Minutes – P&E – 17 Mar 2020

Practice & Education Meeting

17th March 2020


Present:        Tessa Watt, Jane Hope, Rachael Cheang, Ariela Cravitz, Merlin Cox,

Jim O’Neill, David Morris

Chair: Tessa. Minutes: Ariela



  1. What we can offer the community and wider audience, especially online
  2. Feedback from David on Council meeting
  3. Larry Mermelstein feedback
  4. Future Planning
  5. AOB
  6. Date of next meeting

Due to COVID-19, it was agreed that the priority for this meeting was to talk about how LSMC should respond in terms of still being able to offer practice opportunities for members and the wider community.

  1. What we can offer the community and wider audience, especially online

It was suggested to have some kind of intimate gathering of people within the community where there would be the opportunity to practice a bit and just communicate with each other, as there was a feeling this will be needed if we are all to be isolated. That may be separate from anything we may try to do for the public, as it makes a lot of sense to offer something just for members. Adam and Frances will be running a session every morning on Zoom, from 10-11am, using the Shambhala Zoom account. The format is 25 mins of sitting, 5 mins walking, 5 mins reading. It was agreed this is a nice model, seems simple to run, and is a good offering. Maybe people could run them at different times of the day, to suit more people. We need to know who’s using Zoom when.


Action: Jane will communicate with Frances and Adam about what they’re doing.

Action: Ariela– liaise with Frances and Jane to let her and Jez know when Zoom sessions are agreed, so one of them can put them in the centre calendar.

Victoria is running a Zoom session (not Shambhala Zoom) at 7:45pm on Thursdays in Oxford, and is happy for people to join that. This is a members session, rather than open.

Action: Ariela e-mail Victoria for link and share with members.

Action: Ariela / Jez – send an e-mail to membership with whole programme of offerings plus the relevant Zoom links for each.

The idea of Mondays and Wednesdays evening online sessions was discussed. Feeling that it would be good to offer one session at least which is an open session, like the Monday evenings. Monday evening could be format where it’s hosted by either teacher or experienced MI comfortable to give to large group. First part group instruction, then walking and reading. Jez has said he is happy to be the initial person to look after making sure the Zoom can work. It’s important in large group that the technology works efficiently, thus also important there is a ‘host’ / co-ordinator and an MI, to make sure it runs smoothly in terms of the technology and the meditation session itself. Also get a cohort of other people, so ‘technical’ person doesn’t have to continually be Jez. Suggest that we invite Jez to invite all members and volunteers to see if there are people who are willing to be part of a small team to do that – they don’t have to be a ‘tech wizard’.

Action: Ariela to liaise with Jez about this

Re. teachers: it could be that we don’t have to just have one. Could be 2 teachers in an evening. One leading a meditation and the other doing a discussion to see how people are. It was agreed that we start simple with the online offerings, then develop it.

Use the teacher’s spreadsheet which Ariela created: follow that as it was going to be. Ideally have hosts. It was agreed that a few of the P&E Team attend the first one, and ask people how they’re doing, how they’d like to shape this, what their needs are. Jim to lead this coming Monday. Open to everyone – e-mail and website.

Action: Ariela – share spreadsheet for Mondays (and Wednesdays?)

Action: Jim to get in touch with Jez to support with technology.

Action: ALL – the rest of us to log in and potentially contribute / speak. After the session we can share what we thought.

Length of session: an hour is plenty. Not walking for open session. Maybe ‘get up and have a stretch’. A reading would be very good, to try and keep a bit of the spirit.

Costs: say that people are welcome to join for free, but put on joining / advertising that if people can make a donation to the centre that will be really helpful as obviously, like other businesses, things are hard. Suggested donation of £5 – Paypal

Action: Ariela to liaise with Jez. If he needs help with wording Tessa can help. Keep it simple. If they feel incline to donate more, also brilliant.

Action: Jim to write it and send to Ariela to send out.

Share suggestions about other online things. Jane offered to host something around early Tantra groups. Larry talked about the practice of TGS (ordinary mind) and he suggested we might like to study that to the early Tantra groups. A group of people said they were very interested, so we’d like to go ahead. Open to Vajrayana students / Tantrikas.

Action: Jane to pick a time to schedule this (NB. Who will identify / invite them??)

It was noted that Kagyu Nondro people want to meet.

Also possibility of groups, book groups, of all sorts of interests. Maybe MI’s could take a leadership and say I’d like to explore a particular book, and I’ll do it on X at X time.

Action: Tessa to put out an e-mail to Guides and MI’s. Each person can decide if they want to just offer it to a small group – i.e. members and regulars, or whether to offer publicly.

Three levels: website, mailing list, and members. Also Tantrikas only.

Action: ALL – people should specify for each element they want to run which level of people it is for, so that Ariela / Jez know who to send it to, so anyone communicating with people about this make that requirement clear.

Proper microphones and equipment would ideally be made available for those who are leading. Maybe need to invest in some proper equipment.

Action: Who? to check with (Finance Team? / Jez?) about this

Pastoral support: we normally offer one-to-one meditation interviews. What are we doing with that. Are we still able to offer this, to a newcomer or otherwise? Be good to announce that it’s good to have an MI, and then for people to have access to an MI. Danger of this becoming a therapy situation. Send something to MI’s and Guides and then meet with them about this. Refresh the training ‘not to be the therapist’. To be considered once we’re up and running.

Worth running a compassion type practice, for these times. Tong Len practice. Maybe just half an hour. Rachael will offer this.

Action: Rachael – to send copy of timetable of what she’s doing. Identify what she can offer that fits in as Shambhala, let Ariela and Jez know the timing, and send Zoom link. Action: Ariela – include this in e-mail of offerings.

Need clarity on what is public offerings, and which are just for members, so what is on website, e-mails, etc. If Ariela is not clear, clarify with the person communicating.


  1. Feedback from David on Council meeting.

David shared minutes of the CDI meeting. A lot is now redundant, as there’s an emergency meeting scheduled for 30th March.

Action: Rachael to check whether meeting on 4th April is going ahead (as an online meeting now). Racheal to propose it’s offered online and move the event.

After discussion, it was agreed that online for such an event isn’t appropriate – elements of communication and loss of communication can occur. Maybe there is not so much urgency for this meeting right now. Instead focus energies on the new way of working, and the goodwill and energy of that be used to make the difficult transition from ‘real life’ to online.

Feedback about ‘Oblique event descriptions’ – lack of clarity for those in the know of what Larry Mermelstein event was about.

In terms of this meeting, the P&E Team were in agreement that it should be for members and former members, maybe also anyone who’s done Level 3. People should be ‘clued up’ about what’s happened.


  1. Larry Mermelstein feedback



  1. Future Planning

Planning meeting happening on Sunday 19th April, 11am – 2pm. Might be able to transplant some of what is in the current programme, but cancelled, into the Autumn window. Consider whether we can offer some things online. IEL courses could be offered online, so definitely shouldn’t cancel the upcoming JIEL and FIEL.

As all programmes cancelled, website looks blank.

Action: Ariela to let Jez know – rather than taking down, keep them there and put ‘cancelled / postponed’. Ariela to put back on home page.


  1. AOB

Would like to explore potential of moving towards a more dharma-based model of finance. If / when we re-open the centre, it may be a better way of addressing the finances rather than continuing with the £130 weekend fee. May be potential in moving towards a suggested donation for programmes. Note for future agenda item. Put into planning meeting – costing. It’s a good time to experiment.

Action: Who? to put a line on the website: ‘We’re making plans on how we’re going to do things at this time – maybe online’ etc.


  1. Date of next meeting: tbaAction: Ariela to send Doodle poll