Each year we are blessed with a visit and teaching by Bhante Nissarano. Bhante is based in Sri Lanka, visiting his home city of Perth once every year or two. On such visits, Bhante is usually in high demand, so we at AMG are very grateful for his time.

Bhante started the night by encouraging us to make our bodies physically comfortable first. If our body isn't comfortable our mind will not relax, let alone get comfortable. Bhante continues to encourage us to do our physical exercise first and then to work with our minds to further relax the body. Only after we are relaxed and comfortable can we then move onto relaxing the mind. For some the breath is neither exciting nor important enough for us to use as a meditation object. Bhante suggests that we encourage our minds to be positive and use "giving" to bring our emotions to a positive position. Bhante encourages us to find a positive mind state as a habit, not just for our meditation but our daily lives.

Bhante then guided the group through a 30 minute meditation suited to all, beginners to experienced alike.

After the meditation Bhante opened the floor to "comments, questions or complaints". Bhante then related an occasion when he did get a complaint from a meditator. Bhante used this example to encourage us to look at why this has happened. Once we identify the reason we can then deal with it and move onto thoughts and emotions that help us enjoy our lives.

 

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Ajahn Brahmali firstly describes what meditation is all about, nothing weird, nothing too complicated.  Ajahn encourages us to watch what is happening in our own mind as we meditate to see what we are thinking about.  This will allow us to establish what we personally prioritise in our lives.  We will often find that the things we personally prioritise such as work, hobbies and our terrible boss, are the things hindering our meditation.  By identifying what is actually distracting us, what we have unknowingly made our first priority, we can shift our thinking to things that will improve our entire lives.  Compassion for ourselves and our families.

Ajahn then guided us in a 30 minute meditation well suited to beginners and the more experienced of us [everyone
benefits from a refresher now and then].

After the meditation Ajahn continued the talk of the need for us all to have a long-term investment in meditation and our inner world. He said how important it is that we care for and develop our inner reactions to the world rather than spending so much time trying to collect possessions, change the world or grumble about the things we cannot change.

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Ajahn uses humour, jokes, funny stories and common sense to teach us how to meditate.  We forget that being physically comfortable is very important to a good meditation.  If we are physically uncomfortable it is difficult to be mentally comfortable, we can't focus.  Talk to your body, ask it if it is comfortable, fidget, squirm, cough but get comfortable.  Then move on to relaxing mentally.  Leave your heavy past in the past, forget your concerns about your future and just live in the moment.

Focus your attention on your breath and breath in "peace", out "let go".

After the guided meditation, Ajahn talks about mental health as well as general health and the benefits of meditation.

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Bhante begins with an explanation of present moment awareness.  Reminding all of us of those moments we all have in our lives that we can clearly remember in detail.  Where we were, who we were with, what was happening at that moment in time.  We often reflect to such moments when we hear a song or tune.  At the time you first heard the song or tune, you experienced present moment awareness.  Bhante explains why we need such awareness to meditate.

Bhante then guided the group in a 30min meditation using the breath as our meditation object, or point of focus.

Briefly after the meditation, Bhante opened to Q&A before giving us a talk on the things that will hinder [hinderances], our meditation practice.

 

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Ajahn began with base instructions on how and why we meditate, keeping it nice and simple for the beginners and the more experienced alike.  A  refresher never hurts.  Ajahn then led the full house through a 30 minute guided meditation.

“Nothing to do. Cars going by, clock ticking, body breathing. Nothing to do.  We don't need to do anything, just be a friendly observer.”  Ajahn Cittapalo :-)

After the meditation Ajahn offered this advice to beginners:- Don't make it a chore or a burden, make it a pleasant, easy for you, experience.  If you aren't enjoying it, shorten the time.  Gradually extend your meditation time, don't make it a job.

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The first beginners meditation for 2018 and our teacher is Ajahn Santutthi.  For the benefit of first timers and those of us beginning in meditation, Ajahn Santutthi gave us an excellent layman’s explanation of meditation.  Ajahn then guided us through a 30 minute meditation followed by Q&A.

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Ajahn Appi explained briefly why many of us need to learn meditation.  Without going to deeply into technical terms, he listed many of the things that meditation can help with.  He furthered this with a talk about two reasons why people meditate.

Following the introduction talk Ajahn lead the group through a thirty minute meditation beginning with a 1 minute mantra meditation.  Meditation then progressed to a focus on the abdomen rising and falling as we breath.  Approximately halfway through we moved our focus to the area around the mouth as we breath.

Following the meditation Ajahn opened to questions.

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Ajahn used his experience when writing the book “Good? Bad? Who knows?”, to encourage us not to try constantly for perfection but rather to accept who we are and what is happening in our lives.  We can’t see the future, we can’t change the past, so just be happy in the present.

Ajahn then guided us through a meditation suitable for beginners and experienced alike.

Following the meditation Ajahn kept us well entertained with stories plus jokes about life experiences.  As Ajahn says “Good? Bad? Who knows?”.  If something happens that seems a disaster, look for the silver lining or rather, accept it for what it is and live in the moment”.

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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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Venerable Cunda lead us first through a guided meditation most suitable to those of us that need to relax both physically and mentally.  The meditation was suitable for beginners and experienced alike.  A body scan and simply relaxing as much as possible allows us to also relax the mind.

After the guided meditation Venerable introduced himself and gave an excellent dharma talk. He then encouraged us in our practice by relating why he became a Buddhist Monk, the impact it has had on both his health, life in general and all those around him.

Venerable then spoke on the five precepts and then opened the floor to Q&A.

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Ajahn regaled us with his usual wit and humour, teaching us to relax our bodies beforehand so that we may then relax our minds.  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.

Following the meditation Ajahn again used wit and humour to keep us relaxed.  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”.

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Venerable JR led a relaxed evening of meditation encouraging us to let go of the past and future.  Venerable instructed us that our only responsibility at this time, is to relax.  Nothing to do but relax.  Allow the thoughts to come and then let them go.

Venerable then led a very relaxed breath meditation.  After the meditation Venerable talked about anxiety, then opened the session to Q&A.

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Bhante Sangharatana talked to us about breath meditation, encouraging us to present moment awareness (bringing our attention to the meditation object, or focus on, for example, our breath).  Bhante further explained that present moment awareness is of itself not the meditation, but rather the goal.  By having, or achieving, present moment awareness we leave the past behind and have no thoughts of the future.  We are just here and now, thinking not of the past nor of the future.

Bhante then explained for the beginners amongst us [that would be most of us], the need for meditation or why we meditate.  He further explained the technique used for a simple but successful breath meditation.  He then guided us through a 30 min beginners breath meditation after which he opened the floor to questions and continued the talk.

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Ajahn Santutthi talked to us about finding the calm in the storm of our minds through meditation.  Over thinking can lead to us becoming anxious, we need to live in the moment, not dwell on the past, nor worry about our future.

When we over think, dwell in the past or worry about the future we don't live in the present.  Our minds become tired and so do our bodies.  Meditation can help us clear our mind, live just in this moment and recover some of our energies.

After his talk, Ajahn led us in a guided meditation for approximately 45 minutes.

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Ajahn Appi explains the basics of meditation and why it is beneficial to us all in so many different ways.

Ajahn then led us through a 30 minute beginners meditation.  After meditation, Ajahn talked on dealing with anxiety and stress, suggesting a number of different techniques using meditation to deal with it.

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Ajahn Appi tells us to take a minute, just 60 seconds, to think of all the goods things in
life and then to use a simple mantra to reinforce that thought.

Ajahn then led us through a 30 minute beginners meditation.  After meditation, Ajahn talked on dealing with modern life and the stress that comes with it.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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