at others”.  These commitments were modified by Peter to be more applicable to contemporary relationships from a Buddhist perspective on Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood.

After the explanation, participants offered their observations regarding how these principles bring benefit to relationships.  Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  RESPONSIBILITY IN RELATIONSHIPS

Next week’s regular meeting will occur on Thanksgiving Eve, so following the routine for at number of years, the discussion will be organized around the benefits of gratitude for daily living.

Working With Unpredictability

by Peter Carlson on November 12, 2015

This talk focuses on the lojong commitment “Don’t Rely On Consistency”, which emphasizes how social norms put pressure on individuals to conform, even when such conformity violates the Buddhist principle of benevolent intention.  One example would be the pressure to conform with materialistic drives regarding the upcoming holiday season–the perfect party, the perfect gift, etc.  Another example is the conformity of ethnic prejudice, that is, the culturally conditioned feeling of aversion around someone who looks Muslim.

The discussion also focused on the struggle of individuals to conform to their own conditioned expectations of themselves, and the frustration experienced when one doesn’t meet a standard of performance.

During the discussions, Peter repeatedly referred back to aphorisms discussed in prior meetings, such as being a “child of illusion” and the importance of daily meditation practice to build the capacity to be mindful and nonreactive to cultural pressures that conflict with benevolent intention.

Here are the notes for this discussion:  Working With Unpredictability

Universal Wholesome Mind Conditioners

This is the first of two discussions about the wholesome cetasikas, the mind conditioners that foster the process of awakening.  The seven factors are confidence, mindfulness, wholesome conscience, fear of consequences (respect for karma), non-attachment, non-aversion (lovingkindness), and equanimity.  Peter described the process of identifying and cultivating these factors as “feeding the angels”. During the […]

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Mindfulness As An Awakening Factor

During this dharma dialogue, the awakening factor of mindfulness was described.  Peter referred to a Wikipedia definition of metacognition, a psychological term developed without reference to Buddhist psychology, that seems to be synonymous with mindfulness.  The neurological research describing which parts of the brain activated in the process of mindful awareness was described as well.  […]

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