Link to retreat

Talk One

  • As Samadhi deepens it leads to a sense of happiness, well-being and pleasure
    • Buddha placed large emphasis on it
  • Happiness leads to samadhi and viceversa (Reinforcing Feedback Loops)
  • Meditation as an Art
    • No strict rules of how to respond
    • Sense of play

Key Attitudes

  • Play
    • Bringing play to practice every moment
    • Playing with the breath
      • Our conception of the breath (feeling the breath coming out of our chest etc…)
      • Making breath as pleasurable as possible
  • Patience
  • Appreciation and gratitude
  • Generosity
    • Reminding ourselves that we are practicing for the good of all beings

For the Good of all Beings

  • Creating a reservoir of pleasure and well being in practice allows us to let go and renounce material things
  • We need less to be satisfied (food, entertainment, stuff)
  • No need to be comfortable or security
  • We become more available to others
    • Because we have enough
  • The idea of renunciation is not scary anymore

Not “Being with What Is”

  • This practice encourages us to play with and manipulate the breath
    • This may feel not spiritual or not correct
    • Strong emphasis on being with what is
      • That kind of practice is not preparing us for daily life
  • In life we are constantly shaping and responding to things, we are not passively going through it
  • We manipulate the breath to make it as pleasurable as possible

Talk Two - Understanding the Heart

  • Chitta - Heartmind

  • 3 Components of the path

    • Mindfulness
    • Cultivation (of qualities like Samadhi, Metta, Equanimity etc…)
    • Insight (into suffering in a way that drains suffering away)
  • Understanding of suffering and of happiness are both parts of the path

Cultivation of Qualities

  • Generosity
    • An open, giving heart
    • When meditation feels dry, recall times when you acted generously
      • It brings self-esteem, warmth, encouragement, into the moment
      • We need to practice generosity in our lives
  • Sila (Ethics)
    • Acting and living ethically makes us calmer, we worry less
    • People can trust us more


  • We can talk about progress in our practice
    • The qualities we developed
    • The patterns we let go of
  • The idea of success brings with it that of failure
    • Our fear of failure makes us not want to think about progress

Two More “Keywords”

  • Sensitivity
    • Developing a light, delicate, subtle attention
    • Not forcing
    • Sensitive to the present moment, and to what we are doing in it
      • Are we adding unnecessary harshness?
  • Steadiness

Working with Hindrances

  • Do not take the presence of hindrances personally

    • Their presence just means you’re human
  • Avoid getting taken for a ride by them

    • See them arise and work with them
  • Torpor

    • Align the posture
    • Use long, energizing breath
    • Imagine a gold/white bright light in the middle of your head
    • Open your eyes and get a sense of spaciousness
  • Restlessness

    • Again, create sense of spaciousness, expand awareness
  • Greed

  • Aversion

  • Doubt

On Difficult Emotions

  • Is it possible that by orienting towards good feelings we suppress negative emotions?
    • Yes, possible, but there’s more to it
  • We have the notion that our negative emotions get stored in the body and keep coming up in meditation
  • Another view, Dependent Arising (Emptiness), holds that emotions come up in the present moment depending on causes and conditions
    • Do emotions arise because they “have to”, or is the mind contributing to let them arise?
  • Both views can be useful

Different Kinds of Happiness

  • Different Kinds of Happiness
    • From sense pleasures
    • From stories of the mind (if we are careful with them)
    • From letting go of the stories
    • From non-entanglement with past or future
  • It’s crucial for us as human beings to know these different kinds of happiness
    • Some are more fulfilling, profound than others
    • We need to taste them
  • What if we could drench our being and body in deep happiness most days of our lives?
    • How would that affect our lives?
    • A lot of our worries would appear less relevant

Talk Three - WIse Effort & Attachment

  • Goals in Spiritual Practice

  • Just being with what is can be a useful approach but can’t be the only way we see our spiritual life

    • If we did, our spiritual life wouldn’t resemble our real life at all
    • Our life is full of goals
    • Goals give our life direction and meaning
  • Goals themselves are not a problem

    • The problem arises in the Self view that we create with goals
      • The Self measurement
  • The Buddha used the word “striving” a lot

    It is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned

  • Is it possible that we don’t desire (awakening) enough?

Wise Effort

1. Effort towards what?

  • Cultivating beautiful qualities of the mind
  • Letting go and preventing unwholesome qualities

2. What’s involved in Wise effort?

  • Wise Attachment is involved

    • We actually need to get attached (with balance) to Ethics, Samadhi etc…
    • Is denying any attachment the most skillful way? Is it even possible?
      • A baby needs to get attached to his mother, that’s healthy
    • Then we can let go of our attachment to these things
      • We need to reach the other shore before letting go of the raft
    • We often are afraid of getting attached to Samadhi while our lives are already full of attachments (to certain foods, our house etc…)
  • The Buddha’s Four Bases of Success

    1. Desire
      • Are we practicing from a “should” attitude or from a full desire?
      • Practicing from “should” ends up being dry
    2. Persistence
    3. Intentness (being there with your full being)
    4. Ingenuity (creative responsiveness)
  • Inner Critic is not involved

Dealing with Inner Critic
  • Talks - Ending the Inner Critic - Rob Burbea
  • Some degree of dissatisfaction may be skillful
  • It becomes problematic when we judge ourselves harshly for not achieving our result
  • Can we judge ourselves based on intentions rather than results?
  • Can we dwell, appreciate and cherish our beautiful aspirations, our nobility?
    • People are afraid that doing so builds the ego
    • Yet, we continue dwelling in how we are not good enough
      • Still building self, but cultivating negative states of mind

Shifting from “essence” to actions

  • Not making conclusions about your essence based on one action you took

  • What exactly am I criticizing?

  • We usually judge ourselves, but that’s a big, fuzzy concept

  • What we are actually criticizing is a moment (of forgetfulness, unskillful action)

    • Is that moment my Self?
    • We take a micro-moment and blow it up to be our whole self
  • Things arise depending on the causes and conditions (Emptiness)

    • They have very little to do with self
    • Expecting that the waves (up and downs) will come
  • Even when meditation doesn’t feel good, what are we cultivating?

    • Patience, non-judgmentalism, mindfulness, spirit of questioning

3. Balancing

  • Continuous responsiveness of our effort (The Middle Path)
    • Am I putting too much or too little effort?
    • Our attention should be like gently holding a bird in our handsmetaphor
  • Sometimes too much effort can constrict awareness and make meditation harder, create even more thoughts

Talk Four - Jhanas

Risk of Escapism?

  • Pleasure in practice can be seen as an escape
  • It needs to be seen as one part of practice
    • Other parts involve being with one’s negative feelings
  • Practicing the Jhanas also helps us develop Love and confidence. It serves as healing for the body and mind
  • Buddha talked about practicing Samadhi leading to Enlightenment

Talk Five - Concentration and Insight

  • Developing concentration, can be a preparation for insight practices (vipassana)
    • As you go deeper you see that Samadhi and Vipassana feed each other and blend into each other
    • Samadhi is the most fertile ground for insight to take root
  • Being with what is isn’t the final goal of the path
  • Insight meditation is “developing ways of looking that bring freedom”

Samatha, An Act of Non-Fabrication

  • Deep understanding of how the mind fabricates

    • We assume the mind receives the experience
    • In reality, the mind is constantly fabricating, by gluing pieces together
    • It can fabricate a nightmare world
    • Even the present moment, and the Jhanas are fabricated, although there’s less and less fabrication in those states
  • Understanding how the mind is constantly fabricating our experience, we can mold the experience

    • Fine-tuning the mind frequencies to the pleasant
    • Even unpleasant feelings can eventually be experienced as pleasant
  • Sometimes we may think we’re just being with what is, being with the suffering

    • But on a deeper level there’s aversion there, contributing to the suffering
    • ”How Am I compounding this suffering/perception?”
    • As we relax aversion to suffering, we may see the pain beginning to fade
  • Sense of self (Ego) gets weaker in Samadhi

    • It can be a gradual process, as fear will come up


  • If we’re struggling with a difficult situation

  • When we’re in a state of calmness, we can try dropping in a difficult thought

    • Like dropping a pebble in the water to see its ripples
  • We may find that in a state of Samatha, we have a more skillful, clear understanding of the difficult situation

  • Samatha is not about denial or running away from Emotions

Other Benefits of Samadhi Practice

  • Reaching the Jhanas
  • Develop
    • Confidence
    • Patience
    • Faith (in the practice)
    • Equanimity → Be with everything that’s happening
    • Willingness to renunciation (because you see you don’t need anything to feel good)

Guided Meditation Notes

  • Playing with the breath, but not forcing
    • Simply ask, what will it feel like if I lengthen the breath a bit, and allowing the breath to delicately change
    • Asking what’s needed right now in the body, and use the breath to support
    • ”What does feel best right now?”
    • Not fear mistakes, we are just playing
      • We all make mistakes and that’s how we learn
    • If you’re not playing with the breath, it should be because it feels really good
      • If it doesn’t feel really good, play with it
  • Possible that we feel a sense of comfort somewhere in the body
    • Using the breath to nurture that sense of comfort
    • Consistency of attention with comfort allows it to grow
    • We stay with what’s there, and then we can allow it to spread
  • No need to put pressure on it
    • The mind could get tense, not happy
  • We can enjoy and be contented with whatever slight pleasure, comfort you might feel
  • Awareness will continuously shrink, we should continuously expand it
  • 8 ways for Dealing with Pain in Meditation

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