Using the Eight Points to Live Simply

By Cath

Stories From Meditators

Cath, a passage meditator living in New Zealand, shares how Training the Senses and the eight-point program have helped her to cultivate simplicity in her life.

Hello everyone, my name is Cath. I live near Nelson at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. I live with my husband in a home-built mud brick house on our five acres of land. We try to live simply, without the trappings of modern life that many people expect. We make use of technology where appropriate, but try to make good use of resources and not waste anything.

I came to the eight-point program in 2003, shortly after we got our first computer. I had tried two other paths, which were not right for me, but I was still interested in meditation and was looking for a teacher. I was playing around with various blogs and websites and randomly contacted a complete stranger who was a member of the eSatsang. This provides online spiritual companionship for people like myself who can't get to a physical group.

I now see this as an act of grace.

I work at the hospital in town, where I am a radiographer (Medical Imaging Tech). I do this three days a week. On the other days, I work at home, usual housework and quite a few other things. I work on our small block of land, growing vegetables and fruit (and freezing them for later), planting native trees and maintaining those I've planted over the years.

I also enjoy various forms of exercise – cycling, swimming, walking, weight training, flexibility and nature and the outdoors in general.

As part of the “Hippy” generation, I had been practising training the senses for many years without putting a label on it.


I had not had television since I stopped living with my parents at the age of 19 and this continued once I met my husband, who was in full agreement about the quality of most of the "entertainment" it provided. Our son grew up television-free and now that he is independent, he feels no need for it. We do watch carefully chosen films or programmes on the computer though, at a time of our choosing.

I enjoy reading and for much of my life, spent hours at the library choosing books and many more hours reading them. Once I became serious about meditation, this became less important and I now rarely read a book that is not of a spiritual nature.

Cath cycling.


Our family had been vegetarian and eating organic wholefoods for many years before I came to the eight-point program. I had long since lost the craving for rich food. It is interesting that when I first started at the hospital where I work, I was regarded as odd over what I ate or didn't eat. Gradually however, the contributions to the regular "bring a plate" get-togethers have become more healthy and there are even two other vegetarians.


We have always limited our trips into town both for financial reasons and with planet Earth in mind. We try to manage with what we have; we create meals out of what is available, preferably with what is in the garden or freezer, and most of my clothes come from charity shops or are made from material bought in charity shops. My new sewing machine was a worthwhile purchase, for this and repairing things.

What else is there for Training the Senses with you may ask?

Nelson is a small town, in a small country with a small population in a remote corner of the world. Coming here from England, we knew that there were many things available there that we could not get here. Our family was glad to send them, however it wasn't until we got our computer that these things became readily available. Internet shopping has been my biggest Training the Senses challenge. It took quite a while and use of the eight points, especially mantrams, but this battle is now largely won. To begin with, I would tell myself that I could look for things to buy once I'd done my spiritual reading, written some mantrams or done this or that job while saying my mantram (slowing down, training the senses and one pointed attention). Or having lined up something my mind wanted, I would do this before ordering. Often the desire for whatever it was would have waned. These days, slowing down and saying my mantram is enough.

Cath's meditation spot.

Training the Senses for Simple Living

Then there are all those other things that turn up every day. That meal that didn't turn out how I planned, but still enough for four. The taste buds say yuck, but how not to waste it. Listening to my husband's choice of music or radio programme. When I'm looking for clothes in a charity shop, they may not be what I would have chosen, but that is what is there, so that is what I wear. That doesn't mean I look frumpy, just that they're not my first choice! Putting back on the rail those items that I don't really need but have caught my eye. The word games I enjoy playing on the computer, putting them aside to do something more useful. Cutting the grass when I'd rather be out on my bike. When I'm at work, doing those jobs no one wants to do. The list goes on.

As I write this, the rain is pouring down outside, filling up the water tanks ready for the summer. We do not have mains water here, so this is essential, even if the senses do not like the rain very much. Everything out of the window is green. As the summer moves on, it will gradually turn brown, until it all dies back for the winter. The view out of the window is different in each season, at each time of day and with each variation in the weather. I never tire of looking at it and wondering at the wonders of nature.