Why Sangha Matters

“Sangha is crucial. If you are without a sangha you lose your practice very soon. In our tradition we say that without the Sangha you are like a tiger that has left his mountain and gone to the lowlands – he will be caught and killed by humans. If you practice without a Sangha you are abandoning your practice.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

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2018 Fall Retreat with Red Clay Sangha

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One Dharma Has Moved!

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Starting Monday night, October 8, we will meet at 530 26th Avenue North at the beautiful Nashville Friends Meeting. Our regular weekly meditation sessions are changing to Monday nights from Tuesdays. Same hours, 7 – 8:30 p.m. and same program. We hope to see you there!

Why Are Retreats a Vital Part of Practice?

Why Are Retreats a Vital Part of Practice?

Retreats are powerful. They give you a chance to reset, refresh, and de-clutter your mind. They offer time to resolve unfinished things in your heart, to learn to see yourself and the world with eyes of compassion and forgiveness.

Retreats help to attune to your inner rhythms and to the immense current of universal life flowing through you as you. On retreat you can let your guard down, let your heart open and your bodymind unwind. In the safety and refuge of community, you learn to relax and rest in the richness of life as it is. And at the end of the retreat the benefit is visible: whether it’s a day or a week or longer, everyone looks younger, more open, clear-eyed, and radiant.

Take a moment now and ask yourself: is it time for a retreat? Can a retreat serve you? What might be stopping you from taking time to support your being in this healthy way? Retreats can be healing, transformative and profound, so I encourage you to dip your toes in and explore. You’ll be glad you did!

Trudy Goodman
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I can certainly attest to the power of retreat in my own life. One week after my first time on a meditation cushion I attended a daylong meditation retreat. It was challenging and much of the time I had no idea what I was doing. But as I walked to my car at the end of the day, I felt a clarity and lightness that I had never known before. I knew right then that I would make retreats a priority in my life. They became an oasis of calm and lucidity during a turbulent time in my life. I continued to retreat regularly as my life settled down – they served as vital maintenance for my heart and mind. They still do.

For the committed practitioner, meditation retreats are not a luxury but an essential part of deepening their practice. Concentrated time spent away from daily distractions allows access to parts of our minds and hearts that are normally out of reach; retreats help us contact our deepest evaded realities.

Retreats of various duration are available year round, anywhere from half day or daylong retreats to 7 or 10 day retreats (or more). If your life situation prevents you from traveling afar or carving out chunks of time for retreats, take advantage of nearby half-day and daylong retreats as often as you can and shorter residential retreats that only last a weekend. But do make them a priority as you deepen and sustain your practice.

Lisa Ernst

Ichi-go Ichi-e: One Chance in a Lifetime

Each moment is unique and precious because it will never come again. Buddha recommended contemplating impermanence so we can better appreciate and wake up in this moment, our only moment. Out of this awareness of the fleeting nature of life arises deep gratitude. The Japanese call it Ichi-go Ichi-e, one chance in a lifetime, never to come again.

At Home in Beginner’s Mind Awakening to the Boundless Possibility of This Moment

Saturday, October 27, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Nashville Friends Meeting, Led by Lisa Ernst

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” Suzuki Roshi

When we look at situations through the lens of our past conditioning, often expectations and fears mislead us. Meditation practice helps us to see with clear eyes and an open heart, meeting each moment as an open field of possibility, unstained by past conditioning. This is the beginner’s mind that refreshes our view of life and how we connect with the world.

In this retreat we will return to the simplicity of breath and body, then gradually open our awareness to include all that is appearing and passing away in this moment. Spiritual freedom arises through this capacity to touch our ever-changing life with a fresh heart that sees no ultimate separation. All levels of experience are welcome, from those new to retreats to experienced practitioners who wish to refresh and return the home of beginner’s mind.

Led by Lisa Ernst, the retreat will include sitting and waking meditation, instructions, dharma talk and q&a. Please bring a bag lunch. Cost is $50 plus dana (generosity offering) to the teacher. A reduced fee scholarship spot is available in the case of financial need. You can make your payment by Paypal here or by check, mailing instructions are here. An email will be sent in advance of the retreat with more details. For questions email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com.

 

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.

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.

The Heart’s True Refuge Retreat: Finding Freedom in Compassionate Presence

Fall Retreat With Red Clay Sangha, North Georgia Mountains, Sautee, GA
Thursday evening, September 27 – Sunday Noon September 30
Led by Lisa Ernst

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True refuge is turning toward our experience and finding freedom in the way things are. This silent retreat will provide a time to turn inward, to give our hearts and minds a respite during these challenging and often chaotic times. We will cultivate a quality compassionate presence that embraces our joys and sorrows with equanimity and insight. Through these practices, we begin to dissolve the illusion of separateness and taste the joy of interconnectedness to all things.

This retreat, held mostly in silence, will include periods of sitting and walking meditation, daily instructions and dharma talks, q&a and optional meetings with the teacher. All levels of experience are welcome. Cost is $175 and includes lodging and all meals. Teacher compensation is separate and is offered on a dana (generosity) basis.

Lisa Ernst is a meditation teacher, visual artist and founder of One Dharma Nashville. She has been meditating for over 25 years in the Zen and Vipassana traditions and received teaching authorization in the Thai Forest lineage of Ajahn Chah, Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman. Lisa offers meditation training and retreats nationally and she is a visiting teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA.

Go here to register.