Sally Clough Armstrong began practicing vipassana meditation in India in 1981. She moved to the Bay Area in 1988, and worked at Spirit Rock until 1994 in a number of roles, including executive director. She began teaching in 1996, and is one of the guiding teachers of Spirit Rock's Dedicated Practitioner Program.
Sally has always been inspired by the depth and the breadth of the Buddha’s teaching, as presented in the suttas of the Pali Canon, because the truth and power of the Buddha’s words still speak to us today. Her intention in teaching is to make these ancient texts and practices accessible and relevant to all levels of practitioner, from the very new to the dedicated meditator.
The Buddha's teaching on Dependent Origination are among his most profound and challenging. This teaching clearly shows how ignorance leads to suffering, and implicit in this is the way out of suffering.
The Buddha said that we should be mindful in all four postures – sitting, walking, standing and lying down. We talk a lot about sitting meditation, some about walking and very little about the other two. This session is a guided meditation on standing meditation. Standing can be used as a practice in itself, or as a way to balance energy, especially sleepiness.
Though we receive lots of instructions for our meditation practice on retreats, let’s face it – we spend a lot of time thinking. What do we think about? At the heart of these movements of the mind is answering the questions, “Am I OK?”, “Was I OK?”, and “Will I be OK?” Our obsession with these questions is the cause of a huge amount of restlessness. Restlessness is one of the major hindrances to calming the mind and deepening our meditation, and can be seen as both the cause and the effect of all the other hindrances. The Buddha also talked about this kind of thinking, and called it unwise attention that leads to all kinds of suffering. We need to look at the core issues that lead us to dwell on these questions if we are to create a more skilful relationship to our thoughts.
The practice of metta is powerful and challenging because it works on so many levels - the personal, the relative and the transcendent. Opening to all these levels and being willing to work with whatever arises makes this practice deeply transformative.