Shaila Catherine

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Shaila Catherine
Shaila Catherine.jpg
Occupationauthor, meditation teacher

Shaila Catherine is an American Buddhist meditation teacher and author in the Theravādan tradition, known for her expertise in insight meditation (vipassanā) and jhāna practices.[1][2] She has authored two books on jhāna practice, Focused and Fearless and Wisdom Wide and Deep, and has introduced many American practitioners to this concentration practice through her writings and focused retreats.

Catherine is the founder of Insight Meditation South Bay in Mountain View, California, and the primary teacher for Bodhi Courses, an online Buddhist classroom.[3] She conducts retreats locally, nationally and internationally in mindfulness (satī), concentration (samādhi and jhāna), lovingkindness (mettā), and insight meditation (vipassanā).


Shaila Catherine began meditating in 1980 in California. She later travelled and studied in Asia, training and practicing with an Advaita Vedanta master, H.W.L. Poonja,[4] in northern India; Tibetan Dzogchen masters Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche in Nepal; and at Theravādan forest monasteries in Thailand.

In addition to these Asian masters, she has studied with founders of Western meditation centers (Christopher Titmuss, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, and Lama Surya Das).

Catherine developed a special interest in the practice of deep concentration, and in 2003–2004 devoted a one-year silent meditation retreat to exploring jhāna as the basis for insight. Based upon her experiences in this retreat, she wrote Focused and Fearless, as an introduction to the absorption states of jhāna.[5]

In 2006, she began training under the guidance of the Burmese meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw. In 2011 Catherine authored a second book, Wisdom Wide and Deep, which provides an introduction to the comprehensive practices of samādhi and vipassanā based on her training with Pa Auk Sayadaw and derived from teachings in the early Discourses of the Buddha, Visuddhimagga, and Abhidhamma.[6]

Catherine's writings and teaching have contributed to a new and growing field within Theravādan Buddhism—introducing the traditional trainings of jhāna and insight meditation (vipassanā) to Western lay practitioners.[7][8][9][10][11]


  • Catherine, Shaila. Focused and Fearless: A Meditator’s Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm and Clarity, Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2008. ISBN 978-0-86171-560-2
  • Catherine, Shaila. Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhanā and Vipassanā, Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2011. ISBN 978-0-86171-623-4

Audio Publications[edit]



  1. ^ Quli, Natalie (2008). Multiple Buddhist Modernisms: Jhāna in Convert Theravāda. Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies, pp.225-249
  2. ^ Interpretations of the Jhanas, retrieved on September 26, 2014
  3. ^ Meditation teacher's practice thrives in Mountain View, by Daniel DeBolt, September 10, 2012, article in Mountain View Voice Newspaper
  4. ^ Catherine, Shaila (2008). Focused and Fearless. Wisdom Publications. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-86171-560-2.
  5. ^ Shaila Catherine’s Focused and Fearless: A review by Santikaro, February 2, 2009, published in Go Beyond Words: Wisdom Publications’ Buddhist Blog
  6. ^ Anālayo, Bhikkhu (2014). Dawn of Abhidhamma (PDF). Hamburg University Press. p. 116. ISBN 978-3-943423-15-0.
  7. ^ Catherine was invited to give a presentation in the Google Authors series, retrieved on September 26, 2014
  8. ^ Tan, Chade-Meng (2012). Search Inside Yourself. New York, NY: HarperOne.
  9. ^ Pinchbeck, Daniel; Jordan, Kenyear=2012. Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness. Evolver Editions. p. 83. ISBN 9781583944882.
  10. ^ Marotta, Janetti (2013). 50 Mindful Steps to Self-Esteem: Everyday Practices for Cultivating Self-Acceptance and Self-Compassion. New Harbinger Publications. ISBN 9781608827978.
  11. ^ Jhāna Practice and True Happiness Archived 2014-10-08 at the Wayback Machine., May 14, 2014, Insight Journal, A Journal of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies

External links[edit]