Category Archives: Uncategorized

Strong Back, Soft Front

On your inhale, gather your attention;
on your exhale, drop into the body.
Shift attention to your spine.
Your back exemplifies equanimity,
being present for whatever is unfolding right now.
“Strong back.”
Shift your attention to your chest.
Rest in this willingness to open to compassion.
“Soft front.”
Strong back, soft front. Equanimity, compassion.

– Roshi Joan Halifax
_____________________
Roshi Halifax is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She is Founder, Abbot, and Head Teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  She and Frank Ostaseski will lead three online webinars on “Bearing Witness Together in Troubled Times” from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Mountain Time) on: April 27, May 4 and May 11. More information here 

Bhante Rahula Offers ZOOM Meditations & Talks

NOTE: Apologies to TheMeditationCircle.com subscribers for the multiple posts on Bhante Rahula’s upcoming ZOOM talks. Because of issues regarding the security of posting ZOOM links publicly, we’ve taken down a post that listed the meeting links. To get the meeting IDs, e-mail Bhante Rahula’s retreat center at: info@lionwisdom.org 


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 6a0147e199a17d970b01543345641b970c.jpg

Bhante Yogavacara Rahula, who is tentatively scheduled to visit the Meditation Circle in Huntington and Charleston in August, is offering Dhamma talks and guided meditation via Zoom starting Easter Sunday, April 12 at 2 pm. He plans to continue these talks every Sunday until the current “stay-at-home” situation, due to the Covid-19 crisis, ends.

The talks will be followed by Q&A and guided meditations. He’ll also offer weekly sutta study sessions starting Wednesday, April 15 at 7 pm, also followed by Q&A and guided meditations. The first sutta to be explored will be the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta , the “Turning the Wheel of Dhamma” discourse, the first teaching the Buddha gave after his Awakening.


WEEKLY DHAMMA TALKS and GUIDED MEDITATION on ZOOM w/BHANTE RAHULA: Every week at 2 pm. Eastern Standard Time (U.S. and Canada), starting Sunday April 12, until May 31, 2020 (eight ZOOM gatherings in total):

        Apr 12: 2 pm
        Apr 19: 2 pm
        Apr 26: 2 pm
        May 3: 2 pm
        May 10: 2 pm
        May 17: 2 pm
        May 24: 2 pm
        May 31: 2 pm


WEEKLY SUTTA STUDY AND MEDITATION w/BHANTE RAHULA: Every week at 7 pm —Eastern Standard Time, US and Canada—starting Wednesday, April 15 ( seven ZOOM gatherings):


        Apr 15: 7 pm
        Apr 22: 7 pm
        Apr 29: 7 pm
        May 6: 7 pm
        May 13: 7 pm
        May 20: 7 pm
        May 27: 7 pm


A NOTE ON ZOOM:  If you’re unfamiliar with ZOOM, it’s a popular video-conferencing application. ZOOM meetings can have more than 100 people in an online meeting, with live interaction via video screens and audio for all who “attend.”

You can access ZOOM meetings via your desktop computer, laptop, iPad and smartphone. The first time you click a ZOOM meeting link (GET THE LINKS FOR THESE MEETINGS by e-mailing info@lionwisdom.org), your browser may require you to download and run the ZOOM app. Some notes:

  • IF YOU HAVE A SLOW WEB CONNECTION, consider joining the meeting via audio instead of video, as it takes up less bandwidth and may be less garbled.
  • ZOOM WILL ASK whether you wish to use your computer video and audio.
  • BE SURE YOUR COMPUTER video camera is on if you wish to join with video turned on.
  • WHEN BHANTE RAHULA IS SPEAKING be sure your audio is muted. A small red microphone icon in the lower left corner of your video window will show if it’s muted or not. The monk may have you muted already . Be sure to unmute to ask a question.
  • TURN ON CHAT WINDOW: At the bottom of the ZOOM screen there is a “Chat” option, which will bring up a chat text stream on the right-hand side of your browser. You can send a message to “Everyone” on the chat or send a “PRIVATE” message to anyone else on the chat. Consider typing your questions in the chat window first, so others can see it.
  • HERE’S A ZOOM SUPPORT PAGE on how to use the app.

Bhante Rahula is director and principal teacher at the Paññāsīha Lion of Wisdom Meditation Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He was born Scott Joseph DuPrez in Southern California in 1948. After following the hippie trail to India, he eventually discovered Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, where he ordained as a novice monk in 1975 at Gothama Thapovanaya, Kalupaluwawa.

He received his bhikkhu upasampada ordination at Wat Thai Los Angeles in May 1979. After returning to Sri Lanka for some years, he came to help Bhante Henepola Gunaratana establish the Bhavana Society Forest Monastery in rural West Virginia, where he served as vice-abbot from 1986 to 2010. Now, after seven years of teaching Dhamma and leading retreats around the world, he has taken on the role as director and chief meditation teacher at Lion of Wisdom .

The rural meditation retreat facility is a branch of the Washington Buddhist Vihara. The center offers Days of Mindfulness, Afternoon Intensives and two- and three-day retreats.

Don’t Make a Big Deal Out of It

“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, from “Everything Is Teaching Us”

Mindfulness Comes to the Rescue

Photography Pablo Orcaray | unsplash.com

“Look at the particular emotion that might be driving the proliferation of thoughts. And as you are watching, take some deep breaths. Looking at it, breathe out deeply—looking at it, breathe in deeply. You will see it disappearing. Mindfulness comes to rescue us from getting carried away with runaway thoughts, to offer support to increase wholesome mental states. Mindfulness works in both ways—one is to address negative states that have arisen. The other is to encourage us to direct the mind into more wholesome paths.”

~Bhante G (p.127, “WHAT WHY HOW’: Answers to Your Questions About Buddhism, Meditation, and Living Mindfully,” Wisdom Publications, 2020)

‘The Skillful Heart Gives Us Happiness’

Unsplash photo by Debby Hudson

“There are times when the heart is in bad shape. Bad mental qualities get mixed up with it, making it even worse, making us suffer both in body and mind. These bad mental qualities are said to be “unskillful” (akusala). The Buddha teaches us to study these qualities so that we can abandon them.

“There are other times when the heart is in good shape: at ease with a sense of wellbeing. We feel at ease whether we’re sitting or lying down, whether we’re alone or associating with our friends and relatives. When the heart gains a sense of ease in this way, it’s said to be staying with the Dhamma. In other words, skillful (kusala) mental qualities have appeared in the heart. The skillful heart is what gives us happiness. This is why the Buddha taught us to develop these skillful qualities, to give rise to them within ourselves.“

~ Ajahn Suwat

Meditation Circle Holiday Break

The Meditation Circle will gather Tuesday, Dec. 17, and then take a break for the holiday season for two weeks, and will NOT meet on Dec. 24 and 31 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Charleston WV. The group will commence its gatherings in 2020, starting Tuesday, Jan. 7, at the usual time of 6 to 7 pm.

The Meditation Circle at the Peacetree Center for Wellness in Huntington WV will also take off on Saturday, Dec. 22 and 28 and Jan. 4. The Peacetree Circle resumes Saturday, Jan. 11, at the usual time of 11 am to Noon. NOTE: The same holds true for the Community Yoga sessions on a donation basis, which precede the Saturday meditations from 10 to 11 am.

Beginners; those wishing to restart a meditation practice; or meditators wishing to find a community of fellow practicioners are welcome at both groups. The Meditation Circle is in a circle for a purpose. We are led by co-facilitators, not formal meditation teachers. We practice meditation in the Buddhist tradition of breath and body-centered meditation and are not formally connected with a specific school. We encourage practicioners to seek out teachers and attend formal meditation retreats.

Have a restful season.
With metta (loving-friendliness) from The Meditation Circle.

Meditation Circle Meets 6 pm Tuesdays in Charleston WV | and 11 am, Saturdays in Huntington, WV

IN ADDITION TO THE REGULAR WEEKLY gathering of The Meditation Circle from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation building, 520 Kanawha Blvd., W., 25302, on the west side of Charleston, WV, the Circle also gathers 11 a.m to noon Saturdays at the PeaceTree Center for Wellness, 5930 Mahood Dr., Huntington, WV, 25705 (about ten minutes east of the Huntington Mall at Barboursville). A Peacetree community yoga class (by donation) precedes the Saturday sit from 10 to 11 am.

BEGINNERS AND THOSE WISHING TO DEEPEN a home meditation practice are welcome at both circles. We are a meditation group in the round, with facilitators and no formal teachers. Small donations are welcome to help our generous sponsoring spaces with their electric bills and for occasional visits from teachers for day retreats.

The outside worLd


“We think our unhappiness is caused by the outside world. As a result, we direct all our energy and mental capabilities outward. We get engrossed and sometimes even obsessed in trying to straighten out the people around us, as if their perfection would bring us relief.”

~Bhante Gunaratana (“8 Mindful Steps to Happiness”)

QIGONG UPDATE

Due to scheduling difficulties, the Eight Pieces of Brocade will no longer be offered prior to the weekly sitting at the Meditation Circle. For those who would like to incorporate Qigong into their personal practice at home there are numerous tutorials available on YouTube. The best among them is one by Mimi Kuo Deemer. Following that instruction will prepare one to practice and benefit from this Qigong form.

Qigong returns to the Meditation Circle

Beginning October 22nd, practice of the Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong form will be offered on Tuesday evenings from 5:45 until 6:00, prior to the evening meditation . This time will provide an opportunity to stretch and prepare for the meditation period to follow. Qigong is a Chinese system of breathing exercises, body postures and movements, along with mental concentration, intended to maintain good health and control the flow of vital energy. Instruction will be provided.