This issue features an audio interview with IMS guiding teacher Narayan Liebenson Grady, who shares her insights on keeping our hearts open, even in the midst of tragedy or loss. As well, our soon-to-be Executive Director Linda Spink tells us a little about her path to IMS. Other highlights include photos of a blessing ceremony at the Forest Refuge for its 10th anniversary, construction developments at the Retreat Center, and a fun name-our-dorms survey. You can also find out about our new diversity resources page, and check on retreat space available.
From Bob Agoglia, IMS Executive Director:IMS guiding teacher Narayan Liebenson Grady lives in Watertown,
MA. This was one of the areas directly affected by the search for the suspects following the Boston Marathon
bombings in April. I asked Narayan how our meditation practice can help us in the face of traumatic public
or private events – how can we remain compassionate and engaged, and live with an open heart?
Download or stream Sky’s inside view
of life at the Forest Refuge.
Linda Spink, IMS’s new Executive Director, will be stepping into her role on July 15. Here she shares a little
about her professional background and the path that led to this new chapter in her life.
From an early age, I was drawn to helping others. Looking back, it seemed very natural for me to become a
community mental health social worker. In search of more adventure, I joined the Peace Corps and served
as a volunteer in Mauritania. Over the past 22 years as an organizational development consultant, I’ve
been fortunate to have worked with people from all over the world and to have served as the CEO of an
Nearly a decade ago, I was looking for tools to develop more effective leadership, both for myself and to
offer my clients, so that we could deepen our emotional intelligence and be more present. I met someone
who taught such practices for leaders, and who also happened to be an insight meditator. One day she
said to me, “If you’re serious about this practice, Linda, you have to go to IMS.” And I responded, “Great.
So in 2006, I came for my first retreat. Right away I just knew that this was home – the sitting and tranquility
were something I had longed for. I recognized that if I could develop the ability to drop into stillness
and presence more often, more quickly, and more deeply, I could lead from a place of greater centeredness.
This same centeredness is a resource for all of us.
I’ve traveled to over 60 countries, and it’s been an amazing life. Now I want to stay grounded, deepen my
practice, and work in an organization I’m passionate about, together with people I truly respect. And
that place is IMS. The thought that I will be connecting on a daily basis with teachers and staff is
very exciting. Their dedication to both the practice and service to yogis continues to inspire me.
I’m looking forward to meeting many of you!
Last month marked the 10th anniversary of the Forest Refuge, IMS’s center for longer-term retreat practice.
Since the facility opened in May 2003, over 1,500 retreatants have participated in more than 3,200 personal
retreats, for a total of over 84,000 days of practice under the guidance of experienced teachers.
A ceremony to honor the occasion was led by Ayya Medhanandi Bhikkhuni, Ajahn Punnadhammo and Ayya Nimmala
Bhikkhuni, the teaching team for the Retreat Center’s monastic course, together with IMS co-founder and
guiding teacher Joseph Goldstein and Forest Refuge teacher-in-residence Sky Dawson.
Traditional offerings of flowers, incense and water were placed near the Forest Refuge meadow Buddha, where the ceremony began.
Monastics (L-R) Ayya Nimmala Bhikkhuni, Ayya Medhanandi Bhikkhuni and Ajahn Punnadhammo listen to Joseph Goldstein describe the vision that gave birth to the Forest Refuge.
After Joseph’s speech, Ajahn Punnadhammo (L), Ayya Nimmala Bhikkhuni (C) and Ayya Medhanandi Bhikkhuni (R) chant the refuges and blessings.
Everyone present is blessed by the monastics with chanting and sprinklings of water.
The monastics lead participants in a circumambulation and blessing of the meditation hall.
Sky Dawson closes the ceremony with a guided metta meditation.
The new Retreat Center dormitory has just been finished! Some participants in this year’s People of Color
Retreat, which starts June 15, will be the first to have accommodations there.
Now the Catskills renovations can begin. They’re due for completion in early September.
The new dormitory stands ready for its first occupants. The surrounding grounds will soon be seeded and landscaped.
The hallway connecting the new dormitory with the Annex and Catskills accommodations glows in the afternoon sun.
In the spring of 2011, Ajahn Sucitto (L) blessed several trees on the Retreat Center grounds that had to be removed in preparation for construction. Two years later, timber from these trees has been transformed (R) into common space window sills, half-wall caps and stair treads throughout the connector and dorm.
Behind the new dorm, granite steps set between new stone walls make for an elegant passage leading up to the Annex (L) and the back door of the connector.
Now that the new dormitory is completed, it needs a name. So we’re inviting suggestions from our community,
both for this building, and also for possibly renaming our other two Retreat Center dorms – the Annex
and the Catskills. Put on your creative caps and use this short online survey to let us know what you come up with!
We’ll be reviewing all ideas received by June 23 and will let everyone know when a choice has been made.
Over the last few years, IMS has undertaken several much-needed improvements to the Retreat Center. Thanks
to our community, the new dormitory is finished, and two other significant projects will be completed
by the end of the year: the Catskills renovations and a fully accessible front entrance.
Now it’s time to address a final area where a change will directly impact the quality of retreat life
– the Retreat Center dining room. Relieving crowding at meals, especially during full retreats, is
the goal of IMS’s current Spring Appeal.
Our vision for this space includes three major elements:
Expanding the dining room will allow greater ease of movement during meals, better supporting the quiet
and tranquility of retreat life. Once sufficient funds have been raised, the extension itself will
be built and the entire project finished. Work will be scheduled to minimize impact on retreatants,
so that courses can continue uninterrupted.
For more information on this project, visit our website.
This spring, we made use of equipment and crews already on site for the new dormitory construction to excavate and install the foundation for the dining room extension.
Please check out the new Diversity Resources page on our website. As part of our efforts to actively undo racism and promote diversity across
our community of practitioners, teachers, staff and Board members, we’ve started a list of relevant
resources. On the new page, you can find various books, films, videos, a dharma talk and audio interview
that address issues of race in both Buddhist communities and in the US in general.
Is there any material that you’d like us to add? Please send us your suggestions – email email@example.com.
IMS’s annual print publication, Insight Newsletter, was for many years the primary way that our community
learned about upcoming retreats and other news. But increasingly, our sangha now relies on our
website and social media for up-to-date developments and course information.
Because of this shift, the need for a substantial print publication has significantly decreased.
So this fall we’ll be making a change: instead of publishing a printed newsletter, we’ll be postal
mailing a smaller publication that simply contains the Retreat Center and Forest Refuge course
and teacher schedules for the following year. This leaflet will provide easy reference, while
at the same time allowing for considerable savings in production costs, and also reducing impact
on the environment.
Look for the new 2014 IMS schedule in your mailbox this September.
A couple of years ago, IMS supported a research project conducted by Elizabeth Hoge, MD and her
team by helping to recruit retreatants for their study on metta or lovingkindness meditation.
Dr. Hoge, who is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, recently
informed us of results. They indicate that individuals who regularly practice metta have
longer telomeres than age- and gender-matched individuals who don’t meditate, and that this
effect was even stronger in women. (Telomeres are parts of chromosomes that usually shorten
with age, and can shorten even faster with chronic stress.)
The abstract of their published paper concludes, “Although limited by small sample size, these
results offer the intriguing possibility that LKM [lovingkindness meditation] practice, especially
in women, might alter RTL [relative telomere length], a biomarker associated with longevity.”
This is the first time that telomere length has been associated with any type of meditation practice.
Dr. Hoge plans to extend this research by examining other biomarkers associated with health.
She also asked IMS to communicate her gratitude to all the study participants.
Joseph was also interviewed by the Buddhist Insight Network for the summer issue of their journal Heartwood. There he
looks back over the last 20 years of the insight meditation movement in the West and considers
the foundations that are being laid down now for its continuation.
At last year’s People of Color Retreat, Bonnie Duran, one of the course’s teachers, spoke about
dukkha (often translated as suffering) and its cessation. Her talk addresses colonization
and racism as examples of dukkha experienced by people of color in this country. Listen to
her talk, Dukkha: Focus on People of Color.
Joseph Goldstein and Sky Dawson have been guiding retreatants at the Forest Refuge since early May.
To download or stream recent Forest Refuge teacher talks and morning reflections, click
Over the past two weeks, (clockwise from bottom right) Michele McDonald, Rebecca Bradshaw, Greg Scharf and Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey taught Liberation of Heart and Mind.
At the Forest Refuge,space
is available for a personal retreat from July 1 onward, except for the period November 9
– December 8, 2013. Contact our office for more information: please email or call us at 978-355-2063.
Next year, in addition to our experienced lay teachers, two respected monastics will be offering
the teachings at the Forest Refuge: Sayadaw U Vivekananda for six weeks (May 15 – June 30)
and Bhante Khippapanno for the month of July. To see the complete 2014 teaching schedule,
check our website.
At the Retreat Center,
just a few places remain for the weekend course Unplug, Tune In, Connect, with Chas DiCapua
and Dori Langevin, July 6-9. The next available openings are in late August and early September:
first up is a weekend retreat, Your Life Is Your Practice, led by Narayan Liebenson Grady
and Michael Grady, August 23-25.
The Labor Day course, Uncovering Innate Freedom, with Pascal Auclair and Anushka Fernandopulle
will take place, August 30 – September 2. This will be followed by a four-day retreat, Cultivating
a Wise Heart, taught by Annie Nugent and Deborah Ratner Helzer, September 4-8.
In January 2014, IMS will offer a retreat specifically designed for professionals involved in
mindfulness-based modalities. Educators, clinicians and researchers engaged, teaching or
training in mindfulness-based approaches are welcome to attend Mindfulness, Insight, Liberation:
The Foundations of Mindfulness-Based Modalities and Research, January 10-17, led by Sharon
Salzberg, Christina Feldman and Mark Coleman.
Just down the road from IMS is our sister organization, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies
(BCBS). They would like to let IMS’s community
know that there is a position immediately available in their Buildings and Grounds department. They are seeking a sincere dharma practitioner
with a maintenance and landscaping background to join their staff and live on site. If you
are multi-talented, committed to service, flexible and self-motivated, and interested in
this job, please consider applying!
The beautiful stone stupa on BCBS’s grounds.
As the summer season grows in warmth and light, may the lives of all be touched with lovingkindness
You can find an archive of Sangha News on our website. If you change your email address, please
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IMS is a spiritual refuge for all who seek freedom of mind and heart. We offer meditation retreats
rooted in the Theravada Buddhist teachings of ethics, concentration and wisdom. These practices
help develop awareness and compassion in ourselves, giving rise to greater peace and happiness
in the world.
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