The last week of Rains has arrived. The monks will be with us again next week but we have one more guest speaker before then - Barry Gaskin. Barry has been an attendee at the Armadale group for almost 20 years. He has traveled much of South East Asia in his working career - Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Barry gave a background to his strange introduction to Meditation and Buddhism. He explained his observations as a Westerner living in Buddhist countries, his beliefs of Pre-Birth through to Post Death, how lucky we are and also how meditation can impact on happiness. Meditation is always taught "how to do" but he wants to explain "when to do" as a way of life, with difference and ease.

Barry then lead the group in a 30 minute meditation easily enjoyed by experienced and beginners alike. Barry began with a relaxing body scan, asking us to open our hearts to self-compassion and finishing with a difference.

After meditation Barry continued his talk on Buddhism in both the West and the East.

 

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BSWA teachings page, choose the AMG teaching you want, then type the title into the Podcast search box.  Please support the BSWA in making teachings available for free online via Patreon.

We are delighted to have guest speaker Kathryn Choules during our 2019 Rains Retreat. Kathryn Choules is the founder of Mind and Movement. Her love of mindfulness, meditation and compassion comes from experiencing the benefits first-hand. She uses mindfulness and compassion training to work with people as they respond to the inevitable stresses of the life, so they live more satisfying and fulfilling lives. Kathryn is a certified instructor of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction through the University of Massachusetts and recognised as a Senior Teacher by the Meditation Association of Australia, and has done training with Jon Kabat-Zinn directly.

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To find and download more Dhamma Talks on Podcast, visit the BSWA teachings page: https://bswa.org/teachings/, choose the talk you want and then type the title into the Podcast search box.

Week nine of the Rains season and this week we had Ananda Thilakasiri. Ananda was born in Sri Lanka into a Buddhist family & frequented the village temple with his Grandfather from a very young age yet, came to practise meditation only after meeting the then Ajahn Jagaro & Ajahn Brahm, around 1987. He and his family started visiting Bodhinyana and Dhammaloka regularly from 1991. They have been members of BSWA since that time. He has been serving the Buddhist community in WA, also in other countries in various ways but, mainly as the Treasurer of BSWA. Even though he has been meditating for approximately 25 years, his progress has been rather slow. About 9 or so years ago, he started to attend meditation retreats at Jhana Grove, mostly of those taught by Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Brahmali, Bhante Sujato, on a regular basis. Also, retreats by a couple of visiting Sri Lankan monks. Around the same time, urged by Bhante Sujato, he also started to read the Suttas. The early Buddhist texts from the Tripitaka with the Buddha's teachings on mindfulness, insight, wisdom and meditation. Attending retreats & reading Suttas have helped his meditation practice, immensely! For anyone who has not attended a meditation retreat, yet, he recommends starting with a weekend retreat and then go on to do 9 Day retreats. You will start noticing the difference! Continuity is the key!

Ananda lead the group in a thirty minute meditation focusing on the breath though starting with a body sweep. This meditation is best suited to experienced meditators.

After meditation Ananda opened to questions before continuing to talk on a variety of subjects relative to both Buddhism and Meditation.

 

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To find and download more Armadale Meditation Group Teachings, visit the BSWA teachings page, choose the AMG teaching you want, then type the title into the Podcast search box.

Week five of the Rains season and this week we had the President of the BSWA, Dennis Sheppard. Dennis focused our attention right from the start onto one of the many things meditators like/try/hope to achieve. A stillness of the mind. By letting go of the world around us, the past, the future and even the body we can slowly but surely achieve this state, arriving very much into the present moment.

Dennis guided us in a meditation with stillness of the mind as our goal. To begin we focused on our posture, feet resting flat on the floor, back straight, head upright, body comfortable and relaxed. The meditation is slightly longer than the usual 30 minutes, well suited to beginners and experienced meditators alike.

After meditation Dennis continued his talk on the silence of the mind.

Dennis is a very experienced long time meditator and has a number of videos available on his web site specifically directed towards beginning Buddhist meditation.

 

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To find and download more Armadale Meditation Group Teachings, visit the BSWA teachings page: , choose the AMG teaching you want, then type the title into the Podcast search box.

Kathryn’s fourth and final session for the rains period of 2019, her chosen subject, Equanimity or Upekkhà. Kathryn started the session by giving us a formal definition of equanimity and then providing real world examples.

Upekkhà is the Buddhist concept of equanimity. As one of the Brahma Vihara (meditative states), it is a pure mental state cultivated on the Buddhist path to nirvāna.

Equanimity is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. The virtue and value of equanimity is extolled and advocated by a number of major religions and ancient philosophies.

Equanimity is something many of us tend to not recognise and to have difficulty in achieving. This occurs often for those of us dealing with suffering of family, friends or even peoples of the world. We become trapped within our emotions.

Kathryn then lead the group in meditation with equanimity as the focus. The meditation and subject is perhaps best suited to intermediate and advanced meditators.

After meditation Kathryn continued her talk on equanimity and opened to questions. Kathryn also answered questions she had not had time to answer in previous weeks. One of the last questions asked of Kathryn was “how long should we meditate for”. Kathryn’s answer was “do what-ever you’ll do”. So we should be happy with any length of meditation that we can achieve at that time.

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To find and download more Armadale Meditation Group Teachings, visit the BSWA teachings page, choose the AMG teaching you want, then type the title into the Podcast search box.

This is Kathryn’s third of four sessions at AMG during the 2019 Rains Retreat period. Tonight's subject is compassion, specifically in 3 forms. Kathryn describes how we may feel compassion for someone that is suffering. How we may receive compassion because we are suffering. Finally, we may feel compassion toward ourselves. Kathryn continued by giving examples of the each form of compassion. Before meditation and to conclude her talk, Kathryn asked the audience to form a circle of sorts around the room. She then asked us all a series of questions and to raise our hands if we felt the answer applied to us as an individual. It was not surprising to find that nearly all present answered in the affirmative to the questions. We all need to practice both sending compassion and receiving compassion in our lives to help us deal with the stuff of life.

Kathryn then lead the group in meditation with compassion as our focus. The meditation is perhaps best suited to intermediate and advanced meditators.

After meditation Kathryn continued her talk on compassion and opened to question. At the close Kathryn suggested the following titles for those of us interested in furthering their study of compassion.

Mindful Compassion by Paul Gilbert
Compassion: Concepts, Research and Application edited by Paul Gilbert

 

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To find and download more Armadale Meditation Group Teachings, visit the BSWA teachings page, choose the AMG teaching you want, then type the title into the Podcast search box.

This is Kathryn’s second of four sessions at AMG. The subject, or rather object of meditation is our habit of judging others, situations and circumstances. We often get it wrong and this moves us more toward reaction instead of a softer response. Reaction and often over reaction, releases chemicals into our systems that are not needed in most situations and not beneficial to our current situation. To avoid this we need to step back mentally and be mindful instead.

Kathryn then lead the group in meditation asking us to notice everything. The trucks on the highway and all other small sounds. Then to look at our thoughts, are they a suitable response, or an over-reaction? Gradually we learn to simply be mindful that those sounds are there and let them go along with the negative thoughts.

After meditation Kathryn continued her talk on “Working With a Judgemental Mind”. Kathryn also takes questions. In closing the night Kathryn mentions a number of books that she recommends for those who may further wish to explore the deeper functions within our minds.

The first title is - Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz
The second title is - The Invisible Gorilla co-authored by
Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons
The third title is - Mistakes Were Made But Not by Me
co-authored by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

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To find and download more Armadale Meditation Group Teachings, visit the BSWA teachings page, choose the AMG teaching you want, then type the title into the Podcast search box.

Dennis Sheppard, President and long time member of Buddhist Society of WA explores reality, deep meditation and the meaning of life. The guided meditation and Dhamma talk complement each other. The talk begins around 32 minutes. Dennis Sheppard is a meditator, hypnotherapist and marriage celebrant.
Recorded at Dhammaloka Buddhist Centre, during the 2019 Rains Retreat.  

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To find and download more Dhamma Talks on Podcast, visit the BSWA teachings page: https://bswa.org/teachings/, choose the talk you want and then type the title into the Podcast search box.

Kathryn's first of four weeks at AMG. Kathryn began meditating over 25 years ago at the Armadale group (AMG). She is the founder of “Mind and Movement”, a leading provider of mindfulness programs for individuals and organisations and is a certified teacher of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s program, “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) and recognised as a Senior Teacher by the Meditation Association of Australia.

We humans have a tendency to react rather than respond to all manner of situations, both internal and external. Kathryn explains why this occurs and how best to retrain the mind to respond rather than react. When we react to stimuli, both internal and external, a chemical is generated and released within our bodies. Kathryn details ways of shortening the time it takes for us to return from those situations that cause us to remain in that stressed state of mind. Mindfully being aware that it is happening will allow us to return to normal in a shorter period of time or, at the very least, shorten the time it takes for those chemicals to dissipate.

Kathryn then guided the group in meditation asking us to observe what occurs and how we react to it. Be it to a small sound or part of our body, how we react is what matters. This meditation is a smidge over 30 minutes and suitable for beginners and experienced alike.

After meditation Kathryn continued her discussion and talk on our reactions to the sensations we felt during the meditation with a focus on what we noticed or became aware of and not over-reacting.

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To find and download more Armadale Meditation Group Teachings, visit the BSWA teachings page, choose the AMG teaching you want, then type the title into the Podcast search box.

Guest speaker Glenda Lee shares her experience about how to practice the Dharma in our daily life. Dhamma talk given during the rains retreat at Dhammaloka City Centre on the 3 October 2008.

Please support the BSWA in making teachings available for free online via Patreon.

To find and download more Dhamma Talks on Podcast, visit the BSWA teachings page: https://bswa.org/teachings/, choose the talk you want and then type the title into the Podcast search box.

Kathryn begins her third of four weeks at AMG by explaining why we need, or rather when we may need, to change our perspective. Kathryn uses examples such as the need for very focused perspective when doing surgery as compared to when we need a broad perspective on those occasions when something negative has occurred in our life. The benefits, to our health and well being, of positive emotions and the chemicals our bodies release when we have a positive experience have been the subject of many recognised research studies around the world today.

Kathryn then leads the group in three separate meditations. The first meditation is aimed at recognising when the mind tries to narrow our focus or perspective, putting us into a well known loop of negativity. By recognising when this occurs we can learn to deal with it and return to our broader perspective.

The second meditation highlights our feeling and belief of being independent when, in actuality, we are interdependent on so many people in our lives. Gratitude is used to focus our attention during this meditation. To bring this to mind Kathryn recited a poem by Jane Kenyon (1947–1995), former Poet Laureate of New Hampshire in the US, titled “Otherwise”. The object was to encourage us to realise that despite our trials and tribulations things could be worse and that perhaps our lives aren't quite as bad as we believe.

The third meditation brings to mind equanimity; the calm amidst the storm; the idea of being able to maintain balance and a sense of being grounded when the proverbial is hitting the fan. During the meditation Kathryn helps us to broaden our perspective by reading the “Serenity Prayer”;

“May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.”

 

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Kathryn begins her second of four weeks at AMG by asking all to do a standing body shake - starting with the upper body and finishing with the lower body. This exercise is one practised by the director of Paliative care at Royal Perth Hospital to help patients dissipate the physical signs of stress that has built up in the body during day.

Kathryn then continued her talk on reactivity to external stimuli and what actually happens chemically within our bodies. She then details ways of shortening the time it takes for us to return from those situations that cause us to remain in that stressed state of mind. Mindfully being aware that it is happening will allow us to return to normal in a shorter period of time or, at the very least, shorten the time it takes for those chemicals to dissipate.

We all endure daily situations where we'd rather not be. Being able to be there without over-reacting and, to some degree, reducing the time that we are stressed, can be achieved with mindfulness.

Kathryn then guided the group through a 30 minute body scan meditation using mindfulness.

After the very relaxing body scan meditation Kathryn continued her discussion and talk on our reactions to the sensations we felt during the meditation with a focus on what we noticed or became aware of and not over-reacting.

Kathryn then talks on perception and conditioning within our lives. Kathryn openly relates from an example in her own life when she was nine and how this has changed her perceptions. Our conditioning affects our perceptions and our reactions to reality.

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Kathryn Choules is a regular meditator at the AMG and teaches meditation professionally. Once a year [during Rains], we are blessed to have Kathryn speak and guide our meditation.

This talk and guided meditation is part 1 of a 4 week beginners' course.  The emphasis for the  first week was on the role of Attention, Intention and Attitude in meditation. Kathryn gave examples of each and the resulting effects on our meditation as an introduction before guiding our 30 minute meditation.

After the meditation Kathryn opened to Q&A and provided good explanations to all questions.

 

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This recording starts off with a 30 minute guided meditation, followed by a one hour Buddha Dhamma talk which begins around 36:45 minutes into the recording. The meditation and talk are designed to go together. The meditation is to be experienced and then the talk refers back to the meditation. Dennis Sheppard is a long time lay practitioner and president of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia.

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BSWA President gives his inaugural talk at Dhammaloka on what Buddhism has to offer the western world and how it can appeal to a broader base through its profound and everyday life teachings.

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Sol Hanna talks about how to appreciate imperfection, and how this attitude has influenced his life. Sol Hanna is the Vice President of the Buddhist Society of WA. 

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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.

Dennis Sheppard, former president of BSWA, shares his experience of stillness. He also shares the teaching of several teachers including, Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Chah and the Buddha.

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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.

Jacob Meddin a lay Buddhist offers a guided meditation for people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/ or Fibromyalgia.

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