Ajahn opened the evening by having us make bubbles and laughing. Ajahn then explained that like popping bubbles we can pop our thoughts as they arise during meditation. Ajahn further explained that trying to meditate without joy and happiness in our minds is so much more difficult than with peace, harmony and joy. If you try to meditate with a heavy, dark or unhappy mind it will be difficult, if not impossible, to have a good meditation. Letting go of our thinking mind is the object we all seek. Popping the thoughts as they arise, just as we would a bubble, is where we wish to go. In this way we become an observer of our thoughts rather than being a controller. We let our thoughts pass more easily and more quickly as an observer.

Ajahn then lead the group in a 30 minute guided meditation starting with a body sweep. This meditation is well suited to beginners and experienced alike.

After meditation time seemed to have vanished for all of us so Ajahn reiterated that we need to start our meditation from a peaceful happy place.

 

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Venerable started the evening by relating an interesting story of events that occurred when receiving dana sometime ago on a particularly hot day.  A lady was standing in bare feet on hot concrete, as was Venerable, and they both had to dance to avoid their feet being burnt.  Venerable used this story to relate to the way we have rain storms in our minds.  Rather than running away and hiding, we need to learn how to dance in the rain of our minds.  

"Life is not about waiting for the rain storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain".  Venerable Nitho.

Venerable continued by encouraging us to follow the first noble truth in Buddhism; Life is suffering or dukkha.  That doesn't mean it is awful, just that we need to learn how to dance in the rain and be happy.  Life starts where your comfort zone ends.  If you stay in your comfort zone, you don't extend your life.
 
Venerable then guided us in a body scan meditation ending with five minutes of silent observation of our minds.

After the meditation Venerable opened to Q&A.  Several of the questions, relating to things that trip us all over when we begin meditation, needed an in-depth explanation, which Venerable Nitho was able to give.

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Venerable Nitho led us on a guided walk through the mountains of Norway.  Venerable used his Rains Retreat experience to teach us that our thoughts, emotions and day to day experiences are just like meeting someone on a walk.  Don’t engage them, you smile, say hello, then continue walking.  Just as we notice the thoughts that enter our minds and let them go.

After the meditation Venerable opened the floor to a Q&A.

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Often, we try to make peace and joy in our meditation but that does not happen. Venerable Nitho teaches us to be passive and let everything slowly calm down all by itself, so that then you will experience peace and joy.

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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.

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The final week of a 4 week beginners meditation class with Venerable Nitho.  Venerable  expands on the ground work laid in weeks 1, 2 and 3 with the focus for the last week being Metta Meditation.

What is Metta Meditation?

Mettā (Pali) or maitrī (Sanskrit) means benevolence, loving-kindness, friendliness, amity, friendship, good will, kindness, and active interest in others. It is the first of the four sublime states (Brahmavihāras) and one of the ten pāramīs of the Theravāda school of Buddhism.

Venerable gives us real world examples of Metta Meditation to apply not only to the world and those around us, but to ourselves as well.  If we are happy, chances are that those around us will feel that and respond in kind.

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Venerable Nitho expands on the ground work laid in weeks 1 and 2.  Venerable gives us real world examples of how remaining calm and composed can benefit both the meditater and those around us.  The focus this week is breath meditation with [for beginners], an added focus point.  This helps tremendously when learning to meditate.

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Venerable Nitho expands on the ground work laid in week 1.  Venerable gives us real world examples of how remaining calm and composed can benefit both the meditater and those around us.  Including wildlife.

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This is Week 1 of 4 beginners meditation with Venerable Nitho.

Venerable Nitho explains what meditation can help us to achieve.  Venerable uses his own life experience to help explain why he meditates and what we can achieve by practising.

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Venerable Nitho introduces meditation to the group with a story that had all listening very intently.  He then guided us expertly through meditation and gave a wonderful Dharma Talk to close.  It was the considered opinion of all that he should return as soon as he is able.

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