What I most love in my teaching practice is seeing students become dedicated to their own liberation. As their spiritual practice matures, people light up from within when they begin to understand that personal freedom is possible. This commitment to freedom on the part of the student inspires me to find ways to express my deepest understanding and enthusiasm for liberation.
The mindfulness teachings of the Buddha are among the more direct, practical meditation techiques that we can cultivate. My focus is on sharing these practices in an accessable, down-to-earth way. How can we disengage from our habits of responding to the world through veils of confusion, greed, and hatred?
Mindfulness practice helps us recognize when we are responding to the world from the mental and emotional habits that obscure our true home, our radiant nature, which manifests as compassion and love. The Buddha's teachings show us that we are not isolated individuals who need to live defensive lives. Rather, we can learn to trust and live from our full potential as compassionate members of a connected planet.
Catherine began meditating as a teenager and traveled to India in her early twenties. Upon her return she became a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and co-founded The Lomi School, one of the first teaching collectives to create a holistic approach to eastern spirituality and western psychology and to develop mind-body therapies commonly practiced today. After discovering Buddhism in the 70's, Catherine began practicing Vipassana meditation and later taught at Lomi-Vipassana retreats in Yucca Valley, along with Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and Robert Hall, when residential retreats began in the West coast. She enjoys being a guest teacher at Spirit Rock, conducting a weekly mindfulness-based meditation group in Mill Valley, California and sharing her love of the dharma - the blessing of a lifetime. Catherine loves working at the intersection of psychology, spirituality, somatics and the meditative arts.
In addition to her private practice in integrative psychology, she creates guided meditations for meditators and customized guided meditations for individuals and couples - personalized audio recordings designed to stabilize the mind, open and soften the heart, ground the body in the present moment and examine a problem or challenging transition through a psycho-spiritual lens. For more information please visit: http://www.catherineflaxman.com
Christiane is a mindfulness, Vipassana and MBSR teacher. Her focus is on the intersection of traditional Vipassana and secular mindfulness. She is a co-guiding teacher of Insight LA and is currently in teacher training with Jack Kornfield et al.
What I teach is a reflection of the constantly changing nature of my own practice. When I give a talk it is not a set agenda, but something that I've been reflecting about. The talks tend to be in rhythm with my own practice.
At the moment, I'm reflecting on the interplay of the personal and the non-personal, on aloneness and intimacy, on emptiness and embodiment. This process of reflection is a slow one. I hold a question in the background of my consciousness and then prepare to be surprised, to see what actually arises.
I enjoy the dharma a great deal. I try to convey that meditation practice is not a pathway of endlessly overcoming obstacles, but also a path of tremendous joy. It brings a great deal of profound truth to people's ability to find happiness. I have great faith in the Dharma, and a bottomless faith in people's capacity to be wise.
The ancient traditions of Buddhism are as relevant today as they were 2,500 years ago because people's capacity for getting themselves into trouble, for confusion, alienation and separation is not so different from Buddha's time. Vipassana, then and now, offers people an opportunity to transform themselves, and in so doing, transform the world around them.
My engagement in teaching the dharma, to point to a free and liberated life, has remained the same since the first day I started. It is my unwavering commitment to inspire people that such a life is accessible to us all, here and now. This is what sustains me and gives me enthusiasm.
With contemporary language, I endeavor to address the depth of the Dharma, to go into the inner experience by using one of the contributions to the great wheel of the dharma, insight meditation. Insight meditation is a respectful and healthy practice. It gives us meditation techniques which, when practiced, lead to real insight into the whole of existence as well as our life in particular. It speaks to what it means for us to be a part of this world.
I also pay attention to the breadth of the Dharma by attempting to address every possible life endeavor, leaving no stone unturned: materialism, consumer culture, livelihood, environmental resources, love and respect for sentient beings, relationships, all the issues of daily life.
Most important for me is to keep the priority and focus on striving to live the awakened and liberated life and not be sidetracked by any particular feature, no matter how noble its contribution. A liberated and awake life is the center of the Dharma, and I find that I am simply unable to settle for anything else.