Here is where you will find the summaries of the Thursday sessions, along with links for guided meditations and inspiring talks.   

TMS Session #9

(I didn’t post anything for Session #8)

SESSION #9: March 11 — summary and links

  • Centering/anchoring: Being here now
  • The reading was from Mark Williams’ Mindfulness, from the chapter “Waking up to the Automatic Pilot”. The point here was to notice how often (almost always!) we go through life on automatic pilot, doing one thing but thinking about another. 
  • Metta (loving-kindness) meditation
  • Here is the link to the audio from the lesson:

Guided meditation for the week:

Also from Mark Williams’ Mindfulness

Talk by Rick Hanson 

Recently I have just been eating up Rick Hanson’s talks. He’s been called “Mr. Rogers for grownups”, and that’s true — but he’s also so informative about the science around meditation. Try this one, or any others of his, all over YouTube!

TMS Session #7


  • Opening meditation: body and breathing — here’s the introduction:

No matter what our present situation, we all live most of our life in a trance. In this trance, our minds are constantly being taken away from the present moment, hijacked by the latest plans, worries, judgments, regrets. And though very occasionally, the trance is pleasant, like when an outcome we have long wished for comes true, it’s usually not pleasant. This trance is stressful, and can even feel intolerable sometimes.  Look inside, and see if this rings true for you.  I know it does, otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting here.

The very first words the Buddha uttered after his enlightenment, when he made the decision to share his realization with others, have been called traditionally “the four noble truths”.  The first of these he call the truth of dukkha, which has often been translated as “suffering”, but actually means something a little less extreme, like “unsatisfactoriness” or “unease with what’s present.” Reflect on this. Isn’t it actually comforting to hear, from one of the wisest teachers in all human history, that the stress and emotional difficulties we each encounter every day are absolutely normal, shared by every human being for all time,  and this was the first aspect of the human condition he chose to discuss, 2500 years ago! Not holiness, not sin, not enlightenment, not meditation -- just “shit happens”. We may go into the other truths in some detail someday, but -- spoiler alert here -- the third noble truth is that it is possible to free ourselves from this dukkha. And the path to that freedom flows through the simplest of actions: being aware of the present moment -- accepting, even cherishing, what is right here, right now. So that’s what we’re practicing here in the meditation space.

  • Reading: the poem “Diamonds” by Ingrid Goff-Maidoff

  • Metta

Recording of the session here:

Guided meditation for the week: This one is by Mark Williams, the author of Mindfulness, a Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World. This is a key book for putting meditation into practice. This guided meditation is short — just 8 minutes.

TMS Session #6

SESSION #6: Feb.18 — summary and links

  • Centering/anchoring: Mindfulness of Breath and Body 
  • I continued reading from the chapter “Creative Awareness" from Meditation for Life by Martine Batchelor. 
  • Metta (loving-kindness) meditation
  • Here is the link to the audio from the lesson:

Guided meditation for the week:

This healing breath meditation by Tara Brach takes about 17 minutes.

Talk by Eckhart Tolle 

Eckhart Tolle is one of my favorite figures in today’s mindfulness world — direct, honest, humorous, even impish at times.  His book A New Earth is one of those that I read over and over again. This excerpt is more of an informal talk than a meditation -- indeed, he doesn’t often give very specific meditation instructions. I suggest that after starting out, you move away from the computer and just listen to it, in a comfortable position, with eyes closed, for as long as you wish -- the talk is about 35 minutes but any segment of it can be very nourishing.

TMS Session #5

SESSION #5: Feb.11 — summary and links

  • Centering/anchoring: Mindfulness of Breath meditation
  • in place of I.R.L., I read aloud an excerpt from Meditation for Life by Martine Batchelor. 
  • Metta (loving-kindness) meditation
  • Here is the link to the audio from the lesson:


Dharma talk and meditation:

This is a link to a talk by Rick Hanson. The first 25 minutes are a meditation, then he goes into the talk. The last 30 minutes or so are questions from listeners, and, in my opinion, less essential than his talk, but it's all good. He's able to both connect meditation to the simplest things that we need, and to the more theoretical aspects of brain science.

On Rick Hanson’s website he has guided meditations of different lengths (5 min., 17 min., 28 min.):

TMS Session #4

SESSION #4: Feb.4 — summary and links

  • Centering/anchoring: the body-breath meditation
  • I.R.L.: we discussed how to practice outside our weekly sessions. My advice: let it happen naturally. Try the guided meditation at least once a week, see how it feels to add one or more times. During our I.R.L.s, please feel free to ask and give feedback about this.
  • Metta (loving-kindness) meditation: we added the “neutral” person and the “difficult” person.
  • Here is the link to the video recording:


Guided meditation for the week:

Vidyamala Burch is the author of Meditation for Health and the main teacher at the webpage Breathworks, which always has great links and articles. This beautiful Compassionate Breath Meditation takes only 11 minutes.


Dharma talks: We spoke a bit in the session about the relationship of meditation to Buddhism. Many of the branches and flowers of modern, secular meditation come from Buddhist roots. I see Buddhism more as a “user’s manual for life” than a religion. We may talk about this later -- but for now, be assured that our meditation practice can be done independently of Buddhism or any other historical spiritual/religious tradition, and I am certainly not trying to “convert” anybody. I don’t call myself a “Buddhist”, and I’m sure the Buddha wouldn’t have called himself that, either!  The approach we are taking is easily compatible with many other religions and spiritual traditions, and with atheism and agnosticism. Since, however, many of the great modern Western meditation teachers do come from a Buddhist background, you may find some jargon in their talks: words in Pali (the language in which the first Buddhist scriptures were written) like dharma (which means “truth”, or “way things are”) and our own metta (loving-kindness).


One of my favorite modern teachers is Tara Brach. She has hundreds of talks and meditations available, on the site Dharmaseed and YouTube. I like them all; is one that is especially relevant for what we are doing now in our sessions. Some of the talks have a meditation at the beginning; this one does not. Dharma talks are usually from about forty minutes to an hour long,  and they do have beginnings and endings, but don’t feel you have to listen to the whole thing at once. Just see if it sits well with you — try listening just for a few minutes before bed or as a great alternative to clicking on politics, Facebook, or watching TV! If you like it, you’ll see that there’s much more where it came from . . .


Tara Brach: Awakening our Body’s  Awareness (52 min.)

TMS Session #3

SESSION #3 — 28.1

  • Helena led a body awareness meditation, in the lying position
  • I.R.L. focused on how to respond to the agitated mind during meditation
  • “Dessert” meditation: metta (the Pali word for loving-kindness)

You can view the recording here:


Guided meditation for this week --The Wise Body meditation:

 A body scan in the lying position. Good for the night, either before going to sleep or when you wake up with insomnia. 

TMS Session #2

Summary of the Jan.22 session: 

  • I reminded us of our two main motivations to be here: 
    • to learn the art and science of meditation, as a practical tool to become happier and reduce unnecessary suffering
    • to have a space, a refuge if you will, where every week you can just let go and be in the present moment, with advice and encouragement from a teacher and with support from a group (that literally circles the globe!)
  • Our first meditation used the body and the breath as anchors for our attention.
  • In our "I.R.L" (Inquiry, Response, Listen) interlude, we asked why it is that such a simple activity as focusing the attention on sounds, or on the movements of the breath, can bring a sense of calm and openness in a relatively short time. I will dole out many responses to this question in future sessions, but today we saw that
    • focusing on bodily sensations can give us a taste of freedom from obsessive thinking and worrying 
    • the anchors we use -- sounds, bodily sensations, breath -- all keep us keyed into the present moment, as opposed to thoughts, which take us away into future or past
  • We concluded with a "dessert" meditation of kindness and well-wishing towards ourselves and others.
  • You can see/hear a recording of the class here:

Guided meditation: This week's breath meditation is by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the seminal figure who brought meditation into the secular mainstream:

Try to do it a couple of times before Thursday. And if you didn't get to last week's guided meditation, here it is:


This week's Listening excerpt is very short (under 3 minutes), but it's a perfect explanation of the benefits meditation and mindfulness. The book that this comes from, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, is the gold standard of mindfulness books -- I highly recommend it as an accessory to our sessions!

I will send the Zoom invitation on Wednesday for the Thursday Jan.28 session. Looking forward to seeing you again!

Be well,


TMS Session #1 — Intro

INTRO SESSION 21.1: Summary/info

·      Twenty people were here together, from seven countries, all the way from New Zealand to Baton Rouge, Louisiana!

·      I presented T.M.S. as an ongoing space to not only learn meditation skills, but also a way to explore together how to bring those skills into our daily life and interactions with the world. 

·      We practiced the Sound Bath meditation, including some focus on bodily sensations and breath.

·      We worked with “I.R.L.” (Inquiry, Response, Listening), this time with a few questions that came up for you during the meditation.

·      We ended with practical information: 

  • o   The first set of sessions will be the next four Thursdays at the same time (6-6:50 Central European Time): Jan.21 and 28, Feb.4 and 11.
  • o   Between now and next Thursday, you can decide if you want to commit to the four sessions, and send me an e-mail with that confirmation.
  • o   Your contribution for this first batch can be 600 CZK (150 CZK [$7] per session) or the rounded equivalent in USD ($30) or Euros (25€). You can pay as follows:
      • §  CZ to my bank account #348290002/5500
      • §  EU to IBAN
      • §  others to Paypal, using my e-mail address (let’s see if this works . . .)

·      The recording of the session is on my YouTube channel as an unlisted video: . 


Guided meditation: Between every session, you will be encouraged to continue your practice with guided meditations, some by me, others by others. This first one I recorded especially for you. Next week we’ll talk about how to work up to a daily practice, but for this week try to do this guided meditation at least once. It lasts about 12 minutes.


Suggestions for listening: Every week I’ll give you some ideas for inspirational listening or reading. They are not “required”, of course, just suggested. This week, I chose a recent episode on the Ten Percent Happier podcast (I highly recommend the podcast because it has interviews with the world’s best meditation teachers); this is with Jon Kabat Zinn, an enormously influential teacher who was the first to bring meditation into the secular world. The episode was recorded two days after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and though some of the discussion may be more of interest to American listeners, it gives a good sense of how we can (must!) apply our meditation skills to social and political engagement.


So, enjoy the guided meditation and the podcast. If you have any questions at all, about either the content or the practicalities of our TMS, feel free to write. Looking forward to seeing you this Thursday!


Be well,


© Anthony Ackerman 2013