Online course in mindfulness of breathing:
a gentle way to develop calm and inner strength
The 2023-2024 course started on Saturday October 20th, and runs through to June with around 30 weeks of teachings. It is possible in principle to join later, up to around February (though the course is currently full unless some people drop out)
While it is best to learn this practice by attending a local class, many people may not be within reach of such a class. We therefore also provide a website-based online class, taught by Peter Harvey, using written and audio material that he has developed in teaching traditional face-to-face classes since 1977, as well as online since 2015. He also teaches an associated live Zoom class that runs on Thursdays at 7.30 pm (UK time), with audio recordings from this class – talk, group discussions and guided practices – also on the course website. The aim is to have a group of people reflectively learning the practice, stage by stage, together, as in a non-online class.
A particular feature of this online class is that each meditator will have weekly one-to-one discussions, usually Zoom or e.g. Skype, or Face-time, with Peter or another Samatha teacher, about how their practice is going, so as to give personal feedback and guidance. Participants can download a week’s teachings at any time during a week, and arrange a mutually convenient time for their one-to-one discussion with their assigned teacher
Joining the course
The course runs from early October through to the end of June. It is in principle possible to join later, as the previous teachings are still available on the website. The teachings lead you through the stages of mindfulness of breathing and introduces aspects of Buddhist theory that are helpful in guiding the practice. It also includes, for example, guidance on lovingkindness (mettā) practice and mindfulness in day to day life.
To register an interest, contact Peter Harvey: firstname.lastname@example.org . When doing this, please say what country you are based in. Where this is the UK, Ireland or the USA, where there are existing Samatha classes, please also include county or state. Please also indicate whether you already do, or have done, a meditation practice, and if so, of what type. While no previous experience is necessary, it is helpful to know what experience people may have.
Our tradition and what we teach
Samatha is a term referring to peaceful calm, developed by cultivating both mindfulness and a concentrated, unified mental state. Samatha meditation ( https://samatha.org/ ) is an effective but gentle way of training the mind to develop inner stillness and strength, and freedom from unhelpful qualities such as aversion and agitation. It produces a happier and more unified state of mind, leading on to clarity and understanding, which can be a basis for vipassanā or insight into the nature of the mind and the experienced world.
Samatha can be developed by focusing on different kinds of calming objects, but breathing is widely used. The systematic stage-by-stage form of mindfulness of breathing that we practise and teach is particularly suitable for those looking for a way to develop meditation and its benefits whilst continuing with the challenges of everyday life. By regular daily practice the chattering, unruly mind gradually becomes calmer and clearer. The way our mind works becomes less confusing to us and we begin to understand the habits of mind that hold us back from happiness and freedom. We become kinder to ourselves and those around us.
The mind sweeps down
What we teach has its roots in the Theravada Buddhist tradition and was introduced to the UK from Thailand in the 1960’s by Nai Boonman Poonyathiro. It has been taught since then, so that there are is now classes across the UK, in the USA, in Ireland and elsewhere, with around 125 teachers.
The Samatha Trust is happy to acknowledge that Peter Harvey is a teacher of meditation within this tradition of practice. At the same time, both the Trust and Peter would wish to make clear that neither the course writings, nor any others, are to be regarded as a ‘definitive’ expression of this tradition. They represent one person’s experience and understanding which he has chosen to make available to others in this way.
Samatha meditation is given freely to anybody wishing to learn. There is no charge for the teaching. We have expenses to cover, though, and Samatha activities are funded by donation. If you you appreciate our teachings and wish to support us, details on how to make donations are here: https://samatha.org/Donations
Our team of teachers
Peter has taught Samatha meditation in the UK since 1977, mostly in Durham and Sunderland and now in York, where he now lives. Before retiring, he was Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Sunderland, where he ran an online MA Buddhist Studies (now taken over by the University of South Wales, using his course materials).
Robert - a meditator for more than 40 years - teaches a samatha meditation class in Wilmslow, Cheshire, UK and theory groups in Manchester. In his professional life he was an English teacher and high school leader
Deven has been practising Samatha for 25 years and currently teaches in Philadelphia. By profession, he is professor of Sanskrit literature and philosophy.
Eileen lives in Southport, a coastal town in NW England, where she teaches a weekly meditation class. She first learnt meditation at the Manchester Samatha Centre in 1997, and has taught it since 2002. Before retirement she was an equality and HR consultant working mainly in the public and voluntary sectors.
Deborah lives in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. She has practised Samatha meditation for 30 years and has been teaching Samatha meditation since 2003. She runs a weekly meditation class in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. She is also a science teacher and high school leader.
Andrew lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. He started meditating with various traditions in Manchester and settled with Samatha around 20 years ago. He works as a teacher trainer at a local college but also still teach mathematics. He is a musician and sometimes plays in a rock band.
Marina lives in Thesaloniki, northern Greece, she learnt Samatha meditation in the UK and has practised it since 1999. She teaches it in Greece and online. She is an Assistant Professor of Religion and Islamic Studies at Aristotle University.
Rosie lives in Bakewell, Derbyshire. She is now retired but used to teach Modern Languages in secondary schools. She has practised Samatha since the late 1970s, and has found it gives her increased confidence and energy.
Sarah started Samatha meditation practice in the 1970s, when she was doing an English literature degree at Manchester University. She has taught Samatha for around 40 years. After moving to Oxford, she learnt Pali and Sanskrit and now writes on Buddhism and teaches Buddhist studies at Oxford University.
Kath lives near Stanley, in County Durham. She learnt Samatha meditation in Durham Cit.in the 1990s, and has taught it mainly in Sunderland since 2010. She was a teacher and until retirement taught children with autism. She also worked as Buddhist chaplain in two prisons, is a trustee at Harnham Buddhist monastery, and works in dog rescue.
Roberta lives in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, where she takes a Samatha class. She came across Buddhism in 1968 at school and after trying various practices on her own joined a Samatha class in 1990. She has practised it since then and taught it for about 15 years. She was a social worker until her mid 50’s then had a change of career, now being retired.
Paul began practicing samatha in 2003 and has been teaching for at least a dozen years. He lives in Chicago