Distractions: JoAnna Harper

Length: 27 minutes, 50 secondsJoAnna_Harper

Memorable Quote:  “An emotion only lasts about 30 seconds. The story that comes with the emotion can last for days.”

Synopsis: JoAnna finds meditation valuable, and in particular meditation retreats, because it is an incredibly “safe” space. No one will steal from you. No one will cause you harm. It is a perfect opportunity to also not cause yourself harm, to be really gentle and kind to yourself. At the same time as you are being kind and loving with yourself, you are also denying yourself the usual escape hatches. You promise not to engage in the distractions that usually allow you to avoid the unpleasant experience of pain.

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The Root Cause of Suffering: Anushka Fernandopulle

Length: 14 minutes, 17 secondscrop-short-e1301959846324-227x300

Memorable Quote:  “We spend a lot of energy trying to create a certain impression of ourselves in others, but it’s an exercise in futility. It’s like boxing with clouds.”

Synopsis: Anushka identifies craving as the root cause of suffering, or the “leaning” of the mind. We have craving for direct sensory experiences, such as pleasant tastes of physical sensations and the avoidance of unpleasant sensations. We also cravings toward certain ideas about ourselves, wanting either to be perceived as a certain type of person or avoid being perceived badly. For instance, when we meet someone new, we want to present ourselves a certain way, which can be exhausting. We have to manage this impression all the time, to make sure everyone thinks the same thing about us as we want them to. We have to say the right things, look the right way, and not be caught looking or sounding a certain way.

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Planting Flowers, Pulling Weeds: Ayya Anandabodhi

teacher_379_125_0Length: 26 minutes, 13 seconds.

Memorable Quote:  We should take care to be aware of the hindrances that are NOT present, and appreciate that. It is a lovely feeling.

Synopsis: Ayya Anandabodhi compares the mind to a garden in which we must make efforts to water the flowers and pull up weeds. This is easier in a community, in which we can offer each other reflections on the good, as well as the parts that could benefit from a bit of work. If we only hear about what we’re doing well, the vines of pride and self-deceit may spring up. If we only hear what’s wrong, our garden will be barren. We will have a dry heart, and dry experience. If we start from a place of criticism, we may get to a place where things are the way we think they “should” be, but this will not lead us to freedom, joy and release.

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Natural Wakefulness: Pema Chodron

Pema-Chodron2Length: 9 minutes, 33 seconds

Memorable Quote:  During a sit, there are only two times that we are actually meditating: the beginning and the end.

Synopsis: Pema wants to talk about “not meditating,” but doesn’t want to ruin it by calling it anything formal. She fears that by formalizing it, we will tense up, take good posture and start to get nervous about our breath. The only times during a meditation that we seem to be completely focused is when the gong is rung, when we are earnestly there with our breath. During the meditation itself, we often see thoughts, sounds, and bodily sensations as a distraction, instead of an object for the meditation itself. It is easier to be relaxed and connected before we label an activity “meditation” or “non-meditation.”

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