Michael HoffmanMeditation, Psychotherapy, TherapyLeave a Comment

Laura House of Daily Mail Australia recently reported comments made by psychologist Dr. Paula Watkins about mental health dangers of meditation. Sober Buddha hopes readers won't take Watkins or the reporter too seriously. They need to answer these questions: Where is the clinical research proving that meditation can cause depression and anxiety and exacerbate mental illness by releasing years of repressed trauma? What specific meditation retreats, held where and led by who, have caused people to suffer negative and overwhelming mental symptoms? Can you name the retreats that require 10 full hours of meditation for 10 days straight? Who said ... Read More


Michael HoffmanLove Issues, Meditation, MindfulnessLeave a Comment

June 26, 2015 Dear Sober Buddha, You have to help me! My fiancee dumped me last week. She said I don't have enough money to make her feel secure. Ever since we met, she's insisted meditative life was more important than material things. We went to retreats together for five years, read all the cool new mindfulness books and magazines and meditated together at a local sangha every Sunday. I have over $600k saved, and I'm getting a settlement from a few "broken" REITs that will put me over seven figures. I'm set for life, but she still says it's ... Read More


Michael HoffmanMindfulness, Self-ImprovementLeave a Comment

June 4, 2015 Dear Sober Buddha, Well, I took your advice and bought that Mindfulness in Plain English book you recommended.  The problem is I don't like this Buddhist vibe of letting go of all my thoughts and feelings. And I really don't believe it's true that I'm not a real, solid person. I know who I am and what I like, and I don't want to meditate and turn into some mystical sort of woo-woo person. I also didn't quite understand all the scientific stuff about improved brain functioning for meditators.  My brain works just fine. Thanks for corresponding ... Read More

A Lesson from Thich Nhat Hanh – Release the Arrow!

Michael HoffmanMindfulness, Personal Growth, Self-ImprovementLeave a Comment

There is a Buddhist teaching found in the Sallatha Sutta, known as The Arrow. It says if an arrow hits you, you will feel pain in that part of your body where the arrow hit; and then if a second arrow comes and strikes exactly at the same spot, the pain will not be only double, it will become at least ten times more intense. The unwelcome things that sometimes happen in life—being rejected, losing a valuable object, failing a test, getting injured in an accident—are analogous to the first arrow. They cause some pain. The second arrow, fired by ... Read More


Michael HoffmanTherapyLeave a Comment

Nature of Sober Buddha Counseling Practice Sober Buddha Counseling provides private individual, couple and family help in a comfortable and relaxing home environment. Clientele consists of educated, affluent working or retired professional adults and artisans who want to relief from anxiety, mood disorders or obsessive/compulsive disorders. Most want skills to help expand consciousness and overcome self-limiting beliefs and behaviors. Most also request mindfulness meditation training and/or hypnotherapy. Eighty-five percent express dissatisfaction with previous cognitive behavioral therapy experiences. Sober Buddha Counseling also hosts a weekly Vipassana mindfulness meditation sangha (group) to foster deepening of the meditative experience. Theoretical Approaches Sober Buddha Counseling uses alternative treatment methods in response to ... Read More


Michael HoffmanSelf-Improvement, TherapyLeave a Comment

Never let anyone tell you what to think. You have the intrinsic right to your own self-beliefs. Sometimes people and situations pressure us to conform, and we start to doubt ourselves. We might also have emotional hangovers from childhood attachment problems that make us feel unworthy of love and afraid we can't trust our own intuition. You can investigate any problem you want in therapy, but "why" it exists isn't as important as "how" you handle it. In this stifling culture of political correctness, you still have personal rights, and effective therapy can help you learn to assert yourself. When ... Read More


Michael HoffmanMindfulness, TherapyLeave a Comment

Clients ask therapists the same questions over and over.... What should I do? Do you think it's my fault? Why did this happen to me? Meaning-centered therapists never answer these questions. They help you peel away layers of cognitive and emotional distortions so you can use a spiritual viewpoint to see value in your problems. Sometimes life drops a random bomb through little or no fault of your own. Your get downsized at work. You lose your retirement savings to a funky market. Your spouse betrays you. Your teenager dies in an auto accident. Nothing makes sense. A massive wall ... Read More


Michael HoffmanMeditation, Mindfulness, Self-ImprovementLeave a Comment

The original Pali name for mindfulness meditation is “Vipassana." It translates to “seeing things as they really are." Vipassana meditation training teaches you to simply observe both pleasant and unpleasant thoughts, emotions and body sensations with a calm, non-reactive mind. You feel like you’re watching a movie about yourself. You get fascinated by how all these impermanent sensations just arise and pass away one after another, in a flow of consciousness. Since Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, taught Vipassana around 350 B.C., many versions calling themselves Vipassana have popped up in cultures around the world. If you want the most authentic ... Read More


Michael HoffmanConsciousness, Meditation, Mindfulness, Personal Growth, Self-Improvement, SpiritualityLeave a Comment

Dear Sangha Friends, This morning's conversation reminded me of why I meditate in the first place, and why I'm devoting my last quarter of life to consciousness work. It's because I've always felt deep inside (even as a child) that there was more to life than what was right in front of me. I've always wanted to know why things are the way they are. Meaning behind meaning behind meaning, that's the ticket. So the inevitable question comes up at age 68 -- "With all the challenges I've faced, what's the meaning of my life? Why am I even here, ... Read More


Michael HoffmanPersonal Growth, Self-Improvement1 Comment

How many very intelligent people have you known who just can't seem to get their act together in social, business or personal relationships? They seem to be clueless or ambivalent about how their behavior effects other people. They can be undependable, volatile, selfish and cruel, but often aren't aware of it. You wonder -- "How can a smart person like that make such stupid decisions?" If you had a random sampling of 100 U.S. adults with high 130 IQs and 100 people with average 100 IQs, the lower IQ group would perform better on functional behavioral intelligence tests than the ... Read More


Michael HoffmanLove Issues, Meditation, Self-ImprovementLeave a Comment

April 1, 2015 Dear Sober Buddha, I've thought about learning to meditate since I saw the 60 Minutes TV story on mindfulness with Anderson Cooper last month. Maybe it can solve my relationship problems. I'm almost 50 years old, divorced twice and I haven't been single since age 15. My father died when I was six years old, and my mother remarried an abusive alcoholic who constantly criticized and punished me. I had two pregnancies in my teens, then married my high school boyfriend. I divorced him 20 years later, because he was narcissistic and not too bright. Then I ... Read More


Michael HoffmanLove Issues1 Comment

A fable is a short tale that delivers a moral lesson, often with animals or inanimate objects as characters. The Circus Monkey teaches us the value of staying committed to something we really want, even when other people and situations conspire to make us give up. Sometimes we hit rough spots in meditation and are tempted to give it up in favor of a quicker fix, but if we sit through our discomfort mindfully, we find that it always passes and that pleasant experience of equanimity returns. Enjoy this fable. See what you think all the characters and situations represent. ... Read More