A Mindful Blog


Join me as we explore mindfulness. Many of these posts are based on my in-progress book, Jane Austen and the Buddha. How Austen understood suffering and alleviating it shares much in common with the Buddha’s teachings centuries before. These same ideas are relevant for us as we navigate anxiety and grief during these uncertain times. 

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” – Gautama Buddha

 

Oct
16

The Poison of Ignorance and Death Eaters

    The Poison of Ignorance and Death Eaters   “After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone   According to Buddhism, ignorance is not bliss. It’s one of the three poisons, alongside craving and anger, that leads to suffering. Ignorance refers […]

Oct
09

Othello and the Poison of Anger

  Othello and the Poison of Anger   “Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot / That it do singe yourself.” William Shakespeare, Henry VII     As described in the last post, the Buddha taught that three poisons lead to suffering: craving, ignorance, and anger. Anger is an emotion, and there is […]

Oct
02

The Three Poisons Craving and The Great British Baking Show

    The Three Poisons Craving and The Great British Baking Show   Mel: This week it’s all about stressed. Sue: Stressed? Mel: “Desserts” backwards     According to Buddhism, there are three poisons that produce suffering: ignorance, anger, and craving, and craving makes me think of The Great British Baking Show. If you’re not […]

Sep
25

Right Mindfulness and Petite Women Who Kick Butt

    Right Mindfulness and Petite Women Who Kick Butt   “Four ounces can move a thousand pounds.” Mulan     I once had a student come up to me outside of class and say, “Are you always this tall?” I guess with the change in perspective of standing right next to me rather than […]

Sep
18

Harry Potter and the Practice of Right Action

    Harry Potter and the Practice of Right Action   “It is our actions, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets   SPOILER ALERT! Go read all of Harry Potter and then come back. I’ll wait.   Headmaster Albus Dumbledore […]

Sep
11

Right Diligence and The Office

    Right Diligence and The Office   “Work smart, not hard.” Every Teacher Ever     Spoiler Alert Warning: The Office         No show exemplifies Right Diligence quite so much as The Office. I should warn you that spoilers are below. If you haven’t watched The Office, get on that. There […]

Sep
04

Right Concentration and Dug the Dog

    Right Concentration and Dug the Dog   “Squirrel!” Dug, Up     Dug, for non-Disney fans, is a dog from the movie Up. He’s able to speak thanks to a special collar and can be engaged in conversation, when, yep, he sees a squirrel, yells “Squirrel!” and there he goes. Dug’s problem is […]

Aug
28

Right Speech — An Essential Skill

    Right Speech — An Essential Skill   “Say only what is well-intended, true, beneficial, timely, expressed without harshness or malice, and — ideally — what is wanted.” Rick Hanson, Budhha’s Brain     Speak the truth kindly and consistently. That seems straightforward. My love of advice columns proves that it’s by no means […]

Aug
21

Right Livelihood and Compassion

    Right Livelihood and Compassion   “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great […]

Aug
14

Gator Girls

    Gator Girls   This week’s offering is off topic a bit. August 15 marks one year since my mother’s death, and she’s been very much on my mind. I wrote this piece for my university’s literary journal, The Sandhill Review.  The theme was belonging.   It was 2006 when I realized something was […]

Aug
07

Right Thinking and the Problem of Cow Paths

    Right Thinking and the Problem of Cow Paths   “That is why I don’t believe much in what Mr. Descartes said: ‘I think, therefore I am.’ I think, therefore I’m lost in my thinking. I’m not there.” Thich Nhat Hanh     I am an over thinker. I once had a friend say […]

Jul
31

Getting Right View Wrong

    Getting Right View Wrong   “How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!”  Jane Austen, Persuasion     When it comes to the Eightfold Path, we don’t master the first step and then move on to the next. They are interconnected. For the sake of understanding, though, let’s revisit just one: […]

Jul
24

The Fourth Noble Truth

    The Fourth Noble Truth   “If we live according to the Noble Eightfold Path, we cultivate well-being and our life will be filled with joy, ease, and wonder.” Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Budhha’s Teaching     The Buddha devoted his teachings to the causes and cure for suffering. The First […]

Jul
17

The Story of the Buddha and the Third Noble Truth

    The Story of the Buddha and the Third Noble Truth   “It is good to tame the mind, which is difficult to hold in and flighty, rushing wherever it listeth; a tamed mind brings happiness.” Gautama Buddha, The Dhammapada     Buddhism is a non-theistic religion. The Buddha is not a god to be […]

Jul
10

The Story of Anxiety

    The Story of Anxiety   “What makes us suffer is the way we think about what’s happening.” Pema Chodron, No Time to Lose     As noted in the previous post, anxiety causes suffering and is also an important psychological adaptation. We all experience anxiety. But we don’t all experience it the same […]

Jul
03

“We were built by natural selection, and natural selection works to maximize genetic proliferation, period. In addition to not caring about the truth per se, it doesn’t care about our long-term happiness.”

  “We were built by natural selection, and natural selection works to maximize genetic proliferation, period. In addition to not caring about the truth per se, it doesn’t care about our long-term happiness.” Robert Wright, Why Buddhism is True             Remember that the First Noble Truth is that life includes […]

Jun
26

“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is truly optional.”

  “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is truly optional.” Sister Dang Nghiem, Mindfulness as Medicine: A Story of Healing Body and Spirit     Why Jane Austen and the Buddha instead of Austen and mindfulness? After all, mindfulness is the buzzword today. Think of all of the magazine covers touting mindfulness staring at you in […]

Jun
19

Austen, the Buddha, Reading, and Me

“And then I knew: I read and reread Persuasion alongside Buddhism because it is a novel about suffering. In fact, all of Austen’s novels, even the most comedic, are about suffering, and the successful heroines are those who cope with their suffering in Buddhist fashion.”   Austen, the Buddha, Reading, and Me              Ever […]