Stability and Clarity Daylong Meditation Retreat

Saturday, February 28, 2015, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Rural West Bellevue
Led by Lisa Ernst

Retreat full, wait list only

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Cultivating clear awareness of our present moment experience reveals insights into the nature of suffering and liberation. We 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.

Led by meditation teacher Lisa Ernst, this silent retreat is suitable for beginning as well as experienced students. The retreat will include periods of sitting and walking meditation, instructions and dharma talk. Cost is $50. There will be a separate opportunity at the retreat to make a dana (generosity) offering to the teacher. A reduced fee spot is available in the case of financial need. Please inquire for details.

You can pay through paypal  here or write a check, made out to One Dharma Nashville, and send to: One Dharma Nashville, 2301 12th Avenue South, Suite 202, Nashville, TN 37204. Please include your email address. For questions, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com.

Meditation or Medication?

“Allow dark times to season you.” Hafiz

25 years ago I took a hesitant step into a psychiatrist’s office. My boyfriend at the time was worried about my mental state and urged me to seek help. My grandmother had just died, preceded in death by my mother and my father. My grandmother was my last close family connection and I felt utterly alone. I had no idea what was happening to me as I sunk further and further into a dark hole of despair.

The psychiatrist said I was clinically depressed and wanted to prescribe anti depressant meditation. This threw me. I had been living with depression for so many years it seemed like an irreparable part of me. I had come to accept that I was chronically depressed and perhaps always would be. But as we talked, and I assessed my mental state more objectively, I knew in my heart that I couldn’t go on this way any longer. At that very moment I decided I would try meditation. I let the shrink know I would not be taking him up on his offer of medication, but I did agree to begin seeing a psychotherapist to help me deal with childhood trauma and grief from my losses. This was a vital step for my mental well being. But I knew therapy alone wouldn’t be enough. In fact, my new therapist was very supportive and encouraging that I had begun a meditation practice.

Taking up meditation was an easy decision for me. Looking back, I have no idea why I was so confident. 25 years ago there wasn’t nearly the volume of information on meditation and the brain that there is now. But I had always been inspired by Buddha’s emphasis on meditation as a part of the path to freedom from suffering. Intuitively I knew meditation was for me, but I also knew I would have to commit myself to the practice with my whole heart.

As a meditation teacher I frequently meet people who are seeking relief from stress and depression through meditation. Often they’ve read encouraging studies and scientific papers and they hope to see the same results. But it works for only a few. Its not that meditation isn’t effective; what I’ve consistently observed is that only a small number of people truly commit to the practice wholeheartedly. If relieving depression is the only reason to meditate, most people will become impatient and doubtful too soon to experience any significant change. Others will practice only sporadically, yet still expect results. This won’t work.

For some, meditation isn’t the right path, at least not initially. Certain mental illnesses need to be treated clinically and sitting in the midst of grief and depression may overwhelm or intensify anxiety. Some may combine medication with meditation initially. Longer term, meditation can be a wonderful way to further steady the mind and begin to see and relieve the roots of human suffering, of clinging and aversion.

When I began my meditation practice, I committed to sitting a minimum of 30 minutes each day. I gave myself no leeway at all on this. No matter what, I meditated daily. Sitting through grief, anxiety and fear, along with joy, equanimity and bliss. The practice itself stabilized my mind enough that I could stay present in my experience without being overwhelmed. As Thich Nhat Hanh explained, “when we go home to ourselves with the energy of mindfulness, we’re no longer afraid of being overwhelmed by the energy of suffering. Mindfulness gives us the strength to look deeply and give rise to understanding and compassion.”

I quickly forgot about whether meditation was helping with my depression. I became so interested in the process itself that my mental state actually took a back seat. Not that it was unimportant, but it wasn’t my primary focus. Studying and seeing my mind, as well as the world around me, in such an intimate way each day fascinated me. Those moments when I broke through a barrier to deeper insight into my heart and mind had a liberating and profound effect on me.

Gradually, almost without even noticing it, my depression lifted and I became less isolated and lonely. Even today, daily meditation is a foundational element of my mental health even though it isn’t the primary reason I’ve continued to practice.

Some people will take up a serious meditation practice at a very dark and desperate time in their lives and it works – they begin feeling better and slowly their meditation practice falls away. Maybe it was all they needed and they had no further aspiration with this form of practice. Personally I’m glad I didn’t stop. I so appreciate the clarity that arises when I witness and experience the myriad manifestations of thought and emotion I encounter. Most of all, this path has helped me deepen compassion for myself and others, to pierce the illusion of a separate self, which allows me to be more kind, open and receptive to life in its ever changing forms.

7 Day Residential Retreat Recap

One Dharma held its first 7 day residential retreat in early November at Bethany Hills Retreat Center in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. By all measures it was a success and I anticipate we will do another one when the time is right.

We had all levels of experience, from three out of towners who had sat countless long retreats, to three who where on their first ever residential retreat. Sooner or later, all settled into the rhythm of deep practice and many reported transformative openings and insights during the week.

Here is a photo guide of our retreat. Thanks to Frankie Fachilla for contributing the photos..

Once the temps dropped, we had a fire going continuously in the meditation hall. Photo by Frankie Fachilla

Once the temps dropped, we had a fire going continuously in the meditation hall. Photo by Frankie Fachilla

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Our retreat altar. Photo by Frankie Fachilla

This  stray cat was quite friendly and had a way of slipping through the lodge door. One of our retreat attendees, Christie Bates, kindly adopted the cat, now named Khit Nhat Hanh. Photo by Frankie Fachilla

This stray cat was quite friendly and had a way of slipping through the lodge door. One of our retreat attendees, Christie Bates, kindly adopted the cat, now named Khit Nhat Hanh. Photo by Frankie Fachilla

Still some leaves hanging on. The paths and trails around Bethany Hills Camp provided some good hiking opportunities. Photo by Frankie Fachilla

Still some leaves hanging on. The paths and trails around Bethany Hills Camp provided some good hiking opportunities. Photo by Frankie Fachilla

These rocking chairs on the deck weren't used too often once the "arcitc blast" hit on Wednesday. They still looked inviting. Photo by Frankie Fachilla

These rocking chairs on the deck weren’t used too often once the “arcitc blast” hit on Wednesday. They still looked inviting. Photo by Frankie Fachilla

We closed the retreat with this offering of merit:

The Buddha said that when we dedicate merit, it is just like adding a drop of water to the ocean. Just as a drop of water added to the ocean will not dry up but will exist as long as the ocean exists, so too, if we dedicate the merit of any virtuous action, it merges with the vast ocean of merit and endures until enlightenment.  ~Padmasambhava

By the power of this compassionate practice,

May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness

May all beings be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow

May all live in equanimity.

Update — Fall 7 Day Residential Retreat near Nashville

Sunday Evening, November 9 – Sunday Noon, November 16

Sponsored by One Dharma Nashville

Bethany Hills Retreat Center, Kingston Springs, TN

Led by Lisa Ernst

398b3-lotusblossomAs winter approaches and daylight wanes, there is a natural tendency slow down and turn inward. Yet, in the busyness of the approaching holiday season we may forget that true refuge is right where we are. This silent retreat will focus on cultivating a quality of compassionate presence that embraces our experience with equanimity and insight. Through this practice we begin to pierce the illusion of separateness and taste the joy of interconnectedness to all things.

The retreat is offered on a sliding scale basis from $425 – $550, which includes lodging and all meals. Teacher compensation (dana) is separate. A deposit of $300 is due upon registration with the balance due no later than November 1. To make your deposit, go here. For paypal, please use the donate button. For questions, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com.

Lisa Ernst is an authorized Buddhist Meditation teacher in the Thai Forest lineage of Ajahn Chah, Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman. She is the founder of One Dharma Nashville. In her teaching, Lisa emphasizes both transformational insight and everyday awakening as an invitation to embrace all of the path’s possibilities. She regularly leads classes, daylong and residential meditation retreats.

For questions, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com

Fall 7 Day Meditation Retreat near Nashville

Sunday Evening, November 9 – Sunday Noon, November 16, 2014
Bethany Hills Retreat Center, Kingston Springs, TN
Led by Lisa Ernst
Early Deposit deadline: July 22
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Please join us for a rare opportunity to participate in a seven day meditation retreat in Middle Tennessee. Week long retreats offer a sustained opportunity to unplug and move deeply into the silence of heart and mind, where we access insight and compassion. We also enrich and revitalize our daily lives through this gift of extended retreat.

We’re currently seeking a commitment from a core group of practitioners to move forward. If you would like to support and participate in this retreat, we’ll need a $75 deposit by July 22. This retreat will be offered on a sliding scale basis from $425 – $550, which includes lodging and all meals. Teacher compensation (dana) is separate.

Lisa Ernst is a Buddhist Meditation teacher, artist and founder of One Dharma Nashville. In her teaching, Lisa emphasizes both transformational insight and everyday awakening as an invitation to embrace all of the path’s possibilities. She regularly leads classes, daylong and residential meditation retreats.

Deposits can be made through Paypal here or mailed to One Dharma Nashville, c/o 12 South Dharma Center, 2301 12th Ave. S. Nashville, TN 37204. Be sure to include your email address.
For questions email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com.