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Writing Dharma: An Experiment with Creative Practices
Dates: Dec 03, 2020 - Dec 06, 2020
Days: Thu - Sun (3 Nights)

Instructor(s): Kate Lila Wheeler, Alisa Dennis

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Everything we need for our liberation, according to Buddhist teaching, is already present within us.  Now, if you like, repeat the sentence using “creative.” (Everything we need to be creative is already present within us.) Do you believe this is true — of you?  
On this retreat we will explore how artistic or creative practices and classic Buddhist meditations can support each other. Could relaxing our bodies invite trust in creative intuition?  Does expression emerge from present awareness (or somewhere else)? We can get so terribly caught in fretting about the finished product, artistically and spiritually.  As we ease away from judgmental attitudes, does this ease the flow of phenomena emerging in our bodies, and our minds — and on the page?
Through guided writing exercises, silent meditations, and embodied knowings in flow and movement, derived from improvisational theatre, we will encourage creative energies to be aroused and expressed. Deconstructing rigid concepts and images of our embodiments might allow space for newly supple artistic forms. Each day, Lila Kate Wheeler and Alisa Dennis will offer an array of Dharma and creative practices. We hope to bring forward the spirit of play, joy and access to the flow of energies as Dharma through our minds and bodies. There will be an invitation to share the day’s creative processes in conversation. Please bring your writing instruments including a pad and paper. Colored pencils or markers are welcome.

Learning Intentions:

To learn by experience that any activity can be Dharma activity, including when the mind is actively engaged or absorbed in writing or another creative practice and to explore possible overlaps between formal Buddhist practice and art making.

Noble Silence and Mindful Speech:

Noble silence will be observed following the evening session through breakfast the following morning.

Experience Level:

Suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners.

  • Kate "Lila" Wheeler is one of the coordinators of the 2016-2020 meditation teacher training at Spirit Rock, the most diverse Buddhist training in American history.  She was given rein to teach in the Theravada Insight tradition, Vajrayana, and the Advaita approach of HWL Poonja.  Kate grew up in Latin America and has spent time in traditional Asian practice communities, as as a nun in Burma in 1988 and the caves of Tso Pema more recently.  She practices at Spirit Rock, Pema Kilaya in Washington State, and some other communities in the West. 

  • Alisa Dennis, Ph.D., discovered meditation through her study of metaphysics and Christian mystical traditions. She practiced within the S.N. Goenka tradition of Vipassana, then studied mindfulness through the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA. She completed a 3-year, MBSR training related to integrating contemplative practices into psychotherapy. She also completed residential training in the Zen Soto tradition. Alisa values the heart-opening and integrating power of Insight practice and its capacity to re-connect us to our natural ability to meet the moments of our lives with kindness, openness, and flexibility.

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