Episode 102 :: Martine Batchelor :: Let Go: A Buddhist Guide to Breaking Free of Habits

| February 3, 2012 | 7 Comments

Martine Batchelor

Martine Batchelor

Martine Batchelor speaks with us about her book, Let Go: A Buddhist Guide to Breaking Free of Habits.

Habits. We all have them, most insidiously if we aren’t even aware of them. Fortunately, we’re not stuck with habits, and every moment is an opportunity to have a new and fresh beginning at redirecting our minds, so we can break that cycle of habit formation and continuation.

In support of the weekly meditation practice we’re doing here on the Secular Buddhist Association site, and Meditation Month sponsored by Tricycle Magazine, we thought it might be helpful to speak with one of the prominent meditation teachers, Martine Batchelor. Martine was born in France in 1953, was ordained as a Buddhist nun in Korea in 1975, and studied Zen Buddhism under the guidance of the late Master Kusan at Songgwang Sa monastery until 1984. Her Zen training also took her to nunneries in Taiwan and Japan. From 1981 she served as Kusan Sunim’s interpreter and accompanied him on lecture tours throughout the United States and Europe. She translated his book ‘The Way of Korean Zen’. Following Master Kusan’s death she returned her nun’s vows and left Korea.

She returned to Europe with her husband, Stephen, in 1985. She was a member of the Sharpham North Community in Devon, England for six years. She worked as a lecturer and spiritual counsellor both at Gaia House and elsewhere in Britain. She was also involved in interfaith dialogue and was a Trustee of the International Sacred Literature Trust until 2000.

Martine is the author of Principles of Zen, Meditation for Life, The Path of Compassion, Women in Korean Zen, and Let Go: A Buddhist Guide to Breaking Free of Habits. Her latest book is The Spirit of the Buddha. With her husband she co-leads meditation retreats worldwide.

So, sit back, relax, and have a nice French Lemon Ginger tea.

:: Discuss this episode ::


“Experiences are like cherry on the cake. It’s nice, but that’s not what’s going to make a difference to the habit.” — Martine Batchelor

“As long as we are focusing on the breath we do not feed our mental, emotional, and physical patterns. By returning to the breath again and again we start to dissolve their power. We develop a space between experience and our identification with it, thereby weakening the process that creates habits in the first place.” — Martine Batchelor



Web Links

Music for This Episode

Shakuhachi Meditations

Shakuhachi Meditations

The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez’s CD, Shakuhachi Meditations. The tracks used in this episode are:

  • Shunyata

Tags: , ,

Category: Book Reviews, The Secular Buddhist Podcast

Ted Meissner

About the Author ()

Ted Meissner is the host of the podcast Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science. He has been a meditator since the early 90’s, has been interviewed for Books and Ideas, Mindful Lives, and The Whole Leader podcasts, spoken about mindfulness with various groups including Harvard Humanist Hub, and has written for Elephant Journal and The International Journal of Whole Person Care. He is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist, and is on the Advisory Board for the Spiritual Naturalist Society. Ted’s background is in the Zen and Theravada traditions, he is a regular speaker on interfaith panel discussions, and is interested in examining the evolution of contemplative practice in contemporary culture. Ted teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, where he is the Manager of Online Programming and Community Development.

Comments (7)

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  1. Dana Dana Nourie says:

    Wow, I can’t imagine meditating 10 hours a day for years! Interesting points Martine made over exclusive versus inclusive meditation, especially considering our lifestyle. I like what she has to say about grasping versus releasing and creative engagement. Change and impermance!

  2. stoky says:

    Thanks for this great episode and also thanks for asking my question to all three of them.

    Although there wasn’t a simple/direct answer, I think all answers had a similar point, something like “You just can’t know”.

    Currently, I’m reading a text (Awaken to Truth in Harmony by Aggacitta Bhikkhu), which points out the importance of not beeing attached to your views and your opinions and that emphasizes how important it is to always keep in mind that you might be wrong.

    So, although I haven’t got a final answer, the given answers will help me to keep the question in mind.

  3. Katageek says:

    I liked this episode a lot.

    Creativity is the key to breaking habits and you gain that not by fighting but by flowing and grounding from your practice.

  4. Keren Dar Keren Dar says:

    Thank you for this episode;
    Thank for asking the pertinant questions
    Thank you for the gentle mindful dialogue.

    I got so much from this; questions that I had been asking in the past;
    how I after so many years of practice there was so little change in my negative emotional reactions; especially when the situation was challenging.

    Awareness was not enough.

    To keep my mind heart open to be able to change the method of meditation according to my daily schedule.
    To not get down on myself if I had not been able to sit.
    The creative way of breaking it down into before sleep, and before actually getting up.
    And Gosh! lying down who would have thought.!!!
    All her suggestions are certainly something I can practically do.

    Her take on morals and ethics so pragmatic.

    May you walk in Beauty

    • Candol says:

      keren if you liked this talk with Martine, have a listen to the retreat podcasts with her and stephen on either dharmaseed or upaya.org. They are both such good value. she has a nice talk around the place on creative buddhism too.

  5. Keren Dar Keren Dar says:

    Thank you Candol,

    I have long drive to work on Monday I will be giving this a listen then.

    I tried the what is this? as she suggested.
    and to take it lower, breathing from the belly Wow!

    I had tried the who am I before and it just made the thoughts go round in round in circles for me.

    I was always so ridgid about the meditation before, only sitting up, only in sacred area, blah blah eactly an hour
    and yes I can see it had a value creating a self discipline and it established a silent reference point. but it also had its drawbacks as it had became this practice
    that I found boring, uncomfortable.
    Sometimes did not want to do.

    Glad I have found this website and the different viewpoints on Meditation practice, it has opened it up
    for me made it richer.
    Jason Siff’s viewpoint as well.

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