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Shell Fischer's Podcast

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Insight Meditation teacher, Shell Fischer, founder of Mindful Shenandoah Valley, offers her 25+ years of study and experience in these weekly talks about meditation practice, and how it can help us nurture more compassion, kindness, joy, and calm in our lives.

Insight Meditation teacher, Shell Fischer, founder of Mindful Shenandoah Valley, offers her 25+ years of study and experience in these weekly talks about meditation practice, and how it can help us nurture more compassion, kindness, joy, and calm in our lives.
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Insight Meditation teacher, Shell Fischer, founder of Mindful Shenandoah Valley, offers her 25+ years of study and experience in these weekly talks about meditation practice, and how it can help us nurture more compassion, kindness, joy, and calm in our lives.




4th Foundation of Mindfulness - Mindful of Dharmas

There are many definitions of the word “dharma,” which includes natural phenomena, as well as the Buddha’s teachings. In our own practice, rather than relying on an outside authority to offer us the answers, we are being asked to contemplate the dharma (or truth) within ourselves, with guidance from the teachings. This inner seeking is often called “come and see” and is the basis of our practice – being willing to look inside, and see for ourselves whether or not the dharma is true. In this...


A Ceremony: Taking Refuge in the 3 Jewels

Ever wonder what it means to Take Refuge in the 3 Jewels? In celebration of the meditation group’s 9th anniversary, Shell offered a traditional Refuge Ceremony for sangha members, including a brief summary of what it means to take refuge (find sanctuary) in what are called the 3 Jewels of Practice: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. You can listen (and participate) here.


The 3rd Foundation of Mindfulness - Mindful of Min

A popular myth about meditation practice tells us that in order to meditate, we need to get rid of all of our thoughts. This is not only untrue, but unhelpful. Vipassana Insight meditation is actually asking us to take a good, close look into the nature of our minds, and this includes becoming aware of what we’re thinking. As we get better at exploring the mind more intimately - gradually we recognize that our thoughts are not “us,” and understand that they don’t need to define us, or...


2nd Foundation of Mindfulness - Feelings

In our exploration of meditation, we are asked to be “mindful of feelings,” and to contemplate the “feelings IN the feelings,” often described as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. As we learn how to more accurately discern these subtle sensations, we gradually develop a more calm, non-judgmental awareness of whatever is happening in our lives, so that we’re no longer so controlled by our conditioned responses to experience. In this new talk, Shell explores this 2nd Foundation of...


Breath of Peace Meditation

This meditation was adapted by Thanissaro Bhikkhu the Abbott of the Metta Forest Monastery near San Diego. He learned this from his Thai teacher Ajaan Fuang who learned this technique from Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo (1907-1961). I learned it from my teacher, Pat Coffey, and now it is yours! Thich Nhat Hahn:“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your...


The 4 Foundations of Mindfulness - Talk 1: Mindfulness of Body

For thousands of years, the famous Satipatthana Sutra has been used as a powerful and profound spiritual road map. Contained within it are the rich teachings on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, which the Buddha himself called the “direct path to enlightenment.” In essence, this sutra is the very basis and ground of our entire practice, and diving deep into its teachings is exactly what can lead us out of suffering, and into more freedom, joy, and ease in our lives. During this series...


Q&A Session with Shell

Instead of offering the weekly dharma talk, Shell opened the room up to about 30 minutes of questions this week. If you have a question you'd like to ask Shell, please visit us at the website to write your question, and Shell may answer it in the next session! Starting in October, 2019, Shell will be offering these Q&A sessions once a month.


The Power of Prayer

While the teachings offer us numerous ways of praying, people often ask: in this non-theistic tradition, what does it mean to do this? Or, what is it that we are aspiring to, when we place our hands together and bow our heads in prayer? In this talk, Shell explores how we can use this powerful form of aspiration to open our hearts, expand and connect, and extend more compassion and care to both ourselves and others.


Finding A Happy Balance - Exploring the Middle Way

When we practice what the Buddha called The Middle Way, we start to realize with more and more clarity that happiness resides at the center of wanting and not wanting; that nothing is really happy or unhappy in and of itself - no thing, person, or situation; that our joy or sorrow depends entirely on how we are relating to our experience. In this talk, Shell explores how learning to “walk in the middle” can help us discover more joy, ease, and balance in our lives.


Getting Out of Our Own Way

The teachings warn us of 5 main challenging and complicated mental states that block, confuse, or “hinder” our ability to more fully open our hearts and minds, and prevent us from discovering freedom from suffering. In this talk, Shell explores how we can better recognize these five, and learn to transform and eventually overcome them.


The Blessings of the Heartwood Sutra

Often, as we search for deeper spiritual meaning in our practice, it’s easy to become stalled or stuck at certain points, and become unclear about which direction we need to take in order to continue further. This talk from Shell explores the famous Heartwood Sutra, which points out four things that are often mistaken for progress in our practice.


The Power of the 5 Spiritual Faculties

The Buddha spoke about 5 spiritual faculties which, if cultivated and developed, can flower into spiritual powers. The truth is, we all have these faculties within us, and when we learn to nurture them through our practice and our lives, they can lead us to more joy, ease, and freedom. In this talk, Shell explores these five, and offer ways that we can begin to harness their profound power, and offers a meditation on these to end.


Walking Meditation: Instructions, Guided Practice, Q&A

Though it’s considered an integral part of our formal meditation practice, walking meditation is something that is often not well-known in the West, or practiced, and can seem odd when we first try it. Yet, it can not only help the body refresh and rejuvenate between meditation periods, but can help us to take our practice “off the cushion” and into every single moment of our lives, so that we can become more and more aware of being fully embodied, experiencing the whole of our lives...


Receiving Blessed Rest

As we all know, whenever we’re having difficulty relaxing, or sleeping, this can often profoundly affect our thinking, mood, behavior, and quality of life. The good news is, the Buddha’s teachings (especially those that deal with the hindrance of worry and restlessness) can not only help us to fall asleep more easily, but can allow us to live with greater calm, joy, and ease. In this talk, Shell offer some ways that we can discover sacred rest through the teachings and our practice.


Buddha & Jesus: Spiritual Brothers

"If there is to be understanding, compassion, and peace in the world, spiritual teachers must learn to honor the 'jewels,' or 'best values,' at the heart of diverse traditions, and to keep their own alive by interpreting them in light of the here and now" ~ Donna Seaman. In this talk, Shell explores how, so often, the teachings of both the Buddha and Jesus were essentially pointing to the same truths.


Overcoming Blame & Insult

One of the main ways we tend to suffer is when someone insults or blames us, and we can’t seem to let go of the hurt or anger it evokes; when it lives in us, and grows bigger and more intense, maybe even overwhelming. During this talk, Shell explores how we can use the teachings and the practice to help us to better let go of our strong grip on blame and insult, and to bring some healing to our vulnerable hearts.


Falling Awake: How We Can Work With Sleepiness in Our Practice

There are a multitude of reasons why we fall into sleep or a kind of dreaminess or even a sense of “nothingness” during meditation, and it’s helpful to know what these are so that we can use our practice to work with these states, and discover more clarity, energy, and wakefulness - not only in our practice, but in our daily lives. Shell explores these and more in this talk on what is called the hindrance of "sloth & torpor."


Visiting Your Wisest Self: A Meditation

This meditation - recorded during one of Shell's Tuesday night classes - is a 30-minute guided visualization practice, designed to help us discover our wisest self, and listen to the wisdom of our hearts for the answers we have been seeking.


The Consequences of Karma

In our modern western lexicon, the word “karma” is often employed as a kind of derogatory term that implies that someone who is experiencing some negative consequences is somehow getting their just reward, or cosmic punishment. Yet in the Buddhist teachings, this is not at all an accurate description, and the Buddha himself was actually critical of many of the beliefs and myths that are attached to this word. In this talk, Shell explores this complicated concept, and how we can use it to...


Offering Our Hearts to Kalyanamitra

In the famous Upaddha Sutta,the Buddha’s disciple Ananda suggested that ”admirable friendship” is half of the holy life … and the Buddha exclaimed, strongly, “no, it is the whole of the holy life.” In this new talk, Shell explores the importance of cultivating Kalyanamitra(a Sanskrit word that means “spiritual friendship, or “noble friend”) and why it’s essential that we nourish this same strong friendship with the most important person in our lives – ourselves.