The Meditation Circle to close in-person meetings for good at the end of June 2022

The reality of impermanence in our daily life is a core teaching of the Buddha, as we recognize that nothing is ever permanent. That goes for meditation circles, too! After a good long run of more than 20 years, The Meditation Circle of Charleston WV will be closing down for good its in-person meditation meetups in Charleston WV at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation building, effective the end of this month of June 2022.

We are doing this as a result of health issues and ongoing scheduling conflicts with the group’s longtime co-facilitators. We have had a good long run of gathering, sitting, experiencing and discussing meditation and mindfulness together, encouraging one another to deepen our respective practices. As we go our separate ways with this particular circle, we encourage you to seek out other meditation circles, groups, and gatherings. A ’sangha’ or group of fellow practitioners is important as a means of supporting and diving deeper into the remarkable spiritual benefits of building one’s life around meditation and mindfulness practice.

To that end, we recommend a couple of resources:


Bhante Gunaratana, the 94-year-old abbot of the Bhavana Society Theravada Buddhist Monastery in High View, W.Va., leads Buddhist meditations and talks from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on most Saturdays and Sundays at the ZOOM link below. Type in the password ‘metta’ (a Pali word that signifies ‘loving-kindness or loving-friendliness’). On Saturday, the half-hour guided meditation is followed by a talk on Buddhist teachings. On Sundays, people in the session can ask questions on spiritual practice directly of Bhante G.


An excellent, constantly updated roundup of videos on meditation, mindfulness and Buddhist teachings for both adults and youth. Bhante G’s guided meditations and talks from his weekend ZOOM sessions are uploaded here.


The Mindfulness Tree, an online meditation group led by Dr. Christine Blice-Baum, is now based in Charleston. Dr. Blice-Baum is an ordained Lutheran pastor, a student of Buddhism, and meditation practitioner. She received an MA in Religious Studies (Buddhist Studies) from the University of the West in Los Angeles CA, a Buddhist institution, where she is currently a PhD student. She served as an active duty chaplain in the United States Air Force for more than 20 years.


“START HERE, START NOW: A SHORT GUIDE TO MINDFULNESS MEDITATION”: A master of mindfulness, who has taught thousands to meditate, Bhante G. will show you exactly how to start your own practice and make it a part of your daily life.

“MINDFULNESS IN PLAIN ENGLISH”: A longer version of the book above. If you’re just starting out with meditation or looking to explore more deeply a recently-begun experience with meditation, we cannot recommend highly enough the book “Mindfulness in Plain English,” by Bhante G, a book that Jon Kabat-Zinn has called a “masterpiece” and which has been translated into more than 20 languages since it was published more than 20 years ago.


We intend to keep The Meditation Circle website up and running and updated with inspirational quotes and resources. The following meditation resource link is full of helpful guides and encouragement to deepening one’s meditation practice.


As the founders and longtime co-facilitators of The Meditation Circle, we have long emphasized we are not meditation teachers and Buddhist instructors. If you’re wishing to deepen your experience and understanding of meditation in the Buddhist insight or vipassana tradition, we encourage you to seek out lay and ordained teachers and to try out meditation retreats. Doug and Thad have both experienced retreats in a wide variety of traditions. See what speaks most to you!

NOTE: If you have been or are interested in Bhante Gunaratana’s Bhavana Society in the West Virginia hills, the monastery and retreat center resumed retreats this year. Retreats open for sign-up 30 days in advance of the first day. Register fast! They fill up quickly as people come to Bhavana from around the country and world:

Be well and sit on! With metta,
Doug and Thad

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Moment to Moment

“If you can put to rest
The mind that frantically seeks
From moment to moment,
You will be no different from old Shakyamuni Buddha.”

~ Lin Chi, founder of the Linji school of Chán Buddhism during Tang Dynasty China: “Linji’s teachings encouraged people to have faith that their natural spontaneous mind is the true Buddha-Mind, and to enter simply and wholeheartedly into every activity. When his students told him they were searching for deliverance from this world, he would ask them, “If you are delivered from this world, where else is there to go?”

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The Ocean of Suffering

Photo by Nick Perez on Unsplash

“The ocean of suffering is immense, but if you turn around, you can see the land.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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Not evasion

“Meditation is not evasion.
It is a serene encounter with reality.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

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Near & Far Away

“Buddha and Olive.” | photo

If we really investigate and examine our hearts [or minds], we will at some time experience joy, rapture and peace. At other times we will experience feelings of indifference, detachment and separation. If we experience the latter we should not blame the dharma [truth; the natural state; the teaching of the Buddha] because the dharma is the natural state. There are times when our hearts incline towards the dharma, and feelings of bliss and calm arise—feelings of complete contentment. At other times, the dharma seems far away. Rather than inclining towards it on those occasions, our hearts seem to move away.

Accordingly, we do not taste the dharma: there is no calm, bliss, or joy, because the heart is depressed and negative; the dharma is not there. But if one is skillful one need not fall under the power of this negativity. When the heart is depressed, we can uplift it. If the mind wanders, we can control it and keep it from drifting.

Calm the mind when it is appropriate and uplift the heart when it is appropriate.

When the heart is contented, one should maintain that contentment. Calm the mind when it is appropriate and uplift the heart when it is appropriate. By not following depression or elation we look after our hearts. This is the natural state; the heart is constant, equanimous and truthful. If one ceases to practise when feeling depressed and only practises when feeling good, one will be without consistency or endurance.

Take care and train the heart until it is even and equanimous—con­tinuously. Accordingly our hearts will then more and more incline towards the dharma; we will not forget the dharma.

If our hearts are close to the dharma, on hearing it being expounded we will easily understand it, our hearts will become peaceful easily. But if our hearts are far from the dharma and our practice is not constant, we will become drawn away and even greater confusion will arise. We should train and discipline our hearts. When we realise the heart is confused, we should exert ourselves to practise. With this continuous and earnest exertion we will soon get good results …

~ Excerpt from discourse given in the early 1960s by Ajahn Brahmamuni, late Abbot of Wat Borvornives in Bangkok. It has been translated into English by Ajahn Sumedho, former Abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery: READ FULL DISCOURSE AT THIS LINK

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This Floating Life

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Go back to the breath

“Think about the people who’ve devoted their lives to the practice of the Dhamma and were able to reap the fruit of that practice. As you look at what you’re doing in the course of the day, you may find that there are obstacles to fully devoting yourself to the practice. But at least what time you can manage, is time well-spent.

“Try to keep your mind, keep your thoughts coming back, back, back to these values, to these practices. Whenever you’re free, go back to the breath. Try to develop mindfulness, alertness, ardency in your practice. Even if you can’t do it full-time, do it whenever you find room to squeeze in the practice. And hopefully the practice will begin to squeeze some of those other obstacles out of the way.”

~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu
from “Try This at Home”

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The River of Time

Coming to grips with the fundamental nature of daily existence as being impermanent is a fundamental teaching in Buddhist mindfulness and meditation practice. This is not meant to be a depressing insight, but a freeing one. Once we truly begin to wrap our heads around the very insubstantial, impermanent nature of all those things we hope will ensure our lasting happiness—youth, wealth, constant, unrelenting pleasure-seeking and on and on and on—we begin to glimpse a path of equilibrium and freedom from the constant pursuit of ultimately passing phenomena. As a writer, purveyor, and publisher of creative works, I am constantly wrestling with my ego’s desire to see such work as of lasting significance, a hedge against my own mortality. Yet such works, too, will soon pass on by and melt away, swallowed by the river of time. Here’s a video-poem about exactly that.

~ Douglas John Imbrogno, co-facilitator,

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Take care not to let mechanical
Intelligence burden your mind;
Watch what is not temporal
And remain unmoved by things.

~ Lao tzu
(quote courtesy

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‘Develop a lot of mindfulness—that’s the point.’

Avalokitesvara at center of meditation labyrinth. | Hardy County WV property | Autumn2021, photo

“My advice is to not let yourself get wrapped up in doubts and questions. Let them go and directly contemplate whatever you are experiencing. Don’t make a big deal out of any physical pleasure or pain you experience. When you sit in meditation and start to feel tired or uncomfortable, adjust your position. Endure as much as you can, and then move. Don’t overdo it. Develop a lot of mindfulness—that’s the point. Do your walking and sitting meditation as much as you can; the aim is to be developing mindfulness as much as you can, knowing things fully. That’s enough.”

~ Ajahn Chah, excerpt from “Everything Is Teaching Us”

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Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

You are a seeker.
Delight in the mastery
Of your hands and your feet,
Of your words and your thoughts.
Delight in meditation and in solitude.
Compose yourself, be happy.
You are a seeker.

~ The Buddha in “The Dhammapada”

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Observing Vs. Fighting

“To meditate does not mean to fight with a problem. To meditate means to observe.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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Guard well your thoughts


The Dhammapada is an exquisite collection of short, pithy teachings by the Buddha. Read the whole collection here.

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Thought(s) for the Day

~ More on Thich Nhat Hanh here

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Monkey Mind and Tea Service

These two graphics may speak to some of us. Come sit on Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m. , and get to know the coming and going of thoughts without serving them herbal tea. DETAILS HERE

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