Siddhartha Gotama, the Buddha, would be glad to see how many professional counselors actually practice authentic Vipassana or Zen meditation. He’d be even happier to see how many of them apply the principles of his Four Nobel Truths and Eight-Fold Path to share more wisdom with their clients. Buddhist counselors give clients personal experience with insight into the impermanence of all the mental and physical phenomena that drive people into treatment in the first place. If you want to get the most for your therapy time and money, you need to understand the contrasts between Buddhist counseling and traditional Western psychotherapy styles like cognitive-behavioral therapy. To understand more, read Buddhist Psychology and Counseling by Padmasiri de Silva (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). ... Read More

How to Do Mental Alchemy

Alchemy means to turn your relationship with a troubling person, place or thing into a positive experience. For instance, a lump of coal pressed by the earth for thousands of years changes into a diamond. Both coal and a diamond are made out of the same carbon element, but the pressure changes the form. And wouldn’t you rather own a fine diamond than a lump of coal? The pressured, anxious, and "stuck" parts of your life are just the same as the coal and the diamond. You can alchemize the pressure you feel when you have anxiety, depression, anger, fear or boredom into acceptance, peace of mind and enjoyment. You can do this any time you want by starting to think ... Read More
Michael HoffmanHow to Do Mental Alchemy

The Monk, the Tiger and the Strawberry: A Story About Living in the Present Moment

One afternoon a devoted monk walked along a bubbling brook deep in the forest. He gathered water there every day. When he knelt to dip his bucket in the water, he heard the bushes rustle behind him. He turned and saw a huge tiger staring at him and licking his hungry lips. The monk jumped up, dropped his bucket and fled. The tiger leapt after him. The monk ran deeper into the forest than he had ever gone before. He kept running. The tiger kept chasing. The thick foliage ended at a steep cliff. The monk stopped short and looked over the edge. He saw sharp rocks hundreds of feet below. If he jumped, he would die. The tiger began ... Read More
Michael HoffmanThe Monk, the Tiger and the Strawberry: A Story About Living in the Present Moment

Dig One Well Deeply – Part II

More than 10 years passed as I bounced between the different meditation techniques. Some days I practiced TM; some days I tried Zen; other days I tried kriya. My confusion grew worse, so I thought maybe I would benefit by some serious academic study about these different forms. Maybe there were subtle points I was missing. I still didn’t realize that no amount of intellectual head tripping could make up for consistent meditative practice. My library was filled with powerful books like the fourth edition of Knowing and Seeing by vipassana master Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and The Book of Secrets by Osho. I even read novelist and poet Jack Kerouac’s The Scripture of the Golden ... Read More
Michael HoffmanDig One Well Deeply – Part II

The Creative Genius’ Guide to Mindfulness

The pop psychologists capitalizing on the mindfulness trend all talk about meditation for stress reduction. They make a valid point, considering how many Americans take anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication. However, now is the time for something more interesting than stress reduction. Intriguing meditation news is coming from the Netherlands. The Institute for Psychological Research and the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition at Leiden University are discovering that a meditative mind, free of distracting random thoughts and obsessions, actually has lots of room for an influx of creative problem solving ideas.   Some ideas may appear as flashes of inspiration or maybe the result of focused meditative attention to situational challenges. The implications for creative genius types like researchers, programmers and ... Read More
Michael HoffmanThe Creative Genius’ Guide to Mindfulness

Dig One Well Deeply – Part I

I’ll never forget Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s words at Humboldt State College in the summer of ’73. Hundreds of us had travelled from all over the world to practice Transcendental Meditation and learn from him. We sat in the college’s gymnasium just waiting for the question and answer segment of each of his talks. It was a scramble for the microphones. One Deep Well - A long-time TM teacher asked what he should tell initiates who wanted to know if Paramahansa Yogananda’s kriya yoga was a stronger spiritual practice than TM. Maharishi sat silent for a while reflecting, then said, “Everybody is always looking for a better way, the mind always searching, always wanting more. But this only scatters the mind, ... Read More
Michael HoffmanDig One Well Deeply – Part I

Buddha’s Homework

The Buddha demanded a lot from his students almost 3,000 years ago. It was all about a quality lifestyle, and vipassana mindfulness meditation was only a small part of his moral code. He was also a kind of existentialist and never sugarcoated how much work it would take to become enlightened. His Four Noble Truths and Eight-Fold Path are as psychologically profound and behaviorally helpful today as they were back in his day. Do Buddha’s homework and reflect on how you might have fit in with this great spiritual teacher. The Four Noble Truths – Buddha’s Existential Belief About the Realities of Human Life 1.  Human life includes experiences of great suffering. Buddha called this dukkha. How has suffering happened in ... Read More
Michael HoffmanBuddha’s Homework

What Happened to Davey

We feed like mindless parasites on the irresistible pleasure addiction provides us.  We attach ourselves to obsessive behaviors and chemicals ripe with enjoyment and ask nothing in return.  At least, nothing is asked of us at first; the bad things happen later.  Our brains grow fat but remain unsatisfied even after feasting too long at a toxic but intoxicating meal.  No one can forget the first time their brain responded ecstatically to a potentially addictive chemical or behavior.  The flavors, smells, sounds, mental images and body sensations of a neurologically intense dopamine fugue are impossible to resist. Davey’s Suffering – We usually become addicted when we are old enough to distinguish between a reasonable risk and a foolish one. The case … Read More

Michael HoffmanWhat Happened to Davey

Emmett Fox Quote

"If you have no time for prayer and meditation, you will have lots of time for sickness and trouble."Emmett FoxEmmett Fox was a spiritual visionary of the early 20th century. He taught New Thought doctrines which stated that God is an omnipresent divine intelligence. Fox believed that everything in human life has this divine essence. His concepts of infinite intelligence included the belief that both enlightenment and sickness have their origins in the human mind, which has the power to heal itself by thinking spiritually. Fox taught at the famous Divine Science Church in New York and was especially popular during the Great Depression. He passed away in 1951. About Michael HoffmanMichael Hoffman Facebook Twitter Google+Professional counselor Michael Hoffman motivates ... Read More
Michael HoffmanEmmett Fox Quote

Buddha Goes to the Psychologist

Siddharta Gotama, the Buddha, became curious about how his vipassana mindfulness meditation technique was holding up after 2,500 B.C., so he made an appointment with clinical psychologist Ben K. Tilton, Psy.D. (PSY19609) in Huntington Beach, CA to ask a few questions. The Buddha wondered if modern therapists were using vipassana, and if they were, how it was working. He was delighted to find Tilton so knowledgeable and eager to answer his questions. They had a great conversation and afterwards Tilton took Buddha to Kean’s Coffee in Newport Beach for a triple espresso. Q.     What do meditation and psychotherapy have in common? A.     Both are self-exploration processes.  Cognitive insights learned from psychotherapy can guide meditative process and ... Read More
Michael HoffmanBuddha Goes to the Psychologist