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.
As we begin the journey of a long retreat, it is helpful to consider different ways to frame our practice .I offered an overview with a diagram that depicted this, and how we might talk about our practice in meetings with teachers. This begins with the biggest frame - wise attitude or wise view, supported by our intentions and aspirations. the next frame is continuity of mindfulness that supports whatever practice or technique we might be cultivating.
There are five factors that are supported for deepening concentration, known as the jhana factors. These factors are developed in any kind of intensive meditation practice but are particularly supportive of the development of samadhi. They also serve to counterbalance the hindrances. When the hindrances are not active, the mind and heart can be
3 Kinds of Intention
To develop any skill, to fully cultivate any qualities in our lives, particularly on the Buddhist path, we need to engage with three kinds of intention that operate on different time frames. Cetana is the moment-to-moment intention, the urge to do, that we can bring into the field of our mindfulness practice. The next level, Adhitthana, is usually translated as resolve or determination and is one of the paramis. The highest level is Samma Sankappa, right or wise intention. This is the second path factor, after right view, so it is the kind of intention developed by right view. There are three kinds of Right intention - the intention towards renunciation, non-ill will, and non-harming. These skillful intentions can then inform our choices and actions (Adhitthanas), which we keep in mind through awareness of moment-to-moment intentions, or cetana.
Many of us have a tendency to be critical and judgmental of ourselves and others. In meditation, this habit can seem quite strong and can create a lot of suffering. But mindfulness is a wonderful tool to enable us to see these thoughts for what they are, so we can begin to bring wisdom and understanding to them. The good news is, like any conditioned habit, we can learn to decondition them.
Mindfulness is becoming very popular in many areas of modern life: as a stress reduction, in schools, prisons, hospitals, in the workplace and so on. But what is mindfulness, and what was the Buddha talking about when he encouraged us to practice it? Right mindfulness, or Samma Sati, develops wisdom and understanding, decreasing unwholesome states of mind, increasing wholesome
The development of samadhi, a collected and unified mind, is central in the Buddha’s meditation training. This talk looks at how we can skillfully deepen concentration, as well as the place of concentration in various suttas and lists that guide us in the development of concentration, and then the function of concentration to lead to transformative insight.
Though the teachings on dukkha (suffering) are an important part of the Buddhist path, a skillful relationship to sukha (happiness) actually played a significant part in the Buddha's awakening. This talk explores the wise use of happiness and pleasure and the cultivation of beautiful qualities of mind, especially in concentration practice.