Spiritual Tools #1


The past two weeks have been difficult with regard to my spiritual practice.
I’ve not gotten my daily meditations in with the consistency I had been.
— Insert All the normal excuses here —

It’s interesting/enlightening/terrifying how much difference I notice in my patience level now that the practice has been slipping. Luckily I’m still able to EVENTUALLY catch myself when I’m reacting in an unskilful way, but it’s occurring more often, and I’m catching it later.

I’ve got some ideas on putting some rigor around my “study” – more on that later.
I’m confident I’ll get things turned back around, I’ve got some cool tools that are already calling me back.
Today I thought I’d share some of those tools.

#1) Podcasts.
Having some “like minded” talk to listen to during the commute (instead of tuning into the “who killed who” that substitutes for news these days) has been very helpful.

There are many out there but here are a few:

Hardcore Zen.
Brad Warner is an interesting cat. I put him in the same general arena as Noah Levine, both were (to some degree) on the outskirts of society before mediation found them. Both approach things from a very down to earth place. Both have written several books. Brad’s “Dharma talks” are given in the language of normal humans, and are a pleasant way to spend the drive.

Secular Buddhist Podcast.
This is a good podcast that could be great. But so far for me isn’t.
The early episodes are – they outline the separation that can and does exist between Buddhist teachings and religion/belief, and they do a great job of it.
Where it starts to lose points with me though when the host crosses the line of impartiality. He sadly often goes beyond simply secular into overtly bashing religion/belief. He uses words like “ridiculous” when doing so. At such points the content seems to no longer have a secular agenda, though it seems to have AN agenda. It no longer applies impartial agnosticism. At such points the podcast feels like it would be more appropriately named the “The Atheist Buddhist”.
(“The Atheist Buddhist” may be a great podcast, but it’s mission statement would be different than the “The Secular Buddhist” and that’s what bugs me.)
Having said all that – it’s a thought provoking show worth being added to the queue

#2) Insight Meditation Timer.
This APP is a meditation timer, but has some cool community features, and also applies some gamification to the practice.
The cosmetic design won’t win any awards, but this is a great app with tons of well thought out features.
See hundreds of others around the world that are meditating when you are!
Earn milestone badges, and watch your streak of mediation days.

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/insight-timer-meditation-timer/id337472899?mt=8
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.spotlightsix.zentimerlite2

3) Community
I’m searching for a local community that I gel with, and have visited a few.
While I’m not sure I’ve found my final group, the process has re-enforced with me the value of community.
Find a few people on similar paths and fins a way to hang out.
If it’s a weekly meditation/talk… awesome.
If it’s a weekly coffee/talk… also awesome, but I have found that group meditation was more engaging than I had expected.

4) Books.
It’s hard to find time to sit down and read, but if you can here are some good choices.

Buddhism: A Concise Introduction (Huston Smith and Philip Novak)

Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening (Stephen Batchelor)

The Heart of the Revolution (Noah Levine)

I’ll post more tools (if I deem them valuable)  as I find them.