May 27, 2020
In this episode, Wendy speaks with meditation teacher and Buddhist scholar Willa Blythe Baker about her work, and how the body is relevant in meditation. They cover many topics, including:
- the roots of her interest in Buddhism and early experiences of Buddhism in action;
- a research study about meditation and real-world compassionate behavior in which she was involved, and various interpretations of the results;
- how qualities like curiosity and compassion that we develop toward our own mental states in meditation might transfer to others;
- the most relevant outcomes for contemplative scientists to be measuring;
- role of the body in contemplative practice;
- three natural metaphors for what she calls “somatic mindfulness” practice;
- the role of letting go, and the importance of trust and how to foster it;
- implications of these ideas for how we view ourselves, and our interconnection with others and the world around us.
Willa Blythe Baker, PhD is the Founder and Spiritual Director of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Boston, MA and its retreat center Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH. She was authorized as a dharma teacher and lineage holder in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism after twelve years of monastic training and two consecutive three-year retreats. She has also practiced in the Shangpa and Nyingma lineages. She is editor, author and translator (respectively) of three books: The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work (2012), Everyday Dharma: Seven Weeks to Finding the Buddha in You (2009), and Essence of Ambrosia (2005). Her articles and translations have appeared in Lion’s Roar, Buddhadharma, the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, the Tibet Journal and other periodicals. In 2013, Willa completed a doctorate at Harvard University, and was Visiting Lecturer in Buddhist Ministry from 2013 to 2017. At present, Willa writes, teaches, guides meditation retreats and develops curriculum for lay Buddhists interested in cultivating a deep meditation practice in daily life. Her teaching interests include embodied mindfulness, non-dual awareness and compassion. She is currently writing a book on somatic mindfulness.
Retreat Center: wonderwellrefuge.org
Book: Everyday Dharma: Seven Weeks to Finding the Buddha in You
Book: The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work
Research study from the episode: Meditation Increases Compassionate Responses to Suffering
Meditations: available via Insight Timer