These are the top twelve most popular episodes from the first year of A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment Meditation Podcast. They are all great places to get started if you want a taste of our secular meditation podcast based on the Tibetan Buddhist analytical meditation tradition. And they’re great episodes to revisit if you’re already a listener:
#1. What Is A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment? (Episode 1)
Introducing A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment, bringing the inner science of Buddhist meditation to twenty-first century people hungry for happy, meaningful lives. We take a secular approach to meditation that requires no belief beyond our current understanding of science and psychology, based on powerful Buddhist mind training techniques that use imagination, intelligence, and emotions to probe our inner and outer realities, and expand our compassion.
#2. What Is Meditation? (Episode 2)
Over the past few years meditation has become popular as a way to help reduce stress, be focused at work, sleep better, or simply relax. Yet meditation isn’t just a tool to improve focus or relax, but a way to strengthen the positive qualities we all naturally possess: compassion, kindness, generosity, patience, humor, and finding joy in everyday life. This episode explores this higher purpose of meditation through the less familiar technique of analytic meditation that uses stories, thoughts, and emotions to steer our minds toward happiness, meaning, and benefiting others.
#3. Who Am I? (Episode 42)
Are you your body? Are you your mind? Are you a collection of thoughts, memories, and neural connections that could be uploaded into a computer to live forever? Or are you an old-fashioned soul? This episode probes the nature of the self using the Buddhist notion of emptiness, searching for the partless, independent, unchanging “I” that ordinarily appears to us, and finding a self that’s far richer and interconnected with reality and with others.
#4. The Dalai Lama’s “Simple Meditation” (Episode 24)
The Dalai Lama recommends this meditation for the early morning, right when you wake up. Instead of reaching for your phone, just quickly use the restroom, splash a little water on your face, and then come to the place in your home where you meditate, which can be right back in bed if you like.
#5. Guided Meditation: Stabilizing the Mind and Watching Thoughts (Episode 3)
A complete meditation session including posture, motivation, expanding one’s compassion, stabilized concentration on the breath, an analytic meditation observing one’s thoughts, and dedication.
#6. Guided Meditation: What Is the Mind? (Episode 7)
A guided meditation taking us through different ways of observing the mind, first examining its ever-present parts: perception, feeling, will, and awareness. Then exploring the nature of subjective reality itself by asking what is the mind without thoughts? Where is the space of our consciousness? And, how finely can we slice moments of consciousness? Do we ever arrive at a quantum of consciousness?
#7. The Preciousness of Life, from Cosmos to the Kardashians (Episode 4)
Voltaire once said, “It is not more surprising to be born twice than once.” In this episode we contemplate the miracle of existing at all, from our place at the end of our universe’s 14 billion years’ evolution, to the simple joy of another 24 hours alive.
#8. Guided Tonglen Meditation: Exchanging Yourself with Others (Episode 30)
Tonglen is a meditation practice that combines meditating on loving-kindness with meditating on compassion to release our own pain, suffering, and loneliness. In translation, tonglen practice can be called “taking and giving” or “exchanging self with other.” Tonglen is one of the “mind training” techniques from Tibetan Buddhism that reverse our ordinary state of mind of selfishly seeking happiness and pleasure for ourselves and those close to us. Instead, we willingly open ourselves to the suffering of others.
#9. What Is the Mind? (Episode 6)
If the mind is our thoughts, then what is it that observes those thoughts? What are we without thoughts? Do we ever truly see an object, or only its mental reconstruction? Though we are all convinced that we have one, science has no agreed definition for consciousness or mind. Even subjectively, the mind is elusive, difficult to pin to any specific mental experience.
#10. Guided Meditation: Letting Go of Suffering (Episode 16)
A clear-eyed meditation on suffering: both what suffering is, and the mental source of suffering in our delusions of attachment, anger, and self-centered ignorance. We practice the antidotes to these delusions, giving us tools for a more balanced, less self-centered view of our experience that offers sustained stability and happiness through life’s challenges and desires.
#11. Embracing Impermanence (Episode 9)
We cling to things as if they won’t change, but change is the nature of reality. When we embrace impermanence, we prepare ourselves for big changes, and are able to let go of our fear and anxiety to become more fully present to those around us, to make the most meaningful choices day-to-day, and to more deeply appreciate life’s fleeting pleasures.
#12. 20-Minute Meditation on the Interdependent Nature of Reality (Episode 40)
Meditating on the interdependent nature of reality, or emptiness, breaks down the illusion of independent, partless, and unchanging objects; instead we observe their parts, causes, and our mind that wraps these with a label like phone, home, or our delicious dinner.