Buddhist Psychological Insights for Daily Living

Select Teachings By Topic

Fear and Uncertainty

Fear and Uncertainty

Recognizing the truth of anicca (that everything is impermanent) can be helpful in coping with fear. When fear arises we can self-soothe through relaxation and surrender.

Living with Disappointment

Living with Disappointment

In becoming an adult you learned how to cope with disappointment, or else you wouldn’t be able to function at all. Yet, the conundrum remains: If you’ve learned to live with disappointments, then why does it still take so much of your energy to cope?

Lost in Doubt?

Lost in Doubt?

Last year while teaching a month-long silent meditation retreat with several other vipassana teachers, we were faced with what to do about a yogi who was not fully participating. He wasn’t showing up for the sittings or attending the dharma talks, and he was avoiding

Making Major Life Changes

Making Major Life Changes

If you watch closely, you may discover that your own life is part of this seasonal pattern of endings and beginnings. In early fall, you externally focus on finishing up tasks with a burst of energy, followed by delving into your internal experience as the days get shorter and the darkness lasts longer.

Starting Over

Starting Over

As a meditation teacher, I’m often solicited for advice by students who are seeking to change their lives in some way. They may want to alter an aspect of their behavior or their emotional life, or improve their relations with others. They almost always report

Are You Willing to Be Changed?

Are You Willing to Be Changed?

Opening to the possibility of change is essential to your psychological development, but like many people you may be resistant to being changed in a profound way. However, you can learn to be more skillful when it comes to change by applying mindfulness.

Decision Time

Decision Time

The Buddha taught that mental suffering arises out of ignorance. By “ignorance” he meant the misperceptions and delusions that your mind has about its own nature. Thus, the way to free the mind

Freedom from Fear

Freedom from Fear

Living in a fear-based culture inevitably affects your state of mind and the decisions you make. As a citizen you may become more compliant, more willing to surrender your rights for vague promises of safety. As an employee you are less demanding, less willing to take risks.

Managing Fatigue with Mindfulness

Managing Fatigue with Mindfulness

Most of us dislike being fatigued and aren’t fully open to experiencing it. However, when we practice vipassana, we use mindfulness to see the dukkha (suffering) in all of our experiences; therefore, we can treat fatigue as one more experience that can be known.

The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness

When you organize and measure your life by how well you follow your intentions instead of getting what you desire, your moments of happiness are enhanced and your difficult moments are more bearable.

Beyond Happiness

Beyond Happiness

in the four noble truths, the buddha focused primarily on suffering as a gateway to liberation. but he also taught that mindfulness of happiness can provide the same liberating insights as suffering.

Freedom from Fear

Freedom from Fear

Living in a fear-based culture inevitably affects your state of mind and the decisions you make. As a citizen you may become more compliant, more willing to surrender your rights for vague promises of safety. As an employee you are less demanding, less willing to take risks.

Lost in Doubt?

Lost in Doubt?

Last year while teaching a month-long silent meditation retreat with several other vipassana teachers, we were faced with what to do about a yogi who was not fully participating. He wasn’t showing up for the sittings or attending the dharma talks, and he was avoiding

Working Mindfully with Anger

Working Mindfully with Anger

You can feel anger toward another or yourself. Your anger can be justified or unjustified. If your anger is justified, you’ve got two possibilities: You can either do something about it, or you can’t. Therefore, there’s no cause for melodrama, which simply

Knowing Regret

Knowing Regret

Regret can be triggered by something you did or didn’t do, something another person did or didn’t do, or some combination of these. You may be clinging to memories of something bad that happened to you or to regret over some action you took. Bad memories or deep sorrow

Getting Past Fear

Getting Past Fear

All things are constantly changing, even what is most precious to you. You know that you and those you love will die, but you don’t know when or how. This is the existential dilemma of life, and the price of being a conscious human being. It is simply the way life is constructed.

Healing Your Mother (or Father) Wound

Healing Your Mother (or Father) Wound

If you have unresolved feelings about your mother (or father), making them part of your mindfulness practice can transform what has been a hindrance in your life into a teacher.

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Forgiveness can be understood as a spiritual practice and has been taught as such by Jesus, the Buddha, and many other spiritual teachers. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines forgiveness in this manner: “To cease to feel resentment against on account of a

The Dharma of Discouragement

The Dharma of Discouragement

Discouragement from your past and imaginings about how bad the future will be drain your energy and cause you to fail. When you embrace starting over as a practice, you focus instead on what you are doing right now and what you need to do or are failing to do.

Good Fortune, Bad Fortune

Good Fortune, Bad Fortune

In very trying circumstances remembering your intention to not cause suffering and remembering your “don’t know mind” can lead to cessation of suffering.

Living with Disappointment

Living with Disappointment

In becoming an adult you learned how to cope with disappointment, or else you wouldn’t be able to function at all. Yet, the conundrum remains: If you’ve learned to live with disappointments, then why does it still take so much of your energy to cope?

Beyond Happiness

Beyond Happiness

in the four noble truths, the buddha focused primarily on suffering as a gateway to liberation. but he also taught that mindfulness of happiness can provide the same liberating insights as suffering.

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Forgiveness can be understood as a spiritual practice and has been taught as such by Jesus, the Buddha, and many other spiritual teachers. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines forgiveness in this manner: “To cease to feel resentment against on account of a

Living with Disappointment

Living with Disappointment

In becoming an adult you learned how to cope with disappointment, or else you wouldn’t be able to function at all. Yet, the conundrum remains: If you’ve learned to live with disappointments, then why does it still take so much of your energy to cope?

Opening to Love

Opening to Love

Every Sunday evening the Turtle Island Yoga Studio in San Rafael, California, is transformed into a vipassana meditation hall. A large silk painting of the Buddha, which I commissioned from a street artist in New Delhi for just this purpose, hangs on the front wall, and all the yoga mats are laid out around

Setting Personal Boundaries

Setting Personal Boundaries

Sophie, a professional woman in her mid-30s and a member of my weekly mindfulness meditation class, repeatedly feels taken advantage of. After listening to her describe a painful episode in which a friend had acted inappropriately

The Yoga of Relationship

The Yoga of Relationship

I sat silently as the woman self-consciously settled herself onto the couch in my office. She was in her 30s, married, well established in her profession, and a sincere student of the dharma. She looked up after a few moments of reflection, smiled nervously, and said,

The Challenges & Rewards of Commitment

The Challenges & Rewards of Commitment

In order to move beyond your fear and fully commit to something—whether it’s your spiritual practice, a relationship, or your career—you must first evaluate what is worthy of your commitment. This is where

Healing Your Mother (or Father) Wound

Healing Your Mother (or Father) Wound

If you have unresolved feelings about your mother (or father), making them part of your mindfulness practice can transform what has been a hindrance in your life into a teacher.

The Dharma of Discouragement

The Dharma of Discouragement

Discouragement from your past and imaginings about how bad the future will be drain your energy and cause you to fail. When you embrace starting over as a practice, you focus instead on what you are doing right now and what you need to do or are failing to do.

Finding Equanimity in Meditation

Finding Equanimity in Meditation

Practice keeping the mind balanced when physical sensations and sounds arise during meditation. The mind can stay balanced even during the unexpected.

Compassion Practice

Compassion Practice

Karuna, or compassion, is a state of mind/heart that can be cultivated as a practice. Compassion is an intuitive response to someone else’s suffering, or your own.

Self-Soothing and the Dharma

Self-Soothing and the Dharma

Self-soothing begins with softening into your experience and then applying mindfulness to recognize that “this moment is like this.” From within the spaciousness that this softening creates, you can start to investigate the experience and gain access to insight.

Fully Arriving In The Here And Now Meditation

Fully Arriving In The Here And Now Meditation

This is a guided meditation that can help you stay in the present, here and now. Here, now, not before, not after. There is no presence, no agency in the past. It’s a memory of something gone, no longer present.

The Fruits of Forgiveness

The Fruits of Forgiveness

The primary beneficiary of forgiveness practice is you. Read the following article and listen to the suggested audio dharma talk, and then deepen your understanding of the teachings by contemplating the reflections provided below.

Freedom from Fear

Freedom from Fear

Living in a fear-based culture inevitably affects your state of mind and the decisions you make. As a citizen you may become more compliant, more willing to surrender your rights for vague promises of safety. As an employee you are less demanding, less willing to take risks.

Managing Fatigue with Mindfulness

Managing Fatigue with Mindfulness

Most of us dislike being fatigued and aren’t fully open to experiencing it. However, when we practice vipassana, we use mindfulness to see the dukkha (suffering) in all of our experiences; therefore, we can treat fatigue as one more experience that can be known.

Opening to Love

Opening to Love

Every Sunday evening the Turtle Island Yoga Studio in San Rafael, California, is transformed into a vipassana meditation hall. A large silk painting of the Buddha, which I commissioned from a street artist in New Delhi for just this purpose, hangs on the front wall, and all the yoga mats are laid out around

Reconcilable Differences

Reconcilable Differences

MY MIND FILLS WITH ANGER each time I hear him speak,” one of my students reports of his response to a political leader. “I find myself wishing ill will toward them all,” another says with a pained voice, ashamed of her own reactions to politicians.

Self-Soothing during Difficult Times

Self-Soothing during Difficult Times

We’ve all experienced how unsettling and uncertain life can be and how easily we can be knocked off center at any moment. When we’re not in balance, we can become defined by whatever’s happening and get caught in what I call “reactive mind.”

Starting Over

Starting Over

As a meditation teacher, I’m often solicited for advice by students who are seeking to change their lives in some way. They may want to alter an aspect of their behavior or their emotional life, or improve their relations with others. They almost always report

Taking in the Good Meditation

Taking in the Good Meditation

When you are experiencing difficulty in some aspect of your life that is clouding your mind and causing you to contract, practicing this meditation can help soothe your suffering and clarify your thinking.

Healing Your Mother (or Father) Wound

Healing Your Mother (or Father) Wound

If you have unresolved feelings about your mother (or father), making them part of your mindfulness practice can transform what has been a hindrance in your life into a teacher.

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Forgiveness can be understood as a spiritual practice and has been taught as such by Jesus, the Buddha, and many other spiritual teachers. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines forgiveness in this manner: “To cease to feel resentment against on account of a

The Dharma of Discouragement

The Dharma of Discouragement

Discouragement from your past and imaginings about how bad the future will be drain your energy and cause you to fail. When you embrace starting over as a practice, you focus instead on what you are doing right now and what you need to do or are failing to do.

Good Fortune, Bad Fortune

Good Fortune, Bad Fortune

In very trying circumstances remembering your intention to not cause suffering and remembering your “don’t know mind” can lead to cessation of suffering.

Mindfulness: Fully Aware in the Moment

Mindfulness: Fully Aware in the Moment

Mindfulness enables you to go beneath the surface level of moment-to-moment life experience, which is clouded with emotions, to clearly see the truth of what is happening.

How Preferences Prejudice Your Perceptions

How Preferences Prejudice Your Perceptions

Look around you. What do you notice? There are endless things in both your external and internal environment that you could notice. Given that you can’t possibly notice everything, why do you notice what you do? What you perceive from among all

Balancing Priorities

Balancing Priorities

“The highest compassion, the only true act of compassion, is to point a person to their own liberation.” These are the words of one of my spiritual teachers in response to a question I had asked them about applying the dharma in daily life. I asked the question because

Cultivating Clear Comprehension

Cultivating Clear Comprehension

Try being mindful of how little distinction you make between caring about something or somebody and being attached to that thing or person. The Buddha taught that one of the fundamental characteristics of the universe is anicca, meaning

Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing

Doing the right thing when it’s difficult has a cumulative effect over time because you let loose, at least in that moment, of the attachment to your own well-being, and you discover, “I survived that one!” It also increases the possibility of your doing the right thing again in the future.

Maintaining Mindfulness in Daily Life

Maintaining Mindfulness in Daily Life

Instead of staying mindful of whatever is happening in the moment, we immediately begin to interpret our experience and create a story based on past associations and attitudes we have about ourselves and others. However, our interpretation is

Making Major Life Changes

Making Major Life Changes

If you watch closely, you may discover that your own life is part of this seasonal pattern of endings and beginnings. In early fall, you externally focus on finishing up tasks with a burst of energy, followed by delving into your internal experience as the days get shorter and the darkness lasts longer.

Beyond Happiness

Beyond Happiness

in the four noble truths, the buddha focused primarily on suffering as a gateway to liberation. but he also taught that mindfulness of happiness can provide the same liberating insights as suffering.

Decision Time

Decision Time

The Buddha taught that mental suffering arises out of ignorance. By “ignorance” he meant the misperceptions and delusions that your mind has about its own nature. Thus, the way to free the mind

The Three Wholesome Exchanges of the Heart

The Three Wholesome Exchanges of the Heart

Have you ever felt the need to be called forth by someone or something that will lead you to step forward and meet the challenges that prevent you from embodying your largest capacities?

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Forgiveness can be understood as a spiritual practice and has been taught as such by Jesus, the Buddha, and many other spiritual teachers. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines forgiveness in this manner: “To cease to feel resentment against on account of a

Opening to Love

Opening to Love

Every Sunday evening the Turtle Island Yoga Studio in San Rafael, California, is transformed into a vipassana meditation hall. A large silk painting of the Buddha, which I commissioned from a street artist in New Delhi for just this purpose, hangs on the front wall, and all the yoga mats are laid out around

Practicing Nonviolence Toward Self

Practicing Nonviolence Toward Self

Some years ago people used to wear a T-shirt printed with the slogan, “Life is difficult, and then you die.” I once asked a group of people at a yoga retreat what they thought when they read those words. One person found it funny; a way to laugh at

Self-Soothing during Difficult Times

Self-Soothing during Difficult Times

We’ve all experienced how unsettling and uncertain life can be and how easily we can be knocked off center at any moment. When we’re not in balance, we can become defined by whatever’s happening and get caught in what I call “reactive mind.”

Surrendering to Suffering

Surrendering to Suffering

Most people confronted by an assailant with a knife will try to avoid being cut out of fear. But in trying to avoid the cut, they make poor decisions, expose vital parts, and take actions that are ineffective. Not Prema- she grabbed the knife’s blade.

Healing Your Mother (or Father) Wound

Healing Your Mother (or Father) Wound

If you have unresolved feelings about your mother (or father), making them part of your mindfulness practice can transform what has been a hindrance in your life into a teacher.