A core concept within Buddhist psychology is sunnata, translated as emptiness; this talk reviews this often mystified and misunderstood aspect of Buddhist doctrine. Early Buddhist schools emphasized that sunnata is synonymous with anatta, the absence of an enduring/autonomous self. Later, the Mahayana teachers emphasized that sunnata applies to everything in the universe, building on the doctrine of interdependence. Contemporary psychological and sociological research has validated the concept of emptiness. Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Understanding Buddhist Emptiness The topic for next week’s talk will be focused on the general areas of research that suggest the benefits of Buddhist meditation practices in terms of mental health and other life skills, such as financial management, relationship enhancement, etc.
Mar 30, 2023
1 hr 1 min
This talk reviews the Buddhist underpinnings of the book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ”, by Daniel Goleman, who has practiced mindfulness meditation for over 50 years. Emotional intelligence, often termed as EQ, has been considered a more important characteristic of a successful personality than IQ. The five characteristics of EQ mentioned in the book are reviewed: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Social Skills, Empathy and Motivation, along with any correlations .associated with mindfulness of breathing meditation practice. The talk was followed by descriptions by some of the participants regarding how EQ applies to their lived experience. Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence The topic for next week’s talk will be sunnata (soon-yah-tah), translated as emptiness. This concept is typically misunderstood, and will be more thoroughly described and related to the effects of well-developed mindfulness meditation.
Mar 23, 2023
It is our custom to provide an opportunity for anyone who recently completed a significant retreat to reflect upon their experience, because “thinking out loud” about it helps integrate their insights. Lezlie has practiced Ashtanga Yoga for decades and is certified to teach yoga. She recently completed a one-week retreat that integrated yoga, longevity practices, and mindfulness meditation. She reviewed the characteristics of the site and organization of the retreat, which emphasized the importance of using breath awareness while practicing hatha yoga, as well as during other daily activities. She also reviewed Ashtanga Yoga, which uses “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” as a primary resource for study, and this discourse has significant parallels to the conceptual structures associated with Buddhism, Her review was followed by questions from those participating in the meeting. The topic for next week’s talk will review the association between what is called “emotional intelligence”, (The ability to cultivate self-awareness and self-discipline to more fully realize one’s social, professional and spiritual development) and the application of mindfulness and Right Effort.
Mar 16, 2023
1 hr 8 min
This talk focuses on reviewing the 16 stanzas of the Anapanasati Sutta, one of the core teachings of Buddhism. The stanzas are typically organized into four tetrads, which mirror the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, another key Buddhist discourse. The talk of March 1, 2023 reviewed how the practice of anapanasati, mindfulness of breathing meditation, restructures important neural pathways in the brain, supporting the process of Awakening, and this presentation is intended to complement that talk. There are several references within this talk from an important book on the subject: “Mindfulness of Breathing–a practice guide and translations” by Bhikkhu Analayo, a contemporary authority on this topic. Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Anapanasati 16 Steps Review Here is a translation of the Anapanasati Sutta by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, another respected scholar/monk: Anapanasati-Thanissaru Bhikkhu The talk planned for next week will provide an opportunity for another of our teachers, Lezlie Laws, to review a residential retreat she attended that integrated intensive hatha yoga practice with mindfulness of breathing meditation.
Mar 9, 2023
1 hr 5 min
This talk provides a review of how the practice of mindfulness with breathing meditation changes the structure of those areas of the brain that beneficially affect consciousness for better mental health and to promote the process of Awakening. There is an accompanying “Guided Mindfulness With Breathing Meditation”, recorded prior to this meeting and posted in the Audio archives. Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Breathing With Mindfulness The focus of next week’s talk will provide a review of the 16 stages found in the Anapanasati Sutta, the Mindfulness With Breathing Discourse. The stages provide experiential “markers” that can help meditation practitioners confirm their progress during the process of Awakening.
Mar 2, 2023
1 hr 3 min
This meditation provides training for cultivating persistent attention to breath sensations, ending with a contemplation of spaciousness.
Mar 2, 2023
Equanimity is the quality of present-moment awareness and behavior that is highly valued in all spiritual endeavors. Theravada Buddhism has developed an extensive analysis of equanimity to support the process of Awakening conceptually, and this talk reviews those concepts, using the Visuddhimagga, translated as “The Path of Purification”, as a guide. Two primary areas of practice that will be reviewed are associated with the cultivation of lovingkindness, compassion and sympathetic joy, along with the function of equanimity as one of the Seven Awakening Factors. Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Cultivating Equanimity Next week’s talk will “Go back to the basics” with a guided training meditation focusing on mindfulness of breathing meditation, followed by a Dharma talk that will provide an insightful review of how mindfulness of breathing meditation beneficially affects the neural structures of the brain and the function of that practice for advancing the process of Awakening.
Feb 23, 2023
1 hr 2 min
After anyone in our community participates in a significant retreat experience, the meeting that follows is dedicated to providing an opportunity for those attending to “think out loud” about her or his experience. It is well-known that much of what is experienced during a retreat is more thoroughly integrated when a person attempts to describe what insights occurred to a well-informed and supportive audience. This recounting might also remind others who were at the retreat of insights that occurred for them, and additionally provide inspiration for others to commit to a residential retreat in the future. Shaila Catherine is a very well respected teacher and author regarding Buddhist psychology and meditation training. Peter, who has been on dozens of long retreats, reports on the powerful impact her Dharma talks had on his practice experience and insights during the retreat. His comments are followed by others, several of whom report this to be their first retreat, who then describe their own insights. The topic for next week’s talk will review the characteristics of equanimity, which functions to balance the practice of lovingkindness, compassion and sympathetic joy, collectively known as “The Four Divine Abidings”.
Feb 16, 2023
Sympathetic Joy, Mudita in Pali, is the quality of consciousness that happily celebrates the success and happiness of others, regardless of any material or status benefit for oneself. The cultivation of mudita involves integrating lovingkindness with the in-born capacity we all have for empathy. This talk reviews the classical understanding of mudita and how contemporary psychological research supports how this awareness is formed in the brain through the practice of mindfulness, investigation of mental phenomena and Right Effort. Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Working With Mudita Next week’s talk will be provided by Lezlie Laws, one of the teachers who is being mentored by Peter. The topic she reviews will focus on how the core teaching of Buddhism about impermanence affects our contemporary issues of time management.
Jan 26, 2023
This talk reviews the characteristics and cultivation of compassion, which results from the developed application of mindfulness, investigation and Right Effort on the built-in capacity of humans for empathy. Contemporary research shows that the parts of the brain associated with internal awareness and interpersonal empathy, essential components of compassion, are developed and matured through ongoing mindfulness meditation practice. Following the talk, there was discussion about the usefulness of cultivating compassion in one’s life. here are the notes prepared for this talk: Working With Compassion The topic for next week’s review will focus on the intersection between empathetic joy and generosity.
Jan 19, 2023
1 hr 6 min