More notes at http://tanguay.info/learntracker
C O U R S E 
Buddhism and Modern Psychology
Robert Wright, Princeton University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Mindful Meditation
Notes taken on September 29, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
comes easily to some people, for others it is rather difficult
often people meditate many times without feeling it is sufficiently rewarding to sustain the practice
people go on mediation retreats to focus on learning how to meditate and learn practices which they carry on in their daily lives later
it is more or less a lot of work to learn how to meditate to a point where it is a rewarding experience over a long period of time
when meditation works, it gives you a skill set that allows you to experience physical and emotional discomfort with greater poignancy but less problem
short cuts to get the most out of mediation
you perceive pain more acutely but it causes you less trouble
there's two ways to deal with discomfort
1. escape from it
which enables you to avoid it all together
2. escape into it
this enables you to experience the richness of being human, part of which is being uncomfortable and unsatisfied, but the sense of problem is diminished
when you are feeling sad and on the border of depression, just sit down and say "bring it on", close your eyes and examine the feeling of sadness, get closer to it, focus on the discomfort, be precise about the discomfort, and let go of the fight with the discomfort
remember, effective meditation does not require that you sit on the floor and close your eyes, it only requires that you focus on your discomfort
you can do this in the line at the grocery store when you are late and the woman in front of you if fumbling around in her purse trying to find her credit card, you can stand there with your eyes open examining your feeling of irritation, entering into it, experiencing it more deeply simply as another aspect of the richness of being a human being
the ability to deal well with pain and unsatisfactoriness in your life comes mainly when you practice meditation regularly
and learn to carry it into your everyday life
different kinds of medication associate with different Buddhist traditions
Tibetan Buddhists
visualizing of images
Zen Buddhists
meditate on koans
statements, parable or question that you concentrate on while you're meditating
they're meant to be logical absurdities that don't make much sense on their own
e.g. what's the sound of one hand clapping?
often meditate with their eyes open
Vipassana meditation
popular in Southeast Asia
a lot of emphasis on observing the workings of your mind
Tibetan mediation is for artists, Zen is for poets, and Vipassana is for psychologists
branches of Buddhism have more in common than they have differences among them
observing your own mind is something that winds up happening in almost any tradition
even if it is a more specific goal in Vipassana meditation
two kinds of meditation
they emphasize the seventh and eight items on the eightfold path
right mindfulness
right concentration
1. concentrated meditation
focusing on something very intently
your breath, a visual image
is said to bring serenity, even bliss, but Vipassana Buddhism teaches that you should not get attached to this bliss
you should strive to reach a point where you mind is calm and centered, not to enjoy this state, but to use this state as a basis for observing the world clearly
what is mindfulness meditation
observing anything in your realm of experience, your own mind, your own feelings, sounds you hear, or if you are meditating during the course of your day, anything that you can see
but it involves observing these things in an unusual way
normally your relationship to a feeling like anxiety is:
1. you don't like it
2. it controls your thinking
which is ironic, actually, since here you are with a feeling you don't like yet you are letting it control your thoughts
with mindful meditation, you observe this feeling without like or dislike, without judging it, you simply become the observer of it in a way that it doesn't control your thoughts
but you have to consider what a radical reorientation mindfulness is
it is often portrayed a gentle approach to life, which may be true
but it is a rejection of natural selection's agenda to get feelings such as fear, anxiety, hunger, and pain to influence your behavior, mindfulness rejects these as ulterior and ultimately masters them simply by calmly observing them
this is a violation of natural selection's agenda in the sense that we have feelings in order to influence our behavior
Buddhism sees the mind as it is not as a reliable instrument to show you reality
it sees the basic habits of the mind as ulterior
the mind as it naturally works is not a reliable way of looking at the world
emotions cloud reality