Focused Attention Meditation: Samatha

Course Description

In this course, Tina Rasmussen provides in-depth material on the “Focused Attention” category of meditation, which includes Samatha, and teaches a variety of Samatha meditation techniques as taught in the Pa-Auk Sayadaw lineage. Focused Attention meditation is the foundational practice category in many traditions, and it is necessary for a deeper investigation of the nature of consciousness and the purification of the mind. Tina starts with a detailed overview of Samatha from the perspectives of its evolution, reasons to practice, stages, and what is being cultivated. She further provides in-depth instructions and guided meditation sessions for the foundational practice of Samatha, walking Samatha meditation, Samatha with counting, and advanced Samatha. Tina dives into the jhana, its factors and provides tools we can work to cultivate the jhana factors. And to complete the course, Tina provides ways we can work with common mistakes and challenges that arise during the Samatha practice and provides suggestions for integrating Samatha training within daily life.

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Course Lessons

1. Samatha Practice Overview

In this lesson, Tina provides an overview of the focused attention category of meditation practices. She sets the larger context for the focused attention meditation category, covers the qualities we cultivate in this category and provides an overview of Samatha practice.

2. History of Samatha Practice

In this session, Tina provides a brief history of Samatha practice and its evolution through the different traditions. She concludes the session with an overview of factors that make Samatha a compelling practice.

3. Reasons to Practice

In this lesson, Tina discusses the four reasons to practice Samatha, including serenity, concentration, purification of the mind, and thinning of the sense of self. She deep dives into each one of them and explains how we develop those skills through the practice of Samatha.

4. The Stages of Buddhist Practice

In this lesson, Tina talks about Samatha in the context of the path within Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism. She covers in detail the four stages of the path: Sila- wholesome living, Samatha – purification of the mind, Vipassana – purification of the view/perception, and Rigpa – self-transcendence.

5. What is Samatha Meditation

In this lesson, Tina dives deeper into the Samatha practice. She starts with a view of Samatha through the lenses of transformation and transcendence, talking about transformation elements such as working with our personality, conditioning, patterns, and hindrances as well as transcendence elements such as experiences of our deeper nature. She then continues with an initial set of guidelines and instructions for the Samatha practice and concludes the lesson with common mistakes and pitfalls and different ways to troubleshoot them.

6. Posture Instructions

In this practice session, Tina covers the topic of posture in the sitting Samatha meditation, providing detailed instructions from top to bottom that includes the base, legs, low back, hands, head, tongue, and eyes, and pointing out common mistakes that we should avoid.

7. Guided Foundational Samatha Practice

In this lesson, Tina conducts guided Samatha meditation. She starts with a brief overview of instructions related to the object of attention, posture, and supporting elements to maintain concentration. This section will serve as an instruction for us to practice Samatha on our own.

8. What is Concentration

In this lesson, Tina explains the meaning and phenomenology of concentration in the context of Samatha practice. She provides an overview of the three stages of concentration – momentary access and absorption, access concentration, and absorption concentration (jhanas) , as well as a detailed explanation of each and ways of progressing through them.

9. Working with Hindrances

In this lesson, Tina starts the topic of hindrances and provides an overview of them from the lenses of our personalities and patterns. She gives detailed instructions and guidelines on how we can recognize the hindrances in our practice and ways we can work with them in the context of Samatha practice.

10. Defilements and Hindrances

In this lesson, Tina continues the review of the hindrances and defilements from the traditional Buddhist perspective. She discusses different ways hindrances and defilements can arise in the Samatha practice, provides a range of antidotes and ways of working with them, and concludes with the topic of balancing energy and concentration in practice to avoid sleepiness and the “sinking mind” states.

11. Difference between Samatha and Vipassana

In this lesson, Tina talks about the differences between Samatha and Vipassana meditation categories. She explores this topic from a variety of lenses, including objects of meditation, what is being cultivated in each category, and how Samatha purifies the mind while Vipassana purifies our view/perception.

12. Guided Walking Samatha Meditation

In this practice session, Tina provides instructions for the walking Samatha meditation and closes the lesson with demonstration and guided walking practice. This section will serve as an instruction for us to practice walking Samatha meditation on our own.

13. Purification of Mind

In this lesson, Tina talks about another way of understanding the Purification of Mind process – through the lenses of transformation and transcendence. She starts with transformation elements of the journey that relate to working with our personality, conditioning, patterns, and hindrances and then moves to transcendence elements of the journey that relate to the experience of our deeper nature. In addition, Tina covers the stages of transformation and transcendence, including the presence of triggers and defense mechanisms, absence of hindrances, and arising of the jhana factors.

14. Jhana Factors

In this lesson, Tina deep dives into the topic of Jhana factors. She starts with an explanation of the five jhana factors: concentration/absorption – applied attention (vitakka), sustained attention (vicara), joy or rapture (piti), bliss or happiness (sukha), and one-pointedness (ekaggata). Tina discusses how these factors tend to manifest in our practice and provides tools we can work with to cultivate the jhana factors.

15. Striving and Spiritual Materialism

In this lesson, Tina covers the topics of Striving, Surrender, and Spiritual Materialism. She explains the importance of approaching the path and practice in a wise manner, by dropping our egoic patterns and desires for attainment while bringing our best to practice yet surrendering the results. Tina provides a variety of tools we can leverage to avoid Spiritual Materialism and have a skillful attitude to our practice.

16. Guided Counting Samatha Meditation

In this lesson, Tina conducts guided sitting Samatha meditation with counting. She starts with a brief overview of instructions related to the object of attention and counting to maintain concentration. This section will serve as an instruction for us to practice Samatha on our own.

17. Samatha as a Daily Practice

In this lesson, Tina provides instructions on establishing Samatha as a daily practice and discusses ways to leverage it in conjunction with other meditation practices. She also talks about ways we can integrate the Samatha practice into our day-to-day activities.

18. Wisdom of Samatha

In this lesson, Tina covers the topic of wisdom cultivation in the context of the Samatha practice. Traditionally Samatha is viewed as a meditation category that does not cultivate wisdom.   However, Tina demonstrates how Samatha helps to nurture insights and cultivate wisdom through the lenses of three characteristics of existence: Dukkha (Unsatisfactoriness), Anicha (Impermanence), and Annata (No-self/Not-self).

19. Guided Advanced Samatha Meditation

In this lesson, Tina conducts guided sitting Samatha meditation with advanced instructions. She starts with a brief overview of instructions related to the object of attention and supporting elements to maintain concentration. This section will serve as an instruction for us to practice Samatha on our own.

20. Course Conclusion

In this short session, Tina provides final thoughts about the Samatha practice and guidance for us to keep practicing daily.

Tina Rasmussen

Tina Rasmussen

Tina Rasmussen is a meditation teacher who leads retreats and offers spiritual guidance and mentoring to practitioners worldwide. Her mission as a teacher is to foster awakening and its embodiment in worldly life through the application of authentic, rigorous Buddhist and modern practices.

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