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San Francisco, CA (USA) -- Currently, the American and Japanese Zen Buddhist organizations (Soto Zen Buddhist Association and the International Sotoshu) are discussing training standard for Zen priests. We are recognizing, at Zen’s 50th birthday in the West, that we have established the foundations of practice, but we have much work to do in helping Zen leaders to translate traditional Eastern rituals into skillful means that include giving Dharma talks, counseling sangha members, creating new rituals, working with group conflict and meeting the interfaith and engaged Buddhist communities.
These skillful means are traditionally learned within Japanese and other Asian temple communities, from lifelong close relationship with teachers, and Buddhist family rituals, from attending Buddhist Universities, and from centuries of examples of both lay and ordained Buddhists. This training means translating Zen maxims and Buddhist terms such as skandhas, vedanas and kleshas into familiar principles in our own language which include: patterns of perception, defensive style, neurotic thoughts, and unique abilities. Let us use the language that connects with our hearts and minds rather than trying to connect with 2500 year old terms from another culture and language.
He did not attribute ability to the traditional caste system of his time, but instead he developed a science and practice for self-observation and self-transformation that could be taught and practiced by any person who was motivated to do so. We need to transform the mind from a process based on craving and its consequent suffering to an energetic field that meets our own suffering and transforms it to compassion. Additionally, the Buddha left us with the message that we needed to translate his teaching, this practice into our own culture, our own language.
The Shogaku Priests Ongoing Training (SPOT) has been developing such trainings—trainings that encourage self-reflection in the midst of relationship and group, which are discussed with teachers and peers.
Rather than just practice silently, interactions and relationships are encouraged and viewed with compassion and wisdom to build trust and deepen insight.
Previously this training required a three year commitment; currently the training is being offered in three week residential intensives, within a traditional monastic schedule. The classic presentation of the Theravada teachings on meditation, including a translation of the Mahasatipatthana Sutta.In print for more than 40 years and translated into some ten languages, Nyanaponika's book has attained the stature of a modern spiritual classic. What is Mindfulness?Mindfulness, though so highly praised and capable of such great achievements, is not at all a 'mystical' state, beyond the ken and reach of the average person.
Counting breath is a very easy and effective way to start meditation training, as one can do it anytime and anywhere. 1) When you wake up in the morning, before getting out of bed, bring your attention to your breathing. 2) Use any sound as your cue to starting a slow belly breathing (phone ringing, bird singing, train passing, a car, laughter). 5)  While waiting in line or waiting for your turn, use this time to count your breathing, Turn all your waiting time into rest time, recharging time, or slow breathing time. 6)  Be aware of any points of tightness in your body throughout the day.  See if you can apply relaxation by breathing into them – As you inhale, notice the tightness of the body, and as you exhale, let go of the excess tension – repeat it 3 to 5 times or until you feel relaxed. 7)  Before you go to sleep at night, take a minute to bring your attention to your breathing.  Observe six slow belly breaths (or count as far as you can reach). 8.) If you have difficulty falling asleep, take out the MP4 player, and start the breathing or meditation instruction. If you have had difficulty starting your meditation, or getting into the deep meditation state, you may try these methods in your daily practice.  You could soon become a master meditator before you notice it.
This entry was posted in Method of Improving Meditation and tagged counting breath, Kevin Chen, meditation, meditation training, Qigong. If you want to check out Buddhism or learn to meditate, if you are going through stress or difficult times, these books are a great start. Best Buddhist Books for Beginners becomes better- bluntly, because brother B's belong beside buddies. Mid City Zen Center and Buddhist Peace Fellowship welcome people of all faiths and spiritual traditions to a weekend training on spiritual activism.
How can we foment “wise disruption” to seriously and creatively challenge systems of oppression?
What is Nonviolent Direct Action, and how can Buddhists and dharma-heads use it to build people-power, creating fresh, life-giving tactics along the way? The Buddhist Peace Fellowship is a national organization exploring a rich and challenging spiritual-political paradox: Accepting the world as it is, and fighting like hell to change it.

The mission of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF), founded in 1978, is to serve as a catalyst for socially engaged Buddhism. Just as the Buddha intended, all of this adds up to knowing one’s personality, being clear about relationships, becoming more transparent in teaching as oneself, and understanding the unique differences that arise in sangha members. This also means applying some skill in group dynamics, a science that didn’t exist at the time of the Buddha, but will help to establish the foundation for a healthy sangha. He was convinced that transforming human suffering meant studying one’s own mind with discipline and guidance.
He did his teaching within a practical and a spiritual context - using all the resources that human beings may engage. When we have thus trained the mind, it is a vast resource for alleviating the suffering of all sentient beings. This has been the unique strength of Buddhism as it has traveled throughout Asia from India, to Southeast Asia, to China, Korea, Japan and the West. There are also explicit training in giving a Dharma talk from your own experience of practice. Combining deep personal insight with the power of clear exposition, the author guides the reader into the essential principles making up the Buddha's way of mindfulness. It appeared in Chinese literature as early as the Eastern Han Dynasty (25—220AD), when Buddhism was introduced to China.
Try to slow your breath to the rhythm of walking — 4-6 steps inhale, and 6-8 steps exhale – it may become automatic after some practice.
Try to do slow belly breathing and direct your attention to either your abdomen or the bottom of your feet.
Even if it does not put you to sleep quickly, a high-quality breath counting or meditation will let your body and mind rest similar to when you are asleep.
It not only helped them cope with stress, anxiety, and craving when it was most needed, but also trained their attention to the mind-body connection. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or editors. We aim to be "The Daily Show of mindfulness," spreading the good news beyond the choir to those who weren't sure they gave a care. Our purpose is to help beings liberate themselves from the suffering that manifests in individuals, relationships, institutions, and social systems. Buddhism has also entered each culture, been assimilated, transformed the culture and transformed itself. In its elementary manifestation, known under the term 'attention', it is one of the cardinal functions of consciousness without which there cannot be perception of any object at all.
The famous Buddhist classic The Wisdom and Contemplation Sutra or An Ban Shou Yi Jing in Chinese (?????)[1], discussed prolonged and intense contemplation, which played an essential role in cultivating oneself in Buddhism. In addition, I instruct them to make slow belly breathing a habit, to do it whenever possible, and to track how long they can practice each time without interruption. This got them mentally ready for next step of meditation training,  Eighty percent of participants in my study were able to move from counting breath to meditation in 2 weeks, and continued meditating 5 days or more a week (15 to 25 minutes each day). Heart rate variability biofeedback as a method for assessing baroreflex function: a preliminary study of resonance in the cardiovascular system. Treating hypertension with a device that slows and regularizes breathing: a randomised, double blind controlled study. BPF's programs, publications, and practice groups link Buddhist teachings of wisdom and compassion with progressive social change. This sounds suspiciously psychological to me; without depending on circumstances or conditions, we need to apply our focus to transforming the mind. In order to train effective Zen leaders we need to make this translation within our traditional practices, rather than just cloning or imitating the image and practice of our Japanese ancestors. If a sense object exercises a stimulus that is sufficiently strong, attention is roused in its basic form as an initial 'taking notice' of the object, as the first 'turning towards' Because of this, consciousness breaks through the dark stream of subconsciousness ( -a function that, according to the Abhidhamma (Buddhist psychology), is performed innumerable times during each second of waking life).

Try lengthening your exhalation; this may help you relax better since your heart rate slows down when you breathe out.
American Heart Journal of Physiology, 253, (Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 22) H680-H689. 227-248 in PM Lehrer and RL Woolfolk (eds.) Principals and Practice of Stress Management, (Third Edition). Respiratory sinus arrhythmia biofeedback therapy for asthma: a report of 20 unmedicated pediatric cases using the smetankin method.
This function of germinal mindfulness, or initial attention, is still a rather primitive process, but it is of decisive importance, being the first emergence of consciousness from its unconscious subsoil.From this first phase of the perceptual process naturally only a very general and indistinct picture of the object results. If there is any further interest in the object, or if its impact on the senses is sufficiently strong, closer attention will be directed towards details. The attention, then, will dwell not only on the various characteristics of the object, but also on its relationship to the observer.
This will enable the mind to compare the present perception with similar ones recollected from the past, and, in that way, a coordination of experience will be possible. This stage marks a very important step in mental development, called in psychology 'associative thinking'.
It also shows us the close and constant connection between the functions of memory and attention (or mindfulness), and will thereby explain why in Pali, the language of the Buddhist scriptures, both these mental functions are expressed by the one word sati. For the purpose of this exposition we include it in the second stage of cognition as affected by the development of attention. It covers a very wide field: from any attentive observation of every-day facts, and attentive occupation with any work, up to the research work of the scientist and the subtle thoughts of the philosopher.
Here, perception is certainly more detailed and comprehensive, but it is not necessarily more reliable.
By all these factors the reliability of even the most common perceptions and judgements may be seriously impaired. On the level of this second stage, by far the greatest part of all those will remain who lack the guidance of the BuddhaDhamma, as well as those who do not apply that instruction to the systematic training of their own minds.With the next advance in the gradual development of Attention, we enter the very domain of Right Mindfulness or Right Attention (samma-sati). But in treading the way pointed out by the Satipatthana method, Right Mindfulness may grow into something quite near and familiar, because, as we have shown before, it has its root in quite common and elementary functions of the mind.Right Mindfulness performs the same functions as the two lower stages of development, though it does so on a higher level.
We have seen how in all these stages, it is an increase in the intensity and quality of attention, or mindfulness, that is mainly instrumental in enabling a transition to the next higher stage.
If the human mind wants a cure for its present ills, and wishes to be set firmly on the road to further evolutionary progress, it will have to start again through the Royal Gate of Mindfulness.The Road to the Development of ConsciousnessThe second stage of development -the more extensive, but still delusive knowledge of the world of objects -is already a secure possession of human consciousness.
Owing to the increase in the knowledge of details, over-specialization with all its attending beneficial and harmful effects, has gone very far in modern civilization.
The biological consequences of one-sided development are well known: degeneration, and finally elimination of the species, as in the case of the prehistoric giant lizards, with their huge bodies and small brains. To-day's danger, however, is overdevelopment of one-sided brain-activity devoted solely to material ends, in the service of a thirst for sense pleasures and a lust for power.
The concomitant danger is that mankind might, one day, be crushed by the very creations of its own hypertrophied brain- its body-killing inventions and its mind-killing 'distractions'.
The fate of modern civilization might well be a repetition of the collapse of that technical marvel, the Babylonian Tower, all over again, with its builders not understanding, but fighting each other. It is the eternal guardian that, if listened to, will protect humanity from shipwreck on the rocks of extremes, mental, spiritual and social.

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