Calendar Archive 2012

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The Brahma Viharas—the four “sublime attitudes”—are considered the Buddha’s primary teachings to cultivate the states of mind that harmonize our human nature with our essential True Nature. The Brahma Viharas are both states of mind and heart that are the direct experience of our true Buddha Nature, and a series of pragmatic practices that help us express these “four immeasurable” directly in our daily lives. Experiential exercises and discussion will help people anchor more confidently in these “divine abodes.”

Loving kindness or goodwill (metta): practices of warm-hearted well-wishing for deep happiness and well-being, directed toward ourselves or others, even when that’s difficult. A steady loving kindness practice helps us to meet every moment of experience, and every other being in our lives, with more openness and friendliness.

Compassion (karuna): practices of empathy and care when we encounter sorrow and struggle, our own or that of others. A steady compassion practice helps us to face the suffering inherent in life and act wisely to alleviate it, without closing down our hearts or running away.

Sympathetic joy (mudita): practices that cultivate true happiness, ease, contentment, independent of external conditions, and lead us to rejoice in the joy, happiness, and well-being of others. A steady practice of joy is one of the seven factors leading to enlightenment.

Equanimity (uppekha): practices that bring balance and clear seeing to the mind when facing life’s turmoils and difficulties, our own or those of others; a steady practice of equanimity helps us stay on an even keel throughout all of life’s experiences; seen as essential to the full realization of loving kindness, compassion, and joy.

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.

Brain research has shown us how certain interventions can help rewire our clients’ brains, reducing stress, resolving trauma, and recovering resilience. But how much of this knowledge do we bring to the care of our own brains to manage the emotional volatility of difficult clients, reduce our own stress and burnout, to restore our sense of perspective, and recover our intuitive creativity? In this experiential workshop, you’ll practice 10 simple, empirically-validated techniques that harness the brain’s neuroplasticity to resource and regulate our body-brains, enhance coping strategies, and restore our capacities for social connectivity. You’ll learn specific tools to repair ineffective, seemingly stuck patterns of coping and then integrate the rewiring you’ve accomplished. You’ll leave with techniques that create a new neural integration and flexibility in your brain that help recover a sense of balance, wholeness, and open-ended creativity.

Equanimity is a profound presence of mind: the ability to see without being caught by what we see; a calm presence that is aware, open, engaged but not swayed or caught by any phenomena, any experience of the moment. How we can stand steady in the face of catastrophe, personal or global; how we can remain calm and engaged when the flak hits the fan. Examples, practices, and experiential exercises help us cultivate this capacity of mind and heart to remain undisturbed, even in the face of life’s turmoil and difficulties.

This experiential workshop is saturated with brain-savvy resources for recovering resilience—our body-brain’s innate capacities to cope with the dilemmas and disasters of everyday life, and to restore vitality and life balance.

Linda guides participants through practical tools and techniques of:

  • resourcing through breath and movement
  • deepening emotional empathy and self-compassion
  • shifting perspectives through mindful awareness and reflection
  • expanding relational resonance and resourcing in community
  • evolving consciousness toward compassion and connection

Linda integrates recent discoveries from modern neuroscience with guided meditations and
visualizations, experiential exercises and inquiry in dyads and small groups, and stimulating
dialogue and discussions in large groups.

Participants learn to harness their own neuroplasticity to:

  • reduce stress, return to their window of tolerance, and restore well-being after overwhelm
  • activate the release of oxytocin, the hormone of safety and trust, bonding and attachment, calm and connect
  • cultivate pro-social emotions to antidote the negativity bias of the brain
  • re-wire habitual patterns of response and resolve old traumas to increase adaptability and flexibility in coping strategies
  • recover social connectivity and replenish the wellspring of balance and wholeness

Participants take home new understanding, new perspectives, and a new sense of competence to recover their own inner resilience.

An exploration of the suffering inevitable in the human condition. The possibility of the liberation from suffering through practices that are ardent, diligent, resolute, and mindful. The possibility for suffering to be the catalyst of awakening and transformation that leads to a deeper wisdom and well-being.

An exploration of the ever-changing nature of existence and the ever-present possibility of creation, renewal and emergence.

An exploration of the letting go of self, dissolving the sense of personal self into the sacred, and the opening of awareness to the nobility of our true nature.

An exploration of the “unsung hero” of the noble 8-fold path to awakening. Using practices of wise effort to skillfully meet and modify the causes and conditions of suffering, for ourselves and our larger, inter-dependent world.

Practices of mindfulness and empathy are two of the most powerful agents of brain change known to modern science. A synergistic integration of tools from these two methods of “self-directed neuroplasticity” helps us and our clients move skillfully toward the 5 C’s of coping: calm, clarity, connections to resources, competence, and courage. We, and our clients, learn to cope with life’s hiccups and hurricanes with greater flexibility and wisdom.

Cultivating positive emotions – gratitude, serenity, joy, compassion, awe – reverses the impact of negativity on mood, health, and coping behaviors. Positivity immediately broadens our perspectives and options and builds long-term resources of deeper self-acceptance, fosters greater collaboration and connections with others, and strengthens the brain’s capacities to learn new skills, new points of view, new ways of being. You will learn practical tools to generate more optimism, sense of purpose, resilience, creativity and fulfillment, and move from “not so good” or even “good enough” to flourishing.

Compassion is the practice of keeping our hearts open and “feeling with” in the face of pain and suffering. We can care and act wisely without overwhelm or collapse. Self-compassion is applying mindful caring and connection to our own times of vulnerability and grief. We learn tools to be with our own “Ouch!” This hurts,” based on Kristing Neff’s book Self-Compassion, leading to mindful reflection and wise action.

Compassion is the practice of keeping our hearts open and “feeling with” in the face of pain and suffering. We can care and act wisely without overwhelm or collapse. Self-compassion is applying mindful caring and connection to our own times of vulnerability and grief. We learn tools to be with our own “Ouch!” This hurts,” based on Kristing Neff’s book Self-Compassion, leading to mindful reflection and wise action.

Links to venues

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