Enryu shared on the teachings on the four Foundations of Mindfulness

Dwell contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, unified, with concentrated one-pointed mind, in order to know the body as it really is.

Dwell contemplating feeling in feelings… in order to know feelings as they really are.
Dwell contemplating mind in mind… in order to know mind as it really is.

Dwell contemplating dhamma in dhammas… in order to know dhammas as they really are.

Gautama Buddha

Enryu shared on the teachings on the four Foundations of Mindfulness:

Satipatthana is a central practice in the Buddha’s teachings, meaning “the establishment of mindfulness” or “presence of mindfulness”, or alternatively “foundations of mindfulness”, aiding the development of a wholesome state of mind. In Theravada Buddhism, applying mindful attention to four domains, the body, feelings, the mind, and key principles or categories of the Buddha’s teaching (dhammās), is thought to aid the elimination of the five hindrances and the development of the seven aspects of wakefulness.  In the popular understanding, mindfulness has developed into a practice of bare awareness to calm the mind.

Establishing Receptive Attention (shared by Enryu from her many years of Classical Indian Dance Training)

Enryu took us through a meditation on Nava Rasas moving through the experience of each rasa (a practice in Indian Classical Temple Dance, taken from the Vedic teachings).
Rasa means juice or flavour or essence, a reminder that all flavours can be experienced with the peak potential of all our 5 senses,  without attachment to any one experience. Entering an emotion fully, not getting caught in it and moving on to the next. The double arrowed attention and meditation
Personal and Universal quality
The more we go throuugh the dance the more we realize we don’t own the feeling. Feel the actual expression of the music.
Nine emotions: Feel and drop, FLOW
See if you can bring them up and move on to the next flavour
SHRINGARA: Love, sensuality. Beauty, heightened sense of being alive
BIBATSA: Deep distaste, revulsion, disgust
RAUDRA: Anger, Ill will
ADBHUTA: Awe wonder, Astonishment
BHAYANAKA: The great terror, fear
VIRA:  Confidence Power Strenghth
HASYA Joy Lightness Laughter
KARUNA Compassion Intimacy (includes empathy and sorrow)

Notice how breathing changes as we enter into different emotions. Images are very different, visualize change in facial expression.
Dance of Parvati – Shakti, in the presence of Shiva, Purusha – Stillness-Our true nature is the canvas that remains unstained, yet the fullness, the rich colours of life express their peak potential – to live each emotion fully AND remember that they are not us. 

Meditating with Sleep and Sleepiness

Have you found yourself nodding off during meditation?

Dullness or sleepiness are inherent experiences  – experience, acknowledge but not to get caught in. Habit formed in long time members…with awareness, can be shifted – know the obstacles and the 9 stages of medication… from effort to effortless – from intention and attention and concentration to witnessing awareness.

Meditating with Sleep and Sleepiness with Mingyur Rinpoche

Heaviness of body and dullness of mind which can drag one down into inertia and depression is considered one of the five hindrances to Shamatha meditation. Any problem which arises in meditation will be one of these five hindrances, or a combination.

Ajahn Brahmasovo

The Five Hindrances

Venerable Ajahn Brahm says that the Five Hindrances are the only hindrances between us and awakening.

  1. Sense Desire (people or things we like)
  2. Ill will (people or things we don’t like)
  3. Sloth or Torpor (sloth refers to sleepiness and torpor refers to mentaldullness)
  4. Restlessness, anxiety or worry.
  5. Doubt. This word “doubt” is better understood when we read the Buddha’s explanation of “doubt.” He said a traveler lost in a desert with no map and no signposts is filled with doubt, not knowing which way is the way to safety. So doubt is essentially uncertainty, not knowing what to do. 

Hindrances one and two are opposites. We run toward what we like and away from what we don’t. The middle way is to walk down the middle, not chasing sense desires and not running away from everything else.

Hindrances three and four are closely related. Hindrance three arises from too little energy and hindrance four arises from too much. We can’t be so dull that we lose our attentiveness (and mindfulness is attentiveness) but we can’t be racing with hyper mental activity. The middle way is to pay attention but without ego-identification.

That means when a knee starts hurting, instead of thinking “Oh, this is just great. Now my knee is hurting,” instead we note that the knee is hurting, note that it’s just another passing phenomenon, and go back to the practice. We don’t try to ignore or fight the pain, we just accept if with loving kindness as an old friend and return to the practice.

The 9 Stages of Meditation (Shamatha practice)


The nine stages of meditation are like a roadmap as we venture forth into unknown territory.

These nine stages give us a fantastic framework in regards to understanding our progression as we go deeper into our meditative practice.

Below you’ll find the stages of meditation per the Shamatha tradition, mapped out for you.

Check them out and use them to help you explore the amazing world that meditation can open up for you.

They’ve been tested by thousands upon thousands of yogi for the last 2000+ years.

PHASE 1: The Flow of Involuntary Thoughts Are Like A Cascading Waterfall

1) Learning the Instructions & Placement of the Mind (Directed Attention)
2) Continuous Attention
3) Repeated Attention

PHASE 2: The Flow of Thoughts Are Like A River Quickly Flowing Through a Gorge

4) Close Attention

PHASE 3: The Flow of Thoughts Are Like A River Slowly Flowing Through A Valley

6) Pacified Attention
7) Fully Pacified Attention

PHASE 4: The Mind Is Calm Like an Ocean Unmoved by Waves

8) Single-Pointed Attention
In this stage the practitioner can reach high levels of concentration with only a slight effort and without being interrupted even by subtle laxity or excitement during the entire meditation session.

PHASE 5: The Mind Is Perfectly Still

9) Attentional Balance
The meditator now effortlessly reaches absorbed concentration and can maintain it for about four hours without any single interruption.

Full Achievement of Meditation or Shamatha 

What Is Love?

A very warm welcome back to Enryu and Maria from an intense 10 Day Meditation Retreat at the Great Vow Buddhist Monastery.

Thank you both for sharing highlights of your precious experience, the challenges, the joys.. 

Enryu was co-teaching at the retreat as well. And she focussed on bringing into her sharings, practices she has used in her Indian classical dance training. Weaving and molding various teachings into daily life.

Sitting still for 8 or 9 hours of the day can be very challenging for the body. Watching the mind through the various arisings, learning to relax amidst all that is churning…takes a number of days to settle down. 

This particular retreat had the underlying foundation of deep listening – the use of the sound sense gate to return to the silence and rest that is ever present regardless of chaos and resistance in mind and body.

How loud and deafening the one channel of one’s own mind can be! In sitting still with it all, other channels re-open and one glimpses the possibility of relaxing in one’s true nature. The primary tool – recognizing the energy of sound – the power of one word – the power of sound – the power of silence – the trace of sound coming to rest in silence.

Applying this experience to recognizing the numerous traces we leave behind in our lives – through our actions, words, intentions.

Is there true silence?

Behind the simple instruction for meditation: Place the tongue at the back of the top teeth

Supriti shared knowledge from the Vedic/yogic teachings- The physiological-spiritual context for mudras (hand postures), bandhas (locks between various body parts) and contact points.
Placing the tongue behind the back of the top teeth results in the opening up of the choroid plexus to release CSF – Soma – the “relaxation” or “bliss molecule” as it is sometimes described, reduces the number of thoughts and one settles in meditation.

Other placements opening up chidakash: Khechari Mudra in the back of the pallette
Also SO’HUM with tongue pushing back of bottom teeth without touching the roof of the mouth-different effects of different pressure points. 

This knowledge is purely education – not a goal setting intention.
Yoga: To let go out outcome, surrender in devotion

Enryu on the Buddha’s essential teaching:
This is not mine
This is not me
This is not myself
What control do we have over anything let alone our thoughts!

The Gifts of Silence

We read the words of a Lakota Elder on the sensibilities of traditional First People: the gifts of SILENCE:

We Indians know about silence.
We aren’t afraid of it.
In fact, to us it is more powerful than words.
Our elders were schooled in the ways of silence, and they passed that along to us. Watch, listen, and then act, they told us.
This is the way to live. Watch the animals to see how they care for their young.
Watch the elders to see how they behave….Always watch first, with a still heart and mind, then you will learn.
When you have watched enough, then you can act.”

Charles Eastman – Ohiyesa, later in life Charles Eastman–Ohiyesa–states in The Soul of an Indian: “…
silence-the sign of perfect equilibrium.

Silence is the absolute balance of body, mind, and spirit.

The man who preserves his self hood ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence…
is the ideal attitude and conduct of life. What are the fruits of silence?
They are self-control, true courage or endurance, patience, dignity, and reverence. Silence is the corner-stone of character.”

We also read the works of JOSEPH MARSHALL
Returning To The Lakota Way Through Silence
Go within to conquer fear.

As the old woman Gray Grass told her grandson, we humans are born with inherent fears. Fear of falling and of loud noises are obvious, but there is also the fear of darkness and death. Then there are the myriad fears depending on our individual circumstances: loneliness, poverty, powerlessness, bias, racism, hunger, pain, illness, obscurity, flying, and so on and so on. Strangely, compared to all of these there is less to fear in silence, yet we fear it as well. Like Gray Grass, I believe, however, that silence is the way or the key to understanding everything else we may fear.

Most of us grow accustomed to loud noises and understand that they can be useful as alerts to conditions around us. Likewise we probably realize that fear of falling is an inherent and significant survival instinct that serves us throughout life, especially as we grow older and more fragile. Fear of darkness is as old as our race, originating in our atavistic past when we realized every day and night that we were not the fastest or strongest physical being in our environment. Even as the predators we were then, we were nonetheless prey for bigger and faster predators, and many of those predators came for us out of the darkness.

Silence is a different matter. Even if we do not actively fear it, most of us, I believe, do not see it as useful in any way. Yet it can be a powerful ally against the trials and tribulations of our daily lives. If nothing else it can be a port in a storm, the calm eye of the hurricane, and otherwise a temporary respite from stress and care. For me starting a morning in quiet contemplation reminds me there is peace in the world.

Furthermore, silence enables me to delve into issues and questions that too often are sidelined or obfuscated by the noise of daily routine—such as death. It is in silence that I can contemplate, examine, and analyze any issue or question without fear of unreasonable response or ridicule, and where I can listen again to the voices of wisdom from the elders who live in my memories. It is in silence that I can reach my own conclusions. It is in that silence that I have thought of death, and I have realized that all of my grandparents (and their generation of Lakota people) were right.

Death is the ultimate truth. It says it will come one day and it does not waver from that truth. Once we accept that truth, it is then possible to truly live life without an unreasonable fear of it. All of my grandparents died as they had lived. When their time came, they slipped into the next
world with quiet dignity. Part of their ability to make that final transition from life to death was due, I firmly believe, to the fact that none of them were ever strangers to silence. In that silence they contemplated, examined, and relived the situations, issues, and events in their lives, not to mention people—especially family.

They also took the opportunity to affirm or alter the basic values, realities, and beliefs they were taught and learned along the way. When used in this way, silence is a strength and an enabler. It is entirely possible that silence is unexplored territory for some of us; perhaps many of us. Perhaps it is the undiscovered country for the generations who were born and grew up in the age of ever-changing technology. There is the very real possibility that silence—or the luxury of knowing it—will be their greatest loss, and perhaps their downfall

I am not declaring that I grew up in a world devoid of noise, not at all. On the prairies of the northern part of the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation, there was an endless variety of sounds—wind, breezes, birds, animals, insects, thunder. And the noise level ranged from the soft buzz of a hummingbird to the thunder’s earth-shaking boom. But there was also the absence of sound, the prolonged and profound periods of silence. In that world it is logical to me that we returning to the Lakota way all have a voice, at least to announce that we are here, that we exist and are part of it all.

In the technological and artificial realm, that logic does not work for me. Everything in the technological realm makes some kind of noise, from coffee pressers and pots to jumbo jets. In the constant cacophony, silence, it seems, does not have a snowball’s chance in hell of making its presence known.

Yet silence is here. It is measurable in those milliseconds between the beeps, blasts, whistles, and blares our technology generates. And the amazing fact is that we humans have the power to push the off switch. Or we can separate ourselves from the noise by going within. Whether or not we choose to do either is the issue.

Growing up, it was not that I found all sounds offensive or intrusive; I understood that they were part of my environment. It was, rather, that I found silence to be comforting and peaceful. These days, it is that sense of comfort and that feeling of peace that I seek often. To find it, it is necessary to hit the off switch and remind myself that as wonderful and helpful as technology is, I can still control it within the confines of my home and office. In other words, I have the power to enable silence.

How is LOVE experienced by the five senses in daily life?

The experience of love is really the understanding that you and i are are the same being, that your being and my being is the same being. The understanding that there is only one reality leads to the experience of love. This is love in the deepest sense.

Francis Lucille

In the realm of anatomy and Physiology, the cardiac plexus has been described as the network of the heart chakra and how that is connected to the brain through the ganglion of the cardiac plexus which is connected to the the vagus nerve through the mid brain. Dr. Lad references how prana (life force) along with Sadhaka and Tarpaka elements in the brain are related to transforming sensory perception to intelligence, knowledge and wisdom so that we can properly navigate the world around us. Prana, Sadaka, and Tarpaka in the heart (Ether, Air, Fire and Earth elements are connecting bridges related to transforming thoughts feelings and emotions into love.

Establishing Receptive Attention

Establishing Receptive Attention (shared by Enryu from her many years of Classical Indian Dance Training)

Establishing receptive attention in the Body-bring attention the hands, feet, and spine and trace the path of attention through the body.

Gather energy-open your eyes and see what is being offered, draw it in.

Bring forth Gratitude-to the earth, the mystery, teachers, all beings (you can touch the earth and then two a three part Anjali over the head, at the forehead, and at your heart.

End with a verse on Inter-being/Interconnection:

My body is the universe,
My expression connects me to everything,
I am adorned with the sun, the moon, and the stars.
I bow down to the mystery

So’Ham Breathing Meditation 

So-Hum Breathing Meditation

So = Higher consciousness
Hum = Individual Self

This divine mantra is constantly occurring through the breath of every living being. Each time we breathe in, the sound “so” goes in, as does the sound “hum” each time we exhale. So-hum means “I am that,” beyond limitation of mind and body: “I am one with the Absolute

  1. Sitting in Padmasana or other comfortable seated posture, establish yourself firmly in Full Yogic Breath.
  2. As you breathe in, listen to the sound being made at the back of the throat. This sound has openness to it and is preceded by an inspiration. It sounds like the syllable “SO”. Listen to, and concentrate on, the “SO” in your breath as you inhale.
  3. Hold the breath in a short retention.
  4. As you breathe out, listen again to the sound at the back of the throat. This sound has a nasal quality to it, like humming, so that it sounds like the syllable “HUM”. Listen to, and concentrate on, the “HUM” in your breath as you exhale.
  5. Start again at Step 2) and continue as described for 5-10 minutes or more.

Instrictions from the Ayurveda Institute as taught by Dr. Lad

A silent meditation practice is simply an aspect of this intention to remember our true nature. We come together, to “just sit”. We listen to the silence. We listen to our thoughts, We listen to our feelings and emotions. When we “just sit” we just BE the witnessing awareness. And this continues as we get off our mats or chairs and DO what needs to be done to live the dailiness of our lives. The BEing and DOing, the inhalation and exhalation and the gaps in between, Having this understanding empowers us to choose the lens we perceive and experience our lives with. “Just sitting”, silent meditation, reveals the layers that veil the clarity and luminosity of our true nature and the gap between these layers. Glimpses of the background, the ground of awareness, reminds us to rest in our true nature that is the witness to all experience. 

What is Right Action?

We are all very familiiar with confusion and quandary when facing certain decisions in our lives. We feel frozen and caught in the pros and cons the mind presents us with, even drowns us in. What is good to do in certain situations warranting an action but either way, harm to something or someone is an inevitability. One such very widely used teaching is in the Bhagwad Gita when Prince Arjun is in deep sorrow at having to go to war and is having a conversation with Krishna, his friend, mentor and teacher, also mirroring “Witnessing Awareness” space.

The basis of Right Action is to do everything in mindfulness.

Thich Nhat Hahn

It is never what you do which entangles you. It is the expectation of what you should get which entangles you.

Sadhguru on the Bhagwad Gita

Where does Right Action” originate from?

Buddha’s eightfold path to Nirvana, enlightened living, includes the spoke of Right Action. The importance of compassion in Buddhism cannot be overstated. The Sanskrit word that is translated as “compassion” is Karuna, which means “active sympathy” or the willingness to bear the pain of others. Closely related to Karuna is Metta, “loving kindness.”It’s important to remember also that genuine compassion is rooted in prajna, or “wisdom the realization that the separate self is an illusion. This takes us back to not attaching our egos to what we do, expecting to be thanked or rewarded.

Yoga of Action 

In the Bhagwad Gita, Krishna articulates in detail, the characteristics of a person of a person whose mind is firmly established in Yoga. Virtues self-control, serenity, and relinquishment of desires are highlighted. Contemplation on the source of action, the ground of Awareness, Consciousness, and the space of “surrender” are highlighted. The viability of “actionlessness” when one is “stuck or frozen in choice…and the relationship between action and attachment and between agency and individuality in this process of the grammar of selfless or non-selfish action are shared. Action done without attachment, selfless action, is explained. Effort is transfored to effortlessness.

A silent meditation practice is simply an aspect of this intention to remember our true nature. We come together, to “just sit”. We listen to the silence. We listen to our thoughts, We listen to our feelings and emotions. When we “just sit” we just BE the witnessing awareness. And this continues as we get off our mats or chairs and DO what needs to be done to live the dailiness of our lives. The BEing and DOing, the inhalation and exhalation and the gaps in between, Having this understanding empowers us to choose the lens we perceive and experience our lives with. “Just sitting”, silent meditation, reveals the layers that veil the clarity and luminosity of our true nature and the gap between these layers. Glimpses of the background, the ground of awareness, reminds us to rest in our true nature that is the witness to all experience.