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IMCW News

This blog contains announcements, insights and articles from the Insight Meditation Community of Washington

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness

In these challenging times it is easy to forget the incredible blessings that we enjoy. The Buddha taught that this human birth is a most precious gift—and provides the possibility of realizing our true nature of immeasurable freedom. Further, for those fortunate to have encountered the Buddha’s teachings, access to the Dharma provides a clear path from a life built around the illusion of a separate, limited self to a freedom that is not dependent on conditions—on the ups-and-downs of the stock market, the political cycle or our mood of the day....
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Investigations

“What is this?” my first meditation teacher asked me almost twenty years ago as she held out a small brass bell in her hand. “What is this?” This was my first introduction to the koan... a Zen teaching question that is asked in everyday language, but must be answered with a deeper truth. After reflecting, I reached out, took the bell and gave it a quick ring. We both sat wordlessly for a few moments, listening to the sound resonate and then fade away. This style of Zen didn’t become the mainstay of my budding Buddhist practice, but my encounter with the koan made an impression that has stayed with me....
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Breathing Room

Ever wonder why it’s getting increasingly hard to plan a surprise birthday party for someone you love, or drop in on a neighbor for tea and conversation without scheduling it in advance, or plan a meeting without going through at least a dozen dates that extend three to six months out?  I wondered.  And, after surveying twenty-five of my closest friends and family, I was struck by the extent to which they each had a number of different explanations for their aversion to spontaneity, but they all had one in common. Their calendars, their lives had very little room, breathing room....
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Engaging with the Suffering of Our World

The Buddha’s teachings offer skillful ways: - of engaging in wise action to bring about the change that our world needs without being attached to outcomes;  - of disagreeing without turning those we disagree with into enemies;  - of having views and opinions but not being lost in or attached to our views and beliefs;  - and of knowing that violence cannot be ended by violence, only by love.   The poet T.S. Eliot said, "Teach us to care, and not to care." The Buddha’s teachings likewise encourage us to care deeply but not to cling and hence cause additional suffering to ourselves and others....

Working with Thoughts

We sit down to meditate and what happens? Often, we discover that our minds are very active. We try to focus on our breathing, on sounds, and one big challenge is that our minds are constantly planning for the future or ruminating about the past.  How do we work with our active minds?  One common misconception is that we should get rid of our thoughts....