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Embracing Loving Kindness: Reflecting on Our Journey + Introducing Vipassana Meditation

Reflecting on Loving Kindness Meditation Over the past eight weeks, we’ve embarked on a beautiful journey together, exploring the practice of Loving Kindness (Metta) meditation. This practice has guided us to cultivate a deeper sense of compassion, empathy, and unconditional love, not only for ourselves but also for others. It’s been heartwarming to witness the transformation and growth within our community as we collectively open our hearts. Let’s review Metta before we head into our next technique – Vipassana meditation. Benefits of Loving Kindness Meditation The benefits of Loving Kindness meditation are profound and far-reaching. Many of you have shared your experiences, highlighting the following: Buddhist Teachings on the Benefits of Loving Kindness According to the teachings of the Buddha, Loving Kindness meditation offers specific benefits, known as the “Eleven Benefits of Metta.” These are: Reflective Questions As we wrap up this module, it’s important to reflect on how Loving Kindness meditation has resonated with you. Here are some questions to ponder: Feel free to share your insights and experiences with us. Your reflections not only help you integrate the practice more deeply but also inspire and support others in their journey. Incorporating Loving Kindness Meditation Moving Forward To continue reaping the benefits of Loving Kindness meditation, consider integrating it into your daily routine. Here are a few tips: Introducing Vipassana Meditation As we conclude our Loving Kindness module, we are excited to introduce our next meditation practice: Vipassana meditation. History and Background of Vipassana Meditation Vipassana, which means “insight” or “clear seeing,” is one of the oldest forms of meditation, with roots tracing back to the teachings of the Buddha over 2,500 years ago. This practice was revived and popularized by S.N. Goenka in the 20th century and has since become a cornerstone of mindfulness and meditation practices worldwide. How Vipassana Relates to Loving Kindness While Loving Kindness meditation focuses on cultivating positive emotions and extending them outward, Vipassana meditation is about developing a deep, introspective awareness of our inner experiences. Both practices complement each other beautifully. Loving Kindness prepares the heart by nurturing compassion, while Vipassana sharpens the mind by fostering insight and understanding. Objectives of Vipassana Meditation The primary objectives of Vipassana meditation include: Acknowledging Our Inner Roommate In Vipassana meditation, we learn to acknowledge our “inner roommate”—the constant stream of thoughts, emotions, and sensations that inhabit our mind. Through a process of self-witnessing, we observe these inner experiences without attachment or aversion. This practice helps us develop the ability to resist judgment and become fully present in each moment, whether that moment is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. The Ultimate Goal of Vipassana Meditation The ultimate goal of Vipassana meditation is to attain liberation from suffering by developing deep insight into the true nature of reality. By understanding the impermanent, unsatisfactory, and selfless nature of all phenomena, we can transcend our habitual patterns of craving and aversion, leading to profound inner peace and enlightenment. This journey of self-discovery and transformation allows us to live more fully in the present moment, free from the attachments and aversions that cause suffering. Guidance Text: “Mindfulness in Plain English” To guide us in our Vipassana meditation practice, we will be using the text Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. This book is a comprehensive and accessible resource that breaks down the principles and practices of Vipassana meditation in a clear and practical manner. It is an excellent tool for both beginners and seasoned practitioners, providing valuable insights and techniques to deepen our meditation practice. Join Our Morning Meditation There are many different tools and techniques in meditation. Our morning meditation is an opportunity to experience these techniques at no cost to see what practice is right for you. It is also a really great way to start the day, in a community that supports each other. Please join us on weekday mornings at 7:30 a.m. for a 7-minute guided Vipassana practice. The class is on Mindbody, or you can email us for Zoom information. As we embark on this new journey, we encourage you to approach Vipassana meditation with an open mind and heart. Just as with Loving Kindness, patience and consistency are key to experiencing the transformative benefits of this practice. We are thrilled to continue this journey of self-discovery and growth with you.

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online meditation

Free Online Meditation Classes at BPY

Set the Tone for Your Day in 7 Minutes: Join Our Free Online Meditation at Balanced Planet Yoga In a world that’s constantly buzzing with activity, finding moments of tranquility can seem like an elusive dream. Yet, amidst the chaos, it is possible to create space to check-in and create some calm in the storm. One such place is here, at Balanced Planet Yoga, where we meet weekday mornings on Zoom at 730 am to start our day with a community guided free online meditation. We have been going strong since January 1st, and if you are looking for a better way to start your day, you may have just stumbled upon it. Since January 1st, our virtual doors have been open wide to all, offering a brief mindful pause each morning to help set the tone of our day. In just seven minutes, we take a collective voyage, transcending boundaries of time + space to commune in the timeless practice of meditation. Designed to seamlessly integrate into the rhythms of your bustling life, our sessions are tailored to accommodate the busiest of schedules, ensuring that anyone, anywhere, can carve out the time to meet the community for our free online meditation program. At Balanced Planet Yoga, we understand the demands of modern living all too well. The relentless pace of life can leave us feeling drained, disconnected, + overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve crafted our morning meditation sessions to be a short 7 minute check-in—a gentle reminder that amidst the chaos, there exists a peaceful place within each of us, waiting to be discovered at any moment. And, that this place exists in everyone we meet. Each session is a unique exploration, drawing from a rich variety of meditation techniques and hosted by your BPY teachers and fellow community members. From mindful breathing to guided visualizations, from loving-kindness practices to body scan meditations and more, we traverse the vast landscape of inner exploration, guided by seasoned practitioners who hold space for each participant with compassion + grace [and if you are interested in leading a session with our community, reach out to us here]. We are humbled by the opportunity to serve our community and hopefully beyond, extending a heartfelt invitation to all who is curious about this practice – whether you’re a seasoned meditator or a novice, our online meditation sessions are open to everyone [whether you are a member of the studio or not!], regardless of age, background, or experience level. As we continue to navigate the ever-changing currents of life, our commitment to spreading the transformative power of meditation remains unwavering. We invite you to join us on your journey of self-discovery, as we cultivate inner peace, resilience, and connection—one breath at a time. Spread the word, share the light, and together, let’s create a ripple of positivity that resonates far beyond the confines of our brick + mortar as well as our virtual studio walls. Join us at Balanced Planet Yoga, where seven minutes of online meditation can transform your day—and perhaps, even your life. To learn more about this program, visit our MindBody Platform.

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Jeff Carreira

The Inner Journey of Meditation – A Meditation Retreat

by Jeff Carreira Join us for BPY’s First in-studio Retreat, December 16th + December 17th Somewhere between 2000 and 2500 years ago, 195 [or 196, depending on the version you are reading] short phrases (sutras) were gathered together into a book by the great Indian sage known as Patanjali. The book is called The Yoga Sutras and describes the philosophy and practices of what is commonly known as yoga today. As I said, the yoga sutras are short phrases, not even complete sentences. They were written in this form to contain as much wisdom as possible in the smallest number of words. This was typical in oral traditions, where information needed to be heard and remembered. It also makes the phrases hard to translate and decode, and so over the centuries, a series of great realizers have written commentaries explaining them. These commentaries allow us to understand Patanjali’s original meaning.  One of the things described in the Yoga Sutras are the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which explain how yoga is practiced. The first four of these limbs involve practices of: right action, right attitude, physical posture, and breath work.  With the fifth limb yoga turns inward, and it is important to understand that inward does not mean in towards the mind and psyche; it means in towards the source of awareness. The fifth limb explains that we must withdraw our attention from both the physical and mental worlds that we are familiar with in order to start the true inner journey of yoga. The final three limbs – dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (absorption), will be the focus of my upcoming retreat at Balanced Planet Yoga.  The final limb, samadhi, is considered to be the purpose and goal of yoga because it results in union with the higher self. Samadhi is explained as occurring through a series of four distinct levels of stages. During the upcoming retreat we will work with each of the four levels of samadhi described by Patanjali.  The first level of samadhi is vitarka-samadhi, which occurs when we become completely absorbed in the contemplation of an object of meditation. As vitarka-samadhi deepens, we lose touch with all conceptual understanding of the object and merge directly with the experience of it. This is the first level of meditative absorption.  The second level of samadhi is vicara-samadhi, which occurs when we experience an object beyond its superficial physical appearance and see into the subtle essences that create it.  At the deepest levels of vicara-samadhi we discover that the essence of everything exists throughout all of time and space. We might see an object at one time and in a single location, but if we look deeply enough we find that the essence of it spreads always and everywhere as part of the fabric of reality.  Ananda-samadhi, is the next level of samadhi and it occurs when awareness is completely overtaken and immersed in the inherent sense of bliss at the core of being.  The first three levels of meditative absorption are levels of sabija (with seed) because they involve some object of contemplation. The next level of samadhi is s level of nirbijah (without seed) because it does not involve concentration on any object.  The final level of samadhi is asmita-samadhi, and it occurs when all that remains is the sense of being, the I-ness, and there is not even anyone present to have that experience. At this level all separation vanishes and there is only the consciousness of being. This is considered to be the final goal of yoga.  On retreat, December 16th and 17th [10A to 5P each day], we will explore ways of practicing meditation that can lead us through these miraculous states of higher awareness. But we will not stop there. We will also explore how it is possible to return from the emptiness of asmita-samadhi in order to share the fruits of wisdom with the world.  More information to register for the retreat can be found by clicking here. One of the classical commentators, Hariharananda Aranya, explains that it is possible to plant seeds of return that trigger us back from the depths of samadhi for the benefit of the world. My teaching work has always emphasized the importance of returning to the world in order to transform it and during the retreat we will explore how this can be accomplished.  JEFF CARREIRA Jeff Carreira is an author, mystical philosopher, artist, and meditation teacher. Thirty years ago he dedicated himself entirely to the focused pursuit of spiritual awakening. He began teaching meditation and awakening fifteen years ago, and today, he supports people from around the world to share the fruits and blessings of their own spiritual path. He is aware that many people today have established their own deep connection to the spiritual source of life and the unlimited creative potential it holds. He calls these people Artists of Possibility because they have so much to share with the world. He remains completely committed to teaching meditation and awakening, and in addition, has dedicated himself to helping others gather their own tribe and share their own deepest realization. He wants to support you in creating a platform to share from. That means deepening your awakening, learning to articulate it effectively, and setting up the means to reach people all over the world.

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