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There is definitely a lot of "orientalism" surrounding Buddhist practices. And yet, there are other ways to approach meditation. I entered meditation the same way I entered running: I saw people around me doing running and enjoying it, thought I would see if I enjoyed it too, did a little research, asked some questions, and tried it out. And yet running isn't for everyone.

If you were ever to try meditation, you sound like you might get the most out of Mindfulness in Plain English. The author presents meditation as a practice which serves a philosophy. The philosophy is that as a species we suffer from our emotional attachments to the outcomes of events, to the objects around us, etc. In geek parlance, we have stress responses that were appropriate in our evolutionary environment but are unadaptive to modern life. Meditation is a practice that helps us override these stress responses, and for many people meditation is a better tool than attempting to override those stress responses with thoughts. And even if you don't consider yourself particularly stressed, a Buddhist might suggest that overriding those responses can help remove the weight of attachment from your decision making process and make you into a more rational person.

About a thousand years ago, Tibet had a similar relationship with the teachings coming over the Himalaya from India. Now people in America have this Thing with elite Tibetan teachers. :-)

When we're long dead, I think we'll see a uniquely Western Buddhist tradition that grows beyond its adolescent pangs. I've already seen at least one new one, a fantastic practice that works fairly well.

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