Mindfulness Training at Osher

One Dharma Nashville

The Osher Center at Vanderbilt will be offering a professional development program in mindfulness facilitation starting on February 10.

I’ll be guest teaching as my schedule permits. The name of the program is “Professional Development in Mindfulness Facilitation, Diving Deep, Giving Back.” This promises to be an excellent program, worth checking out. Full information is here.

View original post

Daylong Meditation Retreat: Cultivating Clarity Through Living the Questions

Saturday, January 28, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Birdsong Retreat Center, Ashland City, TN
Led by Lisa Ernst

birdsong

Birdsong Retreat Center

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Please join us at a beautiful, rural retreat location for a day of practice. During the winter months it is customary to look inward to clarify our deepest intentions, yet unanswered questions may stand in the way of knowing what our true priorities are. During this day of practice, we will have the opportunity to practice opening our hearts to our unresolved questions and inner dilemmas. These questions contain a rich source of insight; learning to live them brings about a radical shift that opens the door to clarity and equanimity.
This retreat is appropriate for all levels of experience.

Led by Lisa Ernst, the retreat will include sitting and walking meditation, practice instructions, and a dharma talk. Cost is $50 plus dana (donation) to the teacher. A scholarship option is offered. Paypal is available here. Instructions for paying by check are here.  Be sure to include your email address. Retreat information and directions will be provided in advance of the retreat. For questions, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com

Three Night Residential Retreat – Touching the Boundless Heart: Dharma Wisdom for Difficult Times

Thursday, March 2 – Sunday March 5
Heartwood Refuge Retreat Center
Hendersonville, NC

Cultivating clear awareness of our present moment experience reveals insights into the nature of suffering and liberation. Through the practices of mindfulness, open awareness and lovingkindness, we begin to see that everything that arises is not my “self” but a display of impermanent conditions. When the mind sees life through this clarity and is unclouded by confusion, we create the foundation for well-being, joy and equanimity that includes ourselves, our loved ones, all who suffer, and our great earth.

This retreat, conducted mostly in silence, is suitable for both beginning and experienced meditators. It will include periods of sitting and walking meditation, dharma talks, Q&A and meetings with the teacher.

Lisa has been meditating for over 25 years in the Zen and Vipassana traditions. She received teaching authorization in the Thai Forest lineage of Ajahn Chah, Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman. In her teaching, Lisa emphasizes both transformational insight and everyday awakening as an invitation to embrace all of the path’s possibilities. Lisa is the founder of One Dharma Nashville and she teaches workshops and retreats nationally. She is a visiting teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA.

Registration and more information here.

Pali Language as a Pathway to Understanding Buddha’s Teachings

Online Interactive Course Taught by Jeffrey Samuels, Ph.D.
12 Week Course starting January 26
Thursdays, 7 – 8:30 p.m. 2017

Ever wonder what the Buddha really taught? Ever want to read and understand the Buddha’s sermons in their original Pali language? In January we will begin a Pali course that is designed specifically for students of Buddhism interested in reading Pali Buddhist texts. The course text that we will use for learning Pali grammar and vocabulary is focused on a wide range of Buddhist literature including sermons, verses from the Dhammapada, passages from the disciplinary texts, the Questions of King Milinda, and more. This challenging 12 week course will conclude with the completion of half of A New Course in Reading Pali, a book designed to have students reading a variety of Pali material.

This course is being offered online through video conferencing that enables a full classroom experience with teacher and group interaction. Each class lasts1.5 hours. The sessions will be recorded in case you need to miss one of the classes.

Course fee is $150 – $200 sliding scale, plus $20 for the book, which can be ordered online. Please pay at the highest level you can afford so we can accommodate those who need to pay less. A $50 deposit reserves your spot with the balance due by January 19. A scholarship spot is available in the case of financial need.

Jeffrey Samuels is Professor of religious studies at Western Kentucky University. He received a Ph.D. in Buddhist studies from the University of Virginia in 2002. He has been teaching courses on Buddhism and Pali at WKU since 2001. He began meditating in 1987 under the Thai Forest monk Ajahn Buddhadasa. He has completed several long meditation retreats in Thailand under Mahasi Sayaadaw teachers as well as retreats in the U.S. under the Thai teacher Sobin S. Namto. Most recently he has been practicing with One Dharma Nashville and Lisa Ernst.

To pay by paypal, go here. To pay by check, instructions are here. Be sure to include your email address. For specific questions about the course, email jeffrey.samuels@wku.edu. For inquires about a scholarship rate, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com. Please note that course refunds are not available after the payment deadline of January 19.

Basics of Mindfulness Meditation and Lovingkindness Course

January 19 & 26, February 9 & 16, 2017
Led by Paloma Cain
7 – 8:30 p.m., Healing Well Yoga, 3808 Park Avenue Nashville
Sponsored by One Dharma Nashville

This four session course is appropriate for beginners as well as more experienced meditators who would like to nurture a continuity of mindfulness in a group setting. In a step by step process you will learn the basics of insight meditation and lovingkindness practices. You will learn to be more in touch with your body and emotions and develop a healthier relationship with your thoughts. You will leave the class with tools to establish an effective, ongoing practice. These practices will help you expand your capacity for well-being and self compassion. This class will provide a supportive environment with ample time for discussion and Q&A.

Course fee is $120. It can be paid by Paypal here. If paying by check, instructions are at this link. Please include your email address. A reduced fee option is available in the case of financial need. Please inquire to onedharmaretreat@gmail.com

Paloma Cain, MA, has been studying and practicing meditation since 1997. Her work is informed by her studies in Insight Meditation, Tibetan Buddhism, clinical and depth psychology, religious studies and the visual arts. She has trained staff at Los Angeles area hospitals, and is currently working on a professional mindfulness training program at the Osher Center at Vanderbilt. She also leads retreat at St Mary’s Sewanee and teaches classes in mindfulness meditation, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindful Parenting. Paloma lives with her family in Nashville.

New Year’s Half Day Retreat

The Power of Intention: Clarifying Your Path for the New Year
Sunday, January 1 2017, 9 a.m. – Noon
Blooma Yoga, 4107 Charlotte Ave.
Led by Lisa Ernst

IMG_3391

“One of the Buddha’s most penetrating discoveries is that our intentions are the main factors shaping our lives and that they can be mastered as a skill.” – Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Start your New Year on the cushion by joining us for a half day intention setting retreat. At the beginning of a New Year, it is customary to take stock of our lives and the world we live in, to review the previous year and set our intentions for the upcoming twelve months and beyond. Bringing this evaluation onto the cushion, to look with fresh eyes and an open heart, can help us refine and clarify our direction and to live from the truest part of ourselves.

Led by meditation teacher Lisa Ernst, the retreat will include periods of sitting and walking meditation, dharma talk and discussion. Cost is $40 – $50, sliding scale and is due by Wednesday, December 28. A reduced fee option is available for those who need financial support. Paypal is available here. If paying by check, instructions are here. Be sure to include your email address For questions, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com.

Compassion For All

This dharma talks explores finding ground in groundlessness and why its important to keep our hearts open to compassion for all. This includes lessons from my own personal experience and from spiritual and civil right leaders such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Martin Luther King, Jr and John Lewis.

“Hatred Will Never Let You Face the Beast in Man”

whitegroup

I’m seeing two trends since the election that are ultimately in opposition to each other. The first is that people are feeling galvanized to get involved, to take action and speak up when they see injustice, to connect and engage with communities that need our support. Right now we truly need people who are willing to get involved and not remain silent. This is an ideal time for Buddhists to engage and not leave our wisdom on the cushion.

The post election down side is that many are using this situation to justify division, intolerance and even hatred. “Its different this time,” I see again and again. But whatever their justifications, this mindset can quickly lead to escalated division, fear and hatred. To me, this is both disturbing and sad.

What’s a better approach? First, we need to understand that standing up for what’s right and helping those who feel vulnerable (including ourselves) is not incompatible with unconditional compassion and “loving the enemy.”

Many of our greatest spiritual leaders have emphasized this point, even while they spoke out and took a stand. On Saturday I heard a beautiful message from civil rights icon John Lewis on this point, as he referenced the role model of non-violent resistance they used during the civil rights movement, Mahatma Gandhi. Martin Luther King Jr. understood the downward spiral of hating those who hate you. “In a real sense all life is inter-related,” he wrote in “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” “All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” This is up to all of us.

Buddha taught us that we must cultivate compassion for all beings, without exception. This doesn’t mean that we stand by passively while people trample over us, or behave with hatred and violence toward those who are vulnerable. Compassion isn’t incompatible with firm boundaries that declare, “this is not ok.” If we begin to justify holding hate in our hearts, we become no different from those we feel in opposition to. The Dalai Lama understood this, even as he was exiled from his homeland of China. And Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.”

Thich Nhat has been one of the most eloquent voices advocating that we always remember interconnection and that we love our enemies. Not that it’s an easy easy path. We have to overcome habitual tendencies to create division that naturally arise out of fear.

Here’s Recommendation, a powerful poem in which Thich Nhat Hanh encourages compassion for all, without exception.

Recommendation” by Thich Nhat Hahn
Promise me,
promise me this day,
promise me now,
while the sun is overhead
exactly at the zenith,
promise me:

Even as they
strike you down
with a mountain of hatred and violence;
even as they step on you and crush you
like a worm,
even as they dismember and disembowel you,
remember, brother,
remember:
man is not our enemy.

The only thing worthy of you is compassion –
invincible, limitless, unconditional.
Hatred will never let you face
the beast in man.

One day, when you face this beast alone,
with your courage intact, your eyes kind,
untroubled
(even as no one sees them),
out of your smile
will bloom a flower.
And those who love you
will behold you
across ten thousand worlds of birth and dying.

Alone again,
I will go on with bent head,
knowing that love has become eternal.
On the long, rough road,
the sun and the moon
will continue to shine.

This poem was written in 1965 in Vietnam for the School of Youth Social Service. This group rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives. They worked with the Buddhist principles of non-violence. Thich Nhat Hahn was banned from his homeland in 1966. He has never become bitter or let hate fill his heart even as he became a great teacher for the world. If he had not had this heart of compassion and interconnection, its doubtful he would have risen to the stature he has. His mind and heart were bigger than those who  created division, destruction and war. May we all remember to keep love and compassion in our hearts, even while answering the call to step up and make a difference in these challenging times.

You Don’t Have to Get Rid of Your Discomfort

IMG_1427

Since the election many people have reported feeling edgy, very unsettled and uncomfortable and the feelings are not going away. Most of us have been taught since childhood that these are not good feelings and we should try and get rid of them. Even as meditation practitioners, we may feel that this discomfort is something to “meditate away.” But that’s not a skillful outlook.

It’s ok to feel uncomfortable right now, it’s a completely appropriate response that doesn’t need to be assuaged or mitigated. The problem comes when we are at odds with it, when we feel we are “wrong” in some way for these feelings or if we act out in harmful ways to ourselves or others because we don’t know what to do.

Since the election, I have felt acutely uneasy for over a week. I had to avoid the mindset that I should be at peace and at ease. Growing up I experienced a significant amount of trauma and it stayed with me many years into adulthood. My father was an alcoholic and when he drank he was often violent and engaged in bullying, sexual abuse. and body shaming. After the election this trauma reemerged. But having spent years in therapy and with a meditation practice, I have the capacity to recognize and meet old trauma so that it doesn’t engulf me. I spent time with this response until it eased. Some may not have this capacity and discerning that is important. If you are continuing to feel traumatic discomfort, you may need to get help.

The discomfort I feel now is not traumatic but it brings me to an edge where I need to be awake to it, to continue cultivating my willingness to be present in the midst of it and not tell myself I should change the feelings in some way, or that there is something wrong with me. This is all about changing my relationship to what’s arising, not getting rid of it. This discomfort keeps me from feeling complacent; it keeps me awake. It is an edge that I have come to welcome and trust. When I have a welcoming relationship to the discomfort, I am in a better position to discern wise and compassionate action that is in alignment with my values.

I invite you to welcome your discomfort and let it be a teacher to you.