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Increasing POC Leadership in Our Sanghas
July 2015 – As leaders in Western Vipassana, IMS and Spirit Rock Meditation Center have undertaken various initiatives over recent years to support inclusivity and diversity in Western Buddhism, so that we can better serve our multicultural world.
Together, our two organizations have come to realize that in order to significantly increase the multicultural diversity of our community of meditators, the teaching body must reflect the multiplicity of these life experiences.
So we are very pleased to announce that teachers Gina Sharpe and Larry Yang will be the lead teachers for the next joint IMS/Spirit Rock teacher training program, to start in January 2017. Given the urgent need for diversity in our teacher body, our goal for the 2017 teacher training program is to significantly increase participation from many diverse communities.
During the four-year program, Gina and Larry, joined by founding and senior teachers from both centers, will instruct and mentor these trainee teachers, as they join our 100+ graduates of previous teacher trainings in offering the Dharma at our centers and beyond, into the future. We are hopeful that this program will also be connected with other insight meditation centers. It is envisioned that this initiative will spark movement toward increasingly diverse training programs.
As with all previous joint IMS/Spirit Rock teacher training programs, participation is by invitation only. An IMS/Spirit Rock Selection Committee will carefully review all nominations from teachers, and then issue a limited number of invitations to individuals to apply for this program. We hope to meet an estimated program size of 20.
More information will be made available as we move forward with excitement toward the 2017 launch.
Reflecting on the Charleston Tragedy
June 2015 – We are profoundly saddened by the tragedy at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, and offer our sympathy and metta to all individuals, families and communities affected in any way.
After much reflection throughout our organization, we at IMS see this heartbreak as more than the result of one deeply-disturbed individual with easy access to guns, acting on his delusion and killing nine people.
While these facts are true, putting the event into its historic context is just as important. This is the latest attack in this country by white men on black churches.
Many of us remember the 1963 Ku Klux Klan bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, that killed four girls. Yet, acts of violence against black communities in their places of worship go back hundreds of years. We are reminded that this happens not only in the South, but in many places across the nation. It includes the 2008 burning by white men of the predominately black Macedonia Church of God in Christ, in nearby Springfield, MA, following the election of President Obama.
This Charleston attack, coming on the heels of the recent killings of unarmed black people by police, is a clear call for continued dedication to undoing racism in the US. May our commitment here at IMS to undo racism and the causes of racism only grow stronger. May our voices join those bringing greater visibility to what needs to change. And may we nurture wisdom and compassion so that, together, we can uproot the greed, hatred and delusion in our world.
Improvements for Shanti House
April 2015 – The focus of IMS's Spring Appeal is a much-needed renovation to Shanti House. This Retreat Center dormitory, formerly known as the Annex, hasn’t seen a significant upgrade in 20 years, and the time has come! More information is on our Building Appeal page.
Registration Now Open – 2016 Retreat for Mindfulness-Based Professionals
April 2015 – Registration is now open for the 2016 course, Mindfulness, Insight, Liberation. This retreat is specifically for those teaching, training, researching or otherwise engaged in mindfulness-based approaches. It will be led by Christina Feldman and Chris Cullen, and runs from January 16-23, 2016. CE credits will be available for psychologists, social workers and nurses. Register now or find out more information.
2016 Forest Refuge Schedule ~ Applications Welcome
April 2015 – The 2016 schedule of teachers for the Forest Refuge is now available, and we are now welcoming applications for next year. For questions, call the Forest Refuge office at 978-355-2063 or email email@example.com.
Fellowships for Educators
January 2015 – Thanks to a generous grant from the Hemera Foundation, are available for educators interested in participating in a Retreat Center course in 2015.
Hemera's Contemplative Fellowships support growth through contemplative practice in a retreat setting, where mindfulness, compassion, personal well-being and professional efficacy can be cultivated. Educators can then embody and apply these qualities to promote positive school cultures.
Fellowships are open to all teachers and staff currently employed in a pre-K program or K-12 school, or currently enrolled in a Masters of Education program. If you meet these qualifications and would like to pursue this opportunity, please consider applying. If you know others who might be interested, please spread the word.
Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis – more information is available here.
Funding for People of Color and 18-32 Year Olds for Longer-Term Practice in 2015
September 2014 – Thanks to generous donations, funding is available to support a number of experienced people of color meditators and young adults (18-32 year olds) who wish to undertake longer-term practice at IMS in 2015. This is in addition to our ongoing program of financial assistance, which annually supports about a third of our retreatants.
This opportunity forms part of our broader vision to develop more leaders of color within our North American insight community, and to ensure leadership among the next generation of yogis.
For people of color who are unable to afford IMS’s usual fees, we are offering a reduced rate to participate in Part 1 or Part 2 of the 2015 Three-Month Retreat. A reduced rate is also available for one month of personal retreat next year at our Forest Refuge. (Update as of November 2014: Funds for Part 2 have all been allocated. New applications will be added to a wait list.)
For young adults (18-32 year olds) who are unable to afford IMS’s usual fees, we are offering a similar reduced rate to participate in Part 1 or Part 2 of next year’s Three-Month Retreat. (Update as of November 2014: These funds have all been allocated. New applications will be added to a wait list.)
Fees are on a You Choose basis. This means you can establish the rate you are able to pay, at or above $17 per night. (If paying more than $17 per night is possible, it will allow additional yogis to receive support.)
Prior retreat experience is required. For Part 1 and Part 2 of the Three-Month Retreat, the prerequisite is two courses of a week or more with a recognized insight meditation teacher.
At the Forest Refuge, it’s recommended that applicants have participated in at least one six-week structured and teacher-led insight meditation retreat, or six similar one-week retreats.
Since our funds are limited, we will be awarding spaces on a first-come, first-served basis. We encourage those interested to apply as soon as possible. Here’s what to do:
- For Part 1 or Part 2 of the Three-Month Retreat, contact our Registration department as soon as possible to request the You Choose rate. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-355-4378 ext. 170. A link will then be sent to you to an online registration form that will include questions regarding your application for this fee, as well as other questions related to this particular retreat. Please note that a deposit of $150 will be necessary to secure a space.
- For the Forest Refuge, email email@example.com or call 978-355-2063 to indicate interest in applying, as a person of color, for a period of retreat during 2015 at this You Choose rate.
Registration for 2015 Retreat Center Courses Now Open
September 2014 – The full schedule of 2015 courses at the Retreat Center is now available. Some retreats run for a weekend; others last up to three months. Most are suitable for both new and experienced meditators. Our 2015 listing includes themed and identity retreats for mindfulness professionals, women, people of color, teens, 18-32 year olds, and our LGBTQI gender-queer community.
Our 2015 Retreat Schedules leaflet for both of our centers is now in the mail. If you would like to receive a copy and are not on our mailing list, consider signing up.
New Books from Our Teachers
April 2014 – IMS co-founder Sharon Salzberg's newest book, Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace, takes a clear look at the challenges that are an inevitable part of our job life, and offers "an array of tools for cultivating greater stability, openness and fulfillment while working."
The book is filled with people's stories from their widely-varied job experiences. Sharon gives us meditations and exercises to help us develop what she calls the eight pillars of happiness in the workplace: balance, concentration, compassion, resilience, communication and connection, integrity, meaning, and open awareness.
IMS guiding teacher Rodney Smith, founder of Seattle Insight Meditation Society also has a new book out. Awakening: A Paradigm Shift of the Heart starts with the observation, "Many of us do not understand what spiritual transformation requires." Rodney describes the book's territory:
This book attempts to explain genuine spiritual realization. When we speak of enlightenment and awakening, what do we mean? What actually occurs when we slip beyond consensus or conventional reality, and why would we undertake such a journey? This book looks at the topography of the journey from beginning to end, the multiple ways we undermine the very growth we seek, the shift in consciousness that does occur, and the life that arises out of that shift.
Recent Books by IMS Teachers
November 2013 – Books by three IMS teachers were published this fall. First out was Love Your Enemies: How To Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier, by IMS co-founder and guiding teacher Sharon Salzberg and long-time dharma teacher Robert Thurman. In this book, the authors lead readers on a journey through four kinds of enemies we can encounter in life.
Here is Sharon’s description of these four, from the introduction:
"Outer enemies are the people who harass or annoy us, as well as life situations that frustrate or confound us. Inner enemies are the habits of our reactive mind - particularly anger and hatred - that enslave us to and play havoc with our lives. Deeper still we find our secret enemy, the self-absorption that cuts us off from others and from our own loving nature. And finally, there is the super-secret enemy, the deeply entrenched sense of self-loathing that keeps us from realizing our kinship with all beings. The teachings and meditations in this book help us to draw on our own innate wisdom and compassion in order to transform our relationship with our enemies, both inner and outer."
Next to appear was IMS co-founder and guiding teacher Joseph Goldstein’s new book, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening. From the jacket: “With Mindfulness, Joseph Goldstein shares the wisdom of his four decades of teaching and practice in a book that will serve as a lifelong companion for anyone committed to mindful living and the realization of inner freedom.”
Also available now is a three-CD set, Mindfulness: Six Guided Practices for Awakening, has essential mindfulness meditations that complement the teachings in the book.
The most recent book to appear was Three Steps to Awakening: A Practice for Bringing Mindfulness to Life, by IMS core teacher Larry Rosenberg, founding teacher of Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, with Laura Zimmerman. “Drawing on the various Buddhist traditions in which he has practiced, [Larry] describes three subtly different but complementary forms of meditation practice: (1) breath awareness, (2) breath as anchor, and (3) choiceless awareness. Having the three methods in one’s repertoire gives one meditation resources for any life situation…. After teaching the three-step method, Larry goes on to show how to bring the awareness gained in meditation to the world off the cushion, into relationships and into all areas of daily life.” (From the Shambhala Publications website)
Check our Reading List for more books by IMS teachers.
Three-Month Retreatants Settle into Newly Named Dormitories
September 2013 – On Tuesday, September 10 we welcomed participants to this year's historic Three-Month Retreat. For the first time in IMS’s history, approximately a third of the course participants are people of color, thanks to a generous grant from the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation For American Buddhism. The first full day of the retreat, Wednesday, September 11, coincided with a ceremony to honor the completion of IMS's construction project. At the ceremony, Executive Director Linda Spink announced new names for all dormitories, recently approved by IMS's Board:
- The new dormitory is named Bodhi House. Bodhi in Sanskrit means 'awakened.'
- The Catskills is now named Karuna House. Karuna in Pali and Sanskrit means 'compassion.'
- The Annex is now named Shanti House. Shanti in Sanskrit means 'peace.'
By adding the word 'House' after each name, accommodation buildings are differentiated from other Retreat Center facilities.
This panorama shows the new Retreat Center dormitory, Bodhi House (L), the enclosed walkway connecting it to both Shanti House (formerly the Annex, at rear) and the new stair tower at the end of Karuna House (formerly the Catskills, R).
Single Rooms for All is Now a Reality
June 2013 – With the start of this year's People of Color Retreat on Saturday, June 15, the new Retreat Center dormitory welcomed its first occupants. Our vision to offer single rooms for all retreatants at both our centers is finally a reality.
The Catskills dormitory is now closed as extensive renovations are underway. On completion, planned for early September, all its accommodations will also be singles. For the latest project photos and updates, visit our construction news page.
A single room in the new dormitory.
The Forest Refuge Celebrates its 10th Anniversary
May 2013 – Friday, May 10, 2013 marked the 10th Anniversary of the Forest Refuge, IMS's center for personal, longer-term retreat practice. Since the facility opened in May, 2003 over 1,500 retreatants sat more than 3,200 retreats for a total of over 84,000 days of practice.
The anniversary celebration, led by lay and monastic teachers, was attended by about 70 friends of IMS including teachers, staff, retreatants and volunteers.
Participants gathered around the Forest Refuge meadow Buddha for the ceremony. Flowers, incense and water were set out in preparation for the blessing.
Monastics (L-R) Ayya Nimmala Bhikkhuni, Ayya Medhanandi Bhikkhuni and Ajahn Punnadhammo listened to Joseph Goldstein describe the original vision of a longer-term retreat center for IMS.
The monastics chanted the three refuges and blessings.
The monastics blessed the participants by chanting and sprinklings of water.
The monastics led the group in a circumambulation of the meditation hall.
Coming around the meditation hall and heading towards the Buddha.
Near the end of the ceremony, Resident Teacher Sky Dawson led us in a guided metta meditation.
A beautifully decorated cake was served in the Forest Refuge dining room!