Shaila Catherine is the founder of Bodhi Courses (bodhicourses.org) an online Dhamma classroom, and Insight Meditation South Bay, a meditation center in Mountain View, California (imsb.org). She has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience, and has taught since 1996 in the USA, and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand, completed a one year intensive meditation retreat with the focus on concentration and jhana, and authored Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity, (Wisdom Publications, 2008). She has extensive experience practicing and teaching mindfulness, loving kindness, concentration, and a broad range of approaches to liberating insight. Since 2006, Shaila has continued her study of jhana and insight under the direction of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw, and authored Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana (Wisdom Publications, 2011).
On the occasion of the publication of her third book, Beyond Distraction: Five Practical Ways to Free the Mind, Shaila Catherine shares a progressive series of strategies to overcome the hindrances of restlessness, obsessive thinking, and rumination; dispel thoughts of anger, hatred, and anxiety; and curb habitual distractions. By freeing the mind from the fetter of restlessness, meditators can calm their minds, develop tranquility, strengthen concentration, create the conditions for jhana, comprehend the nature of the mind, experience emptiness, and incline the mind toward liberating insight and nibbana. These teachings are based on two suttas (19 and 20) in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha.
In this guided meditation, Shaila Catherine introduces a progressive series of strategies to overcome restlessness, obsessive thinking, rumination, and habitual obstacles and hindrances. By freeing the mind from the fetter of restlessness, meditators calm their minds, develop tranquility, strengthen concentration, create the conditions for jhana, and incline the mind toward liberating insight and nibbana. These teachings are based on two suttas (19 and 20) n the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha.
In this guided meditation, Shaila Catherine leads you through the first step of Anapanasati, also known as mindfulness with breathing. This first step is a great way to settle yourself during a meditation session, or out in the world.
This talk explores the fifth precept: the commitment to refrain from intoxicating the mind through the use of alcohol, drugs, or addictive desires. Originally this precept highlighted the dangers of home-brewed alcohol, but can be expanded to address the many ways we may seek to excite, dull, distort, or intoxicate our minds. By working with this precept, we not only strengthen our capacity for restraint, but importantly, we investigate how the force of craving may be affecting our decisions and actions.
This talk addresses the third ethical precept — refraining from sexual misconduct. Practicing with the precepts involves becoming mindful of our actions, recognizing the effects that our actions have on ourselves and others, learning to respond to our thoughts and feelings with wisdom, kindness, and restraint, and honoring our commitments. This precept provides opportunities to work with the movement of sexual desire and sensual lust. The views of sexuality that were prevalent in ancient India differ from contemporary norms, however, we can apply the underlying intention toward non-harming to contemplate and purify our own conduct. Shaila Catherine offers suggestions forgiving past unskillful actions, and strengthening our capacity for restraint.
Shaila Catherine discusses the importance of patience in our practice. This talk explores benefits, opportunities, and challenges that we experience when cultivating this often under appreciated virtue of patience.
In this talk, Shaila Catherine addresses the great teaching of the Buddha known as the four noble truths: 1) suffering, 2) the cause of suffering is craving, 3) the end of suffering, and 4) the path leading to the end of suffering. Shaila Catherine explores each of the four truths through inspiring sutta references and daily life examples that show how we can live our daily lives from the perspective of liberating wisdom. Rather than engage in endless philosophical speculations or become attached to views and opinions, the Buddha taught a practical path based on the recognition of the fundamental unsatisfactory characteristic of experience. When we recognize dukkha (suffering), we can realize the end of dukkha (suffering).
In this guided meditation, Shaila Catherine introduces a practice of mindfulness of the body by observing a sequence of touch sensations. This meditation guides practitioners to gradually move attention through a series of bodily locations where the feet, buttocks, hands, lips, and eye lids touch. At each location we pause to experience the present sensations that are known at that place of touching. After exploring touch points, we broader the field of attention to the whole body sitting. By alternating the focus of attention between precise and clear points of contact, and broad, restful, receptive awareness of the whole body, the meditator nurtures a clear bright balanced mind that can meet the present moment as it is.
The Buddha teaches that, just as the dawn precedes the rising sun, so developing certain qualities prepares us for fully engaging in our practice of the Noble Eightfold Path. Seven of these qualities are taught in the Magga Samyutta (SN 45:49-90): good friends, and the accomplishments in virtue, desire, self, view, diligence, and careful attention. This series of brief talks, Shaila Catherine introduces each of these qualities and illuminates how their development can support our path to liberation.