Shaila Catherine is the founder of Bodhi Courses (bodhicourses.org) an online Dhamma classroom, and Insight Meditation South Bay, a meditation center in Mountain View, California (imsb.org). She has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience, and has taught since 1996 in the USA, and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand, completed a one year intensive meditation retreat with the focus on concentration and jhana, and authored Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity, (Wisdom Publications, 2008). She has extensive experience practicing and teaching mindfulness, loving kindness, concentration, and a broad range of approaches to liberating insight. Since 2006, Shaila has continued her study of jhana and insight under the direction of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw, and authored Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana (Wisdom Publications, 2011).
Be as you are. This talk encourages a spacious and accepting attitude that embraces experience just as it is occurring. It is inspired by non-meditation approaches that bring relaxation, release, and ease to awareness without the exertion or efforts of striving. Mindfulness instructions are simple: observe your experience of sensory contact, observe what occurs at any sense door. You don't need to do very much with what you observe. See what is happening; be present with what is. Several obstacles to deep presence are examined. We learn to release attachments to material stuff, to overcome the influence of social expectation, and to renounce distracting and unskillful speech. We also learn to free the mind from mental proliferation, worry, and restless wandering; to embrace precepts that protect us from doing habitual or selfish actions; and to let go of clinging whenever it arises. This approach illuminates the power of renunciation; the calming of concepts of self, I, me, and mine; and the great peace that brings an end to suffering.