Making Friends with Fear: Awakening The Courageous Heart in Difficult Times

Saturday, September 23, 9:00 a.m. – Noon
Nashville Friends Meeting
Led by Lisa Ernst

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Do you often hear messages that fear is bad or wrong and should be eliminated through positive thinking, mindfulness or other methods? In these difficult and challenging times, fear may even overwhelm.

What if we instead began to understand that fear is not wrong, that it is part of our human make up, and that facing it, even embracing it, is a vital part of fostering gratitude, compassion and freedom from suffering. In this workshop we will learn to lean in and make friends with fear by cultivating a courageous heart that embraces all of life without turning away. Through this process we can more readily help ourselves and others; we begin to relax and respond to life through a kind and awakened heart.

The workshop will include discourse on cultivating a courageous heart, experiential instructions in opening to fear, meditation and dharma talk. Cost is $50. A reduced fee option is available in the case of financial needs. Paypal is available here. Please use the “donate” button. If paying by check, instructions are at the same link. Be sure to include your email address. For questions, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com.

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How Do We Infect the World With Love?

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In this dharma talk I explore how practice can create an open, compassionate container for all of our responses and reactions to our current political and world environment. Then I ask, “how do we infect the world with love?,” and explore some possible answers.

Waking Up Through Anger and Love

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At times like this, you may be tempted to let the momentum of anger and outrage pull you away from meditation practice. In fact, sitting still with anger can be very uncomfortable. But don’t let that stop you. Keep sitting – not to get rid of anger, if that’s what you’re feeling, but to become intimate with it. Welcome the discomfort. In the stillness we can allow our awareness, our love, to embrace the anger. What is it telling us at the heart level? Perhaps as we sit, as the dust settles a bit, we become more aware of the fullness of the anger and what accompanies it. For me, right now I encounter sadness and fear for our country. I also encounter a love that can’t be vanquished by hate. Tears flow and I find room in my heart for it all. The beauty and the ugliness – they all serve to awaken my heart and remind me to remain steadfast in love while standing against hate, prejudice and separation, whether in my own heart or in the world.

I’m reminded of these verses from the Shambhala Warrior training:

“In the crucible of meditation, bring forth day by day into your own heart the treasury of compassion, wisdom and courage for which the world longs.

Sit with hatred until you feel the fear beneath it. Sit with fear until you feel the compassion beneath that.

Do not set your heart on particular results. Enjoy positive action for its own sake and rest confident that it will bear fruit.

When you see violence, greed and narrow-mindedness in the fullness of its power, walk straight into the heart of it, remaining open to the sky and in touch with the earth.

Staying open, staying grounded, remember that you are the inheritor of the strengths of thousands of generations of life.

Staying open, staying grounded, recall that the thankful prayers of future generations are silently with you.

Staying open, staying grounded, be confident in the magic and power that arise when people come together in a great cause.

Staying open, staying grounded, know that the deep forces of Nature will emerge to the aid of those who defend the Earth.

Staying open, staying grounded, have faith that the higher forces of wisdom and compassion will manifest through our actions for the healing of the world.

When you see weapons of hate, disarm them with love.
When you see armies of greed, meet them in the spirit of sharing.
When you see fortresses of narrow-mindedness, breach them with truth.
When you find yourself enshrouded in dark clouds of dread, dispel them with fearlessness.

When forces of power seek to isolate us from each other, reach out with joy.

In it all and through it all, holding to your intention, let go into the music of life. Dance!”

 

 

Mindfulness Training at Osher

The Osher Center at Vanderbilt will be offering a professional development program in mindfulness facilitation starting on August 25 and there’s still time to register.

I’ll be guest teaching as my schedule permits. The name of the program is “Professional Development in Mindfulness Facilitation.” This promises to be an excellent program, worth checking out. Full information is at the Osher class site link, scroll down until you see the class.

Michael Stone and The Dharma of Sudden Endings

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Michael Stone with Sylvia Boorstein and Teja Bell, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, 5/21/17

I met Michael Stone, a popular and beloved Buddhist meditation teacher, while teaching at Spirit Rock in May. We had a lovely dinner together and I got to know him just a bit. His death in July of a likely drug overdose resulting from bi-polar disorder was a shock to the international yoga and dharma community. Here I share my reflections on dharma, death and my brief but memorable encounter with Michael.

Notes: The photograph was taken by me at Michael’s request. The formal dharma talk ends at 19:05.

Fall Residential Retreat in The North Georgia Mountains

Take the Backward Step: Relaxing into Open Awareness
Four Night Residential Retreat, Wednesday, 10/4 through Sunday 10/8
Sautee Lodge, Sautee Georgia, Sponsored by Red Clay Sangha
Led by Lisa Ernst

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“Take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward.”
– Dogen

How we pay attention, both on and off the cushion, determines our experience. When we take the backward step, letting go of grasping and chasing after experience, the body and mind relax and the heart responds with compassion and clarity. We release the limiting stories of who we are and reconnect with our boundless, empty nature. We rest in the vastness and silence of awareness itself.

This residential 4 night retreat, held mostly in silence is recommended for both beginning and experienced meditators. Format will be Vipassana style sitting and walking segments and will include daily instructions, dharma talks and discussions. For additional details and registration, go here.

New Dharma Talk: Closing the Gap by Stepping In

In this dharma talk, Lisa explores the gap between expectation and reality, perception and direct experience. Through minding the gap and stepping in, we release our ideas of how things should be and find freedom and intimacy with life in its essence.