Sally Clough Armstrong began practicing vipassana meditation in India in 1981. She moved to the Bay Area in 1988, and worked at Spirit Rock until 1994 in a number of roles, including executive director. She began teaching in 1996, and is one of the guiding teachers of Spirit Rock's Dedicated Practitioner Program.
Sally has always been inspired by the depth and the breadth of the Buddha’s teaching, as presented in the suttas of the Pali Canon, because the truth and power of the Buddha’s words still speak to us today. Her intention in teaching is to make these ancient texts and practices accessible and relevant to all levels of practitioner, from the very new to the dedicated meditator.
The five subjects or themes that the Buddha considered important for frequent recollection are:
1. I am of the nature to age; I have not gone beyond ageing
2. I am of the nature to sicken; I have not gone beyond sickness
3. I am of the nature to die; I have not gone beyond dying
4. All that is mine, beloved and pleasing, will become otherwise, will become separated from me
5. I am the owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma, born of my kamma. Whatever kamma I shall do, for good or for ill, of that I will be the heir.
To contemplate these themes brings us in direct contact with the truth of things, especially the truth of dukkha, or suffering. Fully understanding these truths allows us to open to the reality of our life, and every life, and deepens our capacity for compassion.
There are three common ways to relate to the body-aversive, disconnected or obsessed. The practice of body contemplation, particularly the 32 Parts of the Body, replaces these with wise attitudes towards our body.
Beauty and happiness are important supports and the proximate causes for the development of concentration. Inclining towards these wholesome qualities with balanced effort is an important part of the practice.