Surrender, Buddhism and Biker gangs

While chatting to a good friend about religion, it struck me all groups that are geared to change an individual in some way i.e. to conform to a new and different way of living have one thing in common, surrender.

This applies to religious groups such a Christianity, Buddhism and also other groups such as Criminal gangs.

From a Buddhist perspective, the defining moment that makes someone Buddhist is the moment they surrender to the Buddha.

I imagine that this is in some way similar to many of those Criminal biker gangs we see in New Zealand and elsewhere in the world.  The members of the gang surrender to the rules of the gang.

From a layperson’s perspective, I believe the same could be said for any Cult.  The model is where the believer or follower accepts and surrenders often to the will and direction of a single person.

When I think of corporate life, executives talk about “leaning in”.  This means that there are often problems and issues at work that make us want to turn and walk away or to leave the issue, but if we stay and lean into the problem we become more effective and efficient i.e. better employees.

What this says to me is that when we choose a group that will give us something that we value, we surrender in some way.  The level or intensity of the mental surrender can often dictate the level of success with this chosen group or belief structure.


What have you surrendered to recently?


Mindful thought of the day.

I am in my home office just sorting myself out before starting work.

I looked up and I can see Mangere Mountain in the distance and the white caps of Manukau harbour.

I look up and see.

I breathe in feeling the air on my nostrils as it enters my nose.

I breathe out, feeling the same sensation of air passing out of my nose.

My shoulders relax, I pull by shoulder blades down.

I breathe in, light enters my body via the air entering my nose.

I breathe out, dark smoke leaves my body with the air leaving my nose.



2015 Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) WORKSHOPS

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a mindfulness based behavioural therapy that has a major emphasis on values, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, living in the present moment, and accessing a transcendent sense of self. These skills are taught and practised in therapy to help clients create and live a rich and meaningful life guided by their values, while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it.
This workshop is designed to introduce Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and teach practical techniques, tools and strategies for beginning to work with ACT.

Workshops run in March and May 2015 in New Zealand, details below.


Patchy phase of meditation

I love my jobOver the last few months my meditation practice has been in a patchy phase.I have not consistently meditated, and it is interesting to see the impact of this change on my general well being.


Relating to work, I have noticed a gradual increase in general anxiety and stress.
The general niggles, and annoyances of working in a high pressure environment
have had a greater impact on my mood and feelings of worth.

I also noticed a slight increase in alcohol and food consumption which I explain as a way to distract myself from the day to day stresses.  I have definitely put on a few Kgs!

Yesterday, I have  managed to get home from work, and to not reach for a cold beer and chocolate biscuit.

Before bed, I managed to sit on my meditation cushion and meditate for about 15 mins or so.

Today, I can really feel the impact of that session.

At work today I have a clear view of what I need to do to improve my current work load,
and how to better self-motivate, and engage with my tasks.

I have built a better structure into my day and I feel more energised.

The benefits of meditation!

Life is suffering.

Laying in bed this morning I was thinking about the Buddhist saying that “life is suffering”.

In my younger days I rejected this statement as life is so much fun,,and you are just a bit morbid if you think that life is suffering.

As you get older and your awareness of the potential for good, and bad experiences increases my view has changed somewhat.

The Buddhist saying that “life is suffering” does not mean that you are in complete and total agony every second of the day, it means that moment to moment life is not satisfying.

To wake up in the morning having that warm feeling is really nice.  However, you know you need to get up for work shortly so the enjoyment of that moment is fleeting.  In a moment things will change.

When we experience the build-up to have an interview there is a lot of stress, and anxiety.  This is not a pleasant experience.  We find ourselves finding ways to distract ourselves from these unpleasant feelings.

Life is suffering, refers to the nature of things changing from one experience to another.  Nothing remains the same for any length of time.  Also, we distract ourselves from unpleasant experiences.

The problem I observe in myself is that most things are slightly unpleasant, and so I am distracting myself at some level, all the time.

Life is suffering” means to me that life is often unpleasant, the continual change and the experiences may not be the ones we want!!

The question arises how do we live with this and feel satisfied?




01 Meditation Activity – Sound

This is a meditation to experience the senses, in particular the sense of hearing.

It very simple and it is accessible to all.


Find somewhere that you wont be disturbed.

This doesn’t mean you need to lock yourself in a dark room away from the world!  Just find a place, maybe its a meeting room at the office, a bench in a park or a chair at home.


Whenever you can fit it in, the important thing is to commit to do it.


Anything from 3-5 minutes


1. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes, use your mobile phone stop watch or any device that ets you know how long you have been doing the activity for.

2. Siting in your seat of choice.  Make sure the body is comfortable and not under stress i.e. you are in a position you can hold for a few minutes.

3. Rest your hands and feet where they are comfortable.

4. Close you eyes.

5. Listen with curiosity.

Hear the sound coming into your eyes and start by distinguishing what the sounds are e.g. a car driving by, a clock ticking, people talking, birds singing, a clock ticking

Try hearing all the sounds at the same time without getting too wrapped up in anyone sound.

If you find yourself fixating on a sound bring your attention of “curiously hearing” back to sound in general.

If its all a bit hard don’t worry just relax and listen.

6. Open your eyes


Ask yourself a few questions…

– how do I feel right now

– what does my body feel right now

– what did you notice during the activity – what impressions do you have, verbalize them or draw a picture of them.  Talk to a trusted friend about the experience and see if it is worth doing again,


If you feel comfortable, add the answers to these questions to the comments of this blog post or contact me I would love to hear how you got on.

Safety and Security

No matter what experience you just had, you have just meditated.

It does not matter if you mind wandered about thinking about school pick-ups or what you will cook for dinner so long as for one moment you had an intent to try and listen – you meditated.

Congratulations, keep it up.


Image Credits

Cartoon head –
Sitting Girl By Nevit Dilmen (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons