Presence, Vulnerability and the Wise Heart

I gave this dharma talk shortly after finding out that a long time friend had died accidentally. I explore how cultivating presence and vulnerability, even in such difficult times, will open the door to the wise heart that knows the way to compassion and kindness for self and others.

Daylong Meditation Retreat: Touching the Boundless Mind and Heart


Please join us at a beautiful, rural West Bellevue location for a day of sitting and walking meditation. In this silent retreat, we will stabilize our attention and deepen concentration through the breath and body, then gradually open our awareness to the boundless space of mind and heart. These practices help us touch moments of freedom from our habitual patterns and thoughts and find equanimity in our present moment experience.

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.

Paypal is available 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

Riding Free

Its like you’re throwing away your canoe and oars and are riding the waves of emptiness. Its scary at first, you’ve no control. You feel vulnerable and completely without knowledge of where you are going, or even where you are. So you have to surrender completely to the waves when they come. It may take a while. It may take weeks or months or years. You may ask, “what if I drown?” Then I ask you, “who and what drowns? What do you lose? And what might you gain?”

You may decide to climb back into your canoe if you can. But if you’re truly on this path, the water will draw you in again and again until finally you drown and then you’re riding the waves and those waves are you, and you are the waves, there’s really no difference any more, and you arrive exactly where you need to be, where you always have been, but just didn’t know it until now. You are home.

~Lisa Ernst

Morning Beams

Morning Beams

Inspiration: Zen Garden and Meditation at Vanderbilt


Zen Garden at Vanderbilt

A few weeks ago I received an invitation from a Vanderbilt University student to lead an hour long meditation workshop designed to coincide with the opening of their Zen Garden. The new garden is just outside of the Office of Religious Studies on campus. I accepted the invite even though it was short notice, and I’m very glad I did. It was an inspiring hour and I believe what I experienced bodes well for the future of Buddhist meditation in this country.

At the Zen Garden, a cherry tree was in full bloom, a perfect compliment to the serene and simple garden. We started with a dedication and went inside for a 20 minute guided meditation. The organizer had set up a Facebook event for the workshop not long before and 60 people RSVP’d. She was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough room and hoped closer to 20 would show up instead! As we gathered to meditate, about forty people joined in the circle. We all fit at close quarters without a problem. From the silence and stillness in the room, I could tell that many of the students had meditation experience.

After the meditation we had refreshments and an open discussion. I was truly inspired by the quality and depth of the questions. Meditation wasn’t a passing curiosity for many of these students. Their interest went beyond stress reduction or secular mindfulness; they wanted to know more about Buddhist mediation and how to deepen their practice, which most had already started. What inspired me the most is that a number of the students were clearly looking beyond the benefits they would personally accrue through meditation. They were interested in how the practice can help alleviate suffering for humanity as a whole. This is truly a wonderful intention that can be realized directly; our practice will ripple outward and positively impact those near and far.

May many of these students become life long meditators and help bring the dharma to future generations.

The Dharma of Writing and Meditation Workshop

Saturday, January 31, 2015

9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Nashville Friend’s House

Led by Lisa Ernst


Please join us for a day of contemplative writing and meditation practice. We will cultivate writing inspiration through meditation and exercises that help us open our hearts to the truth of what we most want to express. These practices will also help us to communicate more eloquently from our authentic voice, both in written and verbal form. In addition, we will have an opportunity to share our writing in an atmosphere of compassionate support.

This workshop is suitable to beginning and experienced writers and meditators. Cost is $75 – $100, sliding scale. Please pay at the highest level you can afford so we can accommodate those who need reduced fee, scholarship spots. For a scholarship spot, please inquire to the email below. You can pay by Paypal here using the donate button. If paying by check, please make it out to One Dharma Nashville and send to 12 South Dharma Center, c/o One Dharma Nashville, 2301 12th Avenue South, Suite 202, Nashville, TN 37204.  Please include your email address.

Lisa has been meditating for 25 years in both the Zen and Vipassana traditions. She is the founder and guiding teacher of One Dharma Nashville. In addition to regularly teaching meditation classes and retreats, Lisa has written numerous articles for magazines, newspapers and newsletters. She was the technical editor for the current edition of Meditation for Dummies. Her blog include essays and poetry: For questions, email

Daylong Meditation Retreat in Nashville, September 14

The Joy of Refuge in This Moment

September 14, 2013, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Led by Lisa Ernst

IMG_0551Please join us at a beautiful and secluded West Nashville location for a day of sitting and walking meditation. We will cultivate appreciation and joy through taking refuge in this moment.

Led by meditation teacher Lisa Ernst, this silent retreat will focus on developing a quality of compassionate presence that embraces our experience with an open heart. Through this practice, we begin to find true refuge in the way things are.

This retreat is suitable for both beginning and experienced meditators; it will include sitting and walking meditation, practice instructions, and a dharma talk.

Cost: $50, plus dana (donation) to the teacher. A deposit of $50 reserves your spot and is due no later than September 9. Paypal is available here.  You can also bring your deposit to one of our Monday meditations or send a check made out to One Dharma Nashville to: 12 South Dharma Center, c/o One Dharma Nashville, 2301 12th Avenue South, Suite 202, Nashville, TN 37204. Be sure and include your email address. Directions and additional information will be emailed prior to the retreat.

Please contact with any questions.