Offering you support as you explore a secular approach to Buddhism
Do you know why you meditate? Is your practice giving you what you need?
Would it be helpful to have a quick conversation about your meditation practice?
I am keen to engage with individuals and groups, in person and online, in New Zealand and elsewhere, who want to:
- explore a fresh, secular approach to the dharma
- learn to meditate, or refresh an existing practice
- let go of habits that are holding you back
- develop a regular meditation habit
- deepen your creative engagement in your communities
- flourish as a person in relationship with others, becoming independent of others but not alone in your practice.
Does this general approach resonate?
Keen to find out more?
Start with this: for your free download – Why it’s good to use an open-minded, open-hearted, experience-based approach to secular meditation – click the button below:
The approach to meditation that I’ve found to work well is experience-based, secular, and reflective. It’s relevant for today, concerned with the suffering felt in this world, of the life that has emerged through evolution on this planet. At the same time, it acknowledges the contribution made by the man who has come to be known as the Buddha, Gotama, and those who came after him.
Learn to meditate, making practice a habit
Meditation instructions look so simple on the pages of a book. Sitting down and practising meditation regularly, though, appears to many to be beyond them. We try, we give up, we try, we give up – many times in my case. But I kept at it, and found an approach that works.
It’s normal to get lost in thought when we meditate, no matter what technique we use. But when the mind does wander, we tell ourselves that we’ve failed, that because we are unable to stop our thoughts we are therefore not able to meditate. So try, instead, an experience-based, open-hearted and secular approach to meditation, a reflective insight meditation practice that enables us to feel the aliveness of each moment.
With this approach we allow our awareness to simply be open to whatever arises in the mind, following this with a few minutes to reflect on what happened during our session, and journalling what happened. To get real benefit from your meditation practice, it’s helpful to talk about your sessions with someone.
YOU CANNOT DO IT WRONG
Why? Because practising this gentle, secular skill could well reveal fresh perspectives on old habitual patterns and yield profound insights. As we reflect on our meditation sessions and journal them, we become increasingly aware of our patterns of thought.
The effects of conditioning and past difficulties can be felt and seen, and with care and compassion allowed to untangle and reveal hidden gems. We may experience a sense of well being and deep tranquility as we learn to tolerate difficult emotional states. What we hold as difficult may in fact be the doorway to transformation and liberation. More often than not, this is a lot more helpful than trying to ‘fix’ what we consider to be ‘wrong’ with us.
All of us have an intelligence within us that can do this work, so long as we listen deeply to ourselves, and follow the impulses and wisdom that emerges.
Before setting up One Mindful Breath, I started a meditation group in 2000 that became Wellington Insight Meditation Community, and during the time I was running it facilitated weekly meditation sessions, ran a Sunday morning spiritual friendship group, and organised retreats, courses and workshops.
In 2009, I set up Aotearoa Buddhist Education Trust and continue to chair it. One year later I launched secularbuddhism.org.nz as a place for people wanting to discuss a contemporary, secular approach to the dharma. I was asked to run a new meditation group at the start of 2014; that group is now One Mindful Breath. As well as teaching, I serve on the community’s Care Committee and oversee our communications.
Dharma teachers I’ve had a relationship with and whose work I respect include Linda Modaro, Stephen Batchelor, Winton Higgins, Martine Batchelor and Eric Kolvig. There were others along the way. I am presently being mentored by Linda Modaro in reflective meditation, working with practitioners and their journals, and I also very much value my connection with dharma buddies around the world through the online group, Re~Collective. In August 2018 I helped start The Tuwhiri Project, where I serve as the organisation’s publisher.
Getting real benefit from meditation
If having a meditation practice is important to you, discussing that practice with someone else, I would suggest, is thoroughly worthwhile. As a mentor, a spiritual friend, a teacher, my role would be to support your process of unfolding, and your expression of your process.
What feels more comfortable to you? Meeting in person, or online? One-on-one conversations around your practice, or being part of a group? Here in Wellington, I have use of a meeting room in Willis Street for one-on-one sessions, while to connect at a distance I’ve found Zoom works best.
A session can be between 40 and 90 minutes, and may include:
- A period during which we meditate together;
- Four or five minutes to reflect silently on what happened during the session, exploring the sensations, thoughts, and feelings that arose, and journal what you’re able to recall;
- One-on-one conversations (in groups, with just myself) on what you can recall, examining what can be learnt and how these insights can be integrated into daily life – you need only share what you’re comfortable speaking about, in both one-on-one sessions and groups; and
- An opportunity to discuss some of the resources I’ll be sharing.
- Frequency of sessions is based on your time and need, along with my availability.
understanding Secular Buddhism
Just like discussions around your meditation practice, our conversations around a secular dharma can be both one-on-one or in groups, and will be based on student time and need, and my availability. Using resources that you’ll find on this website, on the Secular Buddhism in Aotearoa New Zealand website and elsewhere, we’ll focus on what a 21st century secular dharma may look like.
From time to time, a multi-session group course will be offered on a specific topic, possibly using recordings of talks given by Winton Higgins during retreats, or perhaps Stephen Batchelor’s 10 theses of secular dharma, as well as original material.
The Bigger picture
But that’s not all. Let’s not privilege meditation practice at the expense of the rest of our lives, and how we are on the planet. Are any of these of concern to you?
These things really matter to me, particularly when I reflect on how we as humans are treating the planet, and the state we may be leaving it in for future generations such as young Clara in the photo above.
where to begin?
I suggest we have a 20-minute conversation around your experience of meditation, and you can then decide whether a reflective, secular approach is one you can work with. We’d also consider whether to work together one-on-one or in a group.
So, let’s connect and have a conversation!
There’s no set period of engagement and no fixed fee. Mentorship is offered for dana, generosity, given as a monthly pledge. This can be offered by PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org or by bank transfer in NZ to 02-1246-0675192-52.
Zoom is my preferred way of connecting for face-to-face conversations with people at a distance. FaceTime and Skype can be used.
Keen to find out more?
Start with this: for your free download – Why it’s good to use an open-minded, open-hearted, reflective approach to secular meditation – click the button below:
When you work with me you’ll get full access to a resource library with documents, videos and sound files.
If you have a password to access the resource library click the button below and enter your password. To get a password get in touch.