English Group Practice Online

Weekly Mondays 7:15pm - 9:30pm

 

"Meditation is not a part-time occupation. It's not a pastime. It's something we need to integrate into our lives so that it is always there. Because the mind is like a zero-sum game. It's either positive or negative." - Sayadaw Tejaniya, Every moment is time to meditate

Welcome to the HKIMS Monday evening English speaking group practice

We are an English speaking group of established meditators who meet every week to listen to dharma talks, learn from established teachers, take part in formal silent self-practice, as well as to share and discuss our direct experiences. We are here to support one another in maintaining the practice, whether you are just beginning or have been to dozens of retreats.

We welcome meditators who already have an established practice, as well as beginners who are new to meditation.  If you have never practiced on your own before, please read the notes below.

In line with HKIMS's objectives, this group's primary focus is on practices and teachings relating to Vipassana (Insight) Buddhist Meditation.  We welcome practitioners inspired by all Buddhist traditions, as well as non-Buddhists.

Guidelines For Online Zoom Meetings

We offer these sessions to provide a space for experienced meditators and beginners to support one another through active participation and sharing.  In order to facilitate this, we ask all attendees to adhere to the following guidelines:-

  • Attend on time by 7:15pm, especially if you are new to the group and / or a beginner - this enables the facilitators to give some orientation and introduction before the session commences formally at 7:30pm

  • Enable your device camera - this is particularly important if you are relatively new to the group so that we can support and get to know one another better

  • Update your screen name, so that people know how to refer to you

  • Attend from an environment that is as peaceful and quiet as possible - this is beneficial both to your practice and experience of the session, as it is for other participants

To help enable an open and safe practice environment for all, the host will ensure:-

  • Recording functions within the Zoom platform are disabled for all participants

  • During the silent meditation practice period (usually from 8:15pm - 9:00pm), a "waiting room" function will be activated to put any new joiners on hold until the end of the practice period.

Overview

The group has 3 key areas of focus:-

Practice

The primary purpose of this group is to provide a space and environment for practicing meditation on a regular weekly basis.  We do this as a group of established practitioners, integrating the opportunity to practice each week, as part of our own individual routine practice, paths of discovery, and self-learning.

Learn

In order to support the practice and the path, we also take time to learn from established teachers and from the Buddhist teachings.  We do this through listening to recorded dharma talks by established teachers, or through listening to our own HKIMS teachers in person, as well as raising discussion topics with the group on aspects of our learning.

Beginning August 2020, we have been focusing on a set of talks and resources from Gregory Kramer's Whole-Life Path course.

For information on Vipassana Meditation, visit our Resources section for relevant articles for beginners and experienced meditators.

Share

We seek to foster a close community of fellow practitioners, supporting one another through our journey of exploration and development.  As part of the evening, we will discuss and explore together spiritual teachings as taught by the Buddha, as well as each of our own direct experiences and challenges with ones own practice.

 

NOTE FOR COMPLETE BEGINNERS

We welcome complete beginners who have never meditated before, but we are not usually able to provide in-depth teaching - beginners are very welcome to sit in and listen and take part in the evening where possible.

Once a month the group is lead by a HKIMS teacher, who will be able to offer more instruction and guidance for complete beginners.  For the other weeks, an experienced member of the group can provide an offline 5 min meditation introduction prior to the silent practice session, with a set of basic meditation guidelines made available to beginners to read and try during the 30-45min silent sit. You should be prepared to sit silently during that period, to read any handouts and to try out the guided meditations provided.

 

We encourage you to make the effort to read the meditation instructions here before you attend so that you can get the most out of the evening.

 

We also recommend you explore our website for details of upcoming One-day retreats (led by experienced meditation teachers) as well as other resources and articles for beginners.

Additionally, you may wish to join the Integrated Medicine Institute Monday evening 6:15pm mindfulness beginner's class which is also held online.

Structure and guidelines

We start at 7:15pm on Monday evenings so ask anyone who wishes to join, especially if it is your first time, to make every effort to be on time. This enables us to have some time to do introductions and to better support each other through the session.

 

Please could you also update your Zoom screen name to your actual name or whatever name we can call you (instead for example “Galaxy Tablet” or “iPhone 6”). Also, please enable your camera and prepared to briefly introduce yourself and say hello at the beginning. By doing both of these things, we can maintain a supportive and interactive environment for the benefit of all.

The typical schedule we follow is:-

  • 7:15pm  Orientation for newcomers and beginners

  • 7:30pm  Listen to recorded Dharma talk, or to HKIMS teacher (attending once per month)

  • 8:15pm  Silent practice

  • 9:00pm  Open sharing and discussion

  • 9:30pm  Finish

To jump straight to details of topics and other links from previous weeks, click here.

Frequently asked questions

About the event

I’m an absolute beginner but very interested in mindfulness. Can I join?


Yes, but please note that our Monday night practice group is designed for practitioners who want to maintain practice. We practice as a group practice and we sit in silent meditation for 35 – 40 minutes, as well as discuss the Buddhist teachings. Here are some resources if you’d like to learn how to meditate:

  • retreats and classes organized by HKIMS – remember to join our email list by subscribing at the bottom of this page
  • search online for a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course - an 8-week mindfulness course offered in both English and Cantonese. Highly recommended. Covers all the basics in a gentle and gradual way.
  • 10-day Vipassana Meditation Course by S.N. Goenka
  • Monday Mindfulness for Beginners at 6:15pm at IMI – this is just right before our session at IMI taught by different teachers every week. May not be insight meditation, some are more about relaxation/secular mindfulness.
  • Please see the Beginners section of our Guides and Articles for a detailed mindfulness reading list.




Is there a charge for joining your events?


All HKIMS events are donation based, following the Buddhist practice of “dana,” or generosity. Sharing the Dhamma and meditation guidance are acts of generosity. We encourage you to take the opportunity to offer “dana” to support teachers, ongoing HKIMS retreats/events, and material costs, so we can continue our work to share the dharma. Doing so enables one to uphold the tradition of cultivating ‘giving from the heart’ and ‘friendliness’. Dana-practice is for both the giver and the receiver a moment of reflection and is truly a joyful event. Find out more.




Where can I find the dharma talks you play on Monday nights?


See link to page of all past talks




I’m not buddhist, can I still attend?


Yes, you are very welcome to join. Some regulars are not buddhist either. Anyone from any religion, denomination, race, background and walk of life is welcome to attend. Insight meditation is a technique you can take with you and practice within the belief system you are associated with so there is no question of conversion to Buddhism either.




I’m travelling abroad / leaving Hong Kong / only visiting, are there similar groups elsewhere?


HKIMS is inspired by Theravada Buddhism, Tejaniya’s method of teaching Vipassana and has a similar approach to US-based Insight Meditation Society (IMS) and the Monday night event is a group practice of sitting meditation. With that information, you can search whether there’s a meetup.com event or Facebook group in the country you are interested in or search the web if there is an IMS-like organisation or vipassana group practice there. You can also create your own group practice.




Am I / are we expected to join every week? What if I can’t attend regularly?


Regularity of practice is important in meditation. Although it is a very personal journey, there are benefits in adding a regular group practice to your routine:

  • motivation and re-energising from the energetic vibration of the group which help reduce lapses and demotivation that’s bound to happen from time to time in any individual routine
  • balances out the continuous individual effort of meditating with socialising with and group support from people who are taking a similar path as you
  • and specifically from this group: increase your familiarity with the theoretical concepts that support the practice through the dharma talks, step by step, week after week, and weekly forum available where you can share your experience, concerns and progress or get inspired by other people’s sharing.
Ultimately however, we understand that sometimes or due to the circumstances it is not feasible to join a group practice and that’s Ok.




Can I talk during the event?


During the Dharma talk and the meditation session, we request that you maintain noble silence (i.e: quiet and still your whole mind and body, not just the speech) and turn off any electronic devices such as mobile phones. The last section of the event is a sharing session where you encouraged to share your experience, your thoughts or request for clarification about the Dharma talk, the evening meditation experience, or your mediation practice in general. We request that you speak truthfully when you are sharing and that you practice deep listening (be present, give your whole attention and listen with all your senses, not just the ears) when someone else is sharing.





Online Zoom Guidelines

Can I arrive late / leave early?


For beginners and newcommers, we ask that you try to join at 7:15pm, before our official start at 7:30pm. This is so that the host and other established members can provide some orientation, find out a little about your background and experience, so that we may all support one another more effectively - it is much more difficult to do this and more disuruptive if you arrive after we've started at 7:30pm and after we have in all likelihood already started listening to the dharma talk for that week. For regular members, we ask that you make every effort to join by 7:30pm so that we may start together and minimise disruption to one another. However, we do understand that sometimes late attendance is sometimes unavoidable and if this is the case, please do join when you're able to, bearing in mind the usual guidelines on finding a quiet space and enabling your camera when you do join. Please bear in mind that if you join during the silent practice, usually between 8:15pm and 9pm, the system will hold you in the "Waiting Room" until the end of the practice period. If you are a regular, are unable to attend on time but would like to join the silent sit together, please make sure you join before 8:15pm. We encourage all to stay and share for the discussion and sharing of merits at the end, but if you do need to leave early, that’s okay too. For those who stay to the end of the discussion period at the end of the session, we usually share a whatsapp group link in order to provide the option for the group to continue any discussions and sharing over the following days, via whatsapp.




Why do I need to enable my camera? Can't I just listen in quietly?


The intention of the session is to cultivate a mutually supportive environment that is condusive to practice and sharing for all who attend. This is slightly different to other online classes that perhaps are intended as a broadcast / webinar from a central speaker or teacher to a wide audience. We ask everyone who attends, to do so with their camera enabled so that we may each be more "present" at the session and better connect with one another - this doesn't mean you have to actively engage in conversation or discussion / interaction with one another, even though you are very welcome to during the discussion and sharing at the end should you wish to do so.




What are examples of suitable locations to attend from?


In order for you to get the most out of the session, and to promote a mutually supportive environment for all, we recommend that you attend from a location

  • that will enable you to have a good stable internet connection
  • that is relatively quiet / peaceful and where there is a reduced likelihood of distractions, for you and for fellow attendees
Examples of locations where we do not recommend you attend from:-
  • whilst travelling on the MTR or other forms of transport where the connection is likely to become interupted
  • from a restaurant or bar or whilst trying to eat or drink from a public venue
  • whilst trying to attend to other activities at home or outside




Do I need to mute my microphone when I join?


If you are in a quiet environment with little background noise, you are more than welcome to leave your microphone on throughout the session. In fact by doing so, it will benefit your practice and what you will get out of the session, because it will mean you are less likely to allow yourself to be distracted or attend to something else whilst you are listening / practicing. Alternatively you may also mute your microphone if you wish. Whenever you enable your microphone, please bear in mind if you are using a headset that the headset microphone isn't continually rubbing on clothing as this transmits a loud noise to every participant in the session, and also prevents us from hearing you very well! The host may occasionally mute a prticipant's microphone if there is a lot of background noise being generated from it - participants are always welcome to unmute their microphone as soon as the background noise subsides.





About meditation

What is Insight Meditation? What tradition/method do you practice at your group?


Vipassana, or Insight Meditation, is the practice of observing mind and body processes with intelligent awareness so we can understand things as they really are, typically the three marks of existence: suffering (dukkha), impermanence (anicca), and non-self (anatta), and things as they have come to be (the law of causes and conditions). This is known as wisdom (panna). We practice the four foundations of mindfulness as taught in the Satipatthana Sutta, with special emphasis on open awareness + wisdom popularized by Sayadaw Tejaniya, whose teachings you can find here. You are open to use whatever meditation method you are accustomed to; we ask only that you consider and apply right attitude no matter your meditation object. Many of us come from traditions as diverse as Pak Au, Mahasi, Goenka, Tibetan, among others. We also want to advocate a lifestyle of awareness. As in, mindfulness meditation is not just something you do when you sit on the cushion. We believe in practicing every moment, ideally from the moment we wake to the moment we sleep. If we are only aware here and there, we will not gain real understanding and wisdom. In addition, we also emphasize the many supporting factors of the path – morality, concentration, generosity, kindness, just to name a few – for successful mindfulness.




I would like to meditate but feel very sleepy at night time. What should I do?


You can open your eyes. We believe strongly in the importance of learning to meditate with eyes open, not just closed. We can’t cultivate a lifestyle of awareness by walking around with our eyes closed. Practice the process of “seeing” – a sensory input with no self or identification. More about process of seeing here: Every Moment is Time to Meditate, by Sayadaw Tejaniya




I’m not used to sitting as long as 45 minutes. Do you have any tips?


If you are getting agitated, restless, or upset, check your attitude. Do you want something to happen? Do you want something to stop happening? Don’t focus too hard, don’t control. Neither force nor restrict yourself. Your only responsibility is to be aware of your experience as it is, from moment to moment, with the right understanding: none of this is yours, or under your control. Everything has come to be as it is as a result of past conditions. Every moment is good enough — make that your practice. Remember: Meditating is acknowledging and observing whatever happens —whether pleasant or unpleasant—in a relaxed way. You have to accept and watch both good and bad experiences. You may also find these instructions helpful: Every Moment is Time to Meditate, by Sayadaw Tejaniya Additional comments from practitioner Rija:
When sitting cross-leg during meditation, if your legs becomes numb , it is because the blood flow is partially interrupted by pressure. Don’t worry about it, the leg will come back to normal a couple of minutes after the end of meditation and after relaxing the legs. While uncomfortable, it is not dangerous, especially given the duration of our sitting (< 1 hour). Many people find that these sensations go away with more practice. To reduce their occurrence, you can alternate which foot you put on top at each new sitting. Additionally, to further your stability and also reduce the chance of body part numbness while sitting, it is a good idea to maintain three points of contact with the cushion/mat when sitting: two knees touching the cushion/mat, and the buttock slightly elevated on a cushion. That method only work if you keep your back straight, which is recommended anyway when sitting to keep the air flow fluid and full. If you find difficult to have both knees touching the ground, you can add a rolled up garment, blanket or a cushion underneath the knee for support. All said though, it is ok to quietly change posture whenever the pain becomes unbearable.





Further learning and practice

How can I find out about HKIMS retreats?


See here for details of all HKIMS retreats and events.




I want to learn more about the dharma (Buddhist teachings) Do you have a recommended reading list?


Absolutely! Please visit our Guides And Articles.





 

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