training in concentration: stillness from within: june 27 (half or full day course, with option for home practice and retreat)

with birgit saunders and kelsang phunwang

It sometimes feels as if we are living in a really crazy, noisy world. The media, our children, our colleagues and family clamour for our attention. Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by advertising with promises of a better, more fulfilling life, greater comfort and more fun. The to do lists grow longer..... and, sometimes it can feel that our mind is a bit like a ball bouncing from one thing to the next in a state of perpetual motion, that is both erratic and exhausting.

It can be really, really difficult to find any sense of stillness and clarity.

How do we learn to focus our mind, so that we can begin to see things more clearly – and become an island of calm in stormy seas?

Geshle says:

If we have not developed concentration, our mind will be continually distracted by delusions. We will be trapped between the fangs of the wild beast of conflicting emotions. Instead of controlling our delusions, they will be controlling us.

 Normally when we try to meditate on a virtuous object... our mind does not stay tranquilly placed on that object. At such times the mind is like a candle flame blown about by the wind. Such a flickering light does not allow us to see things clearly. Similarly, for as long as our mind is blown about by distractions we cannot focus on our object of meditation clearly.

 If we could construct a protective screen of concentration around our mind, the focus of our meditation would become immoveable and we would have an undisturbed view of any virtuous object we chose.

 Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Meaningful to Behold, p.314-315

This three-part course is all about helping us construct that protective screen of concentration - so that our mind becomes more peaceful, our focus clearer, and our meditations smoother. 

There are two options for this course: Option A: Half day course. Option B: Half-day course + afternoon workshop + home practice + weekend retreat.

Part One: Half day course: ConcentrationThe essence of meditation:  Birgit will discuss what concentration is, and suggest practical methods for improving our ability to focus our minds and reduce distractions. She will take us through some beautiful meditations the clarity of the mind that help us deepen our concentration. Full-day: The afternoon session will be a workshop that sets us up for the home practice part of the course.

 Part Two: Home Practice. Mindfulness – Tying our mind to the object. This section of the programme requires  maintaining a daily meditation practice of 20 minutes or more. (The day course will set us up for this.)

 Part Three. Weekend Retreat. Making progress in our practice. This is the section of the programme where we reap the rewards of  home practice! It is a silent retreat , and in past years most students have found that this is where things really come together - and they are often surprised by just how much progress they have made in developing the strength and stillness of their concentration.

Option A: Half-day course, Amitabha Centre, 174 Albert Street, Palmerston North
Option B:  Full-day (at the Amitabha centre) + home training + weekend retreat (at Sixtus Lodge)