Sangha News – December 2013

In This Issue

This issue includes an inspiring interview with Sky Dawson, Teacher-in-Residence at IMS’s Forest Refuge, latest developments in our diversity initiative, as well as photos of our Retreat Center’s new walking room and renovated front entrance. We also offer our first IMS wallpaper image and a new addition to our website recipes. New books from IMS teachers are featured, and there’s new information about retreat spaces available, as well as a new job opening.

Touching Stillness

From Linda Spink, IMS Executive Director: Sky Dawson is Teacher-in-Residence at the Forest Refuge, IMS’s
center for experienced meditators. Last week, I listened to her describe what it’s like to undertake a less-structured personal retreat at this beautiful and peaceful center.

The Forest Refuge Teacher-in-Residence plays an essential part in the smooth running of the center. The person in this position not only guides retreatants in their practice for many months of each year, but also provides much-needed continuity as visiting teachers come and go.

Download or stream Sky’s inside view of life at the Forest Refuge.

Forest REfuge meditation hall
The tranquility of the Forest Refuge meditation hall.

IMS News

Steps Toward a More Diverse Sangha

Sangha diversity

Participants in this year’s Three-Month Retreat, which drew to a close earlier this month. The course represented an important milestone for our unfolding vision of increased diversity and racial equity across our insight community.

The greater diversity of participants in this year’s Three-Month Retreat was the result of much collaboration. IMS is deeply grateful for the support of so many who are committed to undoing racism and to making the teachings of liberation available to more people.

At the same time, we realize there’s still a lot to learn so that we can provide an ever more welcoming and supportive environment for all. Our work continues.

One of the goals of our diversity initiative is to increase, over time, the number of people of color in leadership positions within our broader sangha. A vital step towards accomplishing this is to make sure that more people of color have access to longer-term meditation practice. In the insight tradition in which IMS is rooted, this is considered an essential component in developing the skills required to help others work to deepen wisdom and compassion through meditation.

But for those who are unable to afford IMS’s usual fees, the cost of a long retreat can present a significant barrier. To overcome this, we are committed to providing financial assistance, as funds allow, for people of color to participate in longer courses.

Earlier this year, IMS received a generous bequest. Some of this funding makes it possible for us to once again offer a limited amount of assistance for longer-term practice in 2014, specifically for people of color with financial need who meet the practice requirements. See application information for this opportunity.

Other Financial Assistance

Another part of the bequest will supplement our usual financial assistance offerings for Retreat Center courses. This is in addition to funding that’s already available for the Forest Refuge. All IMS’s financial assistance efforts are part of our aspiration to make it possible for anyone interested in meditation to attend our retreats, regardless of means.

New Retreat Center Walking Room

The area that many of you may remember as the Gym in Karuna House (formerly the Catskills) has had a major makeover! The new layout includes a walking room graced by a beautiful large Buddha generously donated to IMS. Whenever the weather is wet or snowy, there’s now plenty of room indoors for walking meditation.

New Retreat Center walking room

Greater Accessibility

Work on the front entrance to the Retreat Center main building is almost complete. Thanks to our sangha’s generosity, a new ramp, raised patio and foyer floor now make the facility fully accessible to anyone with mobility issues. Some final touches will be added when the weather is warmer next spring.

Greater accessibility
A view of the new accessibility ramp.

Latest Recipe Addition

Chana Masala, a new addition to our website recipes, is now available. At IMS this dish is often served with Bengali Masar Dahl, raita and basmati rice.

Dharma Updates

New Publications

Several new books by IMS teachers have been published recently or will soon appear. As we mentioned in our last issue, IMS co-founder and guiding teacher Joseph Goldstein has a new book, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening.

Thanks to the publisher, Sounds True, we’re happy to offer our readers an excerpt from the book. It’s a chapter titled Calm.

Earlier this month, Larry Rosenberg, IMS teacher and co-founder of the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (CIMC) celebrated the publication of his new book, Three Steps to Awakening: A Practice for Bringing Mindfulness to Life.

In addition, IMS co-founder and guiding teacher Sharon Salzberg has another new title coming out. Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement and Peace will be available at the end of this month.

Interviews with Our Founders

In late October, radio host Krista Tippett featured Sharon Salzberg on her show On Being. Sharon and co-author Robert Thurman were interviewed about their recent book, Love Your Enemies.

Last weekend, Oprah Winfrey featured Jack Kornfield on her show, Super Soul Sunday. They spoke at length about practice and mindful living.

Program Highlights

At the Forest Refuge

Ajahn Sucitto, a familiar and beloved teacher at our Retreat Center, recently completed his first time of offering the teachings at the Forest Refuge. Listen to his recent talks here.

Sucitto and Nyaniko
Ajahn Sucitto (L) with kappiya (helper) Nyaniko

At the Retreat Center

Teaching team for part 2 of our 3-month retreat
The teaching team for Part 2 of the Three-Month Retreat that finished in early December: (L-R) Annie Nugent, Greg Scharf, Dhammaruwan, Max Erdstein (assistant), Rebecca Bradshaw, Joseph Goldstein and Spring Washam. (Not shown: Nikki Mirghafori, who replaced Max as assistant during the course’s final weeks.)
Rodney Smith and Narayan Liebenson
Last week, Rodney Smith and Narayan Helen Liebenson (center) led Insight Meditation and the Heart, assisted by Tim Geil (far right). Ellen McCown (far left) offered qigong.
Larry Yang
Last weekend, Larry Yang taught Holding Your Life with Kindness, Gratitude and Contentment.

Retreat Space Available

If you’re considering a personal retreat at the Forest Refuge, space is still available during some months in early 2014.

In January, Marcia Rose, guiding teacher of The Mountain Hermitage in Taos, NM will be teaching with Rebecca Bradshaw, guiding teacher of the Insight Meditation Center of Pioneer Valley.

In February, Annie Nugent will be joined by Patricia Genoud-Feldman. Listen to one of Annie’s Forest Refuge talks, Life’s Greatest Blessings. This past summer, Patricia gave a talk at the Forest Refuge on Contemplating Desire and Aversion.

Visit our Audio page to download or stream other recent Forest Refuge teacher office – please email or call us at 978-355-2063.

Retreat space Dec 2013

At the Retreat Center, we look forward to welcoming back Howard Cohn and Lila Kate Wheeler in February to teach a four-day course, The Buddha’s Way to Happiness, February 5-9. Later that month, Larry Rosenberg and Michael Grady will be leading a five-day retreat, The Art of Mindful Living, February 14-19.

In addition, Larry Yang and Gina Sharpe will offer a three-day weekend course, The Joy of Letting Go: Reconciliation, Restoration and Forgiveness, February 28 – March 3. And, March 7-12 will see Rebecca Bradshaw and Greg Scharf teaching a five-day course, Kindhearted Awareness. Listen to one of Rebecca’s talks, Mindfulness and Investigation.

Serving Our Staff

IMS currently has a job opening for a Communications and Development Specialist. If you are interested in working at IMS in our friendly and caring environment, and have the necessary experience, please consider applying.

Wishing You Well

Wishing good health, ease of heart and joy to you and your loved ones during the coming year.

Wintery lake