Browsing Category "Retreats"
23 Oct
Posted in: Retreats
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I’m Back

I’m back from the retreat with Mirabai and I have lots to share…but I think, for today, I’ll save the words and just post a few pictures.

Here’s me, outside the monastery, which as you can see, has had a few changes since it was built by Capuchin monks in the 1930s.








Here’s the front door.








Here’s what you see when you stand with your back to the door, looking out across the lawn to the Hudson River.







Here’s part of the sanctuary, where we met every morning…with a gold Buddha!








Here’s my room.










And here’s me again. So happy to be there.



17 Oct
Posted in: Retreats
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Back on Tuesday

I’m leaving early tomorrow morning to fly to New York, to meet with my first meditation teacher, Mirabai Bush, and to attend the Contemplative Retreat for Educators she’ll be leading.

I’m not an Educator, but Mirabai said it was OK. I attended two years ago and met lots of fascinating people, all doing very interesting work using contemplative practices to teach courses in a wide range of disciplines…this is where I learned the Now I See method I’ve been posting about….but really, I’m just going to be able to sit with Mirabai.

The retreat is held at the Garrison Institute. It’s in a beautiful, former monastery in Garrison, New York, located on the bluffs overlooking the Hudson River, about an hour north of New York City. I’ll take a train from Grand Central Station that goes right along the river all the way up to Garrison. (Which alone is almost worth the trip.) The retreat starts Thursday at dinner and goes through lunch on Sunday. (The food is awesome.) Then I’ll be staying over for a day of practice.

I’ll post about it all when I get back on Tuesday.

Stay tuned.

14 Sep
Posted in: Retreats
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Another Terrific Teacher

OK, this really is last minute, but I just found out that one of my DPP teachers, Anushka Fernandopulle, will be leading a 3-day silent retreat in the Chicago area, from Thursday, September 27 (starting at 4:00pm) through Sunday, September 30 (finishing at noon). The retreat is sponsored by Insight Chicago and will be held at the Cenacle Retreat and Conference Center.

Anushka is a terrific teacher. Her style is very down-to-earth, readily accessible, and at the same time deeply profound. I don’t know if there are spaces left, but if there are…and you happen to be able to get up to Chicago at the end of the month….go for it!

Click the registration link here for more info.

12 Sep
Posted in: Retreats
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In Our Own Backyard

My introduction to the Dharma was a 3-day (silent) Mindfulness Retreat, so maybe my view is skewed, but it seems clear to me that going on intensive meditation retreat is fundamental to progress along this path. (Plus formal meditation practice on a daily basis and active participation in a community of supportive practitioners.)

Unfortunately, we don’t have a Buddhist retreat center here in St. Louis, or a resident teacher, so we don’t have easy access to this very important aspect of the practice. BUT….we do have visiting teachers from time to time. AND….we do have centers of practice that offer affordable retreat opportunities, within driving distance.

For example, the Illinois Vipassana Meditation Center (near Chicago) offers almost year-round Vipassana (Mindfulness) retreats taught in the S.N. Goenka style. These are 10-day retreats, offered solely on a donation basis. All expenses are met by donation from those who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the same opportunity. Neither the teacher nor the assistant teachers receive remuneration; they and those who serve the courses volunteer their time. To find out more about the center, location and schedule, click here.

Several of our sangha members have attended these retreat courses and speak highly of them. They are intensive, and probably not for everyone. But the practice is well established and definitely worth checking out. I can put you in contact with someone who has attended one or more of these retreats, if you’re interested. Contact me here.

10 Sep
Posted in: Practice, Retreats
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Road Trip!

John Travis is leading a 9-day Retreat at Oakwood Retreat Center (near Muncie, Indiana) from October 19-28. It’s short notice (I just found out about this on Friday night), but if you can manage to arrange your schedule and make the trip….do it!

John is terrific. He is one of the teachers at the annual New Year’s Retreat at Spirit Rock, which is where I’ve sat with him. He’s deeply, deeply rooted in both Vipassana and Tibetan practices…has a sweet, gentle style and presence…and an amazing life story that includes living in India, Nepal, Thailand and Burma. You can read more about him here.

I’ve already committed to be at a different retreat, or I’d be going.

Tri-State Dharma is sponsoring this event. There’s no on-line registration, but if you’re interested, send an email to Joan Staubach or Bridget Rolens.

28 Aug
Posted in: Books, Retreats
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“Dancing” with Phillip

I talked with Phillip Moffitt after the retreat and told him about the two KM groups we’ve organized to discuss his book, Dancing with Life. I told him that one of the groups is taking the time to read the book out loud, word for word, during the meetings — then stopping to discuss whatever anyone wants to discuss. And that the other group is reading the book at home, in short sections, then bringing a sentence or two to discuss with the group.

He was really touched by the care and attention we are taking and asked that I post something about our methods on his Facebook page. (Which I did, here.)

He also said that I should emphasize to the groups that the 4 Noble Truths (which are what he uses for the basis of his book) are not just Truths that are Noble, but in fact, are Truths that Ennoble. He said that he mentioned this point in the book, but was advised not to press it too strongly, for fear (on the publisher’s part) that it would not be understood.

Seems pretty clear to me. But OK.

Phillip was very insistent that I make this point to the group. The truths that the Buddha taught are not just noble in themselves; they are truths that ennobles us.

There you go.

Straight from Phillip to you.

(image from  “Dancing in Colombia,” by Fernando Botero) 

27 Aug
Posted in: Retreats
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The Gift of Attention

I want to write about what it was like being on retreat, about the beauty of the land, the bell in the dark of the morning, the palpable presence of stillness in a room of 100 people, the happiness and the boredom, the discomfort, the striving, the confusion, and the peace. But it’s all just words.

What I really want is for you to experience this for yourself.

But I know that’s not possible for everyone.

If you can’t find a way to get away on retreat, then maybe you can find a quiet place, even for just a few minutes a day, where you can sit relaxed and undisturbed, and give the gift of attention to yourself.

Maybe you could even listen to one of the morning instructions we heard at the retreat, like this one here, given by Phillip Moffitt.

24 Aug
Posted in: Retreats
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So Quiet

I’m back from the Spirit Rock retreat and after 10 days of silence, I’m still feeling a bit of a loss for words. So I think I’ll just post some photos I took one morning, while I was taking a walk after breakfast.






















































10 Aug
Posted in: Retreats
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On Retreat till August 24

I’ll be at away on retreat at Spirit Rock from Monday, August 13 through Thursday, August 23, so I won’t be posting on Dharma Town till I get back. This will be my first retreat focused on Concentration Practice and I’m really looking forward to it. The teachers are Phillip Moffitt, Sally Armstrong, Andrea Fella and Tempel Smith.

Here’s what the Spirit Rock Program Calendar says about the retreat:
“Concentration (samadhi), defined as the collection and unification of the mind, was emphasized by the Buddha as one of the aspects of the Eightfold Path. It can bring joy to your practice and develop the skillful use of pleasure in the meditation process. Whatever your level of practice, you can improve your Insight Meditation (vipassana) by strengthening your concentration skills. Your ability to concentrate will develop in response to the attention you give it.

“The retreat offers a series of techniques for staying on the meditation object for extended periods of time. We will explore the factors of concentration that lead to the deep absorption states known as jhana. Teachers will also give instruction utilizing concentration during insight practice.”

Stay tuned!

(image from Sprit Rock publications)

25 May
Posted in: Money, Retreats
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Staying Alive

I loved the talk Tempel Smith gave at the DPP retreat on “Right Livelihood.” He explained that the Pail word “samma-ajiva,” which is traditionally translated as “right livelihood,” can more literally be translated as “right fire-of-life.” So it’s less “right career,” as I’ve always thought of it, and more “right way of feeding our fire, of sustaining our vitality.” The issue not so much what job do we have, but more what do we do to keep ourselves alive.

The talk offered questions, rather than answers. (As most great talks do.) For example:

“What is the impact of your work on your heart and mind?”

“How can you practice in your work as it is today?”

“Does your livelihood support your awakening?”

I leave these for you to ponder.






(image from Phantasmagoric Theatre Tarot)