Category Archives: Meditation

Information, resources concerning meditation

The power of mindfulness

Photo by Valentina Yoga on Unsplash

By Lynn J. Kelly  } The Buddha’s Advice to Laypeople

… Nyanaponika Thera suggested that the first power of mindfulness is to help us “tidy up” the jumble of thoughts, ideas, impressions, and shadows in our minds. After we start sorting the clear from the unclear and the useful from the useless, we can have a closer look by accurately naming the elements in our minds. We may not get the name quite right immediately, and so we might need to re-focus our mindfulness to examine our thoughts more closely.

Once we start to recognize the repetitive thoughts that pass through our minds, we can categorize them, at first into wholesome and unwholesome, or leading towards or away from clarity, and later into more refined groupings.

Sometimes we camouflage our thoughts to make them more palatable. We blame others for our own aversion, or give ourselves (reflected) credit for others’ good acts. We are experts at re-creating our experience to make it more pleasant and to hide any unpleasant aspects of our thinking from ourselves. This is one way we give the defilements a clearer field of play. It is delusion in action and must be exposed through careful inquiry.

[From Nyanaponika Thera] But by applying the simple method of clearly and honestly naming or registering any undesirable thoughts, these two harmful devices, ignorance and camouflage, are excluded. Thence their detrimental consequences on the structure of the subconscious and their diversion of mental effort will be avoided.

The method of naming and registering also extends, of course, to noble thoughts and impulses which will be encouraged and strengthened. Without being given deliberate attention, such wholesome tendencies often pass unnoticed and remain barren. But when clear awareness is applied to them, it will stimulate their growth.

Many of us have a tendency to take our kind or generous thoughts (and actions) for granted. We tick them off and don’t reflect on them, but they can be the basis for confidence and joy in the (heart-)mind.

In the Satipatthana Sutta (MN 10), some of the instructions say:

[Translated by Sujato Bhikkhu] It’s when a mendicant knows mind with greed as ‘mind with greed,’ and mind without greed as ‘mind without greed.’ They know mind with hate as ‘mind with hate,’ and mind without hate as ‘mind without hate.’ They know mind with delusion as ‘mind with delusion,’ and mind without delusion as ‘mind without delusion.’ They know contracted mind as ‘contracted mind,’ and scattered mind as ‘scattered mind.’ … They know mind immersed in samādhi as ‘mind immersed in samādhi,’ and mind not immersed in samādhi as ‘mind not immersed in samādhi.’ They know freed mind as ‘freed mind,’ and unfreed mind as ‘unfreed mind.

Using the power of mindfulness, we can name and categorize the contents of our minds,  and, in this way, walk the path towards awakening.

The full essay is here: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel121.html

~ By Lynn J. Kelly
from her Aug. 25, 2018 post from her website | Subscribe to her site at:
“The Buddha’s Advice to Laypeople: Guidelines for Developing a Happier Life”

 

 

Friends with our thoughts

Photo by Guillermo Álvarez on Unsplash

Sometimes people think the point of meditation is to stop thinking— to have a silent mind. This does happen occasionally, but it is not necessarily the point of meditation. Thoughts are an important part of life, and mindfulness practice is not supposed to be a struggle against them. We can benefit more by being friends with our thoughts than by regarding them as unfortunate distractions. In mindfulness, we are not stopping thoughts as much as overcoming any preoccupation we have with them. However, mindfulness is not thinking about things, either. It is a non-discursive observation of our life in all its aspects.

In those moments when thinking predominates, mindfulness is the clear and silent awareness that we are thinking. A piece of advice I found helpful and relaxing was when someone said, “For the purpose of meditation, nothing is particularly worth thinking about.” Thoughts can come and go as they wish, and the meditator does not need to become involved with them. We are not interested in engaging in the content of our thoughts. Mindfulness of thinking is simply recognizing that we are thinking.

In meditation, when thoughts are subtle and in the background, or when random thoughts pull us away from awareness of the present, all we have to do is resume mindfulness of breathing. However, when our preoccupation with thoughts is stronger than our ability to let go of them easily, then we direct mindfulness to being clearly aware that thinking is occurring. Strong bouts of thinking are fuelled largely by identification and preoccupation with thoughts. By clearly observing our thinking, we step outside the field of identification. Thinking will usually then soften to a calm and unobtrusive stream.

~ Gil Fronsdal
pp. 57-58

The point of equilibrium

Excerpt from “Finding the Center” in chapter 2 of “Untangling Self” by Andrew Olendzki:

At some point all this tranquility devolves into sleepiness, laziness, or a sluggishness of mind where it seems a struggle just to remain conscious. This too is natural, and it does not mean you are doing anything wrong. Having established these two end points on a continuum, practice involves moving back and forth between them until one finds the point of equilibrium. You can get a sense when the mind is too active, at which point you let go of your attachment to the stimulant du jour and allow the mind to rest. And when you feel it getting drowsy, it is time to sit up straighter, take a deeper breath, and give yourself a little mental kick into wakefulness. Eventually, becoming familiar with both ends of this specturm, you will find the midpoint where the mind is simultaneously tranquil and alert.

Moving perpendicularly, we then notice that the mind is drawn habitually toward those objects of experience it finds gratifying. This need not be full-on lust or the irresistible drive of addiction; more often it is a gentle inclination toward what we like. The senses revel in sensation, the mind delights in momentum, and we are usually “leaning in” to the next moment and faintly grasping after the next experience. Notice this, and softly back away from it. Continue reading The point of equilibrium

Bhante Jayasara to visit area May 19-20 and 21, 2018

The Meditation Circle is pleased to announce a return visit to Charleston and Huntington, W.Va., by the Theravadan Buddhist monk Bhante Jayasara (Bhante J), from the Bhavana Society Theravadan Buddhist Monastery in High View, W.Va. He will be here:

Saturday, May 19 (Huntington: day-long quiet retreat); Sunday May 20 (Huntington: guided meditation, talk and questions)
Monday, May 21 (Charleston: guided meditation, talk and questions).

Below is the schedule for his visit. We encourage folks interested in attending the Saturday day-long quiet retreat to sign up early as space is limited at the PeaceTree Center for Wellness and registration is limited to the first 45 people who sign up through EventBrite, in order not to overwhelm the room. There is also a sign-up for Studio 8 in Huntington because of the size of the room.

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SATURDAY, May 19: Silent Day Retreat: ‘Deepening a Meditation Practice’
LOCATION: PeaceTree Center for Wellness, 5930 Mahood Dr., Huntington, W.Va. 25705
WHEN: Morning: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Lunch break: 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Vegetarian lunch provided.) Afternoon: 1 to 3:30 p.m.
WHO: For people familiar with sitting meditation, wishing to deepen their practice. There will be several sessions of guided and silent meditation and walking meditation. We ask that folks who sign up stay for the entire day if possible. The day will be conducted in Noble Silence, except for talks by Bhante J and question and answer sessions.
COST: Admission is free with donations accepted at the door, to pay for travel costs, and to offer donations to the Bhavana Society and PeaceTree.
SIGN-UP: Click on this Eventbrite link

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SUNDAY, May 20: Guided Meditation, Talk and Questions
LOCATION:Studio 8 Yoga and Wellness, 803 8th Ave., Huntington, WV 25701
WHEN: 12:30 to 2 p.m.
WHO: For anyone interested in meditation
DETAILS: Bhante J will give a Dhamma talk, lead a meditation and answer questions
COST: Admission is free with donations accepted at the door, to pay for travel costs, and to offer donations to the Bhavana Society and Studio 8.
SIGN UP: Click on this Eventbrite link to register.

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MONDAY, May 21: Guided meditation, talk and questions
LOCATION: Unitarian Universalist Congregation building, 520 Kanawha Boulevard, Charleston, WV
WHEN: 5:15 to 6:45 p.m.
WHO: For anyone interested in meditation
DETAILS: Bhante J will give a Dhamma talk, lead a meditation and answer questions

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MORE on Bhante J:

Bhante Jayasāra (“Bhante J”) is an American-born Buddhist monastic who currently resides at Bhavana Society, a Theravadan Buddhist Monastery and retreat center near High View, W.Va. He was born in 1978 and raised Catholic. He came to Buddhism in his late 20s and officially took refuge and precepts to become a practicing Buddhist lay disciple on Vesak in 2008. In 2011 he took the Eight Lifetime Precepts with Bhavana Abbot Bhante Gunaratana and was given the name Jayantha.

By this point, the practice had instilled in him a desire to become a monastic. Bhante J began to regularly attend retreats and weekend visits to Bhavana and learned all he could about the monastic life. He began living at Bhavana Society in September 2014, became an Anagarika (postulant) in March 2015, became a Sāmaṇera (novice monk) in October of 2015, and a Bhikkhu (fully ordained monk) in October 2016. NOTE: Bhante (BON-tay) is an honorific that refers to Buddhist monks in the Theravada tradition. Bhante literally means “Venerable Sir.”

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For more on Bhante J, visit his personal blog at:
bhikkhujayasara.wordpress.com 

PeaceTree Center Meditation Circle on Saturdays

If you are within striking distance of the Huntington Mall on Saturdays near Barboursville, W.Va., you are within striking distance of the PeaceTree Center for Wellness, 5930 Mahood Dr, Huntington, WV. There is community yoga at 10 a.m., followed by a meeting of the PeaceTree Meditation Circle from 11 a.m. to noon. At 1 p.m., there is Tai Chi.

Sometimes, there’s soup…

Audio Dharma guided meditations

At last evening’s meditation, someone inquired about where to find a good place online for some guided meditations.  AudioDharma.org has a wonderful and rich body of guided meditations and Dharma talks. Here is a direct link to the site’s many guided meditations:
www.audiodharma.org/series/1/talk/1835/

As the site description puts it:
“This site is an archive of Dharma talks given by Gil FronsdalAndrea Fella and various guest speakers at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. Each talk illuminates aspects of the Buddha’s teachings. The purpose is the same that the Buddha had for his teachings, to guide us toward the end of suffering and the attainment of freedom. These talks are freely available to download or listen to. Please help support this service with a tax-deductible donation.”

 

DHAMMA TALK: Ajahn Sumedho on mindfulness and meditation

https://soundcloud.com/douglaseye/ajahn-sumedho-on-mindfulness-and-meditation

If the Soundcloud player does not show, click here

HERE IS A PORTION of a talk given by Ven. Ajahn Sumedho on a recent visit to Washington, D.C., his first trip ever in his long life. Ajahn Sumedho talks on mindfulness and meditation. The talk was given July 1, 2017,  and was  co-sponsored by the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C., and the Thai Embassy. Ajahn Sumedho is the senior Western representative of the Thai forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism.

FOR MORE TALKS by Ajahn Sumedho, click here.

Guided Meditation: Lay Down the Burden

GuidedMeditation

As part of his recent visit to the PeaceTree Center for Wellness in Huntington, W.Va., to lead a day retreat, Bhante Jayasara, a Theravadan Buddhist monk from the Bhavana Society in High View, W.Va., led a guided meditation on the theme of “lay down the burden.”  Take a listen. You can also download the file for later use.

Bhante Jayasara talk on Mindfulness

DhammaTalk

Bhante Jayasara, a Theravadan monk from the Bhavana Society in High View, W.Va., gives a talk on mindfulness in daily living at Unity of Kanawha Valley in Charleston, W.Va., on May 26, 2017, as part of a visit sponsored by themeditationcircle.com and the PeaceTree Center for Wellness (www.peacetreecenter.com). For more on the Bhavana Society, visit bhavanasociety.org. For more on Bhante J, visit bhikkhujayasara.wordpress.com/author/bhi…hujayasara

Bhante Jayasara to visit Charleston and Huntington in late May

PLEASE NOTE: The Saturday, May 27 day retreat with Bhante J is full-up.

We are glad to announce a visit to Charleston and Huntington, W.Va., by the Theravadan Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Jayasara (Bhante J) on Friday, May 26; Saturday May 27; and Sunday, May 28.

Below is the schedule for his visit. We encourage folks who have a meditation practice to sign up early for the Saturday day-retreat as space is limited at the PeaceTree Center for Wellness and we will be limiting registration to the first 30 people who sign up through EventBrite, in order not to overwhelm the room. There is also a sign-up for the Studio 8 meditation on Sunday, May 28 because of the size of the room.

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FRIDAY, May 26:  ‘Mindfulness in Daily Living’
LOCATION:
Unity of Kanawha Valley, 804 Myrtle Rd., Charleston, W.Va.
TIME: 6 to 7:30 p.m.
DETAILS: Bhante J will speak on bringing more mindfulness and awareness into our daily lives and then take questions.

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SATURDAY, May 27: Silent Day Retreat: Deepening Your Meditation Practice/Dealing with the Restless Mind
LOCATION: PeaceTree Center for Wellness,
5930 Mahood Dr., Huntington, W.Va.
WHEN:
Morning Session: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Lunch break: 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Vegetarian Lunch provided.)
Afternoon Session: 1 to 4 p.m.
DETAILS: This will be a silent retreat with several sessions of guided and quiet sitting meditation, with a chance to ask questions during the retreat. Cushions and chairs will be available and you are welcome to bring your own cushion. Because of space limitations, the retreat will be limited to the first 30 people who sign up. Some experience with quiet sitting meditation is encouraged though not required.
SIGN UP: This retreat is full-up.

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SUNDAY, May 28:
Meditation & Dhamma Talk
LOCATION:
Studio 8 Yoga and Wellness, 803 8th Ave, Huntington, WV 25701
TIME:
12:30 to 2 p.m.
DETAILS:
Bhante J will give a Dhamma talk and lead a meditation
SIGN UP: Click on this link to register for this Dhamma talk and meditation.

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More on Bhante J:

Bhikkhu Jayasāra (“Bhante J”) is an American-born Buddhist monastic who currently resides at Bhavana Society of West Virginia near High View, W.Va. He was born in 1978 and raised Catholic. He came to Buddhism in his late 20s and officially took refuge and precepts to become a practicing Buddhist lay disciple on Vesak in 2008. In 2011 he took the Eight Lifetime Precepts with Bhante Gunaratana and was given the name Jayantha.

By this point the practice had instilled in him a desire to become a monastic. Bhante J began to regularly attend retreats and weekend visits to Bhavana and learned all he could about the monastic life. He began living at Bhavana Society in September 2014, became an Anagarika (postulant) in March 2015, became a Sāmaṇera (novice monk) in October of 2015, and a Bhikkhu (fully ordained monk) in October 2016

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For more on Bhante J, visit his personal blog at:
bhikkhujayasara.wordpress.com

For more on the PeaceTree Center for Wellness, visit this link.  PeaceTree is a growing wellness development and training center. It is designed to connect individuals, families, and communities to activities that support our mission and vision of peace, wellness, and hope.

How the path unfolds

Through engaging in mindful attention both during meditation sessions and as we go about our everyday activities, we begin to see how the Buddhist path unfolds. Where is the path, and what is the path? It is within us—within, we might say, the mind and its activities. We will never find the path anywhere else— not in books, not in a shop, not in temples. It is within us. Mindfulness is the key that opens the gate to this road.
 
~Bhante Gunaratana
“Meditation on Perception”
www.wisdompubs.org/author/bhante-gunaratana
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(Quote courtesy of www.facebook.com/BhavanaSocietyWV)

You can do it, too

Quote/Unquote

“Whatever you’re experiencing in your mind, other people are experiencing the same sorts of things. And what they’re experiencing, you’ve experienced before. This can help with compassion and empathetic joy. There’s that passage where the Buddha talks about seeing people who are extremely wealthy and realizing you’ve been there before. When you see people who are extremely poor or ill, you’ve been there before as well. This helps to equalize things to counteract resentment or pride.

But this reflection can equalize things in another way. You can think about people who are faced with the same mental problems that you have: the mind when it’s depressed, the mind when it’s scattered. All the great meditators of the past and the present have had just exactly the same kind of problem. Yet they were able to get past it.

In the same way, when you’re sitting with pain, realize that other people have sat with pain, too, and yet they were able to keep sitting with it. What did they have that you don’t have? They had persistence. Where did they get that from? It wasn’t that they were born with it. They developed it. You can develop it too.”

~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu
READ MORE: “Bodies & Minds Outside”

Meditation Gatherings in Huntington

Where To Meditate

Here are some places to meditate in the Huntington, W.Va., area:

WHAT: Unitarian Fellowship of Huntington Meditation Group
WHEN: The group meets every Wednesday from 7 to 8 p.m.  for mindfulness meditation at the Unitarian Fellowship of Huntington, 619 6th Ave., Huntington, WV.
ABOUT: The group’s  members come from a variety of spiritual traditions. The format includes two meditations along with short discussions.  Beginners are welcome. Cushions and chairs are available; however, you may bring your own cushion if you wish.  Donations are appreciated.
LINKS: Here is the group’s Facebook page

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WHAT: Huntington Studio 8 Meditation Group
WHEN:  The group meets every Sunday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., for a Dharma talk and 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. for meditation at Studio 8, 803 8th Ave., Huntington, WV.
ABOUT: The group’s members come from a variety of spiritual traditions and the Dharma talks are facilitated by different members of a team.  The meditations relate to the Dharma talk, and may include both sitting and walking meditation.  Join the group for the talk, the meditation or both.  Beginners are welcome. Cushions and blankets are available, or you may bring your own. Donations are appreciated.
LINKS:  Here is the group’s Facebook page

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RELATED:
The PeaceTree Center in Huntington, W. Va., at 5930 Mahood Dr. (about 10 minutes from the Huntington Mall)  is now hosting the PeaceTree Meditation Circle every Saturday, facilitated by members of Meditation Circle of Charleston, W.Va. The weekly meditation takes place from 11 a.m. to noon every Saturday. More details here.

The Basic Pattern

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

“The important thing is that you look at your meditation in terms of action and result.
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So whatever level of practice you’re on, whether it’s simply day-to-day interactions with other people or working directly with your mind, this is the pattern the Buddha has you adopt all the time: Look at your intentions, look at you actions, look at their results, and then adjust things based on what harm you see your actions have done. If you see that the results aren’t as good as you’d like, go back and look at the intention, change the action. This requires two principles: integrity and compassion.
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These are the basic Buddhist values. These are the basic values of the practice. And they can be applied at any level: among students in a classroom, or just interacting with other people in general, or as you’re sitting here meditating. Remember, you’re doing something. The principle of karma, which is the Buddha’s basic teaching, underlies everything, reminding you that your actions are important, that they do have consequences, and that you have the freedom to change the way you act. If you see that the consequences are causing harm, causing suffering, you can change the way you act. You have that freedom. You can learn from your mistakes…

…So as we practice in our imperfect ways, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Buddha himself started out imperfect as well. As we make mistakes, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Buddha made mistakes, too, but he also pointed the way out of your mistakes. You can change the way you act, and it’s important that you do because your actions shape your life. The pleasure and pain you experience in life comes from your actions, not from anything you innately are. So when you notice that there are problems in your life, look here at what you’re doing. What are your intentions? What are your actions? What can you change?
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This requires that you be very honest with yourself, that you have the integrity to admit your mistakes, to see the connection between your intentions and the results of your actions, and the compassion, both for yourself and the people around you, not to want to cause harm. Once you’ve developed this integrity in your day-to-day life, then it’s a lot easier to bring the integrity into your meditation, because integrity lies at the basis of meditating well, too. This is why the precepts are so important. They develop this quality of integrity. If you can’t be honest with yourself on the blatant level, then it’s very hard to be honest with yourself on the subtle level of the practice…”
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Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Excerpt from “The Basic Pattern.”
Read full Dhamma talk here.