What Does the Course Involve?
This is a 6-unit course. You are invited to study at your own pace and will retain access to the course for as long as you need. Each lesson will offer roughly 45-60 minutes of video teachings. There will also be prompts for reflection, optional quizzes, FAQs, and a communal discussion board. As part of your training, Sharon will suggest at-home practices and contemplations and a program of guided meditations for you to explore from unit to unit.
Unit 1 | Ethics as a Source of Self Respect
Ethical conduct is inherently worthwhile but it also turns out that respecting others lays the foundation for our own happiness. How we act and how we speak to people is not separate from the rest of our life, including what we encounter in our meditation practice. In the first unit, Sharon will show how ethical conduct supports a healthy view of ourselves and, in doing so, supports our meditative development.
Unit 2 | The Five Precepts
The Buddha recommended that lay practitioners abide by five simple guidelines. These precepts protect the mind from turbulence and remorse that can easily derail meditation. They also provide us with an opportunity to reflect on our values and to train our self-discipline in ways that gently support our wellbeing.
Unit 3 | Concentration
Attention has become a rare commodity in the 21st century. Our minds are pulled in all directions by technology, family commitments, and work. However, we can learn to gather our scattered mental energies and settle them, find tranquility, and empower ourselves to take action. Steadiness and clarity of mind can be pleasant and peaceful in their own right but they also give our minds the focus and energy to look at the nature of our experience unequivocally. Sharon explains how concentration arises and can be cultivated.
Unit 4 | Mindfulness
The ability to really know what it is we are experiencing is a critical ingredient for deep insight to arise. For all the attention mindfulness has received in recent years, the qualities and purpose of this mental factor often remain mysterious. Mindfulness essentially involves a clean and clear perception that is not distorted by bias. Rather than ruminating on fears from our personal history or drifting into the future, we see life as it is in the present moment. Sharon will help us understand and apply mindfulness as we bring receptivity and a kind, curious awareness to our practice.
Unit 5 | The Three Characteristics
Wisdom unfolds naturally when we see clearly. Through mindfulness, the Buddha saw that all experiences have three characteristics. Seeing these characteristics for ourselves is decisive. We begin to loosen up. We don't take life quite so personally. Sharon explains the significance of these characteristics and how they free us.
Unit 6 | A Life of Wisdom
With these insights, we see so much more of who we are and how connected we are to others. This inevitably leads to the development of greater love and compassion in our lives. And this feeds back into our ethical lives in a virtuous cycle. So in committing ourselves to this path, we must decide how we will live. How will we show up for others? Toward what purpose will we work? How will we embody wisdom and lovingkindness in our lives?