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“When your mind feels tight and constricted, you can make more space.” You’ve probably heard this before about meditation practice, but what specifically are we talking about here? The problem isn’t that there’s a lack of space, but the way our minds perceive space, which is related to our identity.

Most people think of the boundary of the body as a point of identity. That is, my thoughts, feelings, perceptions, heart, personality, all reside within my body. So the body is home and herein lies myself. This is who I am and where I exist. Everything I’m made of is inside is me, what’s outside is not me, or it may be related to me but still separate.

This boundary is useful and necessary living in the world. But it also has limitations when we only perceive ourselves through this narrow lens.

At times we may know that our hearts, our love, extend beyond the body. We may also feel compassion for the suffering of others and sense the boundary melting a bit. True lovingkindness and compassion function as a relative expression of emptiness or not-self. They are like a river that flows from a reservoir within our heart. But the reservoir doesn’t dry up – it has an infinite source because it isn’t limited to our body.

When we meditate we begin to see this perceived boundary of the body dissolve, we see that what we think of as “me” doesn’t have a distinct beginning and ending point. This is a liberating insight and is often an early aspect of understanding not-self. At times, we may feel less compelled to put so much energy into simply solving our own problems and “fixing myself.” This brings to mind Lenoard Cohen’s famous poem:

“Ring the bells that can still ring
Forget your perfect offering
There’s a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

If we only view difficult thoughts and emotions and as existing inside “me” there is often a feeling of tightness, a lack of space and confusion about what we should do. When the focus is mainly on myself, other conditions seem to disappear. Yet, as we sit, as our concentration deepens, the mental focus on self loosens up. The sensations of anger, sadness and fear are seen as conditions that arise and pass away and are not “myself,” even though we experience them in our bodies. As this happens, gradually, or perhaps quickly, a feeling of space opens.

When we understand that our minds are not simply in our physical bodies, our mental boundaries open and our awareness feels less constricted. From this perspective, our challenges and pain may still exist, but now the great sky of mind has room to include them all. We have access to our wise heart that sees conditions for what they are, without the limits of “inside and outside,” and our path becomes clearer.

“If you attain your true self, then if you die in one hour, in one day, or in one month, it is no problem. If you only do “fixing-your-body” meditation, you will mostly be concerned with your body. But some day, when it’s time for your body to die, this meditation will not help, so you will not believe in it. This means it is not correct meditation. If you do correct meditation, being sick sometimes is OK; suffering sometimes is OK; dying someday is OK. The Buddha said, “If you keep a clear mind moment to moment, then you will get happiness everywhere.” ― Zen Master Seung Sahn

To open your awareness to this clear mind, try my guided “Mind Like Sky” meditation here.

This talk references the Nashville flood of 2010 and the effects it had on Radnor Lake. From a broader perspective, I explore the question of how we proceed when a tree falls into our path, or when the path is flooded beyond recognition. Can we discover a new way even as we mourn what is lost?

Saturday June 11, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Nashville Friends Meeting
Led by Lisa Ernst

shylotuscrop

Please join us for a day of sitting and walking meditation at a beautiful Nashville location. Cultivating clear awareness of our present moment experience reveals insights into the nature of suffering and liberation. We see that everything that arises is not my “self” but a display of impermanent conditions. When the mind sees life through this clarity and is unclouded by separation and confusion, we create the foundation for well-being, joy and equanimity.

Led by meditation teacher Lisa Ernst, this silent retreat is suitable for both beginning and experienced meditators; it will include sitting and walking meditation, practice instructions, and a dharma talk. The retreat will close at 3:30 with refreshments. Please bring a bag lunch.

Cost: $50, plus dana (donation) to the teacher. A reduced fee spot is available in the case of financial need. A deposit of $50 is due by June 6 and can be paid by Paypal here. If paying by check, instructions are at this link. Be sure and include your email address. Directions and additional information will be emailed prior to the retreat.
Please contact onedharmaretreat@gmail.com with any questions.

Five Session course starting on June 30, 2016
Led by Lisa Ernst

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This five week practice and study course is designed for committed practitioners and will allow for deeper exploration of the process and practices of meditation and awakening. Patterned on Sprit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioner Program and led by Lisa Ernst, the class will offer specific teaching and practice approaches based on the Noble Eightfold Path. There will be plenty of time for group discussion and interaction. The basic requirements are that everyone attending has an established daily meditation practice, or will re-commit to one, and has attended at least one daylong or longer meditation retreat.

The class fee is $150. Two reduced fee spots are available in the case of financial need. A deposit of $35 reserves your spot with the balance due by June 23. To pay by paypal go here and use the “donate” button. Instructions on paying by check are at the same link. Please include your email address.  Meetings will be held Thursdays 7 – 8:30 p.m. With one exception we will meet weekly: we will not meet on Thursday, July 7 due to the 4th of July holiday that week.

For questions contact ernst.lisa@gmail.com.

Mindfulness Meditation Workshop for Adults with ADHD
Saturday, May 14, 9 a.m. – Noon
Led by Lisa Ernst and Terry Huff
Nashville Friends House

Lisa Ernst, meditation teacher and founder of One Dharma Nashville, and Terry Huff, LCSW, psychotherapist specializing in adults with ADHD and author of Living Well with ADHD, will offer a meditation workshop for adults with the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD. The workshop will include lecture, practice, and discussion and will address the following:

1. Why meditate if you have ADD/ADHD?
2. Basics of practice
3. Different practices for
a. selective attention (focusing)
b. open awareness (expanding)
c. compassion (for self and other)

Research shows that mindfulness practice improves concentration, attention regulation, self-observation (of mental activity), working memory, and emotion regulation.

The workshop will be held at The Nashville Friends House, 530 26th Ave N. Cost is $50.  For paypal, go here. Instructions for paying by check are at this link. Please include your email address. A reduced fee is available to anyone who can’t afford the full fee.

Contact ernst.lisa@gmail.com or tmhuff@comcast.net to inquire. Terry’s book is available here.

This dharma talk focuses on the aggregate of thought as it applies to perceived limitations we may encounter in our meditation practice. The main focus of the talk is in working with trauma and I tell my own story about my cabin in the woods — the most difficult time of my life.

Saturday, March 26, 9:00 a.m. – Noon
Nashville Friends Meeting
Led by Lisa Ernst

lotusandsky

Please join us for a half day of sitting and walking meditation. In this silent retreat we will stabilize attention and deepen concentration through the breath and body, then gradually open our awareness to the boundless space of mind and heart. The morning will include mindfulness, lovingkindness and compassion practices. These practices help us touch moments of freedom from our habitual patterns and find compassion and equanimity in our present moment experience.

Led by meditation teacher Lisa Ernst, this retreat is suitable for newer as well as more experienced meditators. The retreat will include periods of sitting and walking meditation, instructions and dharma talk. Cost is $40. A reduced fee spot is available in the case of financial need. Please inquire for details.

Paypal is available here. If paying by check, instructions are here. Please include your email address. For questions email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com

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