Snow Lion: The Meditation Shop

Meditation Cushions & Meditation Essentials Since 1978

Mindfulness Meditation Classes in Toronto

Weekly Mindfulness Meditation drop-in classes are offered in Toronto. Teachings are secular-based but drawn from Buddhist meditation sources.

Mindfulness Meditation classes are offered by donation. Attend as you can. No registration necessary. Everyone is welcome.

For more information and location: torontomindfulnesscommunity.org.

Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice... No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.

- Thich Nhat Hanh

  1. Craving - desirous attachment, greed
  2. Aversion - hatred, fear, boredom
  3. Sloth and Torpor - laziness
  4. Restlessness
  5. Doubt

1. Craving
Craving for sense pleasures, pleasant sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch and mind states, leads to 'if only syndrome': "If only I can get enough pleasurable experiences and keep them going indefinitely, then I'll be happy."

NB: The problem is not with the object of desire but the degree of attachment. The objects and the yearning for them can be endless. Therefore contentment/satisfaction will not be possible by trying to get more and better things and experiences. We are reaching, grasping for something just out of our reach, instead of being content in the here and now.

What we want distorts and colours our perception of what is. Note: artists see colours, textures, shapes etc. A thief sees....

 

2. Aversion (hatred, anger, ill will)
This one is more obvious because of its unpleasant energy. Maybe some temporary enjoyment derived from it and then pain, because it closes the heart and thus constricts our natural joy. We can learn a lot from anger because it shows us exactly where we are stuck, where our limits are. It is also a warning signal--'attachment'. The amount of our attachment is proportional to the strength of our anger.

Anger colours our experience of everything. We can even become angry over something that hasn't happened or appears to have happened. For example, a rowboat in the fog bumps into another boat. The owner of the first boat is furious and yells at the owner of the boat he bumped into. He then discovers that there is no one in the 'offending' boat. With no one there his anger disappears although a boat had bumped into his. Another traditional example is the fear of rope mistaken for snake.

Fear, judgment and boredom are forms of aversion.

 

3. Sloth and Torpor
Causes:

  1. fatigue
  2. resistance to an unpleasant state of mind
  3. energy imbalance-re: concentration (tranquility)

This category includes laziness, dullness, lack of vitality, fogginess and sleepiness. These all weaken the clarity of mind - the true nature of the mind. The antidotes are increased effort and determination.

 

4. Restlessness
This is the opposite of torpor. Its nature is agitation, nervousness, anxiety, worry, and jumpiness. The antidote is Shamatha and Vipassana.

 

5. Doubt
Doubt stops our practice. It is associated with subtle fear and resistance. The antidote is to make it the object of mindfulness and also develop faith.

 

ANTIDOTES

Suppression of the Hindrances does not work. Mindfulness meditation transforms them into the object for observation = skillful means = manure that nourishes. Eventually we can see through them the laws of karma, impermanence and impersonality at work.

If we get entangled in the hindrances and start acting them out, we reinforce them.

Antidote Strategies:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Transform Mara the tempter into an ally.
  3. When the Hindrances are very strong cultivate the opposite. Once they are weaker we can better observe them mindfully.
  4. For advance students, let go as soon as it arises without aversion.

From: Spring Rain Sangha Teachings

When the Buddha gave his first sermon in the Deer Park, he began the 'Turning of the Dharma Wheel'. He chose the beautiful symbol of the wheel with its eight spokes to represent the Noble Eightfold Path. The Buddha's teaching goes round and round like a great wheel that never stops, leading to the central point of the wheel, the only point which is fixed, Nirvana. The eight spokes on the wheel represent the eight parts of the Noble Eightfold Path.

  1. Right View. The right way to think about life is to see the world through the eyes of the Buddha--with wisdom and compassion.
  2. Right Thought. We are what we think. Clear and kind thoughts build good, strong characters.
  3. Right Speech. By speaking kind and helpful words, we are respected and trusted by everyone.
  4. Right Conduct. No matter what we say, others know us from the way we behave. Before we criticize others, we should first see what we do ourselves.
  5. Right Livelihood. This means choosing a job that does not hurt others. The Buddha said, "Do not earn your living by harming others. Do not seek happiness by making others unhappy."
  6. Right Effort. A worthwhile life means doing our best at all times and having good will toward others. This also means not wasting effort on things that harm ourselves and others.
  7. Right Mindfulness. This means being aware of our thoughts, words, and deeds.
  8. Right Concentration. Focus on one thought or object at a time. By doing this, we can be quiet and attain true peace of mind.

Following the Noble Eightfold Path can be compared to cultivating a garden, but in Buddhism one cultivates one's wisdom. The mind is the ground and thoughts are seeds. Deeds are ways one cares for the garden. Our faults are weeds. Pulling them out is like weeding a garden. The harvest is real and lasting happiness.

Much of these teachings are adapted from The Instilling Goodness School in California and the Satipañña in Toronto. They are written in a simple manner to be understood by children as well as adults. When known, credit is given to the author/translator.