“Bliss Upon Bliss Upon Bliss: A Deep Dive Into Breath Meditation”

Please Note: As this retreat requires full time participation, it is suitable for those in UK & European time zones. If your time zone will make it hard to attend every session, we invite you to join via Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project Facebook live stream or watch the recordings on Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project’s YouTube channel. We thank you for this consideration.

In this retreat, meditation master Ajahn Brahm will guide us through the Anapanassati Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya: 118), using his own translation. In her evening sessions, Ven Canda Bhikkhuni, a close disciple of Ajahn Brahm, will encourage skilful perceptions that complement and empower breath meditation, such as loving kindness, joy, trust, letting go and contentment. This is a very special “dual Sangha” (bhikkhu and bhikkhuni) led retreat. It includes three sessions of one and a half hours each: a morning and an early afternoon session with Ajahn Brahm and an evening session with Ven Canda.

SCHEDULE (starting at 08:30 on 19th November and ending at 15:00 on 24th November GMT)

08:30 – 10:00 Morning Dhamma talk & meditation with Ajahn Brahm
12:00 – 13:30 Afternoon Session on the Anapanassati Sutta and Q&A with Ajahn Brahm
13:30 – 14:30 Lunch or rest
14:30 – 18:00 Personal practice period
18:00 – 19:15 Tea or Dinner (optional 5 or 8 precepts)
19:30 – 21:00 Short Reflection, Guided Meditation and Q&A with Ven Canda

Registration details here.

More Information:

Breath meditation was the Buddha’s own preferred method of meditation, leading to his Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. Despite its central place in Buddhist practice, clear and comprehensive teachings on the sixteen stages of Anapanassati, leading to liberation of the mind, are very few and far between.

Ajahn Brahm emphasises that the deep meditations, called jhana, are not attainments but “stages of letting go,” realised through careful cultivation of the whole Noble Eightfold Path – a path of ever-increasing joy. In his book “Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond” Ajahn Brahm says: “Meditation is the way of letting go of the complex world outside in order to reach a powerful peace within. In all types of mysticism and in many spiritual traditions, meditation is the path to a pure and empowered mind. The experience of this pure mind, released from the world, is incredibly blissful. It is a bliss better than sex. Effort alone is not sufficient. Effort needs to be skilful. This means directing your energy to just the right places and sustaining it until the task is complete. Skilful effort neither hinders nor disturbs; instead it produces the beautiful peace of deep meditation. The effort is directed to letting go, to developing a mind that inclines to abandoning. One of the many simple but profound statements of the Buddha is that “a meditator who makes letting go the main object easily achieves samadhi,” that is, attentive stillness (Samyutta Nikaya 48.9). Such a meditator gains these states of inner bliss almost automatically. The Buddha was saying that the major cause for attaining deep meditation and reaching these powerful states is the ability to abandon, to let go, to renounce.”

Ven Canda’s teachings emphasise kindness and letting go as a way to deepen samadhi (stillness) and pave the path to wisdom. Her style is warm, engaging and richly informed by the pragmatism of early Buddhist texts. Here is some of the feedback on her teachings: “Your Dhamma talks are unusually good. Substantial, clearly expressed and full of your own insights. You often put a different slant on things which helps the penny to drop. And it’s good that you share your struggles and doubts with us – very helpful and something I think that women are much more often able to do than men. You give us so much!” (July 2020) “It struck me how different your way of teaching is compared to the male Ajahns. You bring more warmth, emotions, and intuition. It’s probably about personality, but I guess also about gender and it just shows how important it is to have diversity amongst spiritual teachers.” (June 2020)

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