Browsing Category "Classes"
15 Aug
2019
Posted in: Books, Classes
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Three Kinds of Happiness

The topic of my next 5-week Study & Practice class series will be the Three Kinds of Happiness, as described in Phillip Moffitt’s Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering (which will be our reference text).

These three kinds of happiness are:

  • “The happiness that arises when conditions in your life are what you desire them to be
  • “The well-being that comes when your mind is joyful and at ease, regardless of the conditions of your life at the moment
  • “The unbounded joy you feel when your mind has reached final liberation from all clinging”

*** This is an intermediate-level course suitable for meditators who are interested in a deeper understanding of their relationship to the conditions of life, as well as an overview of the samadhi meditation practice that leads to deep states of mental absorption (jhana), and the Insight Meditation practice (vipassana) that leads to liberation. ***

When: Tuesday evenings, Sept 17 to Oct 15, 7:00 to 8:30 pm
Where: First Unitarian Church of St. Louis, 5007 Waterman (at Kingshighway)

Each session will include instructions plus 20-30 minutes of silent meditation and time for discussion. The classes are offered on a dana (generosity) basis. To register, there is an initial $20 fee, which pays for room rental and helps to cover the costs of maintaining this DharmaTown website.

For more information and to register, e-mail me, Jan Rosamond, here.

*** My teaching credentials: I have completed four years of training through Spirit Rock, where I am certified as a Community Dharma Leader. I’ve practiced in the Western Insight tradition for more than 20 years with a variety of teachers including Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, and many others. I’ve spent more than 500 days on silent retreat including several 1- and 2-month intensive retreats in the U.S., South Africa, and Burma (Myanmar). My mentoring teacher is Phillip Moffitt. ***

31 Jul
2019
Posted in: Classes
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Cultivation of Attention

I’m thinking of offering a new 5-week Study & Practice class series on the Cultivation of Attention. So far, I’m planning to include instructions and guided meditations on:

  • Resting Attention on the Body
  • Aiming and Sustaining Attention
  • Practicing Kind Attention

I’m hoping to offer the series beginning Sept 17, but I’m still working out the details. Stay tuned!

***

(illustration by Maira Kalman)

8 Jul
2019
Posted in: Classes
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This Year, Summer Starts July 16

I’m back from sitting a month-long retreat (with stories to tell) and now I’m just about ready to begin teaching a 5-week Study & Practice class on How to Work with the Five Hindrances. (Details below.)

The first class meets on July 16. Want to attend? There’s still time! Email me here.

Our practice during these five sessions will focus on how to work with what Buddhist texts call the Five Hindrances — five common challenges to meditation:

  • Desire (“If-only-I-could” Mind)
  • Aversion (“If-only-I-could-get-rid-of” Mind)
  • Restlessness and Worry (“I-can’t-settle-down” Mind)
  • Sloth and Torpor (“I-can’t-stay-awake” Mind)
  • Doubt (“I-can’t-do-it” Mind)

***

*When will we meet?
Tuesday evenings, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pmJuly 16 to August 13

*Where will we meet?
First Unitarian Church of St. Louis, 5007 Waterman

*What will we do?
Each session will include a 30-minute sitinstructions, and Q&A.

*What will it cost?
The teachings are offered on a dana (donation) basis, but there is a $20 fee to register (which pays for room rental and fees to maintain this website).

Interested? 
For more information or to register, please e-mail me here.

9 May
2019
Posted in: Classes
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Summer Session: 5-Week Study & Practice Class

I will be on retreat during the month of June, but beginning July 16, I plan to offer a 5-week Study & Practice class on How to Work with the Five Hindrances. (Hint: Practice with them!)

This will be an intermediate-level class, suitable for practitioners who want to understand how to deal with these five common challenges to meditation practice:

  • Desire (wanting to get something)
  • Aversion (wanting to get rid of something)
  • Restlessness and Worry (nervous energy)
  • Sloth and Torpor (sleepiness, dullness, lack of energy)
  • Doubt (lack of confidence)

This is the second course in the new Study & Practice class series I plan to offer periodically throughout the year. Each course is designed to stand alone, so no need to have taken the first series (an overview of the Satipatthana Sutta) to benefit from the second. Of course, it would be ideal for those those who took the first course to follow up with the second, but it’s definitely not necessary to have taken one before the other.

***

When: Tuesday evenings, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pmJuly 16 to August 13
Where: First Unitarian Church of St. Louis, 5007 Waterman
What: Each session will include a 30-minute sit, instructions, and Q&A.
Cost: The teachings are offered on a dana (donation) basis, but there is a $20 fee to register (which pays for room rental and fees to maintain this website).

Interested? For more information, or to register, please contact me BEFORE MAY 31 OR AFTER JULY 3. E-mail me here.

***

My teaching credentials: I have completed four years of training through Spirit Rock, where I am certified as a Community Dharma Leader. I’ve practiced in the Western Insight tradition for more than 20 years with a variety of teachers including Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, and many more. I’ve spent more than 450 days on silent retreat including several 1- and 2-month intensive retreats in the U.S., South Africa, and Burma (Myanmar). My mentoring teacher is Phillip Moffitt.

13 Mar
2019
Posted in: Classes, Talks
By    Comments Off on Earth, Wind, Fire, Water

Earth, Wind, Fire, Water

For those of you who were at the Satipatthana Study & Practice class last night — as well those who weren’t but maybe would like to have been — I offer this guided meditation by Phillip Moffitt, which I used as a basis for the instructions I gave last night on practicing with the Four Elements as a way to establish mindfulness of body.

Phillip begins:

Begin to bring attention to the body. Not judging the body. Or comparing the body to a previous experience of the body. Or to what you think a body experience should be. But being present for the experience of body as it presents itself — with interest and with curiosity.

Knowing the body in the body, the felt sense of body. Here. Now. Here, in this very body. In this very room. Now, in this very moment. Not a conceptual experience, but a direct, actual experience. The felt experience of body.

There may be a number of fleeting sensations, seemingly all arising together, or one may hold our attention, or maybe the body as a whole. Or parts of the body. Or a single part of the body. Invite this knowing capacity to spread through the whole body, so that we have the possibility of being mindful of the body in the body. Here. Now…

Drop the attention to the lower half of the body. Placing attention on the pelvis, the buttocks, the sitz bones — that area of body. Begin to notice whatever experience you have of hardness, or firmness, or heaviness. As you feel the pelvis, the buttocks, the sitz bones on the cushion or the chair or the bench: hard, firm, heavy — earth element in the body. Pour your attention onto this experience of earth element…

***

The guided instructions go on from there for about 40 minutes. You don’t have to listen to it all to get the idea, but it would be well worth your time if you did. Click here. And enjoy!

6 Mar
2019
Posted in: Classes, Talks
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What We Feel in Our Body…

I really had a great time teaching the first Study & Practice Class last night, which was an overview of the Satipatthana Sutta. (Who knew THAT could be so much fun!?!)

Next week the class will focus on Mindfulness of Body, so in preparation, I offer this lovely little talk (just 21 minutes long) by Ajahn Sucitto — on How to Approach Mindfulness of Body — which begins:

What we feel in our body becomes what we feel in our mind

“Now the word ‘mind’ is problematic. Since about the time of Descartes, ‘mind’ went up into the head. But then gradually we’ve been pushing it and widening the boundaries ever since. The last hundred years or so it came back and encompassed the heart and it became ‘psyche,’ the ‘unconscious,’ the ‘collective unconscious’…and it’s continuing to develop and now we have something coming close to the Buddha’s term: citta — which means awareness, spirit, heart, mind, intelligence… all these things. And what we experience psychologically, what we experience emotionally…that is also mind — affected mind.

“The primary quality of citta is just the sense of knowing, sensing, being aware. And then there are various colors that come into that: the emotional tones, intentions, trembling, firmness, and so on.

“So, when you come into your body with awareness, then you are able to bring the effects of steadying, of calming, of easing — into the mind without any intellectual effort. Just by placing awareness into something that already is comfortable, steady, then the mind becomes that way.

“The topic then is how to establish this presence in the body….

***

Yes, indeed! Listen here.

4 Mar
2019
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Not What to Contemplate, but How

I’m still working on final preparations for the Satipatthana Study & Practice Class that starts tomorrow night, so for today’s post I’ll just share these words from Bhikkhu Bodhi:

“The Satipatthana Sutta does not recommend a single meditation subject nor even a single method of meditation.

“Its purpose, rather, is to explain how to establish the mode of contemplation needed to arrive at realization of Nibbana.”

27 Feb
2019
Posted in: Books, Classes, Practice
By    Comments Off on Alongside Whatever Other Responsibilities…

Alongside Whatever Other Responsibilities…

Interested in joining my Study and Practice Class on the Satipatthana Sutta, but don’t live in St. Louis, or don’t have time on Tuesdays, or just can’t make it for some other reason?

Here’s another option:

Get the book — Satipatthana Meditation: A Practice Guide, by Bhikkhu Analayo — then use this link to Analayo’s guided instructions (freely available from the publisher) to do your own study-and-practice course, either by yourself or with a couple of friends!

This is not exactly what we’ll be doing in the class I’ll be teaching, but it’s what Analayo himself suggests in the introduction to his text:

“I would recommend using the book and recordings to develop the practice step by step. This could be done, for example, over a period of seven weeks. In the early discourses the number seven functions as a symbol of a complete cycle of time.

“In preparation for this cycle of self-training, I recommend reading the first two chapters. Following such preparation, perhaps each week it would be possible to find time to study one of the chapters on the seven main contemplations, and during the ensuing days of the week cultivate its actual practice. In this way, alongside whatever other responsibilities we might have, it would be possible to complete a course of self-training within a period of seven weeks.

“Following such a course of training, we might then continue letting the practice of all four satipatthanas become more and more an integral part of our life. The basic pattern of mindfulness practice remains throughout: being in the present, knowing what is happening, and proceeding accordingly.”

***

(That’s Bhikkhu Analayo in the photo above. While you’re listening to him give the guided instructions, you could imagine yourself sitting right there with him!)

26 Feb
2019
Posted in: Books, Classes
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Come On In!

I’m busily getting ready for the new Study and Practice class I’ll be teaching on the Satipatthana Sutta — which will meet in this very sweet room, by the way!

To introduce these teachings, I’ll use this quote from Bhikkhu Bodhi:

“The discourse generally considered to offer the most comprehensive instructions on the meditation practice is the Satipatthana Sutta….

“The Pali texts treat meditation as a discipline of mental training aimed at a two-fold task: training the mind and generating insight.

The still mind, calm and collected, is the foundation for insight. The still mind observes phenomena as they arise and pass away, and from sustained observation and probing exploration arises ‘the higher wisdom of insight into phenomena.’

“As wisdom gathers momentum, it penetrates more and more deeply into the nature of things, culminating in the full and comprehensive understanding called enlightenment.”

***

Here’s how the class will go:

  • We begin each evening with a short “arriving-in-the-room” silent meditation. (approx. 5 min)
  • After we sit, I give an introductory talk on the meditation topic of the evening. (approx. 25 min)
  • After the talk, I lead a guided meditation on that practice. (approx. 30 min)
  • After the practice, I open for a discussion/Q&A on the topic. (approx. 30 min)

***

First class meets Tuesday, March 5, 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Then every Tuesday for the next 6 weeks. Want to join in? It’s not too late. Send me an email.

11 Feb
2019
Posted in: Classes, Study, Suttas
By    Comments Off on Same, But Different

Same, But Different

In the Study and Practice class I’ll be teaching next month on the Satipatthana Sutta, I’ll use Bhikkhu Sujato’s relatively new translation of this foundational text as well as the more familiar translations by Bhikkhu Bodhi, Bhikkhu Analayo, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, and others.

I like them all. Of course, they each have their pluses and minuses — but I do like the relative plain-spoken-ness of this new one, plus the fact that it uses of non-gendered pronouns.

Here’s Bhikkhu Bodhi’s familiar translation of the opening section of the sutta (MN10), which he titles “The Foundations of Mindfulness“:

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living in the Kuru country where there was a town of the Kurus named Kammāsadhamma. There he addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus.”—“Venerable sir,” they replied. The Blessed One said this:

“Bhikkhus, this is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and grief, for the attainment of the true way, for the realization of Nibbāna—namely, the four foundations of mindfulness.

“What are the four? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating feelings as feelings, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind as mind, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world.

Here’s Bhikkhu Sujato’s translation, which he titles “Mindfulness Meditation“:

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in the land of the Kurus, near the Kuru town named Kammāsadamma. There the Buddha addressed the mendicants: “Mendicants!” “Venerable sir,” they replied. The Buddha said this: 

“Mendicants, the four kinds of mindfulness meditation are the path to convergence. They are in order to purify sentient beings, to get past sorrow and crying, to make an end of pain and sadness, to complete the procedure, and to realize extinguishment. 

What four? It’s when a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. They meditate observing an aspect of feelings—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. They meditate observing an aspect of the mind—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. They meditate observing an aspect of principles—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. 

***

Click here for the full translation of MN10 by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Click here for the full translation by Bhikkhu Sujato.

Interested in taking the class? Email me here.