My work since 2006 through UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (uclahealth.org/marc) emphasizes making mindfulness teachings accessible to all, regardless of background, yet without losing depth practice. In recent years I have been teaching on Natural Awareness— the effortless, objectless, and spacious side of awareness practices. Socially engaged Buddhism is a thread woven through many of my talks-- how can we end suffering both internally and externally? Having worked with teens and young adults for many years, some of the talks are geared to young people. Finally as a mom of a tween, I'm deeply inspired by the transformative power of daily life and family practice.
1. Choose one meditation practice and stick with it. If you want to progress in meditation stay with one technique.
2. Meditate every day. Practice now. Don't think you will do more later.
3. Any situation is workable. Each of us has enormous power. It can be used to help ourselves and help others.
4. Practice patience. Patience is one of the most important virtues for developing mindfulness and concentration.
5. Free your mind. Your mind is all stories.
6. Cool the fire of emotions. Anger is a fire.
7. Have fun along the way. I am quite happy. If you come to meditate you will also be happy.
8. Simplify. Live simply. A very simple life is good for every thing. Too much luxury is a hindrance to practice.
9. Cultivate the spirit of blessing. If you bless those around you this will inspire you to be attentive in every moment.
10. It's a circular journey. Meditation integrates the whole person
Doug is founder and guiding teacher of Empty Sky Vipasssa Sangha and a long time practioner of vipassana and zen. His teaching is strongly influenced by Vimala Thakar and J. Krishnamurti as he explores such questions as "After all these years of practice, why are we not free?" and "What happens that we do not immediately live the understanding we work so hard to gain, continuing to cling to the false when seeing clearly what is true?" He brings a strong committment and interest to the integration of formal practice and intimacy in relationship in the context of daily living.
Erin is Guiding Teacher at Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center in northern New Mexico and Resident Teacher at the Durango Dharma Center. Her approach to sharing the dharma is influenced by her love of wild nature, her ongoing experience as a student of the Diamond Approach by A.H. Almaas and by her decades of working with somatics and as a bodyworker.
I am intrigued by how we can live the 'holy life' as lay people. How do we erase the imaginary line between formal sitting practice and the rest of our lives? How can we bring full engagement to formal and informal practice? Is it possible to embody, in our lives, the understanding and insight that comes with intensive training? And can we live our lives in a way that expresses and continues to deepen our realization? These questions fuel my practice and my teaching.
I place a lot of emphasis on the Buddha's teaching about mindfulness of the body. The body is a powerful dharma gate. I encourage people to deeply investigate the body and use it as a place of recollection in daily life.
Our individual and cultural habits, our confusion, all require a sincere and ongoing commitment to spiritual life and practice. In order to mature our 'layastic' practice, we need to develop a palette of practices: mindfulness, loving-kindness, inquiry, reflection, precept practice, service, sutta study, etc.
I believe passionate engagement is the foundation of the spiritual path. Spiritual life blossoms when mindfulness is woven with a heartfelt sense of loving-kindness and compassion. With warm mindfulness as the basis of practice, our attachment to identity, roles and experience begins to loosen. As our experience and understanding matures, faith develops. This nourishes a devotion to practice which further deepens our insights.
It is precious to be born in the human realm and have an opportunity to practice and awaken. May we appreciate our inheritance and bring to life the teachings of the Buddha.