Talk 1 - Intro

  • Samatha = Calmness, tranquillity
    • Healing potential
    • We fabricate less
    • Insights comes from this state
    • In Samatha you focus on what’s pleasant and calming
    • In Vipassana you work with difficult emotions and sensations
    • A balance of both is optimal
  • Buddha strongly encouraged developing calmness
    • The pleasure of calmness is a pleasure I’ll allow myself
  • The more we develop it, the less needy and greedy we become
    • We also become more available to others
    • Calmness, like other mindstates, is “developable”
      • We are not victim of our environment for our mindstates
  • The Buddha placed a strong emphasis on the 5 ethical precepts

Questioning assumptions

  • Why is there such an emphasis to not control the breath?
    • Is it to let go of the need of control?
    • Developing a breath that feels good won’t really attach us to control
  • To be with things as they are is not the ultimate goal or truth
    • The goal is something much deeper, more radical than that

Talk 2 - How to Work with Hindrances

  • Finding calmness involves working with non-calm states
  • Hindrances affect us in meditation like in our life
    • Expect hindrances to come, they will
    • Working with hindrances in meditation as opportunity to free ourselves from them in our life
  • Hindrances shrink awareness
  • Hindrances may come as a way to distract us from difficult emotions
    • Check in with yourself for that


  • We often don’t even realize our cravings
    • We think “I need this or that”
  • It’s not a pleasurable state to be in
    • Feels like something is lacking
  • Ask yourself
    • ”What is lacking in the present moment?”
  • With practice, pleasure can become so accessible and full that makes craving weaker



  • Most common hindrance
  • Ways to work with it
    • Upright posture
    • Remind yourself why you’re practicing
    • Imagine bright light
    • Give more attention to inbreath (more energizing)
    • Open your eyes or stand up

Restlessness and Worry

  • Literal translation related to guilt over past actions
    • Ethics is an important part of the path
  • Worry can be a habit
    • Depends on some of our beliefs
  • Working with it
    • Focus on outbreath (calming)
  • With time practicing, worry naturally decreases
  • Too focused attention can bring agitation, too little focus can bring torpor


  • Doubting is good in practice
  • This kind of doubt is paralyzying
    • Often doubt in oneself’s ability
    • Or doubt in the teaching or practice
      • Can be useful but not during the practice
  • More subtle (less physical) than other hindrances

Talk 3 - Developing Samatha

  • Concentration not a good translation

    • Gives a sense of one-pointedness of awareness
    • It can also be very expansive awareness
  • Not giving in urges in practice we develop non-reactivity in life

  • Samatha creates fertile soil in our mind for insights

What Helps to Develop Samatha

Resistance to Practicing Samatha

  1. Tightness may come up
    • We can just relax it, bring softness and kindness to the practice
    • Accepting that tightness is there
  2. Relationship with Goals Goals in Spiritual Practice
    • Goals are part of life
      • Can we learn to be in healthy a relationship with goals?
    • Goals can be harmful when/if the diminish our sense of self-worth
      • Can we learn to keep a sense of appreciation of what we have (instead of lacking what we don’t?)?
    • Goals may appear dualistic, some prefer to just abide in the present
      • A true understanding of nonduality would see that even the present moment is empty
  3. Risk of Attachment
    • Most times Samatha doesn’t lead to attachment
      • You can get attached at one level, but as practice deepens that drops
    • Attachment to wanting to live in a nice, comfortable house is ok?
      • Attachment to enjoying meditation is not?
  4. Risk of suppressing difficult emotions
  5. Doubt of usefulness of feeling pleasure