June Daylong Meditation Retreat

Stilling Mind and Heart with Mindfulness and Lovingkindness
Saturday, June 13, 2015
9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Nashville Friends House
Led by Lisa Ernst

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During the busyness and activity that often accompany our daily lives, this meditation retreat will offer a quiet time to slow down, mindfully connect with our bodies and extend kindness and compassion to ourselves and others. Slowly, in the simplicity and silence of the day, we will learn to let go of distractions and touch our experience with a kind and open heart.

Led by meditation teacher Lisa Ernst, this silent retreat is suitable for newer and more experienced meditators. It will include periods of sitting and walking meditation, practice instructions and dharma talk.

Retreat fee is $50. A reduced fee spot is available, please inquire to the email below. Paypal is here. If paying by check, you can find instructions on where to send it at this link. Be sure to include your email address. There will be a separate opportunity at the retreat to make a dana offering (donation) to the teacher.

For questions, contact onedharmaretreat@gmail.com.

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2015 Spring Renewal Meditation Retreat Recap

One Dharma just completed our fourth Spring Renewal Residential Retreat at Bethany Hills. Each April I especially enjoy our time in this beautiful and natural setting where our hearts can open in tandem with the flowers and leaves after spring rains.

Ferns by the Pond at Bethany Hills

Ferns by the Pond at Bethany Hills

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Altar Flowers by Frankie Fachilla

I appreciate all of nature’s seasons but spring is my favorite. In my twenties, during some of the darkest, loneliest years of my life, immersing myself in spring each year gave me a sense of possibility that my life could be more than the sadness and grief I lived with daily. As I witnessed newly leafed trees growing greener each day, purple wild iris opening along the water’s edge, and birds breaking into a melodious but raucous symphony every morning as the sun rose, I allowed my heart to open completely, to release my armor and touch the warmth and vulnerability of new life. This tenderness of heart nourished and fortified me through this otherwise long and lonely season of my life. Slowly, as the years passed and I reached my 30’s, the possibility of renewal that had once seemed so removed from the rest of my life blossomed at last. This awakening enabled me to live my life more fully, to move through my grief and find friends and love again. Thank you spring for sustaining and warming my heart when I had no other way to touch this moment with love and gratitude.

Double Web

Double Web

These two lovely poems, speak to the retreat experience of opening heart and mind in this moment. Both were written by attendees at our spring retreat.

Water Meditation

Water extinguishes fire
Takes away the angry,
burning desire to eat
everything in its path.
Be water,
drown in this moment.
Watch the world and its stories
pass like waves.
They aren’t yours to grab.
Try to grab them and
they disappear like
scattered stars,
reforming later, still
constellations of emptiness.

Instead, let the waves
crash over you,
their powerful fingers
tear at you then recede
into foamy nothing.
Crash and recede, crash and recede.
Nothing to do
but feel the sun.

– Andrea Hewitt

Cattails by Pond

Cattails by Pond

The retreat ended, rain stopped.
The geese have landed at the lake,
Sun shining thru clouds, I see clearly.

– Jeff Miller

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Clear Skies Reflected in Pond

Residential Retreat: Awakening a Spacious Heart through Lovingkindness Meditation

I’m excited to be leading this residential retreat at the beautiful Flowering Lotus Retreat Center in Magnolia Mississippi, May 15 – 17. I hope you’ll join me!

With an emphasis on lovingkindness, this silent retreat will focus on cultivating what the Buddha called “the immeasurable states of heart and mind” – the Brahma Viharas or Divine Abodes. These are the qualities of love, compassion, joy and equanimity that reside in us all.

Our innate lovingkindness will be strengthened and enhanced through learning the formal practice of metta, along with brahma vihara instructions, sitting and walking meditation and dharma talks. As our hearts awaken through lovingkindness, we will discover a deeper sense of self-acceptance, self-confidence, openness and interconnection with all of life.

For more information and to register go here.

Inspiration: Zen Garden and Meditation at Vanderbilt

cherry

Zen Garden at Vanderbilt

A few weeks ago I received an invitation from a Vanderbilt University student to lead an hour long meditation workshop designed to coincide with the opening of their Zen Garden. The new garden is just outside of the Office of Religious Studies on campus. I accepted the invite even though it was short notice, and I’m very glad I did. It was an inspiring hour and I believe what I experienced bodes well for the future of Buddhist meditation in this country.

At the Zen Garden, a cherry tree was in full bloom, a perfect compliment to the serene and simple garden. We started with a dedication and went inside for a 20 minute guided meditation. The organizer had set up a Facebook event for the workshop not long before and 60 people RSVP’d. She was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough room and hoped closer to 20 would show up instead! As we gathered to meditate, about forty people joined in the circle. We all fit at close quarters without a problem. From the silence and stillness in the room, I could tell that many of the students had meditation experience.

After the meditation we had refreshments and an open discussion. I was truly inspired by the quality and depth of the questions. Meditation wasn’t a passing curiosity for many of these students. Their interest went beyond stress reduction or secular mindfulness; they wanted to know more about Buddhist mediation and how to deepen their practice, which most had already started. What inspired me the most is that a number of the students were clearly looking beyond the benefits they would personally accrue through meditation. They were interested in how the practice can help alleviate suffering for humanity as a whole. This is truly a wonderful intention that can be realized directly; our practice will ripple outward and positively impact those near and far.

May many of these students become life long meditators and help bring the dharma to future generations.