Awakening to Joy: The Art of Letting Go

Daylong Meditation Retreat, Saturday 7/14/18

Nashville Friends Meeting, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Led by Lisa Ernst


Life is a balance of effort and letting go. Meditation practice gives us tools to be present, to work with our minds and to uncover the heart’s true wisdom. This wisdom also points us toward letting go. As we release our personal agenda, spiritual joy arises through the capacity to touch this ever-changing life with a compassion and kindness that sees no ultimate separation.

The retreat is suitable for both beginning and experienced meditators; it will include periods of sitting and walking meditation, practice instructions, dharma talk and q&a.

Cost: $50 – 75 sliding scale, plus dana (donation) to the teacher. A scholarship spot is available in the case of financial need. Retreat payment is due by Monday, July 9. Directions and additional information will be emailed prior to the retreat. Payment can be made through paypal here. If paying by check, instructions are at this link. For questions, email


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


“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

The Scientist and The Baker

By Lisa Ernst

Most people who take up meditation will find over time that they are drawn to a particular practice style that becomes their foundational approach. Usually the approach will tend either toward what I call the “scientist” orientation or the “baker” orientation.

The scientist gets to know the object of his or her study through objective observation. This is a classic Vipassana style of practice, where the meditator uses an object of concentration to still and focus the mind. The value of this practice is in allowing the practitioner to observe arising phenomena such as physical sensations, emotions and thoughts without becoming swept away by attachment, aversion and personal identification.  Through committed practice, the meditator gains experiential insight into impermanence, suffering and no-self.

Bakers like to get their hands dirty, to put them in the flour and other ingredients and work with them as an extension of their bodies.  Through repeated practice, bakers lose the separation of themselves and the ingredients, diving deeply into immediate experience of baking.  In meditation, this style is known as direct experience, where the meditator immerses him or herself in whatever is arising and becomes “one” with it, losing a sense of fixed self and dissolving into emptiness. This sometimes challenging approach is associated with Zen and certain Tibetan forms of meditation, although it can be found in some Vipassana approaches as well.

I use the analogy of baking because, unlike other forms of cooking, it is a science. Without very specific ingredients in measured quantities, baking will fail. So without the underlying science to support the recipes, bakers won’t achieve successful outcomes.  Conversely, bakers provide sustenance for the scientists, resulting in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Although most meditators tend toward the scientist or baker style as their primary practice orientation, often they move between the two as needed as they become more experienced.

Which practice approach most closely fits your own?

“Seekers who disdain clamor to seek quietude are as it were throwing away flour but seeking cake. Cake is originally flour, which changes according to use. Afflictions are none other than enlightenment.”

–Pao-Chih, from THE ZEN READER