Meditation Practice - setting yourself up for success…
The primary reason for a visit to Karuna is to meditate. That might seem obvious, so let’s unpack it a little bit.
Our mission is to provide crystal-clear instruction, for both beginners and those with experience, based on the heart of the Buddha’s teachings on liberation and enlightenment. We rely on our personal experience and our teaching comes from our hearts, as weathered and seasoned meditators who have faced much, are frank and honest, and have a realistic approach to Dharma practice as a life’s work.
We do this, in English, through a daily Dharma talk with a guided meditation. We also have an MP3 library which is available to you, and there is also a library of Buddhist books covering a wide range of topics, especially meditation practice.
If you are not yet a meditator, no big deal - we work with beginners every day. If you have been meditating for 100 years and are feeling stuck or like your practice has stalled, no big deal - we have been there , too. If you are intimidated by the perceived level of practice we offer, (”12 hours is a lot for me…”) and worry that we might have a meditation scorecard to rate you like some piece of pop music on a countdown…
You’ll find no judgment here. No comparisons. No ranking. No competition…. just friends on the path.
We encourage you to sit frequently, to gently push yourself in the practice, to overcome obstacles, to gain confidence - no matter the level of your practice - all the while becoming familiar with your being and applying the methods of the instructions to your own experience. Just as the Buddha taught.
All of this is to assist you in developing your own meditation practice. We have 7 sessions throughout the day. Only one of these has guided instructions and teaching. This is intentional so as to offer you room to develop your own practice.
Development of a commitment to - and discipline in - your own practice is an absolutely essential skill if you wish to progress further in Dharma. Enlightenment takes some work & effort - but this is not heavy lifting - more like a gradual acceptance of our situation, a gentle development of mindfulness and distanced observation of arisings, an easing towards the cultivation of wisdom and an appreciation of the attendant happiness, peace and joy available to us in each present moment of mindfulness.
Usually, this doesn’t happen in a flash. As with any personal shift, it is the result of a directed, intentional effort towards change using effective techniques applied consistently over time. So learning to practice on your own is indispensable to your longer-term spiritual growth and development - to your own achievement of Buddhahood. Karuna can be seen as training for your continued practice after you leave.
We point out the way once a day, every day, and leave you to your own to sit with the instructions, finding areas for clarification and allowing for experiential confirmation of what is taught. This is directly in line with the teachings of the Buddha. We feel like we are similar to the monks of old, in that we help each other as companions on the path: encouraging, clarifying, supporting and smiling a lot. And we sit., and sit, and sit…. quietly, happily, at times with struggles, but always with a firm intention and understanding of what we are up to.
FOR THOSE WITH EXPERIENCE:
You have some mindfulness, you have concentration - perhaps some tastes of wisdom… You now need space and time to move deeper - to firmly plant the flag of your being on the side of joyful mindfulness, cultivating stability there… Karuna is perfect for you.
Karuna serves as a platform for the recognition of deeply ingrained habitual tendencies and provides the space for you to re-organize your being. The structure of the center provides the foundation for consistency of meeting and overcoming these arisings. As they are met, seen, worked with and transcended, one moves further and further along the path.
Being among serious, long-term practitioners who are in the “trenches” of their own reorganization is invaluable in this endeavor. We share our struggles, tips, techniques and failures with other openly and honestly and always in the spirit of mutual benefit.
If you have never attempted a 30, 60, or 90-day (or longer retreat), it is time to engage in your practice in the best way possible - a longer, deeper, foundation-shifting period of practice.
I encourage you to re-structure your life so that you may join us for some deeply engaged practice time.
As a beginner, you may find that you are a serious practitioner. As a serious practicioner, you may find that you need to reconnect with beginner’s mind. Either way, Karuna is a perfect place to make your own discoveries. You’ll find we are seriously interested in assisting you with profound change and moving towards total Enlightenment.
We don’t take any unnecessary sidetracks or engage in any “timefillers” in practice. This is your life, and it is time to get down to the business at hand.
How much time do you have? Let’s get started.
In Metta - Thomas