Ram Dass’ Teaching on Viewing Neuroses as Shmoos

One of my favourite lessons from the late spiritual teacher Ram Dass relates to his relationship with his neuroses. Based on Ram Dass’ character – who he was as a person, and how he presented himself to others – one might assume that he was untroubled by negative habitual thought patterns. But in his talks,…

View Post

Metta Bhavana: An Overlooked Practice for Psychedelic Integration

Metta bhavana is an ancient Buddhist meditation practice that aims to cultivate the emotional virtue of loving-kindness, known as metta. I have previously explored the benefits of metta meditation for depression, as well as the potential pitfalls of the practice. I would like to return to the benefits of this form of meditation again, specifically…

View Post

Defining Naturalistic Spirituality

Over the last 50 years in the UK, the proportion of the population identifying as non-religious – often referred to as ‘Nones’ – has been on the rise. The British Social Attitudes Survey from 2019 found that over half (52%) of the UK population regard themselves as belonging to no religion. Hannah Waite, from the think…

View Post

Mudita (Sympathetic Joy): One of the Hardest Buddhist Virtues to Cultivate

Mudita (sympathetic/empathetic joy) is one of the four brahma-viharas (also known as the sublime attitudes or Four Immeasurables), which are the Buddha’s “heart practices” – those that develop particular emotional states, or virtuous emotions, that help to cultivate happiness in ourselves and others. “Brahma-vihara” literally means “dwelling place of brahmas”, and brahmas are gods who…

View Post

Pitfalls Associated With Metta Bhavana (Loving-Kindness Meditation)

There is an increasing amount of attention being paid to the risks of meditation, a practice that – through its mainstreaming – has wholly been associated with calmness and mental health benefits. However, a growing body of research and first-person accounts are revealing that mindfulness meditation – particularly when it’s intensive and prolonged, as on…

View Post