Over the years of teaching, I've found a growing need for profound lovingkindness and compassion--a transformation of the heart--to underlie the insights and understandings that come out of the practice. An opening of the mind needs to be supported by compassion from the heart if the practice is to be integrated, fulfilled, and lived in our lives.
The value of mindfulness practice is discovered in the freedom we find through awareness. Without awareness, we repeat the patterns of fear and conditioning that keep us entangled individually and collectively. Without awareness, we suffer. With awareness, we can see the contractions of the mind, how the mind gets caught and how we can learn to let go. With awareness we can reawaken to the purity of joy and freedom that is fundamental to our true nature.
As a Dharma teacher, I simply remind others how it is possible to live in this world and find freedom. I listen to practitioners and try to remind them that it is truly possible to be free.
I try to convey that the wisdom and compassion we are looking for is already inside of us. I see practice as learning how to purify our mind and heart so we can hear the Buddha inside. In doing so, we naturally embody the dharma and help awaken that understanding and love in others we meet.
I try to use the formal teachings as a doorway for people to see the truth in themselves. I feel I'm doing my job when people look into themselves to come to their own deep understandings of the truth, access their own inner wisdom and trust in their "Buddha-knowing," as Ajahn Chah called it, which is different from their intellectual knowing.
The Buddha-knowing is a deeper place, underneath the concepts, which is in touch with the truth, with our seed of awakening. I want practitioners to have more and more confidence in, and familiarity with, that deeper place of knowing. It is accessing this dimension of our being that becomes the guide to cutting through the confusion caused by greed and fear. We have everything we need inside ourselves. We do not need to look to a teacher when we remember who we really are.
Jaya Karen Rudgard began meditating in the 1980s and practiced for eight years as a nun in the Theravada tradition with Ven. Ajahn Sumedho. A graduate of the IMS/Spirit Rock Teacher Training, she teaches insight meditation and mindfulness in the UK and internationally.
Jean Esther has practiced vipassana meditation since 1982 and has worked with the Teen Retreat since 1999. She has a psychotherapy practice in Northampton, MA and has been teaching meditation since 2001.
Jessica Morey, MA, is the executive director and lead teacher of Inward Bound Mindfulness Education. She began practicing meditation at age 14 on IMS Teen Retreats. She has undertaken longer-term practice in Asia and the US, and worked in clean energy finance. She is a participant in the 2017-2021 IMS Teacher Training Program.
JoAnna Hardy has practiced in multiple traditions since 1999, and in 2005 her practice landed on the Theravada insight tradition. Retreat teaching, bringing the Dharma to communities and individuals who don't typically have access to traditional settings, and building multicultural community are her focus. She is co-guiding teacher at Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society.