Samatha Meditation to Develop Concentration and Serenity for a Chaotic World / Concentration Meditation Events (Daylongs and Retreats up to 14 days)
In concentration and serenity (samatha) meditation, we return our awareness to one object of meditation to the exclusion of everything else, thereby collecting and unifying the mind stream. This practice counteracts the overstimulation of today’s world, reflected in books like “The Shallows” that highlight the neurological effects of social media, texting, and technology that bombard our awareness with messages, alerts, and feeds. (Neuroscience will be discussed.) Practicing concentration meditation collects the mind stream and “builds the muscle” of concentration, enabling us to turn away from the constant pull of our smartphones, computer screens, games, and entertainment, allowing us to settle into the serenity of our deeper nature. The practice also reveals with heightened clarity our habitual patterns that cause us to suffer both on and off the cushion, a process referred to as “purification of mind.”
Then, as we build the capacity to turn away from these patterns, a laser-like awareness can develop that can lead to profound stillness and deep joy, as well as the possibility of the deep meditative absorptions known as the jhanas. This retreat provides an overview of anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) concentration meditation as taught in the lineage of Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw of Burma, considered by many to be the leading living teacher of samatha practice and the jhanas. Highlights of recent neuroscience research demonstrating the benefits of focused attention meditation will also be provided. This retreat is open to all, and is suitable for beginners as well as experienced meditators. There will be instructions and meditation, silence, and periods of teaching and questions. Prerequisite: none. Click here for a 4-minute YouTube with Tina talking about “The Four Benefits of the Samatha Practice.”
Luminous Mind Retreats
(retreats of 7 days or more)
These retreats are set in the larger context of awakening. The first few days include the overall “view” of enlightenment, and the basis of Bodhicitta (a wish for awakening for oneself and all beings) in the heart for a full practice and larger intention for practice. The next week of the retreat will focus on the Samatha practice, developing laser-like awareness that has the potential to lead to the meditative absorptions known as jhanas. For the last five days of the retreat, participants will have the option to continue to deepen on the Samatha track, or move to the Dzogchen track. (Talks for both tracks will be available to all participants.) The Dzogchen track provides the possibility of non-dual awareness without the level of concentration required for jhana. In the Dzogchen track, we will build upon the foundation of Samatha with its powerful and stabilizing concentration, to include the open awareness of Vipassana, and then explore the non-dual practice of Rigpa, which enables the possibility for one to be present with a deeper reality with eyes open, awake to the world. Participants will have the option to either go deeper with the Samatha practice, or to branch into the Tibeten Dzogchen practice and the possibility of realizing Rigpa. Both paths provide the possibility of cutting through conventional reality to realize the deeper truth of non-duality. For a 9-minute video describing the retreat, please click here. Click here to watch a 9-minute video of Tina providing an overview of the Luminous Mind retreat.
What is Awakening?–4 Practices Rooted in Tradition and Confirmed by Neuroscience (2 or 5-day retreats, or series of daylongs)
In this teaching you will learn 4 meditation practices rooted in tradition and confirmed by neuroscience. One meditation period/half-day/day (depending on the length of retreat) is spent on each practice. This allows you to experience the meditation’s purpose, what it does to your consciousness, and how it supports awakening in unique and important ways. This helps you to make wise use of precious time spent in daily practice and retreat, and to better understand the overall trajectory of your spiritual unfoldment.
We also explore the question: “What is awakening?” Awakening is the inspiration for many on the spiritual journey, but we may be unclear about what it is, how it happens, and what we can commonly encounter. An overview of how awakening is understood across wisdom traditions is provided, misconceptions are clarified (as well as why scandals happen), and we learn more about how to integrate spiritual experience into everyday life. Participants are also guided in tuning in to their own “flame for awakening.” For a 7-minute video of Tina describing the program, click here.
Vipassana: Open-Monitoring Meditation
In this retreat, Tina gives an overview of the “Open Monitoring” category of meditation, in particular the Vipassana practice as it is taught in Theravadan and Tibetan Buddhism. Vipassana is also known as Insight Meditation, and utilizes our capacity to investigate, to more deeply understand phenomena so that we can develop equanimity in being with things as they are. Investigating our experience can also potentially lead to perceiving phenomena at their ultimate level.
Vipassana is one of the most widely practiced types of meditation, but many people don’t know it’s full scope, or over-focus only on the breath—which is only one small aspect of the full Vipassana practice. In this teaching, Tina describes how Vipassana fits into the four categories of practices, she outlines the different lineages and styles of Vipassana and how they are different, and she progressively describes the different categories of objects one can focus on in Vipassana. She provides a progressive series of Guided Meditations that include the different styles of Vipassana as well as objects, culminating in “choiceless awareness” that includes the many styles and objects of Vipassana, as well as Tina’s addition of the “non-doing” practice that provides a bridge to Dzogchen. She talks about how mindfulness relates to Vipassana, and culminates the workshop discussing ultimate insight into the three fundamental characteristics of existence that can lead to awakening, as well as cessation.
The Heart Practices: Purification of the Heart
In this retreat, Tina gives an overview of the “Heart Practices” category of meditation, which includes Bodhicitta and the Bramaviharas. Bodhicitta is the Tibetan Buddhist practice of feeling our heart’s aspiration for awakening, for our own benefit and for the benefit of all beings. The Bramaviharas are the “divine abodes of the heart,” found in both Theravadan and Tibetan Buddhism, and include: metta (loving kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (empathetic joy), and upekkha (equanimity).
These practices are often overlooked, marginalized, or taught in a superficial way as “mantras” or as something we do for others. But they are actually crucial for our own unfoldment as well, and are as serious and robust of practices as the other categories of: Focused Attention (Samatha), Open Monitoring (Vipassana), and Self-Transcending (Dzogchen). These “Purification of the Heart” practices work our consciousness in a way that none of the other categories do, helping us to digest personality material that is universal, and is an obstacle to our unfoldment and awakening. They also provide a way of orienting to life and to how to relate to ourselves and others from an “unhindered heart” that responds naturally to any human situation. In addition, these practices are a balm in difficult times, like the ones we are facing these days individually and collectively.
Samatha & Vipassana In Harmony
Samatha (concentration and serenity meditation) and Vipassana (insight meditation) are two of the foundational practices of both Theravadan and Tibetan Buddhism. Many people practice one or the other, or both, but how they can work together in harmony in our practice (and off-the-cushion) is not often discussed. Join Tina to learn more about each of the practices, what each of them is cultivating in our consciousness, and how they complement each other harmoniously. There will be meditation with instructions for both practices, dharma talks with Q&As, and group and/or individual interviews with the teacher. No prior experience in either practice is required.
Focused Attention Stress Reduction Daylong (FASR)
In focused attention meditation, we return our awareness to one object of meditation to the exclusion of everything else, thereby collecting and unifying the mind stream. This practice counteracts the overstimulation of today’s world, reflected in books like “The Shallows” that highlight the neurological effects of social media, texting, and technology that bombard our awareness with messages, alerts, and feeds. (Neuroscience will be discussed.) Practicing focused attention meditation collects the mind stream and “builds the muscle” of concentration, enabling us to turn away from the constant pull of our smartphones, computer screens, games, and entertainment, allowing us to settle into the serenity of our deeper nature. The practice also reveals with heightened clarity our habitual patterns that cause us to suffer both on and off the cushion. Then, as we build the capacity to turn away from these patterns, a laser-like awareness can develop that can lead to profound stillness and deep joy. This daylong is open to all. There will be instructions, sitting and walking meditation, silence, and periods of teaching, interactive activities and questions. Prerequisite: none. This is a great daylong for beginners. Click here for a 4-minute YouTube with Tina talking about “The Four Benefits of the Samatha Practice.”
Dharma Talks and Retreats Upon Request at Your Location
Tina is available to give dharma talks or lead retreats at your location. For a sample of Tina’s dharma talks or videos, please visit the Dharma Talks page. If you or your sangha are interested in organizing a retreat or dharma talk for Tina to lead, please contact us directly as found on the Contacts Us page.