“Try to get the mind as still as possible. This is the basic pattern in all the tetrads of the breath meditation. You sensitize yourself to what you’re doing, and then you try to do it in a way that leads to more calm, to more subtle forms of concentration and more subtle levels of pleasure.
“You work through this process of sensitizing and refinement step by step by step, which means that you have to be very observant. The Buddha gives you some guidance. If you notice that things are inconstant in the mind, especially if the level of stress or ease in the mind is inconstant, look at what you’re doing. When the level of stress goes up, what did you do? When it goes down, what did you do? When things seem to be perfectly still and perfectly at ease, try to maintain that stillness as a baseline, to see if you can begin to sensitize yourself to more subtle ups and downs.
“This keeps throwing the responsibility back on you. The Buddha’s there with guidance. He gives you lots of different meditation methods to deal with specific problems as they come up. Breath meditation is your home base because that’s the method that sensitizes you directly to bodily, verbal, and mental fabrication and points you in the direction of learning how to calm these things.”
“Mindfulness meditation acts like a shock absorber. If you’ve grown accustomed to facing the dissatisfactions of everyday life and know they are natural occurences, when some difficult or painful situation comes your way you’ll face it bravely and calmly.”
The Meditation Circle is pleased to announce a return visit from Friday, May 10 to Sunday, May 12, 2019, to Charleston and Huntington, W.Va., by Theravadan Buddhist monk Bhante Jayasara (Bhante J), from the Bhavana Society Theravadan Buddhist Monastery in High View, W.Va. All events are free with donations accepted to support travel costs and make a donation to the Bhavana Society, which survives entirely upon “dana” or the generosity of visitors.
Advance registration is required for the Saturday and Sunday events due to limited space. Below is a quick guide to his schedule. Read further on for more details and how to register. NOTE: You can also donate in advance at bhavanasociety.org/donate, noting the donation is connected to Bhante J’s 2019 visit to Charleston/Huntington W.Va. (PS: “Bhante” is pronounced BON-tay and is a title that means ‘Venerable Sir.’).
FRIDAY, MAY 10: TALK, MEDITATION & QUESTIONS:
FRIDAY, May 10, 6 to 7:30 p.m.: Unitarian Universalist Fellowship building, 520 Kanawha Blvd., Charleston WV: Talk and discussion on “Mindfulness in Daily Living,” followed by a short guided meditation and Q-and-A. NOTE: This is a free event with donations accepted and no registration.
SATURDAY, MAY 11: DAY-LONG SILENT RETREAT:
PLEASE NOTE: IF REGISTERING FOR THIS EVENT, WE ASK YOU PLAN TO BE THERE FOR THE ENTIRE EVENT, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Space is limited to the first 30 registrants and we wish them to go to folks who wish the full experience of a day’s silent retreat.
SATURDAY, May 11, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Silent Day Retreat on “Developing a Meditation Practice,” 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; PeaceTree Center for Wellness, 5930 Mahood Dr., Huntington, W.Va. This is a free event with donations accepted to defray travel/lunch costs and to make a Bhavana Society donation. If you have a meditation practice and wish to deepen it or are interested in starting up a regular practice, consider this day-retreat. It will be conducted in “Noble Silence”—mindful silence throughout the retreat—with a chance to ask written questions of Bhante J. A vegetarian lunch will be provided. Registration required and capped at 30 advance registrations. This event will fill up so register early. REGISTER HERE.
SEE Q-and-A below about this event.
NOTE: Please arrive by 8:30 to 8:45 p.m. Cushions and chairs available. Or you are welcome to bring your own cushion.
SUNDAY, MAY 12: TALK, GUIDED MEDITATION & QUESTIONS
SUNDAY, May 12, 12:30 to 2 p.m.: Guided Meditation, Talk and Discussion; Studio 8 Yoga and Wellness, 803 8th Ave., Huntington, W.Va., 12:30 to 2 p.m. Free but registration required. NOTE: This is a free event with donations accepted but you must register as there is limited space. REGISTER HERE: NOTE: Scroll down to bottom ofpage for Bhante J event.
QUESTIONS ABOUTMAY 11 PEACETREE RETREAT:
WHO IS THE RETREAT FOR? Anyone who has a meditation or mindfulness practice and is interested in deepening it. Or if you have a serious intention to begin a meditation practice. Bhante J will guide participants in meditation in the breath and body-centered tradition of Buddhist insight meditation. You should feel comfortable with both guided and silent meditation periods of up to 20-30 minutes.
WHAT IS NOBLE SILENCE? We ask retreatants to maintain ‘Noble Silence’ during the day, a mindfulness practice that can deepen the retreat experience. If you need to speak or if there is an emergency, please speak to one of the organizers who will be introduced at the outset. NOTE: Please silence all cellphones before the retreat begins.
CAN I ASK QUESTIONS OF THE MONK? Of course! But for this retreat, unlike in last year’s Bhante J retreat, we are going to import a tradition from Bhanava Society silent retreats in which people write down their questions and put them in a box. At the end of the retreat, Bhante J will answer the questions. Noble Silence will end at 3 p.m. that day.
ARE THERE AGE REQUIREMENTS? No, but parents should not bring children in need of supervision. Young adults interested in meditation or with a meditation practice are welcome.
WHERE SHOULD I PARK? There is ample parking behind the PeaceTree Center and a glass back door with steps up to the room where the retreat will be held. If you cannot manage steps, pull up in yor car out front of the center and ask for help.
DO I NEED TO SIT ON A CUSHION? No, but they will be available or you can bring your own. Chairs will be set up at the back and sides of the room, with cushions in the middle and front.
CAN I SHAKE HANDS OR HUG THE MONK? Buddhist monks don’t generally shake hands or hug retreatants. A namaste or a smile is a fine greeting. There will also be a chance to take photos and monk selfies after the event.
HOW CAN I CONTACT THE ORGANIZERS? E-mail any questions to the Meditation Circle’s co-facilitator, Douglas, at douglasjohnmartin AT icloud.com
“Buddhism teaches that joy and happiness arise from letting go. Please sit down and take an inventory of your life. There are things you’ve been hanging on to that really are not useful and deprive you of your freedom. Find the courage to let them go. “
Here is a promo video for The Meditation Circle, which hosts two weekly meetings— one in Charleston, WV, from 6 to 7 pm on Tuesdays (beginners seeking meditation instruction and those who wish to sit longer may arrive a little after 5:30 p.m.); and from 11 a.m. to noon Saturdays at the PeaceTree Center for Wellness in Huntington, W.Va. For details and directions, click this link.
“The next basis for success is persistence. You really stick with it, not just while you’re sitting here with your eyes closed, but you also want to learn how to be familiar with how the breath energy feels as you walk around, as you stand, as you lie down. When you talk with other people, can you stay in touch with how the breath energy in the body feels? Because when we talk about “breath,” it’s not just the air coming in and out of the lungs, it’s the energy throughout the body that permeates through all the nerves. You want to get more and more sensitive to those sensations of subtle energies and learn how to stick with them.
“Make this your default mode: that you’re going to stay centered right here. This gives you a good foundation as you go through the day. It’s not just one more thing to add on top of what you’re already doing. It’s actually a solid center from which you can deal with all your other duties and responsibilities as you go out into the world. We all need this center here because otherwise we get blown around by the slightest breeze. So stick with it, stick with it, stick with it. Learn how to pace yourself so you can put in just the right amount of effort that you can maintain.”
“When the mind starts grasping at things and making a big deal out of them, you have to stop it. It will argue with you, but you have to put your foot down. Stay in the middle as the mind comes and goes. Put sensual indulgence away to one side. Put self-torment away to the other side. Love to one side, hate to the other side. Happiness to one side, suffering to the other side. Remain in the middle without letting the mind go in either direction.”
“Wherever you are still inept, wherever you are still lacking, that’s where you must apply yourself. If you haven’t yet cracked it don’t give up. Having finished with one thing you get stuck on another, so persist with it until you crack it, don’t let up. Don’t be content until it’s finished. Put all your attention on that point. While sitting, lying down or walking, watch right there.”
~Ajahn Chah (from “Food for the Heart,” pp. 94-95)
“Discipline” is a difficult word for most of us. It conjures up images of somebody standing over you with a stick, telling you that you’re wrong. But self-discipline is different. It’s the skill of seeing through the hollow shouting of your own impulses and piercing their secret. They have no power over you. It’s all a show, a deception. Your urges scream and bluster at you; they cajole; they coax; they threaten; but they really carry no stick at all. You give in out of habit. You give in because you never really bother to look beyond the threat. It is all empty back there.
There is only one way to learn this lesson, though. The words on this page won’t do it. But look within and watch the stuff coming up—restlessness, anxiety, impatience, pain—just watch it come up and don’t get involved. Much to your surprise, it will simply go away. It rises, it passes away. As simple as that. There is another word for self-discipline. It is patience.”
Ajahn Chah was one of the great Buddhist teachers of the 20th century. Here, he responds to a question about monks and monastic discipline. But there are many insights in his remarks for those of us layfolk who struggle with meditation practice and who compare our efforts with others.
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“You must examine yourself. Know who you are. Know your body and mind by simply watching. In sitting, in sleeping, in eating, know your limits. Use wisdom. The practise is not to try to achieve anything. Just be mindful of what is. Our whole meditation is looking directly at the mind. You will see suffering, its cause and its end.
“But you must have patience; much patience and endurance. Gradually you will learn…. You must learn the values of giving, of patience and of devotion. Don’t practise too strictly. Don’t get caught up with outward form. Watching others is bad practice. Simply be natural and watch that. Our monks’ discipline and monastic rules are very important. They create a simple and harmonious environment. Use them well.
“But remember, the essence of the monks’ discipline is watching intention, examining the mind. You must have wisdom. Don’t discriminate. Would you get upset at a small tree in the forest for not being tall and straight like some of the others? This is silly. Don’t judge other people. There are all varieties. No need to carry the burden of wishing to change them all. So, be patient. Practice morality. Live simply and be natural. Watch the mind. This is our practice. It will lead you to unselfishness. To peace.”
~ Ajahn Chah For more teachings by Ajahn Chah, click here.