Finding Calm amid Chaos: The Practice of Insight Meditation
Like any skill, our natural capacity for attention and empathy can be developed and sustained through practice. The Tuesday evening insight meditation group is an opportunity to join with others for a brief respite from the stresses of our busy lives. Our meditation practice is grounded in the 2500-year-old teachings of the Buddhist tradition and centered around the cultivation of a kindhearted and mindful awareness of our moment-to-moment experience. By giving ourselves a regular opportunity to pause and reflect we can gradually learn to disengage negative habit-patterns and empower ourselves to meet life’s ever-changing circumstances with greater wisdom and compassion.
Kalyana Mitta Sangha means “community of spiritual friends” in Pali, the language of the oldest Buddhist texts. Often used to describe someone in the teacher role, the term kalyana mitta can refer to anyone on the path of self-knowledge who is a guide, support, or merely co-traveler. Our group began as a “Mindfulness Meditation for Caregivers” class founded in 2005 by Abhaya Sandy Kopka, a Hospice Chaplain then working in Lowell, Massachusetts. Since 2007, we have continued to meet as a peer-supported group on Tuesday evenings at First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Chelmsford. From time to time we are pleased to offer special events including half- and full-day workshops and retreats led by guest teachers.
Abhaya Sandy Kopka is a Hospice Chaplain. She is a graduate of California Pacific Medical Center’s Institute for Health and Healing, Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leader training, and the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies Chaplaincy training. She is a Spirit Rock Endorsed Hospital and Hospice Chaplain and has practiced and studied Vipassana (Insight) meditation since 1989. Abhaya currently lives and teaches in New Mexico but returns to New England from time to time; in her absence the meditation group is facilitated by her senior students.
Ajahn David Chutiko is Vice Abbot of Wat Buddhabhavana, in Westford, Massachusetts. Born in Malden, Massachusetts, Venerable Chutiko was ordained in Thailand in 1996. He conducts weekly English-language Dharma and meditation classes at the temple; he also teaches semi-monthly to a sangha at the Federal Medical Center at Devens. He is committed to interfaith dialogue and teaches frequently in Christian and secular venues in Massachusetts, , and elsewhere. Venerable Chutiko joins the meditation group on the first Tuesday evening of each month. (For additional information on Wat Buddhabhavana, please see the profile on Harvard University’s Pluralism Project web site.)
Doreen Schweizer of the Valley Insight Meditation Society in Lebanon, New Hampshire, has been practicing meditation and yoga since 1969 and teaching in a variety of settings and formats since 1987. She has been a student of Theravadan Buddhism since 1990. Doreen completed the Community Dharma Leaders program through Spirit Rock Meditation Center with Gloria Taraniya Ambrosia as her mentoring teacher and Jack Kornfield as her sponsoring teacher. She is also a Visiting Teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in .
Matthew Daniell is Guiding Teacher at the Insight Meditation Center of Newburyport (IMCN). He has been practicing Buddhist meditation for over 25 years, having studied Zen in Japan, Tibetan Buddhism in India, and Insight Meditation in India, Burma, Thailand, and the United States. His teachers include Munindra, Dipa Ma, Larry Rosenberg, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, and Jack Kornfield. In addition to serving as the primary teacher at IMCN, Matthew also teaches at various retreat centers including the Omega Institute, the Philadelphia Meditation Center, the Insight Meditation Society, Kripalu, and the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center. He teaches Buddhism at the Tufts University Summer School and is a member of the Religious Services Department at Phillips Exeter Academy where he leads meditation groups for students and faculty.