Narayan Helen Liebenson: The Immediacy of Freedom
On this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Narayan Helen Liebenson, revered meditation teacher and author of The Magnanimous Heart, published by Wisdom. Narayan is a guiding teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, as well as at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center where she has taught since its inception in 1985. Her training over the past forty years includes study and practice with meditation masters in the Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan traditions.
In this truly fascinating conversation, Narayan shares the intricacies of her development as a meditator over the course of her lifetime. Beginning with the experiences of her childhood in East Haven, Connecticut, she talks about her method of integrating multiple styles of meditation and how she prefers meditation as a creative exploration rather than a mere adherence to discipline. Narayan also shares her experiences with both the faith and doubt that many practitioners have, and the deeper sense of inner dignity she has encountered as a result of her practice.
With humor and gentleness, Narayan takes us through her path to becoming an insight meditation teacher and how, through the practice of teaching, she is able to live a fully spiritual life while remaining in relationship with others and the world at large. Throughout the years, community has been an integral part of Narayan’s continued development; the conversation culminates in an account of her visits with Buddhist practitioners in Cuba and her work connecting with communities eager for wisdom outside of the Massachusetts area.
Interested in hearing further thoughts from Narayan? Watch this interview with Mingyur Rinpoche and Narayan hosted at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA, which touches on topics ranging from monastic life to meditation on awareness. You can also listen to Narayan’s featured talk at the Insight Meditation Society.
Copies of Narayan’s book The Magnanimous Heart are available for purchase through Wisdom in both digital and paperback formats.
About the Interviewee
Narayan Helen Liebenson is a guiding teacher at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has been teaching there since its inception in 1985. Narayan is also a guiding teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where she offers residential retreats. She leads retreats as well in other parts of the country and the world. Her training over the past forty years includes study in the United States and in Asia with meditation masters in the Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan traditions. She was a student of the late Chan master Sheng Yen for over ten years. Asked by Master Sheng Yen to teach, Narayan decided to integrate her understanding of Zen into her already existing Vipassana lineage. Narayan is the author of The Magnanimous Heart as well as author and illustrator of a small book titled Life as Meditation. She also wrote a meditator’s advice column in Buddhadharma magazine for many years.
Bio photo courtesy of Peggy Barnes Lenart