An Introduction to Calm Abiding Meditation with Michael Bobrowicz
An Introduction to Calm Abiding Meditation with Michael Bobrowicz
For almost everyone, there is some time in the day or week where calm arises. It may be just as one goes to sleep, or in the moment when one notices the sun falling on a flower in the garden; or while having a quiet beer on a Friday night. There is nothing wrong, by the way, with having a beer! But these avenues to calm cannot be practised methodically; they tend to happen randomly, and sometimes the beer just does not do it. We can’t really ‘call them up’ when we need them: for instance when the driver in front cuts us off as we try to enter the freeway.
Calm Abiding meditation is different: we learn it, we practise it in formal meditation, and then it starts to pervade our lives and we can find the calm when we need it. Calmness is difficult to describe because it is neither a thought nor an emotion, but is perhaps a state of consciousness that contains both thought and feeling. We do know it well by its effect. With calmness present we can deal better with untoward events, we are less blown about by outside forces, and importantly, we are less stressed by what does arise around us.
Most of us do not live in monasteries full time, but instead live in a world where road accidents, blocked sewers, unpaid bills, crying children, irritating relatives, angry bosses or complaining customers, even storms, floods and fires, continually happen around us. Our lives are bombarded with input, much of which we do not choose, and some of which we choose but wish we could do without – like when the mobile phone rings right at that moment when what we needed was a cup of tea and a break.
Calm Abiding will not stop those outside events happening but it can help us determine how we experience them and how we respond. Calm Abiding is a form of mind training. It is not a passive state where nothing happens. We are not trying to emulate rocks: we move, we breathe, we think and we feel. This is an active calm where we are engaged with the body and with all five physical senses.
Most people decide to learn this practice because there is not enough peace in their lives. The good news is that it will give us that peace, piece by piece. It will make us smarter because it teaches the value and skill of taking a pause before acting, and of considering before we speak: “Do I really need to say that?” so that we make fewer of the mistakes which can throw us into regret and inner turmoil. Fifteen to thirty minutes of practice each day, over time, can help achieve this.
The meditation is not complex and one does not need any previous experience or ‘special’ skills. If I were to use just one word to describe it I would use the word ‘practical’. It works for busy people with jobs and families.
Once established it can also benefit the people around you: your friends, partner, children, parents, work colleagues, even people you meet in the supermarket. As we become calmer, we react less strongly when others are in less fortunate states of mind. We more easily recognise the danger of those states for ourselves and how easy they are to fall into; we learn to guard from falling into those states; and we know how to find the calm state of mind. So we begin to be an asset to ourselves and all those we meet.
It also has a third benefit: when we practice Calm Abiding we remove the obstacles to Insight. Becoming calmer, we have stillness, quiet and peacefulness and this allows our own self-reflective consciousness to come to the forefront. Insight does not come from outside ourselves. As we develop self-reflective consciousness, our inner voice speaks to us and being calm, peaceful, and still, we can now hear what it says.
The course will run over 10 weeks. The meditation is broken down into small steps which are easy to learn and practise. The emphasis will be largely experiential including regular practice at home and opportunities for feedback. We will take a detailed look at posture, body scan, visualization, pain and other obstacles as well as mindfulness in everyday life. The course is suitable both for beginners and for experienced meditators with an interest in a systematic approach.
Anyone who has completed the course previously is most welcome to attend again.
It does require a commitment both to attend the classes and for the period of the course to try out the meditations at home between classes. However the time commitment is not designed to be arduous and takes into account that most people who will be enrolling for the course have busy lives.
The meditation is borrowed from the Sakya school (one of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism) and is traditionally taught to monks and nuns as the foundation of all meditation practice. However it has been adapted for people living busy modern lives.
Michael Bobrowicz has been studying Buddhist meditation and philosophy for more than 25 years. He has a degree in Western philosophy and in Drama. He studied for over 20 years with the Venerable Namgyal Rinpoche. Having worked in private enterprise, owning companies, and in the public sector managing waste and recycling for the city of Brisbane, Michael has a good understanding of how to integrate meditation with a busy career. Stepping out of the workforce in 2006, he studied and did long retreats with the Venerable Cecilie Kwiat. Michael loves meditation and is keen to share that love with other people, “I try to work from experience, which in my case is very ‘nuts and bolts’ based on what I learned from long silent retreats; how to meditate and why, has been very important to me. I was lucky enough to have teachers who not only loved meditation but had the skill to explain why they loved meditation. My aim is to try to show people what a joy meditation can be.”
Dates: 21, 28 Aug, 4, 11, 18 Sept, 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 Oct (10 classes). Note no class on the public holiday on Monday 25th Sept.
Time: 7.30pm -8.45pm
Bookings: As this is a series, please plan to be present for every class. Bookings are required please register your interest in attending by emailing Debbie Milianku: email@example.com
Cost: By dana. Class cards are not applicable for this class. Dana is often taken to simply mean donation or gift. Dana is a Buddhist teaching about generosity of spirit or the sharing of blessings, the aspiration to generate health and goodwill in all the cycles of giving and receiving; the transactions of daily life. In reflecting on the practice of dana one begins to understand the interdependence of life. Traditionally, dana is a gift that supports the livelihood of the teacher and his family. In turn the teachings offered are to support you in meeting life with wisdom and compassion. Each participant arrives at the amount of dana voluntarily. Teachers of the Dharma are supported by considerate donation. Following Buddhist tradition, Michael charges no fee for teaching and will distribute the dana to support others. It is customary to offer dana at the beginning of the class (there is usually a bowl at near the entrance). Giving prior to the teaching supports the experience of openness and generosity.