Our 2012 Retreats
Using Transformative Techniques to Break Habitual Behavior with Dr. Paul Levy March 23-25, 2012
Often we are in such a routine, it is as if we are sleepwalking through life. Together we will learn to awaken in every moment through practices in both stillness and motion, using these techniques to break down obstructive habits of thought and emotion. We will incorporate a variety of methods -- meditation, qigong, yoga, interfaith chants, and talks -- to explore our inner terrain through our outer expression. With these practices we can learn to enjoy the inherent richness of life, and be present and effective for ourselves and others by experiencing the moment just as it is -- in the midst of a world of change.
Dr. Paul Levy has studied and practiced inner work of various kinds for many years utilizing diverse modalities. His signature practice is sitting Kundalini Energy Meditation (originally developed by Swami Rudrananda aka Rudi), which he studied with his teachers, Stuart Perrin and Jagna Schwartz, for 20 years. Paul has been teaching this practice for 16 years. Paul is a doctor of chiropractic, who resides in Chicago with his wife, Nina, a certified Kundalini Yoga instructor.
Entering onto the Bodhisattva's Path with Professor Jan Willis April 13-15, 2012
This special weekend involves reading, listening to, meditating upon, and otherwise closely exploring the great eighth-century poetic text by Master Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (the Bodhicaryavatara). We will read, aloud and together, this jewel exposition of the Mahayana path, thereby softening our hearts and opening to the joys of our innate capacity for compassion and the wish to benefit others. Professor Willis will offer explication of the text, of the practices associated with it, and the meanings of key terms as we investigate how best to engender, nourish and increase our innate compassion. NOTE: Participants will need to have their own copies of The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva and they will all need the same edition of it: that is, the Shambhala 2008 edition translated by the Padmakara Translation Group (right now, the paperbacks are available on Amazon.com, for about $12 each).
Jan Willis, Phd., is professor of Religion at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Ct. One of the earliest American scholar-practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, she has studied with Buddhist teachers worldwide and has written extensively on Buddhist meditation, women and Buddhism, and Buddhism and race. Among her published works are Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist and Buddhist- One Woman's Spiritual Journey and Enlightened Beings: Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition. She also edited Feminine Ground: Essays on Women and Tibet. In December of 2000, Time magazine named Willis one of six “spiritual innovators for the new millennium” and in May 2007, Ebony magazine named Willis one of its “Power 150” most influential African Americans.
The Breath of Well-Being with Carla Brennan May 11-13, 2012
Awareness of breathing is the primary approach in many meditation traditions. It is both a beginning and advanced technique and can be the catalyst for profound transformation. In Buddhism it is called anapanasati, mindfulness of the breath. This is the foundation for developing presence and concentration so that we can awake in all aspects of life. Between birth and death, we breathe. Breath is the gateway to relaxation, to balance and to letting go. It is the place where inner and outer meet, where both conscious and unconscious reside, where matter, space and spirit intermingle. In this weekend retreat, we will explore our relationship to our breath and discover how it can keep us grounded and focused in the here and now. We will use simple practices that help release the breath and deepen direct experience so that natural wisdom and open-heartedness can arise. Participants will be in Noble Silence and receive instruction in both sitting and moving meditation.
Carla Brennan is an Insight Meditation teacher in Santa Cruz, California, and offers weekly meditation groups, classes, retreats and other programs with the Bloom of the Present Sangha. She is a visiting teacher with Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Before founding Bloom of the Present in 2009, Carla taught with Vipassana Santa Cruz for five years. In addition, she regularly leads nature-based retreats to encourage her students to open to the primordial wisdom of the natural world. Carla began meditation practice in 1975 and also has extensive experience in Zen and Tibetan Buddhism; she is an artist and former psychotherapist. For more information about Carla or the Bloom of the Present Sangha:
"Feeding Your Demons": Application of the Four Noble Truths with Sister Santussika May 25-27, 2012
Whatever form our suffering takes, we can come to know it, as the Buddha said we must, if we are to find lasting relief. Feeding Your Demons, developed by Lama Tsultrim Allione, is a powerful and transformative method based on the ancient practice of Chöd. Committed work with this method reveals it as effective in experiencing the first three noble truths: understanding suffering, letting go of its cause, and realizing its cessation.
During this weekend, we will meditate, review the Four Noble Truths, practice Feeding Your Demons, share our experience, and explore how this practice can be applied to the wider scenario of suffering in the world. If you can, take some time before-hand to familiarize yourself with the demon work through the book or this 8-minute video.
Sister Santussika is an American Therevadan Buddhist nun. She started teaching chi gong and energy healing in 1997, began teaching meditation in 1999, began guiding people through self-reflective, visualization processes for resolving suffering and stress in 2001, and completed a four-year interfaith seminary program, receiving a Master of Divinity degree in 2002. She first took robes in 2005 and ordained as a samaneri (10-precept nun) in 2010. She has trained at Amaravati and Chithurst Buddhist Monasteries in England and Aloka Vihara in San Francisco. She now resides at the One Heart Center in Los Altos Hills, California.
Freedom of Heart and Mind: Bringing Balance in Our Daily Life with Bhante Buddharakkhita June 22-24, 2012
This workshop will begin with an introduction to Mindfulness and Insight meditation practice and then, using these basics, allow participants to explore techniques of working through difficult emotions like anger and fear to tap into a freedom of the heart and mind. The last day will explore balance and equanimity and will include walking, sitting, standing meditation as well as group discussions, guided meditation instructions and Dhamma talks. Throughout the retreat Bhante will discuss various components, methods and benefits of practicing mindfulness from moment to moment.
Bhante Buddharakkhita was born and raised in Uganda, Africa. He first encountered Buddhism in 1990 while in India, and he began practicing meditation in 1993. After living in Asia for seven years, Bhante decided to continue his Dhamma practice in the U.S.A. In June 2001, he began monastic training, and in November 2002 he received Higher Ordination by his Preceptor the late Venerable U Silananda at Tathagata Meditation Center, California. He continued his meditation practice under the guidance of Bhante Gunaratana for eight years at the Bhavana Society, West Virginia. Author of Planting Dhamma Seeds: The Emergence of Buddhism on African Soil, and founder of the Uganda Buddhist Center, Uganda, he has been teaching meditation in Africa, Brazil and the United States. Besides spending time at the Buddhist Center in Uganda, Bhante is a teacher at Bhavana Society and the Spiritual Head of Flowering Lotus Meditation and Retreat Center.
Shuniya: Being in Stillness, Wholeness and Oneness with Bill Savage July 20-22, 2012
Shuniya is a state of mind and consciousness where the ego is brought to stillness and the One will carry you. Shuniya is living at the still center. During this journey of communion and community, we will discover the essence of self, balance the mind, immerse and observe ourselves in awareness and healing, and experience blessings of oneness, wholeness and stillness.
Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan is a yoga of awareness and energy. A Kundalini Yoga session comprises mantra (chanting and music), pranayama (breathing), mudra (hand gestures), bandha (body locks), asana (body postures), savasana (relaxation) and dhyana (meditation).
Bill Savage completed his Level One Kundalini Yoga teacher training in October 2007 in Thailand, and the five Level Two modules of Authentic Relationships, Conscious Communication, Mind & Meditation, Lifecycles & Lifestyles, and Vitality & Stress by September 2010. Bill has worked as a math and English teacher, a professor of language and education, and has also consulted internationally as an organizational and community development facilitator with humanitarian organizations, most recently in the areas of child rights, HIV and AIDS, and maternal health.
SURRENDER: Yoga, Healing & Art with Maiden Mother & Crone September 7-9, 2012
Surrender into acceptance of your past and experience the flight of boundless spirit through body, breath, and art. This workshop is being offered by Maiden Mother & Crone. The women of the Maiden Mother & Crone work together to create self awareness by exploring ones consciousness through yoga art & meditation manifesting balance and peace of mind.
This class is being offered by two yoga instructors and an art educator to support the synergy of movement and art healing modalities.
Archangels: Pathway to Higher Consciousness with Shanta Gabriel and Jaime Ray Taylor September 28-30, 2012
What would it feel like to have access to the wellspring of Wisdom within you? In this experiential retreat, a workbook is provided to help you receive inner wisdom and guidance from your most Illumined Self. Through meditation, breath, alignment techniques, yoga and other methods designed to raise your personal energy frequency, we will access the principles of pure consciousness represented by the Archangels. The power of this alignment empowers you to have a more creative and balanced life so your actions become more heart centered. Through this time together, space is provided for your spiritual practice and meditations to become radiant vehicles for nourishment and inspiration.
Since 1975, Shanta Gabriel has studied Metaphysics, Eastern Spiritual Traditions and forms of energy healing. A chance meeting with an Archangel in 1988 while on a quest to find her purpose in life, started a journey with the Angelic Dimensions that has lasted over 20 years. Shanta Gabriel is the author of The Gabriel Messages book and a card set by the same name. She regularly receives and posts practical and inspiring messages from Archangel Gabriel on her website, and in a monthly newsletter. Shanta is dedicated to bringing more Divine Light and Peace into the world through her work as a writer, a spiritual teacher and a visionary mystic. For more information, visit TheGabrielMessages.com.
Jaime Ray Taylor has been practicing/studying yoga over the last 10 years to balance out the physical strain of being a massage therapist with an emphasis on deep tissue and trigger point therapy and the mental stresses of opening Therapeutic Kneads Day Spa in 2002, evolving into a Healing Arts Center in 2011 with a wide array of modalities. Staying focused on postural alignment, she resonated with Anusara and made that the foundation of her study but also found that there are many styles that bring beauty to this practice of balancing the mind, body and spirit. Therefore, she has passionately attended many workshops with a variety of amazing teachers from different branches of yoga and blends it all into her teaching with a strong root in postural emphasis. She has enjoyed teaching Kid’s Yoga, at The Yoga Room since 2007 and in 2009 she was certified in Street Yoga, an outreach program to help troubled youth find peace and serenity in chaotic environments. In October of 2011 she had the honor of opening DownTown Down Dog a CommUnity Yoga Center, in the historic downtown of Hattiesburg, with her teacher of 10 years and dear friend, Tammy Brahan. Here she continues to teach and learn much from her Kid’s Yoga class and also leads an all levels Hatha class and an advanced Vinyasa Kula flow.
The Wisdom and Compassion of Zen with Rev. Michaela O'Connor Bono & Rev.Koji Dreher October 19-21, 2012
It is often said that wisdom and compassion are like two wings of a bird,working together in order to fly. In Zen practice, how do we cultivate these qualities. In seated meditation, Zazen, we sit upright and harmonize the breath, body and mind. In sitting with our difficult emotions, how can we hold them with compassion? Within our suffering, how can we see the wisdom of non-self? In this silent retreat, we will explore the practice of zazen (seated Zen meditation). We will cultivate the stillness that allows for insight into our true nature. This retreat will include instruction and teachings on Zen Buddhism as well as walking meditation along with the traditional practices of bowing and chanting. No prior experience necessary; all are welcome.
Rev. Michaela O'Connor Bono and Rev. Koji Dreher are the resident priests and co-leaders of the Mid City Zen sangha in New Orleans. They have been practicing Zen for almost ten years, having done most of their monastic training at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and Green Gulch farm, which are part of the San Francisco Zen Center. Rev.Koji was ordained in 2008 and Rev. Michaela took ordination in 2010. Rev. Michaela is involved in prison meditation and chaplaincy work and she is on the Board of Sakyadhita USA, a branch of the International Association of Buddhist Women.
Changing the World Through Our Stories: Core Training in Playback Theatre sponsored by the International Playback School October 24-28, 2012
In this four day intensive, you will learn all the basics of Playback Theatre short and long forms. Designed for beginners, this course invites Playbackers who would like to review basic principles and strengthen their practice and will be facilitated by Pamela Freeman of Playback Theatre for Change in Philadelphia. The cost of this retreat is $625. This fee include 4 nights and 4 days accommodations as well as meals. This retreat will begin at 6pm on Wednesday night and end on the 28th at 2pm.
Playback Theatre is an original form of improvisational theatre in which audience members tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted on the spot by a trained ensemble of performers. The Playback Theatre experience promotes community as it stimulates dialogue, makes different perspectives visible, and honors individual experience.
Pamela Freeman is a psychotherapist in Philadelphia and a long time social activist in peace and social justice. She is co-founder of Playback for Change in Philadelphia, and a graduate of the School of Playback Theatre.
Anne-Liese Juge Fox is artistic director for NOLA Playback Theatre, has certification in health education and a master of education degree in health promotion and health education. With over two decades of professional theatre experience, Fox is a Board of Regents fellow at LSU where she is pursuing a PhD in theatre and performance studies.