Shaila Catherine offers a limited number of teacher-student meetings (also called “interviews”) each month to practitioners who are actively involved in IMSB retreats and events. The purpose is to develop meditation skills, overcome common obstacles that might arise during meditation, enhance nascent insights, and apply the liberating teachings of the Buddha to daily life. Students who live at a distance may benefit by periodically checking in with Shaila between retreats; students who frequently attend local programs might deepen their practice by periodically describing their individual meditative development in the one-to-one setting of a consultation.
Distinguishing Meditation Consultations from Psychotherapy
Consultations should not be confused with therapy and meditation teachers should not be relied upon for crisis intervention. The scope of the meeting is the student’s formal meditation practice and the application of Buddhist teachings in life. Emotional issues may surface during meditation practice and are addressed strictly from a mindfulness perspective. The format does not explore the specific content of psychological patterns or provide in-depth support for exploring issues such as depression/anxiety, trauma, family-of-origin issues, or decision-making, relational issues, addictions, and vocational concerns. Students intending to explore psychological concerns should seek out a qualified professional in the psychological field rather than a meditation teacher—Shaila is not a psychotherapist.
Where and when?
Teacher-student meetings are scheduled less frequently than once per month, with common arrangements being every 6-8 weeks or quarterly. Local students may arrange to meet with Shaila either at a Saturday daylong program or at a location in Menlo Park. Meetings in Menlo Park or on the phone are usually scheduled for one hour, but may be shorter or longer as needed. Meetings during the Saturday daylong program are usually 20 minutes during the walking meditation periods.
Students who are not local may arrange for a telephone consultation.
Please respect appointment times (including phone meetings) by arriving on time and giving at least 24 hours notification in case of a cancellation.
What is the fee?
Teachers offer the teachings without charging a specific hourly rate. In turn, students make voluntary donations to the teachers so that they may continue to offer teachings. The ancient tradition of the dāna system acknowledges our interdependence and has generosity as its foundation. The dāna practice does not imply that these private sessions are “free”. An appropriate donation is implied in the agreement. Students may choose an amount that is appropriate to their particular financial ability — a general guideline might be to consider your own hourly wage and offer a donation that respects the teacher’s work, skills, and time at least as much as your own.
Donations can be made in person by handing cash or check to Shaila; often students come with a check in an envelop. Alternatively, dana made payable to IMSB with the designation “teacher dana” on the memo line can be mailed to Insight Meditation South Bay, PO Box 490, Menlo Park, CA, 94026. Or you may use our online donation system on the Donate Now page and designate your gift to “teacher dana”.
Developing the teacher-student relationship
Students may find that regular interviews support the long-term development of their practice and might express the request that Shaila “be my teacher.” Shaila does not usually formalize the teacher-student relationship through traditional rituals, but allows the teacher-student relationship to develop as long as it is fruitful through ongoing attendance at retreats, courses, and interviews. Showing up and developing the meditation practices are the primary actions that build the teacher-student relationship. One-to-one meetings help to sustain, clarify, and deepen meditative development, and will naturally nurture a depth of understanding between teacher and student.
Shaila current offers ongoing individual consultations to:
- Participants in the six-month Walking the Path Program
- Students who have attended at least one 10 day retreat with Shaila organized by Bodhi Retreats, and have the intention to attend another within the next year or two
- Active IMSB volunteers
Meetings are arranged through an on-line scheduler. Send an email to consult with subject line: “Scheduling a meeting” to request the access code to the appointment calendar. If this is your first time meeting with Shaila, please include a brief statement explaining the reason that you are requesting an interview and how you qualify through one of the above three criteria.
A year-long arrangement
In response to frequent requests from retreat students who wish to maintain an ongoing connection with Shaila between retreats, a limited number of students are being accepted for a year-long arrangement. This arrangement is primarily intended for students who have worked with Shaila in retreat and are planning to attend another retreat within the next year.
Students with this arrangement agree to scheduling telephone or in-person consultations with Shaila (approximately every 8 weeks over the course of a year). They will receive priority for scheduling appointments by being notified when the appointment calendar is posted. The intention for this arrangement is to structure routine check-ins and avoid the pressure of waiting for problems to arise or conjuring up questions before feeling comfortable reaching out to the teacher.
Students interested in a year-long arrangement may contact consult with subject line: “Scheduling meetings this year”. The details can be arranged with Shaila during the first meeting.