I took Meditation in Everyday Life as my third Shambhala class although it is the first in the series The Way of Shambhala. While it would be better to take it first, I thought the class was valuable even though I wasn't quite a beginner anymore. Since you never really master meditation, it always helps to be reminded of the basics.
The class runs for 5 weeks in the evening at the Burlington, VT Shamabhala Center but might be a weekend program at your local sangha. The readings for the class are from Turning the Mind Into an Ally and Shambhala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior. There were three articles provided from the magazine Shambhala Sun: Meeting Pain with Awareness by John Kabat-Zinn which talks about managing pain with meditation, Mindfulness of Mind by Michael Stroud who addresses treating depression with meditation, and Mindful Society by Andrea Miller who talks about how meditation is being used in five different areas of American society: health, caregiving, organizational leadership, teaching, and prisons. The three articles can be found by clicking on the links above. The readings provided a solid foundation for starting a mediation practice, showed how it can work for your life and demonstrated some of the benefits of meditation.
The class covers how to get to the cushion and what to do when you get there. Each class is structured to have some lecture, plenty of time for questions and some activities to demonstrate the teaching. We had very good discussions on topics such as the correct posture and whether to keep your eyes open or closed. We also got to bring up all those feelings we have and found that everyone in the room was having a similar experience. It seemed that everyone had a hard time focusing on their breath and everyone got uncomfortable or their feet fell asleep. It was really helpful to hear that you aren't alone and some tips on how to deal with the issues.
My favorite session was the one titled "Obstacles and Antidotes". This is the information that I wished I had when I started so I would have known better how to handle the inevitable roadblocks. The one that particularly struck home for me was how busyness can be a form of laziness. When you use your list of things to do to procrastinate from sitting on the cushion, it is really is just being lazy. While it may feel like you are getting so much done, the priority has to be on sitting first, then doing the list of things that will still be there when you are done.
To find a class nearby, visit the Shambhala website Find A Center page.
~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com