When I signed up for the Level 1 class, I wondered how much I would get out of it since I had taken three classes already at the Shambhala center in Burlington, VT. I don't know what I was thinking because you don't master meditation in three classes. I had nothing to fear, there was plenty for me to learn. This is one of those activities that you don't master, it just keeps getting better. And, three classes is just scratching the surface of what the curriculum has to offer.
I had been in a bit of a slump with my meditation, struggling every day to focus and wondering when it was going to come together again. While I know distraction is normal, often I couldn't get past one breath before I was on to another thought. It was a major accomplishment when I could count to 3 breaths. I thought that a class might get me back on track. Fortunately, I was right.
The class started and ended with two separate evening sessions that were part teaching and part discussion. The first talk was on how laziness causes depression (not in the clinical sense but as far as loss of energy, feeling down, etc).
In the middle was an all-day session on Saturday. It included a lot of meditation practice where we put the teaching into action. After lunch, we had individual interviews where we talked to the teachers in private about how it was going and got instruction on posture. In my interview, the teacher told me not to worry if my mind wandered, it is the coming back part that is most important. While I know this bit of information, it still made a big difference to have a master meditator tell me again that it's ok.
During the interviews the rest of us meditated, alternating sitting and walking. The time went fast but it was almost two hours of meditation broken up only by the interview. Due to time constraints, I am a sprinter not a marathon runner when it comes to meditation so long sessions are a treat. While it was certainly challenging, I think it was the most powerful part of the class for me. Through that long meditation I ran the gambit going from total synchronicity to total scatterbrain. In the last half hour it was difficult for me to sit still. In the end, all the struggle of the session paid off. The next day, I had the best meditation in months and felt a new alignment of my mind and body that wasn't there before. It inspired me to step up my sitting to a half hour each day from 10 minutes. The half hour is enough time to go through a little struggle and it seems to be working my mind harder.
~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com
Visit the Shambhala website for more information on Shambhala Training class Level I