Daylong Mindfulness Meditation Retreat

Deepening Your Practice

Saturday, March 9, Harmony Landing Retreat Center

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Led by Lisa Ernst IMG_0589

Please join us at a beautiful location just west of Nashville for a day of sitting and walking meditation. We will cultivate insight and lovingkindness through awakening our minds and hearts to the present moment.

Led by meditation teacher Lisa Ernst, this silent retreat will focus on mindfulness meditation. We will train our minds in present time awareness by bringing attention to the breath and sensations in the body, cultivating awareness of the myriad states that arise. Through this practice we gradually embrace the truth of the constantly changing nature of things, and we learn to respond with compassion and friendliness to all that arises.

This retreat is suitable for both beginning and experienced meditators; it will include sitting and walking meditation, practice instructions, and a dharma talk.

Cost: $50, plus dana (donation) to the teacher. A deposit of $50 will reserve your space.  Paypal is available at this link. Use the first “donate” button. Directions and additional information will be emailed prior to the retreat. Please contact with any questions.

Penetrate Everything

What happens when you resist? Have you spent some time in your practice cultivating true intimacy with your mind and body in a state of resistance? You probably know where you hold your tension, where your body contracts and how your mind seeks diversion. But the true payoff comes when you take an even closer look. Can you become truly intimate with the tension in your body? Get to know it like a mate or a best friend? Open your heart and mind wide enough that it penetrates every cell, every infinitesimal particle of time and matter. When you can do this, you will taste complete freedom. This is where transformation occurs; in a moment of full surrender, when your resistance dies, you die.  But your great nature, your true self that embraces all and leaves nothing out, remains. What is this true nature? You can only find out for yourself. Just let your Bodhicitta, your inherent desire to wake up, guide the way.

– Lisa Ernst

Use What You’ve Been Given to Wake Up

A good reminder for anyone who feels disadvantaged in some way:

“Our life’s work is to use what we have been given to wake up. If there were two people exactly the same-same body, same speech, same mind, same mother, same father, same house, same food, everything the same- one of them could use what he has to wake up and the other could use it to become more resentful, bitter, and sour. It doesn’t matter what you are given, whether it’s a physical deformity or enormous wealth or poverty, beauty or ugliness, mental stability or mental instability, life in the middle of a mad house or life in the middle of a peaceful silent desert. Whatever you’re given can wake you up or put you to sleep. That’s the challenge of now: what are you going to do with what you have already-your body, your speech, your mind?”

From Pema Chodron’s book, Awakening Lovingkindness


A Sliver of Moonlight

A sliver of moonlight

against a slate sky

wakes me up

offers no words

but pierces my heart

breaks it open,

tears, silence.

A screech owl

penetrates the stillness.

Then another,

back and forth they shriek

then silence, tears dry.

The moon fades

as dawn lights the sky.

The Heart at Rest


Misty Winter Morning at Radnor Lake

Even if you have a regular meditation practice, you probably encounter moments when you feel overwhelmed and challenged to sit in the midst of your experience.  Especially when strong feelings of anxiety or fear arise, the mind’s tendency to identify with thought and avoid the present moment is particularly strong.

What is your resistance point? When do you reach the precipice of overwhelm, when you believe you can no longer stay present? Cultivating awareness of this tipping point, when you exceed your capacity for presence, can help you expand your awareness beyond any imagined self limitations you have.

How? First it helps to remember and practice this core teaching from the Buddha:

“Nothing whatsoever is to be clung to as “I” or ‘mine.’ Whoever has heard this truth has heard all the Teachings, whoever has realized this Truth has realized all the Teachings.”

You may ask how Buddha’s teaching of non-clinging applies to resistance and emotional overwhelm. As our practice deepens, we begin to recognize when we cling to desired things such as relationships, possessions, health and happiness. But we may overlook how we cling to our unwanted mental states and interpret them as “I” and “mine.” It’s all too easy to perceive depression, shame, fear and anxiety as part of who we are.  As soon as we create this self-identification, the emotions feel fixed and personal. Letting go, releasing our clinging, is challenging.

When I speak of letting go, I don’t mean trying to get rid of anything, but instead allowing our emotions and mind states to be exactly as they are, without self-identification. This is how we begin to loosen the knot.  As soon as we quit identifying with these feelings as “me,” we see them for what they are – the temporary and changing mosaic of thought and emotion that we experience throughout our lives. If these emotions and mind states were only a kaleidoscope of color passing by our eyes, we wouldn’t identify with them as ourselves; we could allow them to simply come and go. No resisting and no clinging. When we cultivate this attitude toward emotions we invite equanimity and non –identification. We may still feel the anxiety or sadness, perhaps even more deeply, but we don’t interpret them as “I” or “mine.” They are simply part of the moment, along with the sounds, scents, and physical sensations, everything that is here. We have room for it all. This is a heart at rest.