Summer Retreat at Southern Dharma

Intimate with All Things: Awakening with Breath, Body, Heart and Mind
July 8 – 12, 2016
Southern Dharma Retreat Center, Hot Springs, NC
Led by Lisa Ernst

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Please join me in a beautiful, rural location in the North Carolina Mountains for a four night summer meditation retreat. Southern Dharma is located in Hot Springs, North Carolina, a picturesque four hour drive from Nashville and Atlanta. Full information and registration are here.

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.

Spring Renewal Residential Meditation Retreat

Intimate With Life
Bethany Hills Retreat Center, Kingston Springs TN
Thursday Evening, April 16 – Sunday Noon April 19
Led by Lisa Ernst

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“Enlightenment is Intimacy With All Things” – Dogen

Each spring the earth awakens from its winter slumber as the days grow warmer and longer. Surrounded by newly leafed trees and rolling hills, we will renew our minds and hearts in the simple yet profound practice of sitting and walking meditation. Gradually this practice will lead us to intimacy with all of life as we touch the present moment with a kind and open heart.

This silent retreat will be held at Bethany Hills Retreat Center, Kingston Springs, TN. It will include sitting and walking meditaiton, instruction, dharma talks and private meetings with the teacher. Retreat cost is $225. Participation for all three days is required. Fee covers lodging and all meals. There will be a separate opportunity at the retreat to make a *dana offering (donation) to the teacher. Two sliding scale spots are available for those who need financial assistance. Paypal is available here. If paying by check, information and address are available at this  link. Please include your email address.

Lisa Ernst is a meditation teacher and founder of One Dharma Nashville. She has been meditating for 25 years and received dharma 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.

*Dana: According to the Buddha, generosity, or sharing what we have, is one of the central pillars of a spiritual life. In the act of giving we develop our ability to let go, cultivate a spirit of caring, and acknowledge the inter-connectedness that we all share.

Please contact onedharmaretreat@gmail.com for questions or to reserve your spot.

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.

Why Do a Residential Meditation Retreat?

I’m often asked this question by newer meditation students still unsure of the value of taking that “next step,” from home and group sitting practice to devoting three or more days to meditation. Could there possibly be more to it than just sitting and walking over and over again? Each person who decides to take this step will answer that question in his or her own unique way. I can elaborate, however, on some common experiences.

What I hear repeatedly from people after their first residential retreat is how deeply they settled into their meditation periodically through the course of the weekend. Nearly all new retreatants experience some resistance at the beginning of a retreat because the activities seem so removed from everyday life. But once they make peace with the retreat rhythm and lack of external distractions, they find a way of settling in that allows for substantial deepening of concentration (Samadhi).

Through this Samadhi, the door to insight gradually opens. This is where each person’s experience is unique – the fruits of insight manifest in myriad ways. It may reveal the very nature of mind, an opening into emptiness.  Some people will awaken to the endless arising and passing away of phenomena with equanimity. Fresh insights into difficult life challenges are common as well. Some people experience a deep opening of the heart with occasional or extended periods of  stillness and joy. Usually these openings, however they manifest, are exactly what a person needs at the time  – the wisdom of the dharma truly reveals itself through this process. It often differs from the expectations a person brought into the retreat, but letting go of fixed agendas is key to the unfolding of genuine insight.

Returning home, many people feel lighter and less caught in reactive patterns for a while. Others may feel heightened sensitivity because their hearts have opened so fully. Its important to maintain compassion and awareness during this transition back into everyday activities. At some point the after retreat high inevitably wears off, but the mind and heart retain a new depth of insight that can be accessed through continued practice.  Most people experience a greater appreciation for the value of meditation and many make a stronger commitment to their practice.