Hours/session: 90m Sessions: 4 Weeks: 10


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MONASTIC SKILL DEVELOPMENT COURSE

Welcome to the course on Monastic Skills, where we will explore the foundational practices of sitting and walking meditation, as well as the art of organizing meditation retreats. This course is designed to provide a comprehensive and practical guide to developing a strong meditation practice, gaining insight into one's inner life, and cultivating mindfulness and awareness in daily life.

In the first half of the course, we will present the fundamental concepts of monastic life and meditation, including the history and philosophy of these practices, the advantages and difficulties of meditation, and the fundamental aspects of a meditation practice.

The second portion of the course will focus on seated meditation, covering numerous techniques and approaches to seated meditation and tactics for overcoming typical impediments to practice. In addition, we will discuss the advantages of growing mindfulness in daily life and how to incorporate mindfulness into regular tasks.

The third half of the course will be devoted to walking meditation, covering its many forms, their advantages, and how to incorporate them into a daily practice. We will also investigate the relationship between walking meditation and mindfulness in motion, as well as ways to integrate mindfulness and present to daily movement.

We will dig into the skill of planning meditation retreats in the fourth segment of the course. We will discuss the fundamentals of preparing and conducting a retreat, including selecting a site, creating a program, and managing logistics and participants.

In the course's fifth and final portion, we will examine advanced meditation methods, including ways for cultivating greater insight and spiritual development. We will examine the distinction between basic and advanced meditation practices, the obstacles and hazards associated with advanced practices, and how to locate a suitable instructor and community for advanced practice.

By the completion of this course, you will have acquired a firm foundation in the essential practices of monastic life as well as the practical skills necessary to integrate these practices into your everyday life and lead meditation retreats. With these practices, you will also get a better appreciation for the transformational power of meditation and the possibility for spiritual development and enlightenment.

The following are the specifics of this course:

Introduction to Monastic Life and Meditation

Overview of Monastic Life

Definition and purpose of monasticism;

The history and development of monasticism in different traditions;

Types of monastic communities, including differences between monasteries and convents, and between lay and ordained monastics;

The role of monastic life in preserving and transmitting religious and cultural traditions.

Introduction to Meditation

Definition and purpose of meditation;

Different types of meditation, such as mindfulness, loving-kindness, and contemplation;

Benefits of meditation, including stress reduction, improved focus and concentration, and increased self-awareness;

Common misconceptions about meditation and how to address them.

The Basics of Sitting Meditation

Posture, including how to sit on a cushion or chair and maintain a stable, upright position;

Breath, including techniques for following the breath and using it as an anchor for the mind;

Mental focus, including techniques for managing distracting thoughts and emotions;

Practice and consistency, including establishing a regular meditation routine and building up the ability to sit for longer periods of time.

The Basics of Walking Meditation

Posture, including how to stand and walk with stability and balance;

Breath, including techniques for coordinating breath and movement;

Mental focus, including techniques for staying present and aware of the body and surroundings;

Practice and consistency, including integrating walking meditation into daily life and balancing it with sitting meditation.

The Role of Meditation in Monastic Life

The importance of meditation in monastic practice and daily life;

Different ways that monastics use meditation, such as for spiritual growth, concentration, and insight;

The relationship between meditation and other monastic practices, such as prayer, chanting, and contemplation;

How lay practitioners can benefit from and integrate meditation into their own lives and spiritual practices.

This section of the curriculum provides an overview of monastic life and meditation, setting the stage for deeper exploration of specific practices and skills in later sections. It emphasizes the benefits and practicalities of both sitting and walking meditation, as well as the importance of meditation in the context of monastic life and personal spiritual practice.

Sitting Meditation

The Basics of Sitting Meditation

Posture, including how to sit on a cushion or chair and maintain a stable, upright position;

Breath, including techniques for following the breath and using it as an anchor for the mind;

Mental focus, including techniques for managing distracting thoughts and emotions;

Practice and consistency, including establishing a regular meditation routine and building up the ability to sit for longer periods of time.

Different Techniques for Sitting Meditation

Mindfulness meditation, including techniques for cultivating awareness and acceptance of the present moment;

Loving-kindness meditation, including techniques for cultivating feelings of kindness, compassion, and goodwill towards oneself and others;

Contemplative meditation, including techniques for reflecting on spiritual teachings or concepts;

Mantra meditation, including techniques for using a repeated sound or word as a focus for the mind.

Overcoming Challenges in Sitting Meditation

Dealing with physical discomfort, including tips for adjusting posture and using cushions or props;

Managing distracting thoughts and emotions, including techniques for acknowledging and letting go of thoughts and emotions;

Developing a sense of discipline and commitment to the practice, including strategies for staying motivated and overcoming resistance.

Cultivating a Daily Meditation Practice

Establishing a regular meditation routine, including choosing a time and place to meditate;

Creating a supportive environment for meditation, including minimizing distractions and

cultivating a sense of calm and serenity;

Integrating meditation into daily life, including using mindfulness techniques throughout the day and finding ways to maintain motivation and commitment to the practice.

This section of the curriculum provides a detailed exploration of sitting meditation, including the basics of posture, breath, and mental focus, as well as different techniques and strategies for overcoming challenges and establishing a regular practice. It emphasizes the benefits of a daily meditation practice, including stress reduction, improved focus and concentration, and increased self-awareness.

Walking Meditation

The Basics of Walking Meditation

Posture, including how to stand and walk with stability and balance;

Breath, including techniques for coordinating breath and movement;

Mental focus, including techniques for staying present and aware of the body and surroundings;

Practice and consistency, including integrating walking meditation into daily life and balancing it with sitting meditation.

Different Techniques for Walking Meditation

Mindfulness walking, including techniques for cultivating awareness and acceptance of the present moment;

Loving-kindness walking, including techniques for cultivating feelings of kindness, compassion, and goodwill towards oneself and others;

Contemplative walking, including techniques for reflecting on spiritual teachings or concepts;

Walking meditation in nature, including techniques for using the natural environment as a focus for the mind.

Overcoming Challenges in Walking Meditation

Dealing with physical discomfort, including tips for adjusting posture and using supportive footwear;

Managing distractions and external stimuli, including techniques for staying focused on the present moment;

Developing a sense of discipline and commitment to the practice, including strategies for staying motivated and overcoming resistance.

Integrating Walking Meditation into Daily Life

Finding opportunities for walking meditation in daily life, including walking to work, walking the dog, and taking leisurely walks;

Combining sitting and walking meditation for a more balanced practice;

Using walking meditation as a way to cultivate mindfulness and awareness in daily activities.

This section of the curriculum provides a detailed exploration of walking meditation, including the basics of posture, breath, and mental focus, as well as different techniques and strategies for overcoming challenges and integrating walking meditation into daily life. It emphasizes the benefits of walking meditation, including stress reduction, improved physical health, and increased connection to the present moment.

Organizing Meditation Retreats

Introduction to Meditation Retreats

Definition and purpose of meditation retreats

Benefits and challenges of organizing a retreat

Basic components of a retreat, including location, schedule, and content

Preparing for a Retreat

Identifying the purpose and goals of the retreat

Choosing a location and setting up logistics

Creating a retreat schedule and content, including different meditation techniques, talks, and workshops

Preparing for retreatants' needs, including accommodations and dietary restrictions

Facilitating a Retreat

Establishing a retreat environment, including setting expectations and boundaries;

Guiding meditation sessions, talks, and workshops;

Responding to retreatants' needs and challenges, including managing difficult emotions and providing support.

Closing a Retreat

Reviewing the retreat experience with participants;

Offering resources and support for continuing practice;

Reflecting on the retreat and planning for future retreats.

This section of the curriculum provides a detailed exploration of organizing meditation retreats, including the definition and purpose of retreats, the benefits and challenges of organizing a retreat, and the basic components of a retreat. It emphasizes the importance of preparing for a retreat, including choosing a location, creating a schedule and content, and preparing for retreatants' needs. The section also covers facilitating a retreat, including establishing a retreat environment, guiding meditation sessions and workshops, and responding to retreatants' needs and challenges. Finally, it covers closing a retreat, including reviewing the experience, offering resources for continuing practice, and planning for future retreats.

Advanced Meditation Practice

The Basics of Advanced Meditation Practices

The difference between basic and advanced meditation practices;

The benefits of advanced meditation practices, including deeper insight and spiritual growth;

The potential challenges and risks of advanced meditation practices.

Different Types of Advanced Meditation Practices

Insight meditation, including techniques for developing insight into the nature of reality;

Visualization meditation, including techniques for using visualization as a tool for spiritual growth;

Mantra meditation, including techniques for using sound as a tool for spiritual growth;

Koan meditation, including techniques for using a paradoxical question to break through the limitations of the thinking mind;

Other advanced meditation practices, including chakra meditation, deity meditation, and tantra meditation.

Preparation and Safety for Advanced Meditation Practices

The importance of a solid foundation in basic meditation practices;

Finding a qualified teacher and community for advanced meditation practices;

Assessing readiness and suitability for advanced meditation practices;

Taking precautions and seeking support during advanced meditation practices.

Integrating Advanced Meditation Practices into Daily Life

The role of advanced meditation practices in spiritual growth and transformation;

Finding a balance between advanced and basic meditation practices;

Incorporating insights and experiences from advanced meditation practices into daily life and relationships.

This section of the curriculum provides a detailed exploration of advanced meditation practices, including the benefits and potential challenges of these practices. It covers different types of advanced meditation practices, including insight meditation, visualization meditation, mantra meditation, koan meditation, and other practices. The section emphasizes the importance of preparation and safety for advanced meditation practices, including finding a qualified teacher and community, assessing readiness and suitability, and taking precautions and seeking support. Finally, it covers integrating advanced meditation practices into daily life, including finding a balance between advanced and basic practices and incorporating insights and experiences from advanced practices into daily life and relationships.