Jan 19, 2013
12-week videoconference meditation workshop, with Bodhipaksa (starts Jan 24)
Starts January 24: runs for 12 weeks.
Meditation has transformed my life, and there’s nothing I love to see more than people learning to become happier and more fulfilled in their own lives.
Two years ago I started running meditation workshops, using the videoconferencing capabilities of Skype. These courses have been highly successful. I’ve now switched to teaching those courses on Google Plus, where the videoconferencing experience is much smoother, and the courses are going even better.
What will we learn?
This workshop is suitable for people who have just learned meditation and for people who have been practicing for years. It looks at two very practical teachings from the Buddhist tradition: the five hindrances and the jhana (meditative) factors. Understanding how to work with these is the core of what’s called “samatha” (calming) meditation, which not only enriches our lives, but is something that the Buddha considered indispensable for spiritual awakening.
The hindrances are mental states of anxiety, self-doubt, anger, craving, and avoidance/denial. These impoverish our experience both in meditation and in daily life, and we’ll learn a variety of practical ways to reduce their hold on us. Cultivating the “jhana factors” includes learning to find deeper levels of calmness, and increasing our ability to find pleasure in the simplicity of the present moment, to find joy from within, and to pay sustained attention in a mindful way. Again, we’ll learn a number of practical approaches to making those qualities part of our daily lives as well as using them to cultivate stillness and joy in our meditation practice.
How does this work?
The course will be held on a Google Plus “Hangout.” Google Plus is a sharing platform, and one of the features is a free videoconferencing application (“Hangouts”) for both Mac and Windows that allows for up to nine people to meet (virtually) face to face. All you need in order to join is a Google account (which you probably already have, if you have a GMail or YouTube account, for example). There’s a simple plugin that you need to install to your internet browser. And besides that, all you need is a standard webcam and mic. Headphones are useful, too.
Each week I’ll start a Hangout, to which you’ll be invited. There will be a brief presentation, a guided meditation, and opportunity for discussion. Each meeting lasts for 90 minutes.
Things you need to know
- You’ll need to login or register on Google+ in order to participate in a group videoconference. This is free.
- You’ll need to download the Hangout plugin, which takes two minutes, and which you can do by clicking on the “start a hangout” link.
- You’ll need a broadband connection. You can’t really make video calls without broadband, although Google+ has a setting for “ultra-low bandwidth,” which is supposed to work at dial-up speeds.
- It’s preferable if you have a webcam. It’s technically possible to do a Hangout without a webcam, but it could be considered a bit odd, or even rude, to be looking at other people when they can’t see you.
- It’s definitely preferable if you have headphones. Echoes can be a problem when you listen on speakers, because the sound from your speakers goes straight back down your mic and interrupts the person who is speaking. At a minimum you can use ordinary headphones or ear buds.
- A mobile device like an iPad or Android tablet should work just fine. The smaller screen on a phone would make participating less satisfactory for you, but it would work at a pinch.
- A standby phone number is handy in case of technical problems. Sometimes your internet connection simply won’t behave, and we can add you to the call via a mobile phone or landline. In an emergency it’s much, much, better than nothing.
Time and dates
The course will run on Thursdays, starting January 24. There will be 12 classes.
The time is 2PM US eastern time. The equivalent time in other timezones is:
- 1 PM US Central
- 12 Noon US Mountain
- 11 AM US Pacific
- 7PM in the UK
- 8PM Central European Time
- For other time zones, check the Time Zone Converter and convert from “U.S.A. – New Hampshire – Concord” to your own zone.
Each class runs for 90 minutes.
Participation is by donation. I request that you make a weekly donation for your participation in the workshop. I suggest that you consider how much you earn in an hour (if that’s applicable) and use that as a rough basis for your donation. We ask you to consider your teacher’s time as being as valuable as your own. If you can’t afford this (or if you’re retired, etc.) feel free to give less. You’re also free to give more, if you wish, and if you can afford to do so. Please just give what you are comfortable with.
If you’d like to donate using Paypal, please use this form
To make a donation by debit or credit card click on the link below
Then enter the amount you wish to give each week (in $US). Please don’t enter the dollar sign.
We will then turn that amount into a weekly recurring payment running for the 12 weeks of the course.
That’s the cost; what’s the culture? What I’m suggesting is a mutual commitment to generosity (dana). I’ll go out of my way to support the people I’m working with. I’ll provide you with course handouts. If you want to email me I’ll deal with your questions. If you want to phone I’ll do my best to be available. I’ll share writing that I’m currently working on. Our sessions together will be recorded and made available (only) to members of the group so that if you miss a week you’ll be able to keep up. If I have time I’ll turn the guided meditations into standalone MP3 files that you can put on your iPod.
The income from these seminars has allowed Wildmind to hire me some administrative support, so that I have been able to free myself up to spend more time practicing, teaching, and writing, and so that I can benefit people like you. I’ll aim to be there for the members of the group. This arrangement could be seen as similar to how in traditional Buddhist cultures people would support the monasteries so that monks would be free to practice and teach. I’m suggesting a dana economy — a mutual spirit of giving that is mutually beneficial.