2021 – Namgyal Monastery online – Zoom meeting – Calm Abiding (Samata) to Insight (Vipassana) Mediation program for 8 Saturdays beginning from February 27 to April 17, 2021

Starts
Feb
272021
Ends
Apr
172021

2021 - Namgyal Monastery online - Zoom meeting – Calm Abiding (Samata) to Insight (Vipassana) Mediation program for 8 Saturdays beginning from February 27 to April 17, 2021

From 11am to 12

$80

Namgyal Monastery office / office@namgyal.org or Call: 607-279-8805

 

2021 - Namgyal Monastery online - Zoom meeting – Calm Abiding (Samata) to Insight (Vipassana) Mediation program for 8 Saturdays beginning from February 27 to April 17, 2021

Date: Saturdays – February 27, March 6, 13, 20, 27 April 3 10, 17, 2021

Time:  Morning - 11am to 12.

Cost:  $80. 

  • To register for the Samata & Vipassana Meditation program you are requested to send email to : office@namgyal.org 
  • For payment please visit our website: www.namgyal.org Click Donation and make payment or send a check to Namgyal Monastery.

 

Beyond Mindfulness: From Calm Abiding (Samata) to Insight (Vipassana) Meditation

What is Samata Vipassana? This eight-week Zoom program offers weekly one-hour sessions of guided instruction and discussion on both calm abiding and insight meditation also known as Shamata Vipassana.

 

  • Samatha or calm abiding, steadies, composes, unifies, and concentrates the mind, and
  • Vipassanā, or insight, gives one perspective into the true nature of our existence, and how things really are.

This practice is ideal for helping with the anxiety and loneliness brought on by the pandemic and other stresses of life, perfect for those who are new to meditation and interested in learning and developing a regular practice, and essential as a foundation for accessing the more complex practices of the Vajrayana. It is based on original teachings of the Buddha as a way to support personal transformation through self-observation and exploration. The practice starts with Samata or mindfulness, and once stability in concentration is gained, it moves on to Vipassana and investigating perception, mind, and mind’s nature.

What makes it special? This style of meditation goes beyond the widely popular mindfulness training program which itself was derived from Shamata Vipassana. Whereas mindfulness focuses on finding relief from whatever level of negative stress we are experiencing, Shamata Vipassana focuses on the root of all forms of positive and negative stress caused by our constant pursuit of the next best thing and avoidance those things unwanted. Always concerned with looking good and not looking bad, we are caught in an endless and often mindless search for ways to satisfy our needs, but are never, ever satisfied for long. In learning to work with our world from more from a vantage point of equanimity, we observe both attraction and aversion as just movements of the mind, and that simple recognition gradually diminishes their grip. In not to following them heedlessly, we find freedom, become happier and more adaptive, and open to beginning a genuine spiritual journey.

It also goes beyond simply being aware, to encompass how we are being aware. A common reaction to meditation is, “I am a terrible meditator, I can’t do it, I try so hard, and every time I just get more scrambled and can’t ever settle. This must be for more spiritual folks, or calmer minds, and not me.” That reaction comes from a place of impatience, judgment, frustration and striving, the very kinds of things that cause stress in the first place. So, in Shamata Vipassana we focus not only on what is observed but also the observer. We nurture not only awareness, but also awareness of awareness and its primary attribute compassion. Shamata Vipassana is a compassionate awareness where instead of being angry with our mind when it wanders, we infuse our attention, our awareness with an interest, an openness, and a caring like a parent is with a child. Understanding this connection is essential to fruitful growth and even personal transformation in meditation. The result is that as we learn to open and care for our self, we also learn to care for others too.

In the end then, the practice becomes a self-exploratory journey of personal growth.

Program Instruction. Each week we will explore a new topic, practice meditation, and discuss any questions participants may have. In between sessions, participants are asked to commit to two twenty-minute meditation sessions per day. A topical outline follows.

  1. How Shamata Vipassana meditation works
    1. Turning off or slowing down the spinning of the mind
    2. Which is connected to the body and causes stress
    1. To create space for insight into impermanence, the causes of suffering, the seeds of happiness
    2. And learn to relate to all from a less ego-centric perspective
  1. How to integrate meditation with reflections on compassion
    1. Why this matters to you – joy and appreciation
    2. Why this matters to others – caring for others
  2. How to create a safe container to avoid distractions for daily practice
    1. Commit to time and place
    2. Avoid unnecessary chatter and activity
  3. How to prepare and rest body, speech, and mind for practice
    1. Resting the body: Seven-point posture
    2. Resting the senses: Do not follow
    3. Resting the mind: Return, return, return
  4. Shamata Instructions
    1. Developing Concentration
    2. Calming the mind
    3. Developmental stages
  5. Vipassana Instructions
    1. Expand to panoramic awareness of all senses
    2. Observe fluidity
  6. Post-meditation instructions and other support activities including
    1. Eating
    2. Walking
    3. Seeing
  7. Addressing obstacles
    1. Working with bliss
    2. Working with dullness
    3. Working with agitation
  8. Additional practices for developing compassion
    1. The six transcendent perfections (paramitas) for stepping out of egocentricity
    2. Loving kindness meditation
    3. Appreciation and dedicating the merit
  9. Introduction to formless meditation (without object)

Clint Sidle has been a Buddhist practitioner for 40 years. Starting with his first teacher Sri Goenka, he practiced Shamata Vipassana meditation for seventeen years including annual nine-day silent retreats at Insight Meditation Society where his teachers included the founding directors Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield as well as with Anagarika Munindra teacher of Joseph and a wandering yogi compatriot of Goenka. He then studied Shambhala training at Shambhala International, a legacy of Trungpa Rinpoche who was among the first to introduce Tibetan Buddhism to the West. Since 1998 has been a student of Vajrayana Buddhism and has studied with Tibetan masters Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, Kenchen Palden Serab Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, and Tulku Sang-nyak Rinpoche all within the Nyingma tradition. He has edited two books of by Khenpos based on their teachings on the foundation practices of Ngondro and a commentary on the Great Perfection practice manual Yeshe Lama. He is currently editing a third book, also a commentary by Khenpo Tsewang, on The Flight of the Garuda, a book of songs on the Great Perfection by the legendary 19th century master Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol.

In professional life, Clint is the retired and founding director of the prestigious Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows Program in the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and a former consultant in leadership development primarily for other institutions of higher education. His leadership programs earned him national recognition, drew on his spiritual background, and is based on the premise of servant leadership and the discovery of one’s basic goodnessthe pinnacle of the authentic self. His last three books, The Leadership Wheel: Five Steps for Personal and Organizational Greatness, This Hungry Spirit: Your Need for Basic Goodness, and Empowered: Leadership Development for Higher Education are all based on this premise and how it is developed.

 

DETAILED EIGHT WEEK AGENDA

  1. Day 1: Introduction and How Shamata Vipassana meditation works
    1. General introduction
      1. My background (read above)
      2. Offers something more than mindfulness-based stress reduction. It investigation into the nature of being that goes beyond relaxation to investigating the nature of being and existence. So, it is definitely more spiritual and results in a greater levels of happiness, well-being, and workability of our world.
  • Serves as a ground for more elaborate forms of Buddhist meditation and is based on what the Buddha actually taught. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is derived from it
  1. Research on the benefits reveals not only less stress and stress related symptoms, but greater sense of well-being, happiness and confidence, sleep, health, and brain functioning. Steady practice shows that it is the only thing that will increase and sustain the biochems of serotonin and dopamine – the happiness chemicals.
  2. Although the instruction is light on Buddhist
    1. There will be some integration of Buddhist philosophy which fundamentally participants will find just makes common sense and not something weird or alien
    2. Feel free to hallenge me, ask questions à really is a way of living life more joyously, happily
  3. The program is for eight weeks.
    1. For two reasons: Get a taste and create a habit
    2. Something new each week
    3. Sessions designed 20-20-20 minute segments of instruction, meditation and question and answers
  • To succeed, as commit to all 8 weeks, and two 20 minute sessions per day (Typically, the intro is a 7 day intensive)
  1. Introduction to meditation
    1. Progression in the technique – ShamataàVipassanaàFormless; Concentration on objectàInsight on observations àResting in awareness itself
    2. Shamata Vipassana – how it works
      1. Shamata – concentration on an object – breath, figure, mantra, visualization – to calm, settle and slow the mind which is connected to body and causes stress – rein in the minds tendency to wander and attach to thought, emotion, sensations – and spin out of control
      2. Vipassana – awareness or insight into beingness – most predominantly, impermanence, the constancy of change, and the lack of solidity of what we think is concrete and real (the causes of stress). As we internalize insight, the power of thought and emotion lose their grip and plant the seeds of greater openness and happiness. The reason we see things as concrete, it the ego is a grasping, clinging, and attaching machine
        1. When see the mind constantly changing, we see the impermanence to our familiar moods, emotions, patterns of thought because everything is constantly changing. This loosens the sense of self meaning we realize the sense of ‘I’ or ‘mine’ or body or identity or whatever is a belief and not a reality
        2. As our mind stills and Vipassana deepens, our attachment to our familiar patterns begin to lose their grip to reveal an underlying feeling of bright and calm spaciousness, a sense equanimity and peace, and even a feeling of compassion. All of this is the true stuff of which we are made.
      3. We develop these sequentially, but they are not really separate, we simply shift in emphasis overtime and will go back and forth
      4. The stillness of Shamata allows insight of Vipassana
  • Formless or Dzogchen Meditation. Is simply resting in awareness and our inherent nature. We will end with this in the last session, it is really not possible to do without the ground of Shamata Vipassana. Without preparation, its like trying to balance a needle on its head.
  1. Overcoming resistance: “I can’t do it” is one of the common explanations for not following through. Two things to think about to help sustain your practice
    1. First consider it a responsibility to yourself rather than an obligation rather or an oppressive rule.
    2. Second, it really is the practice of becoming fully human, and to overcome decades and even lifetimes of obscuration, requires some commitment. It’s called practice for a reason, you are retraining your mind and trying to create a new habit
    3. So all I ask is that you give it the 8 weeks to create a new pattern in your life
    4. Instructions are simple but practice is not easy. The reason it is called practice is you are retraining your mind
  2. Shamata Instructions
    1. Create a container – time and place every day
    2. Posture
      1. How to prepare and rest body, speech, and mind for practice
        1. Resting the body: Seven-point posture
        2. Resting the senses: Do not follow
        3. Resting the mind: Return, return, return
      2. Experiment with posture
  • Concentration – Primary object of awareness is home ground for when mind wanders
    1. Two parts: the object and returning to the object. We will be using the breath as the primary object of concentration for Shamata.
    2. Precision – in-out-pause
    3. Effort, accuracy, mindfulness
    4. Powerful action – begin again
  1. Note thoughts, emotions, sensations, sounds and return to the breath. Don’t get caught up. It calms the mind and progresses in developmental stages

 

  1. Day 2: Shamata Instructions II
    1. Bare attention – just what is as it is. Be like and objective independent observer
      1. Zen Haiku: The old pond. The frog jumps in. Plop
      2. Kornfield: moving the boulders in the water
  • Lighten up – don’t over concentrate because you create stress, it’s a manifestation of the ego, and go in the opposite direction
  1. Remain in the moment
    1. Note thoughts of past, present, future
    2. It’s not difficult to be mindful, its difficult to remember to be mindful
  2. Don’t be judgmental of thoughts
    1. be more concerned about tardiness in recognizing them
    2. Train self not to get lost in them
  • Train ourselves in knowing difference between thinking and lost in thought
  1. The more we practice, the more it becomes a habit
  1. Notice the gap
  2. Counting

 

  1. Day 3 Shamata Instructions III
    1. Sweeping the body technique and when to use
    2. Balance effort with surrender
      1. Too much striving defeats the purpose
      2. Don’t become overly ambitious
    3. Don’t try to make things happen
    4. Don’t react, don’t cling, don’t follow
    5. Keep a soft and receptive mind – simply be with what ever comes up

 

  1. Day 4 Vipassana Instructions
    1. Gradually expand awareness to shine on panoramic view of all our senses, feelings, emotions and thinking
      1. Encompass all objects of the senses, including thoughts and emotions, and simply note them and do not identify with them – feel the experience
      2. Notice past, present, future thoughts and return to the breath
    2. Awareness of thinking shines light on how insubstantial and ephemeral they are
      1. Meet each experience with equanimity – like a neutral observer – avoid personalizing – also called wise attention
        1. Acceptance
        2. Rejection
        3. Indifference
      2. Observe the observer – observing objectively how we relate to events
    3. Observe insights on
      1. Impermanence – loosens our being
        1. Interdependence and conditionality, whether mental events, bodily sensations, sounds or whatever our whole life is no more than this chain of events. Nothing is permanent
        2. Observe mind-body to discover interdependence, emptiness
        3. Observe each experience with equanimity – meaning release feelings of attachment, rejection, or indifference.
      2. Emptiness: The myth of self – who am I?
        1. My body, my thought but neither are permanent
        2. In your awareness, switch from ‘I am’ to ‘it is’ – body, speech, mind
        3. Note your identities – when not thinking about who you are, who are you? Are you really just that?
        4. Dukkha, Anicca, Anatta – Suffering, Impermanence – everything constantly changes, because everything constantly changes, so does the self because it is subject to the same laws
        5. We begin to de-personalize by seeing everything as impermanent and impersonal while appearing and disappearing. We begin to realize there is no one behind what is happening except our thoughts and emotions which come and go. Things arise and fall away as an process where there is no agent like an illusion or a movie, and as we slow the movie down, we see the interdependent parts
        6. When follow thoughts they strengthen, and we let them go they weaken
  • Suffering is the result of taking emotions personally. It is not a personal drama, its opening to the greater spectrum of life and seeing its root. The emotions and pain of suffering arise from taking things personally and not seeing them as being subject to constant change and conditionality.

 

  1. Day 5 Addressing obstacles
    1. Desire/Bliss – people, attachments, cravings
      1. Not about getting anything, it’s about opening experience and letting be
      2. Where does desire lead? One thing after another
  • Example: The Vipassana romance
  1. Aversion – anger, resentment, doubt, agitation
    1. Pain – don’t bargain as in “I’ll do this to get rid of it” Just be
      1. Bare attention for a while, return to the breath
      2. Relax in it and experiment
    2. The thought of your ‘obstacle’ is not your obstacle, it’s just a thought
  • Boredom – usually comes from lack of attention
  1. Example: The Vipassana vendetta
  1. Neutral – drowsiness, dullness, boredom
    1. Increase concentration-awareness
    2. Stand-up
  • Sweep
  1. Open eyes – pick a new object

 

  1. Day 6 Post-meditation instructions and other support activities. Instruction will focus on walking meditation and discussion of how the principles apply to the others below.
    1. Take an hour of silence
    2. Walking meditation
      1. Start by sweeping – slowly, then quickly
      2. Again slowly, first focus sensations and movement of feet and then body as begin to walk
  • Experiment with pace
  1. After established: pick up the pace and 80/20 – experiment with panoramic senses
  2. Walk with and without destination – open or counting
  3. Apply to other activities
  1. Eating meditation
    1. seeing, smelling, touching, tasting, lifting, chewing, swallowing
    2. start with raisin or nuts
  2. Seeing meditation
    1. Observe, note reaction, re-observe with equanimity
  3. Anywhere meditation – don’t need a cushion or silence, just start paying attention

 

  1. Day 7 The practice of compassion
    1. Loosens self-centeredness, brings greater sense of well-being, goes beyond stress reduction, and brings further insight, growth, and happiness
    2. Practice generosity, goodwill, compassion, non-harm, truthfulness, loving kindness – behave into new ways of being. The practice of transformation becomes inside out and outside in
    3. Service and generosity – selfish selflessness
    4. Instruction on loving kindness meditation applied to
      1. Self
      2. Benefactor
  • Friend
  1. Neutral person
  2. Difficult person
  3. All being
  1. Appreciation

 

  1. Day 8 Introduction to formless meditation (without object)
    1. Also known as Dzogchen and Mahamudra the pinnacle of meditation and also what the Buddha taught
    2. The four abiding techniques – View, Meditation, Conduct
    3. Summary points
      1. Integration – it’s a complete cycle – a virtuous cycle of behavior/conduct in support of development
      2. Maintaining practiceDiscipline – not a rule (feeling oppressed), a responsibility (to yourself)

RESOURCES

Books: Hard to find good ones that don’t become too philosophical, but here are a few.

Jack Kornfield, Meditation for Beginners, Sounds True, 2008

Joseph Goldstein, The Experience of Insight, Shambala, 1987

Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein, Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation, Shambala, 2001

Thich Nat Han, Miracle of Mindfulness, Beacon Press. 1999.

Sharon Saltzberg and Joseph Goldstein, Introduction to Meditation, Sounds True 2008.

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