Andrea Fella is the co-teacher at the Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Retreat Center. She has been practicing Insight Meditation since 1996, and teaching Insight Meditation since 2003. She is particularly drawn to intensive retreat practice, and has done a number of long retreats, both in the United States and in Burma. During one long practice period in Burma, she ordained as a nun with Sayadaw U Janaka. Andrea is especially drawn to the wisdom teachings of the Buddha. Her teachings emphasize clarity and practicality. Andrea is a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, and teaches residential retreats for IMC and other retreat centers around the country
This talk was given as a part of the series "Where Rubber Meets the Road: A Series on Mindful Living." When we start to meditate, we notice how much our body and mind influence each other. In the teachings of the Buddha, he highlighted a quality of mind at which this point of connection between body and mind happens. It's a factor in the mind he called "intention" or "volition." Intention or volition is a mental urge that impels us to act. Every action that we do of body, of speech, of mind, has this impulse that precedes it. With practice, it is possible to see this urge or impulse. With an intention to act comes motivation -- the reason why we are going to do something or say something. The Buddha said that this is an interesting place to pay attention to, because when we are not aware of our motivations, our habits of mind (such as greed, aversion and delusion) are choosing our motivations for us, and often those habits are not so helpful. So at this moment of choice when we have this intention to act, the motivation that accompanies that intention is what will either lead us down the path towards more struggle in our lives, or lead us down the path towards more happiness in our lives.
The eight fold path is often emphasized as the set of practices that support us to reach liberation. It is also described as being the" possession" of those who are liberated. So we can understand that in our practice of the eight fold path, we are emulating those who are free.
The Buddha clearly described how suffering (dukkha) comes to be in the teaching of dependent origination. Understanding this teaching helps us to recognize this process at work in our own minds, which allows mindfulness and wisdom to begin to uproot the fundamental cause of dukkha: ignorance.