Sharon Allen is a long time practitioner and teacher of mindfulness meditation and different forms of movement. She taught Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for many years. Sharon leads several on-going meditation groups that explore spiritual development through meditation, study, and reflection. Sharon encourages the integration of mindfulness in dealing with life’s ever-changing events. When it is suitable, Sharon offers the movement practices of Tai Chi and Qi Gong to enhance mindfulness. These movement practices can be adapted and are beneficial for people with varied physical capabilities.
Sharon Allen gave the third talk in a four-week series titled "Cultivating Mindfulness". She discussed the place for skillful thoughts in meditation, and why knowing how to foster mindfulness in thinking is an important foundational practice for any meditator.
Sharon Allen gave the second talk in a eight-week series titled "Seven Factors of Awakening". She discussed how the power of investigation is essential to letting go of harmful states of mind and to nurturing beneficial states of mind. When we know this for ourselves, we attain increased confidence in the path and are prompted to put more energy into our practice and understanding. This puts us on the path to liberation.
This talk by Sharon Allen is the second in the speaker series entitled "Doorways to Insight." Sharon talks about unsatisfactoriness, which is one of three characteristics of experience. The Pali term for unsatisfactoriness, or suffering, is dukkha. Some examples of dukkha are physical pain, mental stress, sorrow, and despair. It is caused by clinging to things that will change, and/or wanting things to be other than the way they are. It can be liberating to recognize dukkha for what it is.
This is the fourth talk in a speaker series titled Ethics, Action, and the Five Precepts. This precept deals with abstaining from sexual behavior that causes pain, suffering or injury to others, including sexual activity that is damaging to relationships. Looking at our behavior in relationship to the precepts, they protect us and others from harm. The precepts are not commandments, but rather training rules that support our spiritual development and the quality of our personal character. They are how an awakened person acts through intention, sensitivity, and a pure heart. They are principles to live by.
This talk was given as a part of the series "Where Rubber Meets the Road: A Series on Mindful Living." This talk described what helps us to stay motivated in our meditation practice, and the importance of knowing ourselves inside and out as a part of that motivational factor.
Cultivating the faculty of wisdom is an important element for our meditation practice to deepen. Through a sincere meditation practice and understanding of the Four Noble Truths, deep presence and clarity arise enabling us to discern firsthand the causes of suffering and to engage a remedy for a beneficial resolution. Investigating Right View and Right Intention trains the mind in the development, understanding, and expression of how things actually are. Wisdom comes when the heart and mind are not clinging to nor resisting what is occurring in experience.
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness provide a valuable exploration of the three characteristics—impermanence (annica), unsatisfactoriness (dukkha), and not self (anatta). Mindfulness practice—presence with equanimity—helps us to gain knowledge and insight that nothing can be held onto as permanent, that all experiences are ultimately unsatisfactory, and that there is no fixed self at the heart of all experience. These insights free the mind of all resistance to things being as they are.
Mindfulness of Right Intention is a noble gift which strengthens ethical and mental development. According to the Samma Sankappa sutta, Right Intention carries three main expressions: the intentions of renunciation, good will, and harmlessness. These intentions counter desire, ill will, and harmfulness. By directing our meditation practice toward Right Intention we increase our ability to see with greater wisdom and act more skillfully in daily life. The mind and body are more at ease in the world.
As human beings, our developed higher functioning mind can think, reflect, and observe how we add mental preferences of liking, not liking or feeling indifferent to what is occurring. This talk explores how our emotional responses to experience can—and surely must—be part of a path to liberation. Emotions do not have to derail us from an intention to free the mind from struggle. By skillfully engaging a mindfulness practice we can break down our experience into smaller, more manageable pieces to free ourselves from the tangle of desire and craving for things to be as we want them, rather than how they are. We find liberation within the emotional landscape.
Compassionate living (Karuna) requires a willingness to open to suffering. This meditation is part of a five week series on compassion given at IMSB. Each class emphasized the different elements of the practice.