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Meditative Joy: Reclaiming the Heart of Practice
Dates: Dec 13, 2018 - Dec 16, 2018
Days: Thu - Sun (3 Nights)

Instructor(s): Willa Miller, Elizabeth Monson

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The practice of meditation requires discipline and commitment. For many of us, after years of practicing, meditation becomes a task that we undertake more from a sense of obligation than from a sense of sincere interest. This change can creep up on us until our meditation practice has dwindled or vanished. When we do show up on the cushion, we often spend more time struggling than resting in a state of tranquility and ease. In this weekend retreat, we will explore what gets in the way of a consistent meditation practice, and what methods we can employ to work with these blockages. In particular, we will focus on a key ingredient of successful meditation practice: joy. If joy in practice has diminished, our willingness to engage becomes diminished as well. During this weekend, we use three simple steps to re-establish our meditation or spiritual practice. First, we engage in exercises to explore exactly where we are in relationship to practice, with curiosity and self-honesty. Second, we begin a process of discovering what is in the way, and inquire into what work we need to do to move forward. This second step becomes an ongoing process that extends well beyond the retreat itself. Third, we explore the ways that our meditation practice can be reframed as an activity of spontaneity, delight and discovery of the unknown. This includes the possibility of widening our vision of what meditation is and does, in order to integrate practice into many aspects of our life. The weekend also includes introductions to easy techniques that can be employed on the cushion to reclaim the joyful heart of practice. Suggested Reading: Everyday Dharma by Willa Miller.

  • Willa Miller, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher, scholar, and translator. She has trained in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition since 1987 in both monastic and academic contexts and was authorized as a lama in 1999 upon completion of six and a half years of silent retreat and intensive study. She is the founder and spiritual director of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Boston and its retreat center Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH, and is also currently Visiting Lecturer on Buddhist Ministry at Harvard Divinity School. Her books include Everyday Dharma: Seven Weeks to Finding the Buddha in You and The Arts of Contemplative Care.

  • Elizabeth Monson, PhD, is the Associate Spiritual Director of Natural Dharma Fellowship and adjunct Professor at Harvard Divinity School. She currently serves as the managing teacher of Wonderwell Mountain Refuge, a Buddhist meditation retreat center in Springfield, NH. She holds a Doctorate in Religious Studies with a focus in Tibetan Buddhism and Ethics from Harvard University. She has been studying, practicing, and teaching Buddhism for over twenty-five years.