Interactive Reflection (IR), Meditation Practice Support and Dharma Teacher Mentoring at a Distance or In Person
In 2001, I began working with members of Insight Meditation Community of Washington DC (IMCW) who wanted to explore their inner and outer lives from the perspective of Buddhist psychology and practice ~ what I call *Interactive Reflection ~ rather than from the medical/mental illness model. During that time I also served on the IMCW Teachers Council and Board of Directors and taught meditation retreats and addiction/recovery workshops with Tara Brach.
In 2007, I moved to Spokane, WA, and continue to work with IR clients and students by telephone, often with people referred by Tara when challenging material emerged during retreat or when **Meditation Practice Support is requested because a local teacher is not available. Currently, I work with people living in the United States, Latin America, Australia, Asia, and Europe. I serve as a mentor for Tara Brach's Power of Awareness, an on-line meditation training program with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield as well as their ATI Teacher Training which begins in 2017.
In addition, I offer Dharma Teacher Mentoring to practitioners who are teaching Buddhist or mindfulness meditation classes and want support in the teaching role. Possible discussion areas range from the logistical to the visionary and experiential aspects of teaching including curriculum development (content & format of teachings and meditations), teaching style, qualities and role of a teacher, and challenges in the "classroom."
In June 2010, I completed the 4-year Spirit Rock/Insight Meditation Society teacher training and was authorized to teach “The Dharma of Liberation in the Lineage of the Elders” by Jack Kornfield, Phillip Moffitt, Joseph Goldstein, Carol Wilson and Guy Armstrong. I have taught retreats at Spirit Rock, IMS, Tara Mandala, Cloud Mountain, Teen Retreats with iBme and regional retreats with various insight meditation sanghas in Nevada and Washington State.
I have had extensive experience with addiction and recovery (1980) both personally and professionally which was my initial testing ground for “dukkha” (suffering, stress) and freedom from dukkha (liberation). Life reveals dharma! In addition, I am devoted to “re-membering” and calling on qualities of the sacred feminine ~ variance of vision, inclusiveness, interdependence & deep reverence for all life, honoring inner authority, and embodied presence.
**Meditation Practice Support can include didactic teaching and guided meditation practices (i.e., mindfulness, concentration, the heart practices of forgiveness, loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity); establishing a regular home (“invitro”) practice; review of and suggestions for working with what is arising in your home practice; establishing an (“invivo”) life practice; suggesting resources for further study, support, and inspiration (e.g., books and audio files); and embodiment practices of walking meditation and Qigong (of which I am only a student) if we meet in person. It is of great importance to spiritual development that we undertake the teaching and practice of sila - the intention of harmlessness, reverence and generosity toward all life which refers to the first two lines of a pithy description of the path of awakening: "Do no harm. Act for the good. Purify the mind." Buddha (Dhammapada 183) The third line refers to the development of meditation.
Meditation Practice Support can include becoming more aware of emotional states and habitual thought patterns that create stress, distress and suffering and those that are wholesome and onward-leading toward liberation from suffering (e.g., mindfulness, generosity, joy, tranquility, investigation, and loving-kindness). The Buddha advised us to cultivate the four great efforts in regards to mental-emotional states: To restrain the arising of unwholesome states; to abandon unwholesome states that have arisen; to develop unarisen wholesome states, and to maintain wholesome states that have arisen. As such, there is often a natural flow between Meditation Practice Support and IR.
*Interactive Reflection (IR) sessions generally include:
- opening mindfulness/embodied presence reflection which leads us into exploring thoughts, feelings and sensations as they naturally arise,
- indicating what is most calling for attention and determining which practices will deepen presence and liberation (e.g., inquiry, RAIN, forgiveness, loving-kindness, compassion) and
- taking time to reflect on and discuss what has been revealed and how to integrate the learning/insights into daily life.
IR relies on the aliveness of the moment ~ present-centered, non-judgmental awareness ~ which often reveals fresh perspectives on habitual patterns that have become “old and in the way.
Although I earned a doctoral degree in clinical psychology in 2001, I see myself as a teacher-midwife (rather than as *psychotherapist) to support one’s process of unfolding and expression. We each have an innate healing intelligence that “does the work” if we listen deeply and follow the impulses and wisdom that emerge. The entanglements from cultural & familial conditioning in our personal lives can be re-experienced and received with wisdom and compassion, untangling and often revealing their hidden gems. What has been considered wrong or difficult can be the doorway to transformation and liberation (i.e., “tracing back the radiance” rather than fixing what is wrong.)
This process requires the radical approach of “turning toward and leaning into” what you may have desperately tried to ignore, reject, or destroy. This approach requires courage and is only possible when you are ready and willing to look honestly at the choices that lead to suffering and the choices that lead to freedom from suffering. Often the biggest obstacle to transforming difficult emotional states is the attachment to blame and shame; without the willingness to relinquish fault-finding our work together will have little effect on habitual patterns. Your motivation to investigate the ways you are currently perpetuating your distress is a prerequisite for working together with IR. In addition, it is equally important to establish a regular mindfulness meditation practice to support and integrate what unfolds in IR (if you don’t practice regularly now). Life is short, Carpe Diem! If not now, when?
I also work with the Tibetan Buddhist practice of “Demon Feeding” created by Lama Tsultrum Allione which both invokes what is in the way of complete liberation (a demon) and transforms that energy into an ally. For more information please visit http://taramandala.org/about-kapala-training/the-process/ Initial Demon Feeding sessions require a minimum of 85 minutes.
The 2017 sliding fee scale for individual sessions is $75-95 per 60-minute session, payable by check or at this PayPal link before the session day ($120 for two people). Audio Skype is possible for those who are unable to telephone or meet in person. For bookkeeping simplicity, I request that payment is sent before the session when paying for support at a distance. Generally, I schedule session (start times) on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday between the hours of 8:30am and 5:00pm Pacific Time. Great timezone converter.
*By choice I am not licensed to provide psychotherapy or to diagnose or treat any mental disorder. Therefore, our work together is not reimbursable by health insurance, although some individual Flexible Spending Accounts may do so. If you have any questions, please ask.
The frequency of sessions is based on your time, finances, and need coupled with my schedule. However, I recommend starting with weekly or bi-monthly sessions to establish a personal connection, co-create the way we work together and the momentum that can support my goal for our work together: For you to transfer the learning in our sessions to your meditation practice and your life; in other words, to make the reflections and practices your own and to experience the effect on your daily life and relationships.
I cannot offer emergency or “on-call” coverage, and for various lengths of time I am away from home teaching, on retreat, or engaging in restorative travel. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Telephone: 509-928-3948 (Pacific Time) or email.
Some books that I have found helpful with awakening in practice and in life:
- Feeding Your Demons: Ancient wisdom for resolving inner conflicts ~ Tsultrum Allione
- Radical Acceptance: Embracing your life with heart of a Buddha ~ Tara Brach
- True Refuge: Finding peace and freedom in your own awakened heart ~ Tara Brach
- The Places that Scare You: A guide to fearlessness in difficult times ~ Pema Chodron
- Untie the Strong Woman ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
- Mindfulness: A practice guide to awakening ~ Joseph Goldstein
- Dakini Power: Twelve extraordinary women shaping the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the west ~ Michaela Haas
- Wise Heart: A guide to the universal teachings of Buddhist psychology ~ Jack Kornfield
- Loving-Kindness: The revolutionary art of happiness ~ Sharon Salzberg
- Real Happiness: The power of meditation ~ Sharon Salzberg
- Awakening the Heart: East/West approaches to psychotherapy and the healing relationship ~ John Welwood, Editor
- Perfect Love Imperfect Relationships ~ John Welwood