Shaila has undertaken extensive training in both samādhi and vipassanā practices guided by Pa-Auk Sayadaw. She has twice completed his vipassanā course. Her book Wisdom Wide and Deep introduces western practitioners to this methodical approach to jhāna and vipassanā.
Shaila is therefore well versed in this method, her teaching is compatible with this training, and she is very happy to guide meditators in that systematic approach when appropriate. However, strict adherence to the systematic approach characteristic of Pa-Auk Sayadaw’s training is not suitable for most western meditators. Shaila’s style is generally described as much lighter and softer. She works with the people along with the method, and is regarded as a highly skilled and flexible teacher who values the details of a methodical training but consistently points to the ultimate goal of awakening.
The breadth of her background of practice and teaching that occurred prior to her encounter with Pa-Auk Sayadaw provides a unique context for understanding and interpreting the systematic methods. Shaila spent several years living with the Advaita master H.W.L. Poonja in India; she has almost a decade of mindfulness meditation experience based on Mahasi Sayadaw’s noting method, she has received Tibetan Dzogchen teachings, and has spent over nine years in silent retreats in both Thai forest monasteries and western retreat centers. All these experiences influence her approach to practice and teaching.