Day 2 – Joseph Goldstein

Day Two of the Mindfulness Summit was with Joseph Goldstein who is a highly respected Buddhist teacher and has studied and practiced meditation for more than 40 years.  He is co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society and the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Massachusetts.  His latest book is ‘Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening.’

The following are my takeaways from his talk (and I paraphrase):

In the Buddha world mindfulness is a path to awakening from the mind-states that cause suffering such as greed, hatred, and delusion — to those of peace, love, compassion and wisdom.  It’s a methodology for looking inward.

Common pitfalls or challenges:

  • Forgetting that it’s a practice.  We need to begin and begin again.  It’s not a linear path.
  • Self-doubt and self-judgement.  But we can learn from them.  Important to remember to just begin again.
  • Thinking it’s limited to a meditative still.  We want to cultivate it into everything we do.  Being mindful to our speech and motives.  Mindful communication.  Is it coming from a place of goodwill?  Are we becoming less judgemental? kinder? more generous?
  • Thinking it will suddenly enlighten us or equating the purpose of meditation as getting to a blissful state.
  • Becoming attached to a peak experience.

The interviewer said she noticed that people often feel they’ve failed if they suffer.  He said that’s natural and can be a time with the most learning opportunity.  He recommended being curious about it.  Ask “where am I attached?” or “what am I not letting go of?”  He said that he’s learned over the years that recognizing isn’t enough but you must also see how you’re relating to it.  For example, are you trying to avert that feeling rather than letting it be?  Is there acceptance?

When asked what advice he’d give to his younger self, he said it would be the same advice his beginning teacher gave to him, “Be simple and easy about things.”

And then he simply led us in a 15-minute meditation.

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