Smithsonian Staff Practice Mindfulness from Western Buddhist monks trained in Thailand

Today (June 30, 2017)  Royal Thai Embassy and Smithsonian Institution’s  wellness program jointly hold dhamma talk on mindfulness and meditation practice for about hundred Smithsonian staff at Ripley Center in Washington.

Marty Arthur, Smithsonian SHAPE gave his introductory remarks on Theravada Buddhist tradition and spiritual practice of Buddhist monks in Thailand who follow extensive 227 rules of conduct.  Living a life of austerity allows forest monastics to simplify and refine the mind and could directly explore the fundamental causes of suffering and inwardly cultivate the path leading toward freedom from suffering and supreme happiness.

Ajahn Pasanno began his teachings by noting on suffer and happiness which are two opposite emotions. Dukka or suffer is the situation of mind that is not normal while Sukha or happiness is the opposite of that feeling. It is undoubtedly that everyone is searching only for Sukha. It is not wrong to search for it but mindfulness is not about making or searching happiness, it is all about aware in both happiness and suffer.

Many people usually control their mind not to think when meditating. They extensively focus on their breath, which should not be done as it is too rigid.  Peace is something we could not control. Mind is a cycle and all you should do is aware of it and let it flow. The habit of cycle is when you “acknowledge” something, your mind will “feel” and then “react”. If you have the mindfulness, you could know that habit and notice the “choices” before reacting or feel.

As mind is a cycle always rolling, if you look through your mind by focus on beautiful stuff, your mind will fascinate. If you focus on disgusting stuff, your mind will disgust. That’s the reason to focus your breath as it is neutral which could set the mind into most neutral cycle and make it easier to learn the cycle.