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13 Mar
Posted in: Classes, Talks
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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
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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
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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
Posted in: Books, Classes, Practice
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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
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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
Posted in: Classes, Study, Suttas
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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.

12 Jan
Posted in: Classes
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Introducing: Study and Practice Class

Beginning March 5, I will offer a 6-week Study and Practice class on the Buddha’s foundational instructions for meditation practice — the Satipatthana Sutta.

Although not required reading, we will use Bhikkhu Analayo’s Satipatthana Meditation: A Practice Guide as our reference text.

This is an intermediate-level class, suitable for practitioners who are interested in going beyond the basics of Mindfulness of Breathing.

The course will include instruction in:

* Mindfulness of Body (including Breathing and Four Elements contemplation)

* Mindfulness of Feeling Tone (Pleasant, Unpleasant, Neutral)

* Mindfulness of Mind States (Thoughts and Emotions)

* Mindfulness of Categories of Experience (Hindrances and Enlightenment Factors)


When: Tuesday evenings, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, March 5-April 9
Where: First Unitarian Church of St. Louis, 5007 Waterman
What: Each session will include a silent 30-minute sit as well as meditation instructions, discussion, and Q&A.
Cost: The teachings will be offered on a dana (donation) basis, but there is a $20 fee to register.

Interested? Email 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 20 years with a variety of teachers including Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Sharon Salzberg — and Bhikkhu Analayo. 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 primary teacher is Phillip Moffitt.

9 Nov
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In Conversation

The most recent newsletter from the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies features an interview with Lila Kate Wheeler (one of my mentors) and Lama Rod Owens (co-author of Radical Dharma), who will be teaching a course together next month titled: Satipatthana in Dialogue with Suffering and Oppression. (I’ll be taking the course, so stay tuned!)

In the article, the interviewer asks about the idea of the course and what it will cover.

Lila responds:
“We will practice the Satipatthana Sutta’s four frameworks – body, feeling tones, mind and liberation – as a lens to focus and look into the roots of suffering and relief. We will also represent contemporary notions of justice, like intersectionality…. As the course title indicates we’ll put the traditional teaching and contemporary understandings into conversation with each other.

“My late Burmese meditation master, Sayadaw U Pandita, told me at the end of an intensive loving kindness (metta) retreat: Metta cannot remain as an internal meditation, it is not strong enough to be called metta until it is completed with acts of body and speech. Mindfulness and wisdom, too, are incomplete until they are practiced in visible ways…”


Lama Rod adds:
“I believe that we are desperate in our community for dharma teaching to be linked directly to how dharma should be practiced in the world. It’s nice to learn metta but what does that have to do with being called a derogatory name on the subway? How can I call on goodness and positive goodwill when I am being threatened and especially when I am pissed off?

“I am always having to practice in this way because as a black man in American society, I have a higher risk of facing unjustified violence at even given time. I need my dharma practice to meet the anxiety of what it means to be embodied in this way in this given time.”

Lila continues:
“In our contemporary context, both retreat and daily life instructions teach mindfulness as an internal practice. Its benefits are mapped by MRI and singular brains are called outstanding or abnormally wonderful or just normally messy. This leads us to feel as if the individual were the context for examination.

“But a fuller practice of sati was originally and beautifully mapped out by the Buddha in the Satipatthana Sutta — the Discourse on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness — to include being aware of the bodies, feeling tones, minds and liberation internally, externally, and both. This is very rich territory that hasn’t been explored enough.”

Lama Rod explains:
To practice an awareness of suffering we must be willing to turn our attention to the reality that what we enjoy comes at the cost of marginalizing others. This is an insight into the nature of interrelatedness as well as karma. Compassion or karuna reminds us of the suffering of others.

“I hope in this retreat that reminding can be further directed towards helping us understand that what we take for granted as being normal often comes at a cost to others. If we can learn to soften our hearts some then we can make more room in reducing as much harm as possible and begin to share more resources and make more room for others.


For the full interview, click here.

17 Oct
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Monthly Mindfulness


Beginning Nov 5, I will be offering Instructions in Mindfulness Meditation on the first Sunday of every month, from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm, at Solar Yoga, 6002 Pershing, 63112.

The class is suitable for beginners as well as anyone who’d like personalized guidance in mindfulness meditation.

This is a drop-in class. It is offered on a donation (dana) basis. No need to register. 

*** My credentials: I have practiced Mindfulness/Insight meditation since 1998 with many, many teachers including Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Sharon Salzberg. I have sat more than 400 retreat nights, including one- and two-month retreats in the U.S., South Africa, and Burma. I am also a graduate of the Dedicated Practitioner and Community Dharma Leader training programs at Spirit Rock. My primary teacher is Phillip Moffitt. ***

For more information, email Jan at

5 Sep
Posted in: Art, Classes
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Buddha Comes to Dogtown

It’s a long story, but just let me say: I am thrilled to announce that this fabulous Buddha statue, which used to reside at MacroSun (on Washington Avenue), has now come to live at my house (in Dogtown). I am SO HAPPY. And now that I’ve got such an auspicious space to meet, I’m going to starting working on organizing a new dharma discussion and study group! Stay tuned.