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Relational Dharma: Waking up Together
Dates: May 03, 2019 - May 09, 2019
Days: Fri - Thu (6 Nights)

Instructor(s): Oren Jay Sofer, Bart Van Melik

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As social beings our lives are inextricably interwoven. The Buddha emphasized the immense power of social harmony and spiritual friendship as factors conducive to awakening. In this course, we will explore relational Dharma teachings that foster peace both internally and externally. The integral part of this six-day retreat will be the practice of Wise Speech, a skillful vehicle for expressing the Dharma fully into our whole lives. We will study, contemplate and practice the Buddha’s teachings using Insight Dialogue and the contemporary discipline of Nonviolent Communication. These interpersonal Dharma practices bring the insight and tranquility of traditional Buddhist meditation into our interactions with others. Through an attentive weaving of meditative dialogue practice, silent mindfulness and kindness meditation, mindful movement and time in nature, we will deepen the essential meditative qualities that support the possibility of awakening together.

Learning Intentions:

To know four ethical guidelines and three foundations of Mindful Communication; four components of training attention; three ways of bringing presence to conversations; at least two ways of cultivating inner mindfulness while listening and speaking; the clinical skill of pausing; the differences between “needs” and “strategies,” and how awareness of human needs supports compassion; accurately distinguish basic emotions from words implying being judgmental or projecting blame; the difference between empathic and non-empathic forms of communication; the ability to offer empathy by linking feelings with underlying needs; the difference between observations and evaluations or interpretations; the ability to construct observations of behavior and action; translate a judgmental statement into an observation, feeling and need; the difference between requests and demands; and at least two ways of modulating one’s nervous system activation during conflict.

Experience Level:

Suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners.

  • Oren Jay Sofer has practiced meditation in the Theravada Buddhist tradition since 1997. He holds a degree in Comparative Religion from Columbia University, is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner for healing trauma, a Certified Nonviolent Communication Trainer, and a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers’ Council. Oren is the Founder of Next Step Dharma and author of the book, Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication.

  • Bart van Melik has been teaching insight meditation and Insight Dialogue meditation since 2009, with a special focus on diverse communities. He brings the practice to juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters and NYC public schools, and is passionate about supporting people finding new ways to relate to life’s stresses.


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