Episode 141 :: Shaila Catherine :: Focused and Fearless with the Jhanas

Shaila Catherine

Meditation teacher Shaila Catherine speaks with us about jhana meditation and her book, Focused and Fearless: A Meditator’s Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm and Clarity.

These days, it seems that there’s a great deal of attention to mindfulness meditation. And there’s nothing wrong with us spending time learning about and practicing under the guidance of a teacher this seventh part of the eightfold path. But we don’t see quite as much attention given to the eighth part, which is most deeply manifest in the practice of jhana. Why not? After all, it’s not the sevenfold path, it’s the eightfold path.

Think about it. Jhana is the abeyance of the hindrances, a taste of what enlightenment can be right now, in this lifetime. Longing for the pleasures of the senses, and the contrasting ill will, set aside. Physical and mental sluggishness, not an issue. Restlessness and worry, those concerns about the past and future, not on the map as you focus on the present moment. And doubt, the negative kind that doesn’t prompt you to learn, but rather sends you spinning in uncertainty, off the table. How wonderful to experience freedom from the push and pull of our likes and dislikes, the casting forward and backward in time of our minds, and instead being awake and confident right now.

But for some reason, jhana seems to not be a very common meditation for which the aspiring student can find direction, help, and guidance. Fortunately, there are a few teachers, like our guest today.

Shaila Catherine has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience. She has taught since 1996 in the USA, and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand, and completed a one year intensive meditation retreat with the focus on concentration and jhana. She authored Focused and Fearless: A Meditator’s Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity, and Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana, to help make this traditional approach to meditative training accessible to western practitioners.

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


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Music for This Episode Courtesy of Rodrigo Rodriguez

The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez. The track used in this episode is “The Bird of Happiness” from his CD, Traditional and Modern Pieces: Shakuhachi.