While the Abbey community is in meditation retreat January through March, you can join us in the Retreat from Afar. This year we’ll meditate on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness. At-home meditators commit to do at least one session each day and receive weekly materials via email to support your practice. Learn how to sign up on the Retreat from Afar page and prepare for your retreat with the resources below. The retreat begins January 6.
The Four Establishments of Mindfulness
This year’s retreat focuses on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, which includes a range of different meditations. The practice gives a solid foundation for beginners and offers the breadth to lead all the way to liberation.
The four establishments of mindfulness are meditation practices that focus on four objects: body, feelings, mind, and phenomena — both our own and those of others —with a Mahayana motivation.
With this practice, we develop concentration and nurture renunciation and bodhicitta, strengthening our bodhisattva commitment to attain buddhahood as quickly we can.
Throughout the retreat, we’ll go step by step with Four Establishments of Mindfulness, and you can adapt your personal practice to your level of experience.
Preparing for Retreat from Afar
It is helpful to prepare for retreat before it begins by familiarizing yourself with the practice.
An excellent resource to begin your studies of the four establishments is Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps, Volume 4 of the Library of Wisdom and Compassion. Chapters 11 through 13 provide a detailed map of how to understand and practice the four establishments.
The value of your time in retreat is directly related to the level of your preparation beforehand.
January 4 we’ll offer two Retreat from Afar orientations on Zoom: 9 am & 6 pm Pacific Time. You must register to attend.
Teachings on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness
Study teachings by our resident teachers, Venerable Thubten Chodron and Venerable Sangye Khadro
- Venerable Sangye Khadro gives a 12-part series with an emphasis on mindfulness of breathing and mindfulness of the body. These one-hour classes include guided meditations.
- Venerable Thubten Chodron gives in-depth instruction from both the Pali and Sanskrit traditions. This 26-part series of 1-hour teachings adds interesting points brought up in Gyalwa Chokyi Gyaltsen’s A Presentation of the Establishment of Mindfulness.
- Venerable Thubten Chodron gives a 6-part overview with Russian translation. Now includes video.
- Venerable Sangye Khadro’s teaching includes including guided meditations, taught within her series on the 37 Harmonies with Enlightenment. Watch videos #1-10.
- Venerable Thubten Chodron teaches a 9-part series of 1- hour classes to explain how the Four Establishments of Mindfulness are presented in Chapter 9 of Shantideva’s Engaging in the Bodhisattva’s Deeds.
- Read: Sutras on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness
- Read: Guide on how to meditate on the 32 parts of the body
- Listen: 7 guided meditations on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness by Bhikkhu Analayo
Each retreat session should include:
- Begin with breathing meditation to settle the mind
- Set bodhicitta motivation
- Follow the practice outlined in the Shakyamuni Buddha Meditation
- Pause after the mantra recitation to practice mindfulness of breathing
- Add analytical meditation on one of the many topics of mindfulness of body, feelings, mind, or phenomena (see resources above.)
- You could also do a glance meditation on the lam rim, such as the Foundation of All Good Qualities or Three Principal Aspects of the Path.
- Dedicate merit
You can find the Shakyamuni Buddha practice here or on our website here. You can also find this practice in Pearl of Wisdom I, which you can find in hardcopy or softcopy.
Download the 2023 Retreat from Afar Manual, which includes an FAQ and week-by-week Four Establishments topic outline.
Join with an online group that practices together daily. See info here under “Connect with Each Other.”