Meditation: Monday Evenings
VIMS Teacher Karen Summer Reflects on Lessons Learned from a Recent Accident “I like my mind,” a friend recently said during a casual conversation. Can I say the same for myself ? After reflection, the answer is a hearty Yes. Since I fell on April 28 during an encounter with a dog, my mind, with its virtuous quality of mindfulness, has been an essential support through the pain and now into the recuperation cycle. Another crucial support has been the well-wishes of many in our sangha and the fabulous meals delivered by members of the Support Sangha Team. I write with tears in my eyes as I think of the love that continues to flow my way. I am much, much better with markedly decreasing pain and increasing ambulatory agility. A few suggestions arising from this traumatic accident: (a) Train your mind now! When misfortune strikes, it may be too late to develop the qualities and the capacity you need to be strong, kind, and steady in the midst of a rocky stream. (b) Our friend sati––mindfulness––is crucial. Remember the practice of “whole body awareness” (both internally and externally) as you move throughout the day. There can be an interesting balance between present mindfulness, priming the mind and body for what is coming next, and the teaching of the Two Arrows. (c) Practice “situational creativity” as Bhikku Analayo suggests. The process of mind training and meditation can be quite creative as we match what we need at a particular moment with practices we know. So, when you are not stressed, experiment with many practices, including some for pain management. In times of stress, you want to have a broad, easily-accessible repertoire. (d) Self-compassion and the brahma viharas (metta, compassion, joy, and equanimity) are crucial. Metta, the foundation of the other three, is the most important quality to practice according to Bhikkhu Analayo.(e) Develop a formal, daily gratitude practice that includes intentions of altruism. We train our mind for our and others’ well-being. I recently took an 18-week course that included a gratitude practice done at bedtime and before arising in the morning. My mind is different because of that. These days, every pain-free movement contains a song of gratitude.For many of you, these ideas are not new. I encourage you to deeply assimilate them! Doreen, Peg, and I just completed a BCBS online course on resilience. We were taught that increasing resilience requires cultivating our strengths. In my experience, these ideas surely do that. I wish you much happiness and a steady, supple mind, so that you too can wholeheartedly say, “I like my mind.”
With metta, Karen Noting our moment-to-moment experience is grounding. Curiosity about this inner experience can brighten the mind and allow us to “step back” into a healthy, detached observing stance. Consciously evoking metta for oneself and all beings warms the heart and inspires hope. With metta and a deep bow, ~karen~
We welcome all levels of meditators, whether novice or experienced. Karen Summer leads the weekly sit. We usually start with a 35 to 40-minute meditation, followed by group discussion.
If you are wholly new to meditation or wish to discuss your practice one-on-one, feel free to email Karen to schedule a meeting. firstname.lastname@example.org.
(map and directions) (directly adjacent to Hanover High School)
In the spring, 2019 we started Sylvia Boorstein’s Pay Attention for Goodness Sake on the “perfections of the heart”, the Paramis. Recently we have relied on Aj. Sucitto’s Parami Ways to Cross Life’s Floods. As of mid November, ’19 we are investigating equanimity. It is not necessary to have read Aj. Sucitto’s chapter to participate in the discussion.
During the winter of ’18-’19, we focused on metta, compassion, joy, and equanimity, using excerpts from Christine Feldman’s Boundless Heart.
During the summer and fall of ’18, we used Bante Gunaratana’s Mindfulness in Plain English as a resource for our ongoing practice and discussions about meditation. This is an excellent book for beginning and experienced meditators. The book is available as a free download here.
Selected Quotes from the Introduction and all the chapters are here: Mindfulness in Plain English_Introduction, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch1, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch2, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch3, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch 4, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch5, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch 6, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch7, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch8, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch9, Metta. Chapter 9, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch 10 first half, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch 10 second half, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch11, Mindful.PlainEnglish.Ch12, Mindfulness Chap 13, and Chap 14 Mindfulness & Concentration.
We meditate together for 35-40 minutes, followed by discussion. We’re ending each sit around 6:50, to allow time for one-on-one conversations. As always, it is not necessary to be reading the suggested material to follow the teachings and to take part in the discussion.
On Monday, June 25, 2018 nationally-known dharma teacher Ruth King gave a dharma talk and book signing of her new book “Being Mindful of Race“. Her website with many dharma talks and articles is here. As a follow-up to her inspiring talk, Doreen and Peg are offering a 3-session book club to read her book. We will look at Part 2 and 3 at Doreen’s on Thursday, August 9 then Part 3 on September 13, both from 1:00-2:30 pm. Peg will facilitate a book club starting Wed, July 18, 5:30 – 7:00 pm at the Howe Library in Hanover. She will cover Part 2 the third Wed (same time) of August and part 3 the third Wed of September. Please contact Doreen or Peg if you intend to attend these groups.
In the fall, ’17 through February, ’18, we practiced with and studied the Five Hindrances, the mind states that all of us have that hinder our ability to quiet our mind and see clearly, described in detail here.
During the summer of ’17, the sangha focused on the Brahma-Viharas (Divine Abodes). One of the texts we used was Sharon Salzberg’s book: Loving-Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness.
From the fall ’16 through spring, ’17, all 3 sits investigated the foundational Dharma teachings called The Eightfold Path, the fourth of the Four Noble Truths. Much of the material we used was from dharma teacher Gil Fronsdal’s excellent online program on this topic.
On March 20, 2017 there was a special presentation on the story of ordained women in the Buddhist Insight tradition and the current campaign for full ordination of Buddhist nuns. Doreen describes the program here in her March essay.
Between March and the end of August, 2016, the teachers focused their remarks on the Four Noble Truths, using Phillip Moffitt’s Dancing with Life and The Four Noble Truths by Aj Sumedho as background material. Download the pdf of Aj. Sumedho’s short book here: The_Four_Noble_Truths_-_Ajahn_Sumedho. In the recent past, we have also read and discussed Jack Kornfield’s Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are and Joanna Macy’s World As Lover, World As Self. We’ve talked about the Five Hindrances or “Torments of the Mind”. An excellent overview by Gil Fronsdal is here. The Hindrance Chart with Antidotes is here.
During the spring and summer of ’14, we read a very impactful Dharma book – Ajahn Sucitto’s Parami – Ways to Cross Life’s Floods. It can be read as an ebook, available here in several formats. It is not commercially available.
If you would like to read Parami on a Kindle, follow these steps: (1) Download the book in .mobi format, (2) Plug your Kindle into your computer with a USB cable, (3) open the ‘Kindle’ drive on My Computer (Windows) or Finder (Mac), (4) and then drag/drop or copy/paste the downloaded .mobi file from where you downloaded it to the ‘documents’ folder on your Kindle. Now, unplug your Kindle, and the book should appear.