From the President
by Carole Maurer
Importance of Retreat Practice
Last month I wrote about the call to practice mindfulness and meditation in our daily lives (see that column). Apparently I personally heard the call as well, as I just returned from a 10-day Concentration Meditation retreat at Spirit Rock. Now I’m finding myself a bit overwhelmed by the number of duties and responsibilities that are waiting for me, including writing this column. Since I am still “recovering” from my retreat high, I thought I’d start by introducing a new feature of our newsletter, Retreat Reflections, by writing about my own experience at Spirit Rock (click here to read).
Actually, we used to have a regular Retreat Reflections column when our newsletter was in print, and it was a quite popular feature. I’m hoping that from now on each of our online newsletters will include an account from a member who has attended a residential retreat. It would be wonderful if you could share your experience with the rest of us by writing a few words about the retreat – where it was, how long, the teachers, the topic or focus, something about the facilities, and the main things you might have learned.
Just about everyone who does residential retreat meditation practice reports how beneficial this is for them. We get caught up in our daily routines and forget how much we sometimes need the inner space to really practice intensively and continuously day and night. Retreat practice is a real “vacation” from the stresses and anxieties that plague us every day, and that’s how we should look at it when planning time away from work and everyday duties. I hope each of you can work a residential retreat into your life sometime in the near future. And perhaps someday White Heron Sangha will be able to sponsor one of our own.
Upcoming Events, Sitting Groups, Classes
In October, at our center, we are hosting a full weekend of events with Kevin Griffin, who is known for his work with the recovery community and also has a new book out called Living Kindness: Buddhist Teachings for a Troubled World, an exploration of love, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Please see the Retreat Committee News for information about each of Kevin’s events and links to the online webpages for them. And, join us for one or more of these.
On December 1-2, teacher Shaila Catherine is returning for a weekend retreat on “Strategies for Overcoming Distracting Thoughts.” Registration will open for this retreat at the end of October. This will be the last 2-day weekend retreat for 2018. Again, see Brian Walker’s retreat report for a list of outside teacher retreats for 2019 and beyond.
In addition to our weekend retreats, we are beginning to schedule one-day and half-day meditation events and some discussion groups and workshops. The first of these, on September 15, is a daylong retreat with Mick Malotte and Alicia Nowicki on Wise Speech and NVC (non-violent communication). On November 4, Susan Quinones will continue her Conversations on End of Life at our center. We hope to add more topic-oriented workshops and days of mindfulness events in the coming months.
If you haven’t done so already, please check out our regular sitting groups on Tuesday evenings, Wednesday evenings, 2nd Saturdays for Tara Meditation, 3rd Saturdays for Reflective Insight Meditation, and the 2nd and 4th Fridays mid-day for the new Socially Engaged Buddhist Study Group. Look for more meditation sitting sessions in the next quarter. And, we must not forget our ongoing Wednesday and Saturday morning yoga and meditation classes. See the full schedule of sitting groups and yoga classes.
James Coleman will again offer his 6-session class on the "Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma - An Introduction to Buddhism," beginning Nov. 1. For details, see the event listing.
Serving Our Sangha
As you can see, a lot is going on at the White Heron Sangha Meditation Center. And, the facility looks beautiful all the time, which would not be possible without the continued effort of our many volunteers. Sharon Rippner, our volunteer coordinator, has a Serving Our Sangha article in this newsletter and will be informing us of our volunteer needs each week at the Sangha meetings. Thank you so much, Sharon!
I mentioned above the possibility of increasing the number of weekly sittings, more weekend, daylong or ½ day retreats, additional instructional periods, etc. But, in order to continue to offer our current level of meditation support and expand our services, we need more members to step up and be willing to serve in the actual running of our Sangha. Our Board of Directors, the Education and Practice Committee, and the Retreat Committee are looking for people interested in devoting some of their time to supporting their own and others’ practice by actively participating in these committees and, perhaps, joining the Board. In addition, we are looking for someone who is technically savvy who is willing to be part of the Website and Publications Committee. If you are interested in helping out in any of these areas, please contact me at email@example.com.
With metta for all –