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Retreat Dharma Talks

Monday and Wednesday Talks

Regular weekly talks given at the lower Spirit Rock meditation hall

Spirit Rock Meditation Center

  
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2023-07-10 The Present Moment is a Temple 1:56:06
Dana DePalma
This guided meditation goes through the Arriving Sequence, including arriving in the present moment, becoming available to practice, and aligning with our deepest values. Having established ourselves thus, we deepen into the felt sense of presence and aliveness. Includes Mary Oliver’s poem, Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me. This talk follows the guided meditation from the same evening and continues the exploration of the Arriving Sequence and the felt sense of presence and aliveness. The Arriving Sequence includes arriving in the present moment, becoming available to practice, and aligning with our deepest values. Includes a short guided meditation to demonstrate the steps of the Arriving Sequence and turning toward aliveness and presence.
2023-07-12 Cultivating Wise Speech 1 61:53
Donald Rothberg
We look first at the importance of wise speech, the way that it forms an integral part of the path of awakening, the way that it is often underdeveloped in Western Buddhist practice, for various reasons, and some of the challenges of speech. We then examine three aspects of wise speech practice: (1) developing presence in the midst of communication; (2) working with the four guidelines for skillful speech developed by the Buddha; and (3) integrating our practice to be mindful and skillful with thoughts, emotions, and body states with our speech practice. The talk is followed by discussion, focused especially on some challenging relational and speech situations.
2023-07-19 Cultivating Wise Speech 2: A Review of Three Foundations of Wise Speech and An Introduction to a Fourth: Empathy Practice 64:50
Donald Rothberg
We first focus on the importance of the practice of wise speech and then review three foundations of such practice: (1) developing presence in the midst of communication; (2) working with the four guidelines for skillful speech developed by the Buddha; and (3) integrating our practice to be mindful and skillful with thoughts, emotions, and body states with our speech practice. We then introduce a fourth foundation, empathy practice, aiming to understand and connect with another, exploring the roots of such practice in the innate capacity of empathy. We then identify a simple yet basic practice of tuning into someone's emotions and "needs" (or what matters to someone), based on the work of Nonviolent Communication (developed first by Marshall Rosenberg). A discussion follows, particularly examining bringing these practices into challenging interactions. (Materials on emotions--or feelings, needs, and an "empathy map" are given below, under "documents.")
Attached Files:
  • Feelings Inventory from NVC by NVC (added by Donald Rothberg) (PDF)
  • Needs Inventory from NVC by NVC (added by Donald Rothberg) (PDF)
  • Empathy Map by Donald Rothberg/Oren Jay Sofer (PDF)
2023-08-07 TBD 1:58:52
Gullu Singh
2023-08-09 Cultivating Wise Speech 3: Review of the Foundations of Wise Speech, and Bringing Wise Speech into Difficult or Challenging Interactions 66:45
Donald Rothberg
We first review four foundations of wise speech: (1) developing presence in the midst of communication; (2) working with the four guidelines for skillful speech developed by the Buddha; (3) bringing our mindfulness and skillful responses to our thoughts, emotions, and body states into our speech practice; and (4) empathy practice, tuning into others' and our own emotions and sense of "what matters." We then explore the importance of being with challenges and difficulties in our practice generally, and do two exercises exploring a difficult or challenging interaction with another, including working with an "empathy map." Discussion follows. (Materials on emotions [or feelings], needs, and an "empathy map" are given below, under "documents.")
Attached Files:
  • Feelings Inventory from NVC by NVC (added by Donald Rothberg) (PDF)
  • Needs Inventory from NVC by NVC (added by Donald Rothberg) (PDF)
  • Empathy Map by Donald Rothberg/Oren Jay Sofer (PDF)
2023-08-16 Cultivating Wise Speech 4: Practicing Wise in Challenging Situations, including with Social and Political Polarization 69:31
Donald Rothberg
We begin by acknowledging the importance of Wise Speech practice, and then outline four foundations of Wise Speech that we've explored in previous talks. We then review how we can bring Wise Speech into difficult or challenging situations. The last half of the talk goes further, and explores how we can bring aspects of Wise Speech into situations of social and political polarization, including in our present time in the U.S. (and other countries). We watch two brief videos. The first is a selection from "A Force More Powerful" (a 6-part series on nonviolent action), on a moment of powerful empathic yet firm speech from Diane Nash at a critical moment in the Civil Rights movement in Nashville in 1960 (go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4dDVeAU3u4&t=3082s, with the video shared going from 43:04 to 48:58). The second is a brief contemporary account of an experience of "deep canvassing" (and deep listening) by Caitlin Homrich-Kneileng in rural Michigan (go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no0NzGhwobA). This is followed by discussion.
2023-08-21 Living the Middle Way of Self and Not-Self 1:30:52
Nikki Mirghafori
2023-09-06 "Everything Passes? That's Terrible!" ~ Barbie (2023) 1:36:51
Sylvia Boorstein
Includes meditation, dharma talk & interwoven discussion. (Group Q/A has been removed)
2023-09-11 Cultivating the Three Refugees in Everyday Life 1:39:08
Tuere Sala
2023-09-13 "Neighbor is not a geographic term. It's a moral imperative." (Title is inspired by Joachim Prinz, President of the American Jewish Congress, who spoke at the March on Washington in 1963.) 1:17:03
Sylvia Boorstein
Includes meditation & dharma talk. (Group Q/A has been removed). Poem Reference: “Could Have” by Wislawa Szymborskas
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