October 26 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 9 to 11 a.m. (see class description at end).
October 28-November 4 (Friday through Friday), Southern Dharma (North Carolina): Settling, Seeing, and Spacious Awareness: A Retreat for Experienced Practitioners, 7-Day Retreat. In the context of a small and intimate retreat, we will train in three inter-related modes of practice over the course of a week. First, we will settle and stabilize our minds and bodies, becoming more concentrated, through both sitting and moving forms of meditation, including regular Qigong. As we settle, we then become better able to examine closely both the different dimensions of our experience—our bodies, thoughts, and emotions—and the general patterns of experience, both more personal and more universal. We “see” more clearly where we are reactive, where we suffer, where there is a “thick” sense of self, and learn to be more with the impermanent flow of experience, transforming our reactivity and habits. We can also tune in more, as we settle and see, to an increasingly unconfined and luminous awareness beyond reactivity, that is a source of freedom, wisdom, and compassion, both in retreat practice and daily life. Prerequisite: Retreatants must have completed at least 2 5-day or longer silent insight meditation retreats or have permission of the Coordinating Teacher. For further information: http://www.southerndharma.org/retreat_rothberg.shtml.Prerequisite: Retreatants must have completed at least 2 5-day or longer silent insight meditation retreats or have permission of the Coordinating Teacher. For further information: http://www.southerndharma.org/retreat_rothberg.shtml.
November 4 (Friday), Asheville, North Carolina 7 to 8:30 p.m.Talk and discussion. Location: Baha’i Center, 5 Ravenscroft Dr., Asheville, NC. For further information: http://www.ashevillemeditation.com/.
November 10 (Thursday), Lexington, Kentucky: 7 to 9 p.m. Cultivating and Expressing Empathy as a Spiritual Practice. Empathy is a natural, innate quality of tuning into the experience of others, and of oneself. It also can become a fundamental kind of interpersonal “heart practice" of great importance in our daily life. In this talk and discussion, we’ll explore the nature of empathy and its importance, the biological basis for empathy, what gets in the way of empathy, several ways to practice empathy, and what empathy looks like when highly developed. Location: Shambhala Center, Mill & Max Contemplative Arts Gallery, 385 S. Mill Street. For further information: http://lexington.shambhala.org.
November 11-13 (weekend), Louisville, Kentucky: Non-Residential Retreat: Practicing with the Three Characteristics: Anicca (Impermanence), Dukkha (Reactivity or Unsatisfactoriness), and Anatta (Not-Self). In this mostly silent weekend retreat, we will explore, both through teachings and through silent meditation practice, the three fundamental modes of freeing insight in Buddhist insight meditation. When we do not see these three areas clearly, the mind, emotions, and body become fixated, habitual, and reactive, leading to suffering, confusion, and a lack of the free flow of our experience. When we are more aware of these areas, we learn to deconstruct and release such fixations, habits, and reactivity, opening more to a spacious and luminous awareness, to greater compassion, responsiveness, and freedom.
November 14 (Monday), Louisville, Kentucky, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Meditation, talk, and discussion. Location: Clifton Unitarian Church, 2231 Payne Street. Info: www.louisville-vipassana-community.org.
November 16, 23 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 9 to 11 a.m. (see class description at end).
November 19 (Saturday), Santa Cruz, California: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.: The “Thinning” of the Self: Exploring and Practicing Anattā (“Not-Self”). The teaching of anattā (“not-self”) points to one of the three fundamental areas of liberating insight taught by the Buddha (along with the teachings on impermanence and on suffering or dukkha). Yet anattā can very challenging and confusing for contemporary practitioners. How do we make sense of our feelings of individuality, identity, ancestry, and vocation? How do we address our own personal experiences of woundedness, trauma, and oppression? In this daylong, we will explore these vital questions primarily in a practical way. Using the metaphors of “thinning the self” and working with a “thick” sense of self, we will cover three aspects of practice: (1) cultivating the “thinning” of the self, both in meditation and in everyday life; (2) tracking and working with different manifestations of a “thick” sense of self; and (3) opening to experiencing beyond a fixed sense of self, as awareness, compassion, and responsiveness deepen. Insight Santa Cruz, 1010 Fair Avenue, further info at http://www.insightsantacruz.org/.
November 20 (Sunday), San Rafael: Marin Sunday Sangha, 5:45 to 8 p.m.: Meditation, movement, talk, discussion. Sangha founded by Phillip Moffitt and held at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. For further info, go to www.marinsangha.org.
November 28-December 4 (Monday to Sunday), Spirit Rock: From Mindfulness of Breath to Radiant Mind (with Susie Harrington and Erin Selover). In this retreat, we will explore, both through teachings and through silent meditation practice, a sequence of training that has three main parts, connecting our foundational mindfulness practice with opening to deeper awareness and greater freedom:
(1) Stabilizing attention and cultivating concentration, particularly through mindfulness of breathing;
(2) Developing insights into the "three characteristics" of experience (impermanence, suffering, and "not-self"), into where and how the mind fixates or grasps, and learning to release such fixations;
(3) Opening to a spacious awareness beyond fixation and grasping, to moments of freedom. Prerequisite: Retreatants must have at least 7 days of silent insight meditation retreat practice or permission.
December 7, 14 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 9 to 11 a.m. (see class description at end).
December 16 (Friday evening), Oakland: East Bay Meditation Center, 6.30 to 8.30 p.m.: Movement, meditation, and talk. 285 17th St., Oakland (near 19th St. Oakland BART), 510-268-0696, no fee, support for center and teacher on a dana (generosity or donation) basis. Info: http://www.eastbaymeditation.org/.
December 18-23 (Sunday to Friday), Spirit Rock: Insight Meditation Winter Solstice Retreat (with Heather Sundberg, John Travis), 5-Day Retreat. In this retreat, we will emphasize centering ourselves at the time of the holidays and the New Year, quieting our minds, grounding in our bodies, opening up our hearts, and using inquiry to help give energy to our practice. There will be a special emphasis on opening to the darkness, including to our difficulties and challenges, as well as to the coming light--such as beauty, joy and love. We will have a winter solstice ceremony. The retreat will include complete meditation instructions, sitting and walking meditation, daily lovingkindness practice, evening talks, and interviews.
December 26 (Monday evening class), Spirit Rock, 7:15 to 9:15 p.m.
December 28-January 3, 2017 (Wednesday to Tuesday), Cloud Mountain (north of Portland, OR): Cultivating Clear Seeing, Opening the Heart (with Heather Sundberg), 6-Day Retreat: In this New Year's retreat we will emphasize the development of wisdom and the awakened heart through practices that help us to quiet our minds, ground in our bodies, open our hearts, and strengthen mindfulness leading to insight. For further info, go to http://cloudmountain.org. Info: http://cloudmountain.org.
January 9-16 (Monday to Monday), Spirit Rock, Metta Retreat, 7-day retreat (with Sylvia Boorstein, Konda Mason [yoga], Heather Sundberg, and Larry Yang). Metta, or lovingkindness, practice is the cultivation of the intention of benevolence as the orientation of our heart and minds. It is also a path to wisdom. We develop in our capacity for metta through meditation (practiced steadfastly on retreat) in order for it to manifest in an ongoing way in our daily lives. In this retreat, we will learn the formal practice of metta along with its companion practices of compassion, joy, and equanimity. All four of these practices—known as the Brahma Viharas or Divine Abodes—strengthen self-confidence, self-acceptance, and steadiness of mind and heart, revealing our fundamental disposition toward kindness.
January 22, 29 (Sundays), San Rafael: Marin Sunday Sangha, 5:45 to 8 p.m.: Meditation, movement, talk, discussion. Sangha founded by Phillip Moffitt and held at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. For further info, go to www.marinsangha.org.
January 23-25 (Monday to Wednesday), Spirit Rock, 9:30 to 4:30 p.m. each day: The Three Ways of Seeing That Bring Liberation (with Anna Douglas), 3-day Non-Residential Retreat. From an initial basis in settling and stabilizing our minds and bodies, we will focus, for the three days of our retreat, on the three main forms of what the British teacher, Rob Burbea, calls “seeing that frees.” This is the heart of insight meditation! As we settle and are mindful of our bodies and sense experiences, emotions, and thoughts, we become better able to examine closely three general, universal patterns of experience. We learn to notice more fully and be more with the impermanent flow of experience. We see more clearly how we are reactive, how we suffer. And we track increasingly when and how there is a “thick” sense of self, tuning in more to an open and spacious awareness beyond reactivity and the thick self.
Within our exploration of these three modes of seeing that liberate, we will have three further themes. Related to beginning the New Year, we will be asking how we can “lighten our load” and focus on our priorities, letting go of any burdens, both inner and outer. We will also balance our emphasis on clear seeing with a resting in the heart of kindness and compassion. Thirdly, we will have an emphasis on how to bring these three modes of seeing into daily life, including in the evenings of our retreat.
January 28 (Saturday), San Rafael: Marin Sangha Daylong, 9:30 to 4:30 p.m.: The “Thinning” of the Self: Exploring and Practicing Anattā (“Not-Self”). See description for November 19. There will also be a fourth segment on developing in interpersonal empathy, which helps to cultivate a deepened sense of interdependence and further cut through the thick, independent self. Location: St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. Open to those who have attended at least one Marin Sangha Sunday gathering. For further info, go to www.marinsangha.org.
February 18 (Saturday), Sacramento, Daylong, 9:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Location:3111 Wisseman Drive, Sacramento, CA 95826. For info, go tohttp://www.sbmg.org/.
February 19 (Sunday), Spirit Rock, 9:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Cultivating Wise Speech: Becoming More Skillful in Your Speech Practice. Connecting our meditation practice with our speech and communication is one of the main ways to bring spiritual values into our everyday lives and our action in the world, and can help enliven and energize our practice, since we have so many chances for practice! This daylong retreat will integrate periods of sitting and walking meditation with talks, interactive exercises, and discussion. It will cover three main areas. In the morning, we will focus on (1) the basic teachings of the Buddha on wise speech and (2) foundational mindfulness practices for our speech. In the afternoon, we will apply these perspectives and tools to (3) learning how to practice wise and compassionate speech in difficult conditions--such as when there are difficult emotions, when there is conflict, or when there are challenging interpersonal or group dynamics.
Ongoing Wednesdays Class, Spirit Rock, Woodacre, CA: 9 to 11 a.m. morning class: Co-teach with Sylvia Boorstein (most Wednesdays, either Sylvia or I will teach): 45 minute meditation, talk and discussion. Class cost $8-10, teaching is by donation (dana). Donald will be teaching November 16, 23; December 7, 14; further dates TBD.
Donald’s Talks Are Available At:
Dharma Seed (www.dharmaseed.org /)
Audio Dharma (www.audiodharma.org/)
Benicia Sangha (www.bsangha.net/)
and other sites.