Let’s become aware of the difference between rumination, brooding, and daydreaming on the one hand, and meditation on the other.
The scientific term for the first group is Self Generated Thoughts (SGT)

Self generated thoughts arise independently of what’s around us or what we are doing, and often go in a negative direction. They frequently occur when lying in bed in the morning, during commuting, and while waiting (at the dentist, the checkout counter, or on the phone).
Let’s switch to meditation during those times by watching the mind instead of being carried along by it. 


At the most basic level, mindfulness means awareness of our sensations, thoughts, feelings, and actions.
You may be surprised that actions also appear on this list.
Yet, doing something and being aware that you are doing it do not always go together.
Example: Did you ever go round and round looking for your keys?
Yet, you are the one who put them somewhere.
Similarly, many people drive too fast, eat and drink too much without awareness.
Mindfulness has a practical aspect that touches all of us.
Police reports show that over 60 percent of road accidents happen because of distracted driving, and according to research from Johns Hopkins University, surgical errors occur more than 4,000 times a year in the U.S. Surgeons leave stuff like towels or sponges inside a patient, or perform the wrong surgery, or operate on the wrong body part. And accoding to the Québec Department of Public Security, half of house fires are caused by lack of mindfulness.


Let’s check for tension from time to time during the day because unnecessary tension often creeps up somewhere in the body. What are your personal hotspots, shoulders, belly, eyes, the forehead, ao another place? To relax everything for just the 20 minutes of a regular meditation period is not enough.
On the average, we are awake for 16 hours. That translates into 960 minutes.
20 minutes a day of relaxation out of 960 minutes comes out to approximately 2 %.
So, by meditating once a day, we become more relaxed for only 2 % of the time.
The rest of the day we have the same tension as before.


The car is a magic carpet. It goes with hardly any effort on our part. And other people feel the the stink that a gas engine produces, not the driver.

Here are two driving habits with big consequences:
Accelerating and then braking toward a red light, a stop sign, or a curve.
Driving in stop-and go traffic. Many drivers constantly accelerate and brake in order to follow the car in front. This wastes gas. Truck drivers usually go at a steady pace, they do not constantly accelerate and brake in heavy traffic.
You might think that one unnecessary acceleration only wastes a few drops of gas—not a big deal. However, there are nearly 1.5 billion cars in the world, with each driver thinking the same thing. If each driver wastes one drop, that comes out to
1.5 billion drops, which equals 75,000 liters.
Over a year, that adds up to 27,375,500 liters.
Do you waste more than a drop a day, maybe 1 cup?
That adds up to 129,210,000,000 liters a year for 1.5 billion wasters.

We waste gas as a result of habitual driving, as well as because of emotional driving.
Emotional driving is driving while feeling very sad, impatient, angry or agitated, and according to research, it increases crash risk nearly tenfold. Road rage is one type of emotional driving. Another type is exemplified by someone driving as if he just escaped from captivity at the end of the working day.


We do not control sleep, but we control the circumstances that make it likely. My award winning book, Buddha’s Book of Sleep, had been translated into 11 languages. Recently, the Buddhist magazine, Lion’s Roar commissioned me to write an article on better sleep. Here is an excerpt:

“Consider the comfort of your bed. Are you there to enjoy it, or are you mentally somewhere else, stressing about something that happened during the day or might happen tomorrow? Mindfulness practices promote being in our senses over being in our thoughts, and being in the “Here and Now” over being in the past or the future. You may be physically in the “Here and Now” when you are in bed, but mentally you may be somewhere else. During the day, mindfulness meditation can bring a sense of contentment, peace, and happiness. At night, these feelings translate into a relaxed attitude and better sleep.”

Read the full article in the March 2023 issue of Lion’s Roar at: https://www.lionsroar


I worked as a volunteer with cancer patients at the Wellness Centre of the Jewish General Hospital. Here are three teachings that I found most helpful:

1. Nonjudgmental observation of sensations, particularly those of discomfort, fatigue and pain takes the edge off those sensations.
Body scans, thought scans, and emotion scans help.

2. Buddha’s teaching of the second arrow which points out that the first arrow is the inevitable consequence of being alive in this world where old age, sickness and death are the norm. The second arrow is an attitude of nonacceptance and victimhood. That attitude is charactrized by thoughts such as “Why did this happen to me, it is so unfair”, “What did I do to deserve this”, “I’m so unlucky”, and the like. These thoughts can cause even more suffering than the physical discomfort and pain of an illness such as cancer. We have control over this second arrow; with mindfulness practice we can be aware of it when such thoughts arise, and let them go.

3. The Sufi poet Rumi’s exhortation to identify with the rosebush rather than the rose.
The rosebush continues to come up with flowers each one more beautiful than the other as each flower begins to lose its brilliance. It allows us to appreciate the beauty and the wonder of nature so acutely that the prospect of personal challenges fades in perspective.


Here are two short Guided Meditations to use with children in or out of the classroom:


● I breathe in with my hands resting on my tummy. I notice what my tummy does. Does it go out? Does it go in?
● There are two ways to breathe:

  1. From the chest,
  2. From the belly.
    In belly-breathing, the belly goes out as I breathe. That is how we all breathe when we are asleep, because it is the natural way to breathe.
    ● I keep my hand on my tummy as I breathe slowly and deeply, and make sure that it goes out as I breathe in.
    ● I cough. I notice what my tummy does when I cough.
    This is what I do when I breathe out in Belly Breathing.
    ● I imagine there is a balloon inside my tummy. As I breathe in, I blow up that balloon. As I breathe out, I let the balloon shrink.
    ● I do this 5 times. I breathe in slowly so that the balloon fills up. I hold the breath for just one second, and then I breathe out slowly and let the balloon shrink.


● I sit straight with both feet on the floor, with my hands on my tummy.
I breathe deeply and slowly.
● I think of a time when I was in the playground on a swing. The swing went up and down over and over. My belly goes up and down like a swing as I breathe.
● I stay with my breath as I breathe in and out. I stay with it all the way as my belly goes up, and then down again.
● I enjoy breathing like I enjoyed being on a swing in the park.
● I check that my leg muscles, tummy, shoulders, neck, and face are all relaxed.
● If any thoughts come up, I say to myself, “Not now,” and go back to enjoying my breathing.

In most schools, only about half the students in a class feel they have a rapport with the teacher. Let’s raise that percentage. Rapport creates more enjoyment of the subject matter and of the class. It also motivates the students to pay more attention.


Here is an excerpt from Joseph’s article entitled Eating Better Through Mindfulness that appeared in the Autumn 2022 issue of FLOURISH magazine:

Hunger is the voice of our biology. But biology can be deceiving and sometimes, we can’t depend on our feeling of fullness to stop eating. Our levels of leptin—the satiety hormone—depend on several factors, one of which can be genetics; but remarkably, these levels don’t change immediately after eating.

In 2019, 40% of the adult population aged 18 to 74 in Quebec had a waist circumference that was considered by the World Health Organization as being at risk in terms of heart disease, hypertension, or type 2 diabetes. An incredible 2.3 million adults were subject to abdominal obesity, which is twice as many as in 1990. Without intervention, the life expectancy of these individuals will be reduced by several years. But we cannot presume that so many people have poor judgment. This situation may be due to the eccentric behaviour of our
signaling system, which can give us the impression that our stomach is a bottomless pit. Eating too quickly is another way to exacerbate this issue, as we are more likely to eat excessively before we start feeling full. Overeating creates its own problem, as the stomach extends and as a result. Then, the body will need more food before the feeling of satiety can be perceived.
As you can deduce, we should not wait until we actually feel full to stop eating. We have the ability to determine which foods we should consume, and in what quantities, before we even sit down at the table. And we should stick to our decision. This voluntary approach will not only allow us to eat the appropriate amount, but also to eat a balanced meal.

Mindfulness is also necessary when shopping for groceries.  Today, an average supermarket carries an astonishing range of more than 40,000 items; so, more than ever, it is essential to be smart when we are selecting our food. Unlike the ancient tribal societies, where everybody had the same basic diet, our dietary choices have become extremely vast. We need more than basic knowledge to navigate through supermarket aisles, which are full of crefully stacked temptations. Whereas the front of the product package contains the advertising messages, the ingredients list in the back contains all the crucial details for your health, which are often in fine print. 
Doing the groceries conscientiously also means prioritizing seasonal, locally grown, and organic products. 


Love is a feeling.
Relationship is a story — the story of the way love unfolds in time between two people.
Classical poetry or religious texts do not talk much about relationships. Romeo and Juliet did not have a relationship. ‘Relationship’ itself is a relatively recent word. It was first used to refer to romantic or sexual relationships in 1944, but this use must have been slow to catch on. My two-volume Oxford Dictionary published in 1975 had not yet heard of it. 
Our grandparents did not have relationships. They had marriages and sometimes affairs. My personal suspicion is that Buddha did not have a relationship either, although he had a marriage and a harem. This modern notion did not exist in his day.
Relationship is a partner dance that includes a healthy level of attachment, bonding, and strong sense of connection. You can love somebody all by yourself, even without the object of your love knowing it, but you cannot ‘relationship’ alone. 
Buddha’s teachings on love and desire are a bit lonely for me. They portray those emotions in a one-sided way, a bit like my infatuation for chocolate, rather than within the reciprocal comfort of a relationship. They do not acknowledge that there’s a human being with feelings on the other side of the equation. 
It is thus up to us to apply the precious teachings on mindfulness practice and Zen to relationships as we know them today.

We tense up when we jump over a puddle.
Do we relax completely afterwards?
Our day is like a country road with many puddles.
Tension accumulates if we do not let go after each jump.

Impatience also creates stress as it separates mind  from body:
The body is still waiting in line, but the mind is already at the checkout.
The mind is already at work, at home, at a destination.
The body is stuck in traffic.

Chantal Jacques