December Residential Retreat at Bethany Hills

Intimate with Life
Awakening with Breath, Body, Heart and Mind

Retreat Full, Waitlist Open

Thursday Evening, December 6 – Sunday Noon, December 9. Extended option to December 11.

Please join us for a rural retreat near Nashville at the Bethany Hills Retreat Center. In this retreat we will stabilize attention and deepen concentration through the breath and body, then gradually open our awareness to the boundless space of mind and heart. The retreat will include mindfulness, open awareness and compassion practices. These practices help us cultivate a quality of compassionate presence that embraces even our most difficult experiences with equanimity and insight. The practices also empower and support us in our challenging everyday lives. As we awaken from the illusion of separateness, we experience intimacy and interconnection with all things.

This silent retreat will include sitting and walking meditation, instruction, dharma talks and private meetings with the teacher. Retreat cost is $265 if paid by November 6; $290 after. The five night option is $425 if paid by November 7; $450 after. A $100 deposit holds your spot. Please indicate if you will be attending the three or five night option. The retreat fee covers lodging and all meals. The teacher is compensated separately through the practice of dana (generosity) from those who attend the retreat. There will be an opportunity at the retreat to make a generosity offering to the teacher. A scholarship spot is available if you need financial assistance. To join the waitlist, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com.

You can make your payment at the Paypal button below (paying the either the deposit or full amount) or by check, made out to One Dharma Nashville and mailed to One Dharma Nashville, P.O. Box 158533, Nashville, TN 37215.

Lisa Ernst is a meditation teacher in the Thai Forest lineage of Ajahn Chah, Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman. She leads classes and retreats nationally. She is a visiting teacher at Spirit Rock meditation Center in Woodacre, CA.

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Dharma Talk: Lovingkindness and Interconnection in Challenging Times

How do we keep our hearts open and remember interconnection even when so much of our world is polarized right now? This talk explores these questions and focuses on what the Buddha recommends about kindness and compassion, even for our “enemies.”

Freeing Our Minds and Hearts: Making Space Beyond the Physical Body

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“When your mind feels tight and constricted, you can make more space.” You’ve probably heard this before about meditation practice, but what specifically are we talking about here? The problem isn’t that there’s a lack of space, but the way our minds perceive space, which is related to our identity.

Most people think of the boundary of the body as a point of identity. That is, my thoughts, feelings, perceptions, heart, personality, all reside within my body. So the body is home and herein lies myself. This is who I am and where I exist. Everything I’m made of is inside is me, what’s outside is not me, or it may be related to me but still separate.

This boundary is useful and necessary living in the world. But it also has limitations when we only perceive ourselves through this narrow lens.

At times we may know that our hearts, our love, extend beyond the body. We may also feel compassion for the suffering of others and sense the boundary melting a bit. True lovingkindness and compassion function as a relative expression of emptiness or not-self. They are like a river that flows from a reservoir within our heart. But the reservoir doesn’t dry up – it has an infinite source because it isn’t limited to our body.

When we meditate we begin to see this perceived boundary of the body dissolve, we see that what we think of as “me” doesn’t have a distinct beginning and ending point. This is a liberating insight and is often an early aspect of understanding not-self. At times, we may feel less compelled to put so much energy into simply solving our own problems and “fixing myself.” This brings to mind Lenoard Cohen’s famous poem:

“Ring the bells that can still ring

Forget your perfect offering

There’s a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.”

If we only view difficult emotions and as existing inside “me” there is often a feeling of tightness, a lack of space and confusion about what we should do. When the focus is mainly on myself, other conditions seem to disappear. Yet, as we sit, as our concentration deepens, the mental focus on self loosens up. The sensations of anger, sadness and fear are seen as conditions that arise and pass away and are not “myself,” even though we experience them in our bodies. As this happens, gradually, or perhaps quickly, a feeling of space opens.

When we understand that our minds are not simply in our physical bodies, our mental boundaries open and our awareness feels less constricted. From this perspective, our challenges and pain may still exist, but now the great sky of mind has room to include them all. We have access to our wise heart that sees conditions for what they are, without the limits of “inside and outside,” and our path becomes clearer.

“If you attain your true self, then if you die in one hour, in one day, or in one month, it is no problem. If you only do “fixing-your-body” meditation, you will mostly be concerned with your body. But some day, when it’s time for your body to die, this meditation will not help, so you will not believe in it. This means it is not correct meditation. If you do correct meditation, being sick sometimes is OK; suffering sometimes is OK; dying someday is OK. The Buddha said, “If you keep a clear mind moment to moment, then you will get happiness everywhere.” ― Zen Master Seung Sahn

To open our awareness to this clear mind, try my guided “Mind Like Sky” meditation here.

 

 

New Dharma Talk: Waking up to Our Spiritual Freedom

Our spiritual freedom is always available, even in the presence of difficulty, constriction and suffering. A moment of compassionate remembering and we can find release and freedom in this very moment.