Calendar Archive 2011

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Balancing the spacious freedom that comes from understanding the fundamental emptiness of all phenomena with the love and awareness that comes from recognizing our intrinsic connection in the web of all being, too. Balancing no-thing-ness with oneness.

Love teaches me I am everything. Wisdom teaches me I am nothing. Between the two, my life flows.
– Sri Nisargadatta

We can navigate this flow when anchored in equanimity, even navigating the surges of emotions of others or our own emotions in response. Being “affected but not infected” in the words of Phillip Moffitt. We learn steps to cultivate that equanimity and practice exercises to explore the difference equanimity makes in dealing with difficult emotions.

Traditionally taught as letting go of the unwholesome and cultivating the wholesome, we practice developing our inner compass to know what is truly wholesome or unwholesome in relationships from the inside out, as wise effort may vary from one person to another, or one situation to another.

Practices that help us skillfully engage, dis-engage with others, and tolerate their engaging with or dis-engaging from us. Practices are anchored in equanimity, which allow us to remain calm, not reactive, not reacting to our reactivity. We don’t rev up into grasping or aversion; we don’t shut down in a state of numbness or confusion. Experiential exercises to notice shifts between states of calm, revved up and shut down as we engage, disengage with another, or they engage and dis-engage with us.

Practices of presence: relating to others from an embodied groundedness and awareness that allows us to dance with the dynamics of family and friends with open hearts. Of wise speech: identifying stories and beliefs we might filter our perceptions of others through, dropping the story and seeing the deepest true nature of the other. Wise listening: connecting with others through a deep receptivity and acceptance that honors the other as they are. Wise dialogue: a brief introduction to the power of Non-Violent Communication to create safety, respect and change in relationships.

Beginning a series on relationships as the 9th step of the Eight-Fold Path. This talk is about the skillful relating to other people as role models—folks who have “cracked the code” and embody wise and compassionate relating; as refuges—folks who offer compassion and comfort in challenging or confusing times, and as resources – folks who remind us of the larger Source that all existence arises from and falls away into. Stories and experiential exercises to illustrate.

Co-teaching with Sylvia Boorstein, internationally renowned dharma teacher and author, about the Sangha of Thousands of Buddhas in support of the new capital campaign of Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

How to work with anger not, as traditionally views, as a destructive emotion, but as a powerfuol singal to wake up! Pay attention! Something is happening here that is out of alignment with what’s true, is disrespectful, humiliating, or oppressive. Using the principle of non-violent communication and the teaching story of Angulimala (the serial killer in the time of the Buddha) to be able to use anger as a catalyst for positive change.

Discerning when it’s wise effort to push back against injustice, oppression, suffering because of poverty or lack of opportunity from times when our contention with life as it is leads to contractions – of perceptions and of options. Practical tools from the Buddhist tradition for coming out of argument and dispute into a wise acceptance and contentment with the 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows of existence.

Our brains are hard-wired to notice anything different than what we expected. We can respond to “what’s wrong?” with curiosity and learning, with care for virtues and standards. We can also respond with disappointment, with “should-ing,” with close-minded positions and judgments, with controlling and contempt. Practical teachings from the Buddhist tradition to back out of critical mind into open mind and compassionate heart again.

An exploration of the natural tendency of our minds to compare: with benefit – to put the events of our lives into perspective and as a cue to practice wise effort; with detriment – tipping into complaining mind, critical mind, contentious mind, causing suffering and disconnecting us from others. Practical teachings from the Buddhist tradition on conscious, compassionate connection as a skillful antidote to the comparing mind.

  • Oxytocin: The Neurochemical of Calm and Connect
  • Marin CAMFT
  • April 8, 2011
    Noon-1:30pm

Oxytocin is the body-brain’s naturally occurring hormone of safety and trust, of bonding and attachment. Tools and techniques to help clients use this hormone of “calm and connect” to soothe themselves and connect with others safely is a great boon to immediate and lasting therapeutic change and to relational intelligence. Research, discussions, case studies, experiential exercises.

An experiential day of recovering our innate capacities for resilience and aliveness,
informed by cutting edge discoveries of modern brain research. Knowing how our brains work illuminates how we can work and play better.

We learn 10 simple but powerful, empirically validated tools to stay in our “window of tolerance” and manage the emotional tsunamis of working with challenging clients, reduce stress and burn-out, increase our response flexibility and sense of agency, restore our sense of perspective, and recover our intuitive creativity and wholeness.

We learn to harness the brain’s neuroplasticity on behalf of our own well-being through an arc of somatic and relational resourcing and regulating, skillful emotional and cognitive repairing of ineffective, seemingly stuck patterns of coping, and then a reflective integration of the re-wiring that now promotes a healthy receptivity, adaptivity and creativity.

The day is fun, informative, transformative. The tools and techniques create a new neural flexibility and integration – ” brain fitness” – often instantaneously, often permanently. And the learning can be passed along easily, immediately, to our clients.

Deepening Joy groups meet monthly in support of the 10-month Awakening Joy course taught by Spirit Rock Meditation Center founder and teacher James Baraz, to help make the teachings and practices of deepening joy more real and useful in our lives.

The groups (10-12 people) offer meditation, dharma talks, group discussions, experiential exercises, and warm, heartfelt support following the topics of the course and the book: Awakening Joy: 10 Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness by James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander.

The real joy of the groups is the rich resonance that emerges among group members who bring their own wisdom and generosity of heart to the gatherings.

An exploration of forgiveness practice as advanced Wise Effort, a practice as essential as loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity, to keep our hearts open in the face of very real human suffering. The talk outlines ten principles of a daily forgiveness practice, based on the books and years of teaching of Jack Kornfield, author of The Art of Forgiveness, Loving Kindness and Peace, and Fred Luskin, author of Forgive for Good.

We explore how to use mindfulness of the Brahma Viharas and the paramitas to expand our sense of kinship with all beings and make this inter-connection, in the vocabulary of other traditions, this communion among the sacred and all beings, more visible, more central to our minds and hearts, so that we increasingly relate to all beings through a recognition of our essential and common true nature, evoking a sense of conscious compassionate connection in all of our relationships.

Knowing how our body-brains respond to stress, loss, and trauma can teach us skillful ways to recover resilience and well-being. Clinicians learn techniques from body-based trauma therapies to help people stay within their “window of tolerance, techniques from attachment-based, relational therapies to help people activate the release of oxytocin, the hormone of safety and trust, of “calm and connect,” techniques from mindfulness-based therapies to help people better attune to and reflect on their own experiences and the experiences of others, shifting perspective to recover resiliency, and techniques from interpersonal neurobiology to help people use their innate social engagement system to find comfort and support from other people.

We relate to the wisdom teachings of our tradition through the fourth foundation of mindfulness – using our mindfulness to penetrate to the true nature of reality, summarized in the many “lists:” the Four Noble Truths, the Eight-Fold Path, the four Brahma Viharas, the five Hindrances, the seven Factors of Enlightment, the ten Perfections, etc. When we relate to each other through those teachings, we wisely and skillfully deepen our relationships with each other as we deepen our practice. This talk includes a powerful exercise of the Brahma Viharas – loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity – to help us experience the essential true nature of ourselves and others.

Links to venues

Spirit Rock Meditation Center
San Rafael Meditation Group
WAAT
Psychotherapy Networker Symposium
Deepening Joy
Marin CAMFT