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Buddhadharma : Summer 2017
summer 2 0 1 7 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 19 bodhin kJolhede: Indeed, we should all spend less time in our head. And we need meditation to do that. The pivotal issue, always, is attention: how we are using—or misusing—it. From moment to moment, it is our privilege as human beings to have choice in where to direct our attention. It is like holding a flashlight in a dark room—with a flick of the wrist, we can aim that beam of attention up, down, or side to side. When we notice that the beam has drifted into thoughts or images, whether of pornogra- phy or politics, food or family members, we find freedom simply by redirecting it to the practice we’re working on. Easier said than done. First we have to notice that our attention has wandered, and that can take a while. A whole round of sitting can go by—and much longer when we’re not sitting—without our noticing that we’re lost in thought. More (LEFT–RIgHT)sashapulleyn,katgWynn,lucianread Qi’m addicted to pornography; I have been for a long time. I have good days in my practice, but often I end up thinking about pornography in my meditation, and once it begins, it’s hard not to get stuck there. Is meditation even a good idea for me? Or am I someone who should spend less time in his own head, away from these kinds of thoughts? ask the teachers problematic still is when we do notice but choose to linger in the thoughts. And why would we do that? Because we’re basically addicted to our thoughts. This, not the con- tent of the thoughts, is the core issue. The true enemy is habit-force—our com- pulsion to abide in mental objects instead of in awareness of what’s going on in the moment. Habits get started with rewards, which have biochemical correlates. Research has shown that although porn is consumed through the eyes and ears instead of the mouth or bloodstream, it triggers the pro- duction of dopamine and other feel-good chemicals in the same way that drugs do. We tend to return to what gives us plea- sure until it becomes a habit, and then a compulsion, and then an addiction. So yes, the more porn we consume, the more these images will be seeded in the mind and the more likely they will sprout while sitting. Meditation interrupts this sequence through BodhIn Kjolhede is abbot of the Rochester Zen Center in Rochester, new York joAnnA hArper is co-guiding teacher at Against the stream Buddhist Meditation society repA dorje odzer (Justin von Bujdoss) is cofounder of the new York Tsurphu Goshir Dharma Center