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Lama Migmar Tseten is the long-time Harvard University Buddhist chaplain. Awarded for excellence by the Dalai Lama and Sakya Trizin, he is founder of the Sakya Institute for Buddhist Studies. He has supervised the publication of dozens of volumes of rare curricula and literature and authored books on Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana traditions. Lama Migmar leads retreats worldwide.
Lama Migmar Tseten will be at 1440 Multiversity teaching Tibetan Mindfulness from October 26 – 28, 2018 and Healing Chöd from October 28 – 30, 2018. We caught up with him recently to talk about mindfulness in everyday life.
1440: Why do you think mindfulness has become so popular now in the West?
Lama Migmar Tseten: Mindfulness has an important role in stress reduction. It also seems instrumental in pain management. It can enhance work performance and improve memory and attention. It has proven useful in corporate work environments. It may have a role in assisting with ADHD.
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the practice of mindfulness is learned to pacify afflictive emotions, quiet inner chatter, and reduce stress. But it can, and should, be applied to any day-to-day activity—eating, walking, sitting, standing, and even sleeping. The true...
1440: Can you tell us how mindfulness is different from traditional meditation? Or is it the same?
Lama Migmar Tseten: Mindfulness is instrumental in traditional meditation, but the goal of modern mindfulness and traditional meditation are different. In the modern mindfulness movement, the aims are secular, oriented towards improving quality of life and work performance, stress reduction, and so on.
In traditional meditation, mindfulness is an adjunct on the path of spiritual realization and fulfillment.
1440: When is it the easiest for you in everyday life to lose your own sense of mindfulness? How do you bring yourself back into awareness?
Lama Migmar Tseten: When I react to any changing circumstance with emotions, then it is easy for me to lose mindfulness.
When I recognize I am caught up in emotional reactions, then I am able to reestablish my mindfulness and awareness.
1440: How do you keep your practice when relating to others who are not present in the moment?
Lama Migmar Tseten: In this case, when others are not being mindful, all one can do is maintain one's own mindfulness and remain without judgment or emotional reaction.
1440: Can you offer one beginner practice for someone to try at home?
Lama Migmar Tseten: Whenever you find yourself in a disagreeable situation, try not to react, take a deep breath, and wait until whatever negative emotion you are feeling passes.
Interested in learning more about Lama Migmar's journey from Tibet to Harvard? Watch this video to hear his story.