Annie Keating, a former nun in both Santi(NSW) and Dhammasara(WA) monasteries, now returned to lay life, speaks of preparing the mind throughout the day, with kindness and silence, for a better meditation. She then guides us through a body scan and breath meditation followed by a Q&A.
Sol spoke to us on meditation by relating his own experience over many years. He explains meditation in a way that is different to what we normally hear from our regular Monks. His experience ranges from a rock star to a monk and now a high school teacher. He has dealt with his own health issues as well as the issues we all face throughout our lives. He explains how he used meditation to simply accept those circumstances and issues for what they are, then move on.
Sol then led us through a very relaxing 30 minute meditation after which he gave a dharma talk. At the end of the talk, he opened the floor to questions.
Relax, it's all out of control. It's ok. It doesn't matter so much what happens to us, it matters how we react to it and how we accept it.
Ajahn regaled us with his usual wit and humour for the final time before the Rains Retreat. We look forward to his return in three months.
Ajahn used his stories and jokes to both relax us and move us to a more happy state of mind before leading us in a beginners meditation.
Ajahn used his stories to show us what we unconsciously do to ourselves all day, every day, especially when we are dealing with stressful situations and or health issues.
Following the meditation Ajahn talked about anxiety, relating it to his annual visit to the Cancer Clinic in Cottesloe. Ajahn explained to us that our anxiety is our own mind imagining what may, or may not, happen in the future. We focus our attention on our own "two bad bricks" to such an extent that we don't see all the other perfectly laid bricks. We spend so much time trying to control our minds and being unkind to ourselves that we don't see what's good in life.
As Ajahn has said to us many times “Stop looking into the past, reliving bad things that have happened, or imagining a future that may never happen, and live in the moment”.
Bhante Sangharatana talked to us about mindfullness and breath meditation encouraging us to see the difference between the two. Mindfulness being our attention to the meditation object or focus on, for example, our breath. Bhante further explains that mindfulness is of itself not meditation.
Bhante then explained for the beginners amongst us, the need for meditation or why we meditate. He further explained the technique used for a simple but successful breath meditation. Bhante then guided us through a 30min beginners breath meditation after which he opened the floor to questions.
USA CIA with Venerable Bodhidhaja. USA is an acronym for unburden settle arrive. CIA is an acronym for the mind or central intelligence agency. Venerable used these acronyms to get us interested and grab our attention. Venerable then described the basics of meditation in terms easily understood by all beginners and experienced alike. Venerable then guided us through a 30 minute meditation well suited to beginners encouraging us to treat each thought that arose by saying to it "I value your presence" and then let it go.
Venerable then opened to questions giving very detailed answers using synonyms and practical examples.
Venerable JR lead a relaxed evening of breath meditation encouraging us to not pressure ourselves by looking for success in the stages of our practice. But rather to simply accept our progress and continue to practice. So, don't treat your practice as a video game, win the level and then move on. Be happy with your progress and continue to practice.
Venerable also gave a practical demonstration of walking meditation, demonstrating the different speeds and so showing us that we need not all keep the same pace. Some of us will walk slowly and some will walk a little quicker.
Venerable then led a very relaxed breath meditation. After the meditation Venerable encouraged us to stretch our practice times. For those of us just learning, 5 or 10 minutes seems a long time to sit and meditate. As we progress in our practice it does become easier to stretch our meditation time to much longer periods. Or, try more regular small sessions in one day.
Ajahn joined us again this week at The Armadale Meditation Group. He suggested that we spend much time in our busy daily lives collecting rubbish within our minds and meditation is the means to get rid of it, empty the garbage.
Ajahn then guided us through a meditation with relaxation of our bodies first. The focus of our meditation was our breath or breathing. Ajahn then opened the floor to questions. Following Q&A Ajahn told us of his recent visit to Thailand were he met with Ajahn Gunhah, the original happy monk.
Venerable Upasama gave us a dharma talk before meditation on dukkha and being happy. Dukkha (Pāli - Sanskrit) is an important Buddhist concept, commonly translated as "suffering", "pain" or "unsatisfactoriness".
Following the dharma talk Venerable Upasama guided us through a meditation well suited to beginners and experienced meditators. The meditation was different in that he guided us through the beginning with a story to trigger our imaginations.
Following the meditation Venerable opened the floor to questions on any
subject. His answers were detailed in that he provided examples.
Ajahn explains to us our compulsion to own everything. We see the news, read the newspaper and engage in discussion, we involve ourselves so much that we own it. We need to have the courage to say "this is not my business". We need to leave it all behind before we meditate.
Ajahn then guided us through a 30 minute meditation well suited to beginners, encouriging us to free ourselves from the compulsion to "own it" with the small mantra of "this is none of my business".
Ajahn then gave us a dharma talk on love and kindness followed by a Q&A.
Ajahn Brahmali talked to us about happiness and comfort before and during our meditation. Meditation should not be a task, a duty, something we have to do. We need to be patient with ourselves and allow ourselves to become peaceful, comfortable and happy to be in that moment. A positive attitude [not forced], comfortable position and being happy will make for a good meditation.
After our guided beginners meditation Ajahn used his wit, humor and experience to answer our questions. In answering our questions, Ajahn had us all on the edge of our seats for the rest of the evening.
All to soon it was time to go.
Ajahn Appi guided the group through his favorite beginners meditation which focuses on breath and the sensations caused by breathing. Ajahn then spoke on the benefits of meditation and encouraged us to experiment and investigate. Ajahn then led the circum-ambulation of the court yard in celebration of the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha. The group then enjoyed a small Vesak feast.
Tuesday 2nd May 2017 was a special day for the Armadale Meditation Group. We celebrated 30 years of meditation and guidance by the monks of Bodhinyana Monastery in Serpentine. For this special occasion Ajahn Brahm and Venerable Akaliko graced us with their presence. Ajahn Brahm likes to refer to the group as Club Med. Being typically Aussie, we like that. Venerable Akaliko once remarked that on his way to Club Med one evening [his first teaching at Armadale], he was considering a topic for his Dharma talk when he realised that there is "no fail in Armadale".
The group has adopted these slogans and now we have T-shirts that clearly state who we are and how we feel about meditation.
For the benefit of the five new people who joined us for our celebrations, Ajahn gave us a guided beginners meditation. Ajahn used his wit, humour, common sense and stories to describe the purpose of meditation and why worrying about the future or reliving the past, is pointless. We can't change the past and we can't control the future, so why do we worry so. Give it a miss and meditate instead.
After meditation Ajahn gave a Dharma talk and joined us for our 30th Year celebrations.
Ajahn Cittapalo suggested we count, 1 to 10, or select and visualise our favourite colour to meditate. Most of us focus on our breathing or bodies when we start or first learn to meditate. So counting or visualising a colour makes for a welcome change of pace. For beginners [and aren't we all] this is often a much easier way to start meditating. Ajahn explains how to do it and what will happen to most of us when we count or visualise our favourite colour.
Ajahn then gave us a very enlightened Dharma talk, so much so that the group lost track of time with no-one in a hurry to stop or go home.
Venerable Mudito encouraged us to lift our self confidence by looking within, asking if we respect ourselves. Be kind to ourselves and in so doing lift our self confidence.
Venerable then guided us through a 30 minute meditation using our bodies as the focus, totally relaxing us in the process. The mediation was well suited to beginners and intermediates. He then gave a Dharma talk to further encourage us to look inward and boost our self confidence.
During Q&A he explained how he came to be a Monk and why it is so important for us to be kind and respectful to our selves. We look forward to Venerable returning to The Armadale Meditation Group.
Ajahn Cittapalo is always a welcome teacher at AMG, he never fails to fill the house. Tonight he encouraged us to be patient with our impatience. Thoughts arise during meditation whether we want them to or not. Don't be impatient with yourself, let them go and gently bring your mind back to your meditation object.
Ajahn guided us through a 30 minute meditation that was well suited to beginners and intermediates. He then gave a Dharma talk that was both humorous and relevant to our habit of being impatient with our minds.
Venerable Nitho recounted his youth to us to show how trying too hard [craving] is counter productive to letting go and that this will make it more difficult to meditate. Just as Venerable tried to hard to catch an elusive blue butterfly, we often try too hard too clear our minds to meditate. We need to let go and just let it happen.
Tonight's meditation was focused on our bodies. Starting at the feet, working upward. Relaxing each area of the body helps immensely to clear the mind, shut out external distractions and simply relax.
Venerable concluded with a brief Dharma talk and Q&A.
Venerable JR spoke on just letting it be tonight. Let the thoughts come and let them go, don't engage them, just let it be and be happy. After a guided beginners meditation Venerable was happy to do a Q&A session.
Bhante explains metta meditation, how it will affect every aspect of our daily lives before guiding us through a combined metta and breath meditation. After the guided meditation Bhante answered questions about the meditation then opened to general comments and questions.
Bhante concluded the evening with stories that showed how love and kindness worked for Bhante G at Heathrow.
Metta [loving kindness]. In Buddhist belief, this is a Brahma-vihara (divine abode) or an immeasurable that leads to a meditative state by being a counter to ill-will. It removes clinging to negative state of mind, by cultivating kindness unto all beings.
Ajahn Appi guided the group through a beginners meditation with the focus on breath and the sensations caused by breathing. Ajahn then spoke on the benefits of meditation and concluded the session with a recital of a Tibetan Mantra.
Post Traumatic Stress can be overcome. Ajahn encourages us to not make matters worse by adding to what, for a lot of people, is a time in their lives they can never forget. Ajahn tells us, don't forget, rather forgive and open up our hearts, accept it for what it was and move on.
Ajahn took us through a body sweep before a 30 min guided meditation. Ajahn then gave a talk on Post Traumatic Stress further encouraging us to open our hearts, accept and move on.
The entire evening was lightened by Ajahn Brahm's jokes and irrepressible sense of humour.