Category Archives: Meditation

Information, resources concerning meditation

Recipe for Contentment

“If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements. And finally, there is an intense delight in abandoning faulty states of mind and in cultivating helpful ones in meditation.”

~ H.H. the Dalai Lama

Bhante G on meditating via ZOOM, daily mindfulness and facing death


This Q-and-A was featured in the April 2021 issue of WestVirginiaVille.com magazine


Bhante Henepola Gunaratana — better known as ‘Bhante G’ — co-founded the Bhavana Society Theravada Buddhist monastery and retreat center in Hampshire County WV in 1985

By Douglas John Imbrogno | WestVirginiaVille.com | april15.2020


It is not as well known as it should be that a much-beloved, 93-year-old global figure in Buddhism has called West Virginia home since the latter decades of the 20th century. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana — better known around the planet as “Bhante G” — is abbot of the Bhavana Society, a Theravada Buddhist monastery and retreat center near High View WV, in Hampshire County, which he co-founded in the early 1980s.

Bhante G, who was born in rural Sri Lanka, ordained as a monk at age 12 and took full ordination at age 20, as he recounts in his entertaining biography “Journey to Mindfulness.” He came to America in 1968 and earned a PhD. in world religions at American University in Washington D.C. where he also served as chaplain.

Long desirous of establishing a Buddhist forest monastery in America, Bhante G and supporters found and purchased a 60-acre plot of land about twenty minutes from Wardensville, WV. The seed of his idea took root and became the Bhavana Society, a monastery and retreat center that has attracted thousands of lay Buddhists, monks and nuns from around the world in the years since its establishment.


The Dalai Lama and a young Bhante G are seen in Sanchi in the Bhopal state in central India in 1956. The photograph is part of a collage of images from Bhante G’s life, on the wall of the hallway to the Bhavana meditation hall.

Bhante G has written a number of books, including the now-classic meditation manual Mindfulness In Plain English,” which has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and its companion “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness.” He regularly leads retreats on meditation, mindfulness , concentration, and other topics at the Bhavana Society and around the world. 

With the onset of the COVID pandemic in 2020, the Bhavana Society suspended in-person retreats. In March of that year, he began to lead guided meditations on ZOOM, followed by in-depth talks on Buddhist teachings. Bhante G spends the first two months of every new year in solitary retreat at Bhavana, which led to a pause in the ZOOM sessions. He recently resumed them. They take place promptly from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., on most Saturdays and Sunday.


TO ATTEND BHANTE G’s ZOOM MEDITATION SESSIONS: Log into the meeting at this link a few minutes before 10 a.m. on most Saturdays and Sundaythose days. Type in the password ‘metta,’ (a Pali word that signifies ‘loving-friendliness’). On Saturday, the half-hour guided meditation is followed by a talk on Buddhist teachings. On Sundays, people in the ZOOM session can ask questions on spiritual practice directly of him.)


To mark the recent resumption of the ZOOM meditations, I asked Bhante G to take part in WestVirginiaVille’s “5 Questions” series, which focuses on intriguing people in West Virginia doing interesting things. For more questions-and-answers with him, see the book I edited of highlights from 50 years of his responses to common questions he receives: “What Why How: Answers to Your Questions on Buddhism, Meditation, and Living Mindfully” by Bhante G”  (Wisdom Publications 2020) | PS: Thanks to Brian Chamowitz at Bhavana for his assistance in making this Q-and-A. happen.

Continue reading Bhante G on meditating via ZOOM, daily mindfulness and facing death

Step-by-Step

Photo by Max on Unsplash

“So, don’t be in a hurry and try to push or rush your practice. Do your meditation gently and gradually, step-by-step. In regard to peacefulness, if you become peaceful, then accept it; if you don’t become peaceful, then accept that also. That’s the nature of the mind. We must find our own practice and persistently keep at it.”

~ Ajahn Chah (from the book “Bodhinyana”)

Got breath?

“If we have presence of mind then whatever work we do will be the very tool which enables us to know right and wrong continually. There is plenty of time to meditate, we just don’t fully understand the practice, that’s all. While sleeping we breathe, eating we breathe, don’t we? Why don’t we have time to meditate? Wherever we are we breathe. If we think like this, then our life has as much value as our breath, and wherever we are we have time.”

– Ajahn Chah, from “A Taste of Freedom”
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IMAGE: @graesmagazine from unsplash.com

Observe & Notice

“When we practice, we observe how much peace, happiness, and lightness we already have. We notice whether we are anxious about accidents or misfortunes, and how much anger, irritation, fear, anxiety, or worry are already in us. As we become aware of the feelings in us, our self-understanding will deepen. We will see how our fears and lack of peace contribute to our unhappiness, and we will see the value of loving ourselves and cultivating a heart of compassion.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh⠀| Quote and image courtesy Tricycle

MEDITATION CIRCLE UPDATE | Oct. 17, 2020

NOTE: Apologies. A version of this post you may have just received (if an email subscriber to this site) did not include the password now required to enter the ZOOM meditations led by Bhante G. The pasword is listed below. | with metta, Douglas


AS IT APPEARS THE PANDEMIC continues unbated with no vaccine in the short term, The Meditation Circle of Charleston WV will remain on hiatus for the foreseeable future.

WE HIGHLY ENCOURAGE FOLKS INTERESTED in learning breath-centered meditation, or to deepen their current practice, to not miss the chance to join the guided meditation and Dhamma talks led by Bhante Gunaratana, abbot of the Bhavana Society in West Virginia, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. on ZOOM.

The free ZOOM sessions are for anyone with a serious interest in meditation practice, as well as being a master class in the Buddha’s teachings. This is a rare opportunity to learn meditation from a master. You’ll also gain insights into the point of meditation and mindfulness practice in the Buddhist tradition, which is to gain deep understanding into how we cause ourselves suffering because of how we choose to focus our thoughts and live our lives. And, so, to attain liberation from all suffering.

This is also an opportunity not likely to present itself again. Bhante G, at age 92, remains at the peak of his prowess in being able to offer practical, straight-up instruction in how to meditate. That instruction is then deepened and enhanced by his discussions after the 30-minute meditation, which address why we meditate in the first place and deeper points of Buddhist teachings. Among other subjects, he has been discussing the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths, Dependent Origination, and other core Buddhist topics.


BHANTE G ZOOM guided meditations and talks:
WHEN: 10 AM weekly on Thursdays, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
WHERE: Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us04web.zoom.us/j/668674778
DETAILS: Meeting ID: 668 674 778
PASSWORD TO ENTER MEETING (all lowercase): metta


Bhante G is author of the classic guide to starting a meditation practice, “Mindfulness in Plain English,” now translated into more than 25 languages, as well as many other books. A new 2020 Wisdom Publications book distills his answers to common questions from 50 years of teaching about meditation, mindfulness and Buddhism. It is titled WHAT WHY HOW: Answers To Your Questions About Buddhism, Meditation, and Living Mindfully.” (Wisdom is featuring a free article series based on the book, at the link above.)

Bhante G’S ZOOM Meditation and Teachings

A HEADS UP. If you have not had the chance to join the daily ZOOM Buddhist teaching and guided meditation led by Bhante Gunaratana, abbot of the Bhavana Society in West Virginia, we encourage you to do so. The ZOOM sessions are for anyone with a serious interest in meditation practice, as well as being a master class in the Buddha’s teachings.

This is a rare opportunity to learn meditation from a master. You’ll also gain insights into the point of meditation and mindfulness practice in the Buddhist tradition, which is to gain deep understanding into how we cause ourselves suffering because of how we choose to focus our thoughts and live our lives. And, thus, to attain liberation from all suffering.

This is also an opportunity not likely to present itself again. Bhante G, at age 92, remains at the peak of his prowess in being able to offer practical, straight-up instruction in how to meditate. That instruction is then deepened and enhanced by his discussions before and after the 30-minute meditation, which address why we meditate in the first place.

His daily ZOOM sessions run from 10 to 11 am, but get there about 10-to-15 minutes in advance, and hang around after the meditation, for the series of talks Bhante G has been giving. Among other subjects, he has been discussing the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths, Dependent Origination, and other core Buddhist topics.


Bhante G daily ZOOM guided meditations and talks:
10 AM: Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us04web.zoom.us/j/668674778
Meeting ID: 668 674 778


Bhante G is author of the classic guide to starting a meditation practice, “Mindfulness in Plain English,” now translated into more than 25 languages, as well as many other books. A new 2020 Wisdom Publications book distills his answers to common questions from 50 years of teaching about meditation, mindfulness and Buddhism. It is titled WHAT WHY HOW: Answers To Your Questions About Buddhism, Meditation, and Living Mindfully.” (Wisdom is featuring a free article series based on the book, at the link above.)

Wise Reflection on the Body

“We don’t meditate to hate our bodies. Unsatisfactoriness depends on clinging to impermanent objects. A mindful meditator should remind himself or herself an attractive object has triggered sense desire. One should then develop wise reflection or mindful reflection.”

~Bhante Gunaratana
(from “WHAT WHY HOW: Answers to Your Questions About Buddhism, Meditation, Mindfulness and Living Mindfully,” Wisdom Publications 2020. NOTE: See free article series based on this new book at this link)

Working With Fear

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“In practising Dhamma, we will meet with many sorts of experiences, such as fear. What will we rely on then? When the mind is wrapped up in fear, it can’t find anything to rely on.

“This is something I’ve gone through; the deluded mind stuck in fear, unable to find a safe place anywhere. So where can this be settled? It gets settled right at that place where it appears. Wherever it arises, that is where it ceases. Wherever the mind has fear, it can end fear right there. Putting it simply: when the mind is completely full of fear, it has nowhere else to go, and it can stop right there. The place of no fear is there in the place of fear.

“Whatever states the mind undergoes, if it experiences nimitta, visions, or knowledge in meditation, for example, it doesn’t matter—we are taught to focus awareness on this mind in the present. That is the standard. Don’t chase after external phenomena. All the things we contemplate come to conclusion at the source, the place where they arise. This is where the causes are. This is important.

“Feeling fear is a good example, since it’s easy to see; if we let ourselves experience it until it has nowhere to go, then we will have no more fear, because it will be exhausted. It loses its power, so we don’t feel fear anymore. Not feeling fear means it has become empty. We accept whatever comes our way, and it loses its power over us.

“This is what the Buddha wanted us to place our trust in; he wanted us not to be attached to our own views, not to be attached to others’ views. This is really important. We are aiming at the knowledge that comes from realization of the truth, so we don’t want to get stuck in attachment to our own or others’ views and opinions. But when we have our ideas or interact with others, watching them contact the mind can be illuminating. Knowledge can be born in those things that we have and experience.”

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

Meditation Circle Updates

Bhante Gunaratana, abbot of the Bhavana Society Buddhist forest monastery and retreat center in West Virginia, is now leading daily guided meditations at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., via online ZOOM calls. See the post below for details.

Greetings. We encourage everyone who has visited the Meditation Circle to keep up their sitting practice during this challenging time. If you have a smartphone, you may consider getting the Insight Timer app, which has a neat feature where you can see who elsewhere around the globe and locally is sitting at the time you are. It also features a wide range of guided meditations, including ones by Bhante Jayasara and Bhante Gunaratana (‘Bhante G’), who have led day retreats in the past with the Charleston and Huntington, WV Meditation Circle groups.

ZOOM GUIDED MEDITATIONS WITH BHANTE G

Bhante G also invites members of the Meditation Circle to join him on guided meditations via ZOOM online calls at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily (until further notice).

NOTE: The first time you click to go to one of these ZOOM meditations, go there about 5-10 minutes in advance, since your web browser may require you to download and run the ZOOM app. (I think you can also join by phone.) If you have a slow web connection, join the meeting via audio instead of video as that takes up less bandwidth. Be sure your phone or computer audio and/or video camera is turned on

10 a.m. DAILY MEDITATION w/BHANTE G via ZOOM:

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/668674778
Meeting ID: 668 674 778

NOTE: You can download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system as a reminder:  https://us04web.zoom.us/meeting/u5Ilce6sqTwit_TpHtcTD-ybC2nU2clLjQ/ics?icsToken=98tyKu-upj0tHtOSuFyCe6oqE9r-b8_2i2VxnrN1iBzRJ21KYCCkONcQMb5TGumB

7 p.m. DAILY MEDITATION w/BHANTE G via ZOOM:

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/721395517
Meeting ID: 721 395 517
NOTE: You can download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system as a reminder: https://us04web.zoom.us/meeting/upYsdOCtqzotvGNEAW_qPfcN-Ixi8t30lg/ics?icsToken=98tyKu6qrzgjH9GUt1zHa7UtOa_5b-HulmdphIZ8qyD0MyZQTE7fLusaJuEvHN-B

KEEPING UP YOUR TUESDAY PRACTICE

We might also suggest continuing to sit at home from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, to keep the rhythm of your weekly Meditation Circle practice going. Eventually, we will be back sitting in a circle (or rather a rounded square, given the nice way Mike has been setting up the room.)

QIGONG AT HOME

As we all are required to spend more time at home, it is essential we maintain the body-mind connection. Some of you us have had a little exposure to the “moving meditation” of Qigong and The Eight Pieces of Brocade exercise Thad has shown in the past. Mimi Kuo Deemer is an excellent Qigong instructor you can find on Youtube. Her version of the Eight Pieces of Brocade is a little different than the form Thad has shown, but what version you see depends on where in China the teacher is from. She lives in the UK, but she’s from Arizona and her family lives in San Francisco.

Be well. May all beings be well happy and peaceful!

With metta, Thad, Douglas and Mike, co-facilitators of TheMeditationCircle.com

Meditation Circle Postponed Until Further Notice

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, the Meditation Circle will not be meeting at the Unitarian Universalist building in Charleston, WV, at 6 pm on Tuesdays until further notice. The UU building has asked all groups renting the space—as we do—to pause holding their gatherings there until the crisis has passed. We will keep circlegoers updated through this website.

Meanwhile, we encourage you to keep up your practice on a daily basis. Here are some resources from our ‘Resources’ page. Below is a guide to mindfulness and meditation.

Here also are some guided meditations:

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LISTEN | Guided Meditation | Part 2 | Bhante Sujato
Australian monk Bhante Sujato. of Santi Forest Monastery in Bundanoon, Sydney in Australia., can be heard at the above link on the practice of metta or loving-kindness meditation, as taught by a monk in Bangkok with whom Bhante Sujato has studied. In this guided meditation, he leads a 30-minute meditation on the basics of working with the attention as you first begin to sit.

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LISTEN | Meditation Introduction | Part 1 | Bhante Sujato
Along the way of introducing this metta meditation practice
, Bhante Sujato undertakes an illuminating survey of the different kinds and methods of Buddhist meditation. The talk heard here is a shortened version taken from a rains retreat — the talk is edited down a bit. Seek out this and other talks by this very interesting Western monk who trained with Ajahn Brahm.
……………………………………………………….

As part of a visit to the PeaceTree Center for Wellness in Huntington, W.Va., 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.


The Basics of Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions, breaking down our conditioned responses. Here’s how to tune into mindfulness throughout the day:

Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.

Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. Easier said than done, we know.

Let your judgments roll by. When we notice judgments arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.

Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.

Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.
That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue.

How to Meditate


This meditation focuses on the breath, not because there is anything special about it, but because the physical sensation of breathing is always there and you can use it as an anchor to the present moment. Throughout the practice you may find yourself caught up in thoughts, emotions, sounds—wherever your mind goes, simply come back again to the next breath. Even if you only come back once, that’s okay.

A Simple Meditation Practice


Sit comfortably. Find a spot that gives you a stable, solid, comfortable seat.

Notice what your legs are doing. If on a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If on a chair, rest the bottoms of your feet on the floor.

Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. Your spine has natural curvature. Let it be there.

Notice what your arms are doing. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.

Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not necessary to close your eyes. You can simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.

Feel your breath. Bring your attention to the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly, or your chest.

Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering gently return your attention to the breath.

Be kind about your wandering mind. You may find your mind wandering constantly—that’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with your thoughts, practice observing them without reacting. Just sit and pay attention. As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all there is. Come back to your breath over and over again, without judgment or expectation.

When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.