In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, we meet Theravada Buddhist teacher Shaila Catherine, author of Wisdom Wide and Deep and Focused and Fearless. Shaila was introduced to transcendental meditation in high school, and then later entered the path of Theravada Buddhism. She shares the difficulties she encountered on her first meditation retreat as well as what she encountered on that retreat that inspired her to continue practicing. She then shares how she spent a decade practicing in India, studying with meditation masters including H. W. L. Poonja (Poonjaji). She shares what it was like to study with Poonjaji and the phenomenal mind-to-mind connection he had with students. Shaila then reflects on how important the “ordinary” is as a part of spiritual practice. She also tells us about how she began going on longer retreats, during which time she began exploring the jhāna states. We hear about the powerful and useful application of jhāna practice, and how it enhances insight meditation and brings stability to the mind—as well as some common misunderstandings some people have about jhāna practice. Host Daniel Aitken and Shaila then discuss how a practitioner can move from using the breath as the anchor to using mental states as an anchor through the “precise technology” of jhāna practice. They also discuss how to use the breath as a focus for concentration. Shaila then describes in depth the first jhāna and how it can be used for insight meditation, and how concentration practice illuminates the causes of suffering. Shaila also reflects on the difference between conceptually understanding impermanence, and really understanding it on a deeper level. She also shares her thoughts on the conditions needed to enter the jhānas, and whether we can access the jhānas in the midst of our busy lives, rather than simply on long retreats.