Mindful Speech and Deep Listening Workshop

Saturday, October 25, 1 – 4 p.m., 12 South Dharma Center

Cost: $35

Led by Lisa Ernst


Learning to integrate our meditation practice with speech and communication is a vital step to bring mindfulness, compassion and realization into our daily lives. In this half day retreat we will extend deep listening and mindfulness from our sitting meditation into relational practices. These practices will help us listen and communicate from the heart as well as stay fully present in both silence and speech.

The workshop will include sitting meditation, mindful dialogue and group interaction.  Cost is $35. Payment may be made through paypal here. If paying by check, make it out to One Dharma Nashville and send to: 12 South Dharma Center, 2301 12th Avenue South, Suite 202, Nashville, TN 37024. Be sure to include your email address.

Lisa Ernst is a Buddhist Meditation teacher in the Thai Forest lineage of Ajahn Chah. She is the founder of One Dharma Nashville. In her teaching, Lisa emphasizes both transformational insight and everyday awakening as an invitation to embrace all of the path’s possibilities. She regularly leads classes, daylong and residential meditation retreats.

For information, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com

Update – October 4 Contemplative Photography and Meditation Workshop

There’s still time to register for my Fall Contemplative Photography and Meditation Workshop, coming up on Saturday, October 4 at a lovely, rural site in College Grove, TN (about 35 minutes from downtown Nashville). Full information and registration is here.

Here’s a shot from our 2012 photography workshop, by Bobby Zahn:



Recap of “Living the Questions” Fall Retreat with Red Clay Sangha

This past weekend I had the pleasure of leading a retreat in the North Georgia mountains, hosted by Atlanta’s  Red Clay Sangha. The theme was “Cultivating Clarity Through Living the Questions.” This is the second retreat I’ve led for Red Clay Sangha, which is a wonderful Zen community of dedicated practitioners committed to a welcoming, strong and supportive sangha. Because they are open to learning from and practicing in other traditions, I conducted the retreat Vipassana Style and a number of Atlanta Insight Meditation Community practitioners also attended the retreat.

Fall Retreat with Red Clay Sangha. Photo by RIchard Skoonberg

Fall Retreat with Red Clay Sangha. Photo by Richard Skoonberg

Gareth Young, a  deep and dedicated practitioner and one of the founders of Red Clay Sangha, wrote a blog post about his retreat experience, which you can read here. Gareth is very involved in Atlanta’s interfaith community and he writes often about his experiences participating in several faiths.

Our location for this retreat was The Sautee Lodge near Helen Georgia. Its a lovely rural spot, perfect for a silent meditation retreat.

View from Sautee Ranch

View from Sautee Ranch

When You’re Ready for a Week Long Retreat: Answering Your Heart’s Calling and Overcoming Resistance

When a meditator makes a commitment to sit their first 7 day (or longer) retreat, it’s a big step and often requires a leap of faith.  Leaving behind family, work and personal obligations for a week or more may feel daunting.  At a deeper level, spending a full week in silence with few distractions may feel even more challenging.  Yet, for those of us who make this commitment, we are answering our heart’s calling to touch the moment so intimately that we have no choice but to receive its full embrace.

Once we’ve committed and the time draws closer, some of us may begin to feel anxious and vulnerable. This is normal and in fact is a good sign because it means our hearts and minds are approaching the spacious, unarmored realm where we fully encounter the dharma . However, this vulnerable feeling is often misinterpreted and may lead people to seek out reasons to avoid the retreat. I’ve experienced this myself. Fortunately, I know this pattern well enough that I don’t let it stop me.

Occasionally practitioners aren’t aware of this process. They may start feeling anxious about leaving loved ones behind for a full week or worry about work and personal obligations. A good question to ask: Why does it feel more difficult to be away for a week long retreat than spending the same amount of time on vacation? Of course, sometimes legitimate situations occur that may prevent a person from attending a retreat. Discerning our true priorities is important.  One year, only a week before a 10 day Vipassana retreat, my spouse had a serious health issue arise that required surgery and recovery time. I had to cancel the retreat, no question. But more commonly, I’ve had to resist the urge to avoid a retreat by looking more clearly at my thoughts, emotions and priorities.

Early in my marriage, for instance, I felt anxious about leaving my husband for a full week.  Various scenarios played out in my mind and I was caught in the grip of fear. Yet, as I mindfully examined the anxiety, I realized I was simply creating stories and scenarios that were unlikely to happen. I moved through the fear and went ahead with the retreat. Attending that retreat not only empowered me, but it was equally beneficial to my husband. Taking care of myself this way actually strengthened the foundation of my marriage.  The same once happened with work situation. I was afraid I would miss an art commission deadline if I was away for a week and wondered if I should back out. But as I carefully studied my calendar I realized that with wise time management I could accommodate both the retreat and the commission. I had no problem making my deadline and my client was quite pleased with the finished piece.

I can say that over the last 20 years in which I’ve participated in numerous 7 day and longer retreats, I have not regretted a single one.  Long retreats have been, and still are, one of the greatest spiritual gifts I give to myself, and those gifts extend to everyone in my life.

Once we answer our heart’s calling, we soon discover that retreats aren’t only for ourselves.

Update — Fall 7 Day Residential Retreat near Nashville

Sunday Evening, November 9 – Sunday Noon, November 16

Sponsored by One Dharma Nashville

Bethany Hills Retreat Center, Kingston Springs, TN

Led by Lisa Ernst

398b3-lotusblossomAs winter approaches and daylight wanes, there is a natural tendency slow down and turn inward. Yet, in the busyness of the approaching holiday season we may forget that true refuge is right where we are. This silent retreat will focus on cultivating a quality of compassionate presence that embraces our experience with equanimity and insight. Through this practice we begin to pierce the illusion of separateness and taste the joy of interconnectedness to all things.

The retreat is offered on a sliding scale basis from $425 – $550, which includes lodging and all meals. Teacher compensation (dana) is separate. A deposit of $300 is due upon registration with the balance due no later than November 1. To make your deposit, go here. For paypal, please use the donate button. For questions, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com.

Lisa Ernst is an authorized Buddhist Meditation teacher in the Thai Forest lineage of Ajahn Chah, Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman. She is the founder of One Dharma Nashville. In her teaching, Lisa emphasizes both transformational insight and everyday awakening as an invitation to embrace all of the path’s possibilities. She regularly leads classes, daylong and residential meditation retreats.

For questions, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com