Matthew Hepburn caught fire with the Dharma through retreat practice in his early twenties. He began offering vipassana instruction in 2012 at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, where he is continually inspired by the deep Dharma of daily living. He is a participant in the 2017-2021 IMS Teacher Training Program.
I find that practitioners can practice Vipassana for a long time without paying attention to the role that fear plays in their lives. Living with fear that is unacknowledged leads to fragmentation in life and practice. I encourage people to look at the energy of fear, for fear can limit our access to freedom.
It is quite possible to diligently practice mindfulness, yet keep fear at a distance. Not becoming intimate with fear creates a dualism and complacency that gives a silent nod of approval to living with fear. When we begin to look at, and become friends with, our fear, we suddenly discover a lot more space in our lives.
In the larger picture, Vipassana offers us all a practice that goes counter to the tremendous cultural momentum around us of materialism and consumerism. With practice, we can learn how to take full responsibility for ourselves, and so pay attention to developing inner qualities capable of sustaining us as we navigate the shifting sands of life.
I try to help practitioners approach their meditation practice and their lives with compassion and wisdom. Bringing a loving attentiveness into each moment allows us to learn kindness rather than condemnation, and discernment rather than judgment.
I feel that it is essential not to make a split between the formal practice that happens on retreat and the informal practice that happens in daily life. At the core, formal practice and daily life practice are the same. In all arenas of life we can create the same dedication to wakefulness and sensitivity. The right place to practice meditation is wherever we are. The right time to practice is right now. And the right way to practice is to know what we are doing whenever we are doing it.
We can live each moment in a fresh way, free from expectations of how things should be and open to how things are whether we are sitting on the cushion, washing the dishes, or talking with a friend. With practice, we can discover a current of underlying joy and find that all of life is sacred.
Meditation practice is an offering to the world. When we meditate, we practice not only for ourselves, but for all beings. In meditation there is a gradual purification of heart. This purification allows us to trust ourselves and to respond spontaneously to others with compassion and insight.
Nolitha is a Dharma teacher and board member at Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat Center, in SA that was founded by Kittisaro and Thanisara Weinberg. She has practised from 1997 under Kittisaro and Thanissara, who are of Ajahn Chah ‘s lineage. In her first retreat with these beloved teachers she discovered silence as a refuge and has never looked back. Nolitha completed the Community Dharma leadership program (CDL4) under Spirit Rock in 2014 and is at present a teacher trainee with IMS. Nolitha is a Psychologist in private practice and is trained in Karuna ( Group psychotherapy based on Buddhist principles) and Somatic Experiencing (SE). She is an executive coach and facilitator in leadership development. She offers in SA under Dharmagiri Race Work for reconciliation using Insight Dialogue principles. She has recently been appointed by Spirit Rock as a mentor for the TTCP program.
Developing a clear understanding of the teachings and learning to fully inhabit the body have been core parts of my Dhamma practice. These areas, as well a strong emphasis on the heart, inform and shape my teaching. The few years I spent training as an Anagarika in the Thai Forest monasteries broadened my understanding of the Buddha's teachings and instilled a profound respect for the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni Sangha. All along the way, I've been particularly interested in how other modalities like Nonviolent Communication and Somatics can support our growth in awakening.
Patricia Genoud-Feldman has been practicing Buddhist meditation (vipassana and Dzogchen) in Asia and the West since 1984 and teaching vipassana internationally since 1997. She is a co-founder and guiding teacher at the Meditation Centre Vimalakirti in Geneva, Switzerland.
Rebecca Bradshaw has practiced vipassana and metta meditation since 1983 in both the United States and Burma. She has been teaching since 1993 and is one at the guiding teachers at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. "My passion is encouraging students to drop into embodied presence, and grounding this presence in wisdom and lovingkindness. When a sense of love and kindness underlies our practice, we can explore life deeply in a truly integrated way, bringing together mind, heart, and body. Wisdom then holds it all in spaciousness. I especially enjoy connecting with young people in the Dharma, teaching students on longer retreats, supporting sangha on a community level, and sharing the dharma in Spanish." For more information about Rebecca and/or to make a donation to support her teaching, please visit her website at www.rebeccabradshaw.org.
Ron Denhardt has practiced Insight Meditation and in the Zen tradition for 25 years. He teaches the Elders' Group, and periodically teaches workshops classes at CIMC. He also teaches meditation at colleges, adult education centers, and other community organizations. I find it very heartening when practitioners realize personal freedom is possible and that their freedom will be beneficial to all.
A dedicated practitioner of Vipassana (insight) meditation, Roxanne Dault (she, her) has sat many long retreats in Asia and in the West. Roxanne is a Guiding Teacher at True North Insight where she teaches weekly sits and residential retreats. She is involved in different projects to share the Dharma in the West. She has completed the four-year Insight Meditation Society (IMS) Teacher Training. Her teaching is influenced by indigenous spiritual practices, her many travels and her experience in Somatic Experiencing®, a body-mind approach aimed at relieving the symptoms of trauma. Roxanne wants to share her love for the Dharma so that we can all touch freedom in every moment! She speaks French, English and is learning her ancestors' language, Anishinaabemowin. www.roxannedault.ca