Sean Oakes

Renunciation of the fruits of… voting

This Sunday we’ll begin our fall Sweat+Study series, returning to one of the most profound and visionary texts in the yoga tradition: The Bhagavad Gita. And in less than two weeks we’ll end a seemingly endless campaign season, returning to what I wish was one of the most profound and visionary activities in our democratic tradition: the Voting Booth. So …

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Are Svadhyaya and Isvara-pranidhanat theistic?

In our conversation Tuesday night at the Yoga Garden Teacher Training, where I was giving a slam-bam “3000 years of yoga history in 90 minutes” lecture, Michelle Myhre, the director of Advanced Studies there asked a very good (and historically puzzling) question. Patañjali’s Yoga Sutra (YS) is descended in part from Buddhism and Sankhya philosophy, both of which are not theistic …

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now the eyes of my eyes are opened

Our senses are so much a part of who we are that it’s nearly impossible to think of ourselves without them. We have sense organs, called “doors” in Buddhism because they admit information, or “sense-objects” — the “guests” in the Rumi poem, “This body is a guest house”. In the Buddhist tradition, thought and emotion — all the “formations” of …

now the eyes of my eyes are opened Read More »

Yogi, go on retreat! Notes from stillness.

Retreat, day 3: Meditating is like being with a toddler having a tantrum. My mind is incorrigible, throwing fits, constantly launching off into fantasy, blame, judgement (usually self-), and despair. I feel besieged, at wits end, and a very familiar sense of failure begins to arise. I catch myself thinking about the scene in the Cate Blanchett Elizabeth movie, where Mary …

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Satipatthana Sutta, april 2012. video

satipatthana sutta, April 2012 Video of 4 classes on the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha’s instructions on the practice of mindfulness. This is the core text that teaches meditation and the path of insight in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, and is a beautifully clear and inspiring guide for practice. We’re reading Anālayo’s translation (you can download the text here). (The sound …

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Vegetarian Buddhist? How unusual.

Despite having strong personal feelings on the topic and I think a pretty clear head about it culturally, I haven’t written about vegetarianism in modern yoga and Buddhist practice in this forum, though I have in others. I’m inspired to now because of a question that was asked at the end of a training I just finished, and because meat-eating …

Vegetarian Buddhist? How unusual. Read More »


I’ve been loving my Sweat and Study classes lately, and the discussions we’ve been having, ranging from formal meditation to how to bring wisdom to conflicts in everyday life. At the heart of these conversations is a desire, expressed by many of the participants, to integrate our practice of yoga and mindfulness into all our activities, work, and relationships. It …

Theory+practice Read More »

Mindfulness = intimacy

The Foundations of Mindfulness Sutra (Satipatthana Sutta) is the core Buddhist text that discusses meditation and the path to Insight. The word “mindfulness” isn’t so exciting sounding, is it? It’s the standard word we’ve inherited from the early British translators for a skill that the Buddha praises as the “direct path for the surmounting of sorrow… and the realization of …

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