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.

The cost

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

Weekly donation (for 12 weeks)

To make a donation by debit or credit card click on the link below

Click here to visit our online store, where you can make a donation by credit or debit card.

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.

The culture

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.

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21 Comments. Leave new

I hope I can come up with a few bucks by then, as I feel I really need this right now. All the hatred surrounding this country is bothering me to my core. I have to get rid of the anger I feel.


Yes, there’s a lot out there can can provoke anger, and we do have to take care not to contribute to the negativity. The course is by donation, Patty, and if the suggested levels are too high, then just let me know and we can make alternative arrangements.


This is great and I would love to attend, but I work. Maybe in the future you could so one on Sunday, or in the evenings. Thanks again!


I’m glad to hear you’re interested. Sundays are tricky, but an evening is possible.


will *on-demand* replays be available, as I’m at work during the day….


They should be, all going well.


Yay :-) thanks for the super-quick response!


Hi! I’d love to join but if I understood the hangout can only accommodate 9 people? So, in order to reserve our spot we “subscribe” with paypal? Is there somewhere else I need to sign up? Thanks! Sarah


Yes, I have to ask people to subscribe before participating, otherwise they tend to fail to show up and deprive someone else of a place. You can sign up via Paypal on the form on this page (here).


Also, February 24th is a Sunday…does it begin the 21st or 28th or is it January 24th? Thanks, again! Sarah


Crikey! My proofreading skills need work! Yes, it starts January 24, which is this coming Thursday.


Aw darn! I just looked at the calendar and my husband is gone most Thursdays for awhile and 8 pm is just when I am putting the kids to bed. If only it was 9 pm… I look forward to joining a group in the future. I love this idea, especially for those of us who don’t get to practice in groups that often because of various logistical issues. Enjoy everyone!


That’s a shame, Sarah, but perhaps some other time.


I’d really like to do this, but a few questions. First, are there still places? Second, do you think it will work if video doesn’t work? I live in Africa and my Internet connection is on a cell line (not 3G, but Skype audio works very well). Video might work, but for me it’ll be choppy at best. Third, I’m unemployed and have been for a long time, so I can contribute something, but nothing like what I’m sure is the real value.


Google+ Hangouts have an “ultra-low bandwidth” mode that uses very strong video compression, so that the image is black and white and basically just picks out the outlines. G+ has the advantage over Skype that the audio quality is always maintained at the expense of the image, while Skype seems to degrade the audio in order to keep the image going. It should work. Also, the level of donation is entirely up to you. There are still a couple of places left.


Unfortunately this is about an hour too early for me (5am, Queensland, Australia)


That’s a shame! Matching US eastern time with any time zone in Australia is rather a problem.

Amaranta Castillo
January 23, 2013 1:27 pm

I have paid a little for week, do I have to register with you or something like that? Thanks for the information, and let me know If I’m in, please.


Hi, Amaranta.

I thought your name was familiar :)

I’ll be in touch very soon about the course. You are in!

All the best,


i would like to sign up but wanted to find out about the commitment. 12 weeks is a long time and i’m not sure how i will like format or if i will be available throughout. when you ask for weekly donations is there any issue if we can’t fulfill the full 12 weeks – ie.. can we pay as we go , or stop weekly donations down the line? thanks.


Hi, Dave. Thanks for your questions. As it happens the course is now full, with a waiting list. But hypothetically, if you weren’t sure you’d be available for the whole twelve weeks then it would be best not to sign up, since places are limited and you’d potentially be depriving someone else of a place, although if it’s just a class here or there you’d be missing then the classes are recorded so that’s not a big deal. Of course if someone does want to drop out during the course they’re free to do so, and to cancel their donation.


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