Ruth Gendler, "Imagination"

July 22 (Sunday): Benicia Sangha: 6 to 8 p.m. Location: The Parrish Hall, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 120 East J Street, Benicia. For further information:

July 29 (Sunday):San Rafael:Marin Sunday Sangha, 5:45 to 8 p.m.: Movement, meditation, discussion. Sangha founded by Phillip Moffitt and held at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. For further

August 1, 8 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 10 a.m. to noon(see class description at end).

August 5 (Sunday): San Rafael: Marin Sunday Sangha, 5:45 to 8 p.m.: Movement, meditation, discussion. Sangha founded by Phillip Moffitt and held at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. For further information:

August 19-28 (Sunday to Tuesday): Spirit Rock, Concentration Retreat, 9-day residential retreat (with Sally Armstrong, Susie Harrington, and Phillip Moffitt). Concentration (samadhi), the collection and unification of the mind, was emphasized by the Buddha as one of the aspects of the Eightfold Path. It can bring joy to your practice and lead to the skillful use of pleasure in the meditative process. Whatever your level of practice, you can improve your Insight Meditation (Vipassana) by strengthening your concentration skills. Your ability to concentrate will develop in response to the attention you give it. This retreat offers a series of techniques for staying on the meditation object for extended periods of time. We will explore the factors of concentration that lead to the deep absorption states known as jhana. Teachers will also give instruction for utilizing concentration during insight practice. Full, with waiting list.

August 31 (Friday): Spirit Rock Daylong, Cultivating Wise Speech: Becoming More Skillful in Your Speech Practice (Including in Difficult Situations), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Connecting our meditation practice with our speech and communication is one of the main ways to bring spiritual values further into our everyday lives. In this day retreat, we will support this intention by integrating periods of sitting and walking meditation with talks, communication exercises, and discussion. We will focus on (1) the basic teachings of the Buddha on wise speech, (2) cultivating mindfulness during speaking and listening, and (3) learning how to practice wise and compassionate speech when difficult emotions or conflict is present, or when there are challenging interpersonal or group dynamics.

September 12, 19(Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 10 to noon(see class description at end).

September 17-23 (Monday to Sunday): Spirit Rock, Transforming the Judgmental Mind (with Eve Decker, Robin Gayle, and Shahara Godfrey), 6-day residential retreat. Prerequisite: Completion of one retreat (at least a weekend; residential or non-residential) in mindfulness practice, or permission of the coordinating teacher. 

Judgments of a reactive nature are very strong in most of our lives, and in the dominant culture. They can distort our perceptions, make relationships difficult, and undermine our work in the world. In this retreat, we will explore such judgments (and their difference from non-reactive discernment) and how to transform them. We will cultivate mindfulness of judgments; inquiry into the deep roots of judgments; and heart practices such as lovingkindness, forgiveness, joy, and compassion. We will also explore the somatic and social dimensions of judgments and how to cultivate skill in speech and interaction in the midst of judgments. These tools will help us to preserve the intelligence and energy often found in judgments, using them for discernment and compassionate action, while working through judgments’ destructive, compulsive aspects. The retreat will be held mostly in silence, along with group and individual practice discussions. Those attending the retreat will have the option of continuing with follow-up sessions after the retreat. Full, with waiting list.

October 1-7 (Monday to Sunday): Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center, New Mexico (50 miles west of Taos): Mindful Communication: A Wise Speech Retreat (with Oren Sofer), 6-day residential retreat. The path of practice taught by the Buddha is meant to transform our actions, speech, thinking and relationships. How can we use our relationships to grow in awareness and compassion? How do we put these teachings into practice to make conversations and connections—both personal and professional—more  meaningful?

In this retreat, we will explore the how to bring more mindfulness and care to our communication as vehicle for awakening. The tools shared will draw from the meditative practices of the Buddhist tradition, innovative relational awareness exercises, and the contemporary discipline of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Collectively, these practices form a powerful foundation for cultivating insight, awareness and empathy; develop our capacity to listen and speak from the heart; and strengthen our ability to stay present and be more skillful in challenging situations.

This retreat will include periods of silent meditation and interactive speech practices. They are designed for those who want to bring more attention to speech as a spiritual practice, for those who have emphasized communication and want further grounding in meditation, and for those who are helping professionals. The tools offered will directly enhance the work of psychologists, therapists, school teachers, chaplains, nurses and other helping professionals. NVC will be taught at a basic level; reading Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication before the retreat is strongly recommended.

For further information:

October 9 (Tuesday): Santa Fe Vipassana, Santa Fe, New Mexico: Meditation and Talk, 6:15 to 8 p.m.Location: Mountain Cloud Zen Center, 7241 Old Santa Fe Trail. For further information

October 11 (Thursday): Albuquerque Insight, Albuquerque, New Mexico: Evening Meditation and Talk, 6:30 to 8 p.m.Location: Rosemont Center, 200 Rosemont Ave NE. For further information

October 14 (Sunday): Sacramento: Daylong: Keeping Cool in the Fire: Becoming More Skillful with Inner or Outer Conflict, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.: How do we bring our spiritual practice and our vision of reconciliation into situations of conflict, whether inner conflict, interpersonal conflict, or conflict within an organization or society? By conflict, we mean a difference, tension, or contradiction between goals, intentions, or styles, which may or may not be connected with hostility and aggression. We may ask: Should I stay in this job or relationship? How do I communicate with those with different spiritual or political views? It is often difficult to bring our practice to conflicts, for a number of reasons, including our conditioning about conflict and the fact that in conflicts our emotions and thoughts often become highly reactive. In this daylong, we will suggest some core principles and practices for working with conflict and reactivity. We will be guided by a vision of non-dual “conflict transformation,” rooted both in the Buddha’s Middle Way, as well as in the accumulated experience of mediators and peacemakers, which help us to approach conflicts as opportunities for reconciliation, learning, and development. During the day, we will use a variety of modalities, including several periods of sitting and walking meditation, short talks, discussion, interactive exercises, and working creatively with our own and simulated conflict scenarios.

Evening meditation and talk 7 to 9 p.m. 

Locationfor both: Sacramento Dharma Center, 3111 Wiessmann Drive, Sacramento, 95826For further information

October 17, 24(Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 10 a.m. to noon(see class description at end).October 17, 24(Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 10 a.m. to noon(see class description at end).

October 27 (Saturday): Charlotte, NC: Daylong: “Things Are Not As They Appear”: Four Ways of Training and Inquiry: A Daylong, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The central metaphor of our spiritual practice is that of awakening, of "waking up" from being asleep and often living as if in a dream. The understanding is that we don’t see our lives and experience clearly; things are not as they appear to us. Yet seeing clearly, with wisdom and compassion, and responding skillfully, are possible! 

In this daylong, we explore four ways that we see in a distorted manner, working with understandings and practices to help us see more clearly in these four areas. We begin with what is easier to see and move in the afternoon into more subtle dimensions. We investigate how we often see in four problematic ways: (1) through the lens of the personal self; (2) through our social conditioning; (3) byimagining a world of solid, enduring, separate individual beings and objects (as opposed to seeing impermanent, “empty,” interdependent phenomena); and (4) by seeinga separation between oneself and all else (other selves and objects), where there is ultimately non-separation. The daylong will include sitting and walking meditation, including some guided practices, with short talks and discussion. 

Location: Park Road Baptist Church, 3900 Park Road, Charlotte NC 28209.

For further information:

October 28 - Nov. 6: Southern Dharma (near Asheville, North Carolina), Settling, Seeing, and Spacious Awareness, 9-day residential retreatPrerequisite: Retreatants must have completed at least 2 5-day or longer silent insight meditation retreats or have permission of the Coordinating Teacher.

In the context of a small and intimate retreat, we will train in three inter-related modes of practice over the course of a week. First, we will settle and stabilize our minds and bodies, becoming more concentrated, through both sitting and moving forms of meditation, including regular Qigong. As we settle, we then become better able to examine closely both the different dimensions of our experience—our bodies, thoughts, and emotions—and the general patterns of experience, both more personal and more universal. We “see” more clearly where we are reactive, where we suffer, where there is a “thick” sense of self, and learn to be more with the impermanent flow of experience, transforming our reactivity and habits. We can also tune in more, as we settle and see, to an increasingly unconfined and luminous awareness beyond reactivity, that is a source of freedom, wisdom, and compassion, both in retreat practice and daily life. Full, with waiting list.

November 7 (Wednesday, tentative), Asheville, North Carolina: Asheville Insight, 7 to 8:30 p.m.Talk and discussion. Location: 175 Weaverville Road, Suite H, Asheville, NC 28804. For further information

November 9-11 (Friday to Sunday): Louisville Insight, Louisville, Kentucky, weekendNon-residential weekend retreat (theme to be determined).

Location: Passionist Earth & Spirit Center ("The Barn"), 1924 Newburg Road, Louisville. For further information, Glenda Hodges-Cook at <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;,

November 12 (Monday), Louisville Insight,Louisville, Kentucky, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Meditation, talk, and discussion. Location:Clifton Unitarian Church, 2231 Payne Street. For further

November 13 (Tuesday, tentative), Lexington, Kentucky7 to 9 p.m. Location: Shambhala Center, Mill & Max Contemplative Arts Gallery, 385 S. Mill Street.For further information

November 23-25 (Friday to Sunday): Spirit Rock, Transforming the Judgmental Mind through Mindfulness, Heart Practices, and the Work of Byron Katie (with Marisa Handler). 3-day non-residential retreat. Judgments of a reactive and compulsive nature are very strong in most of our lives. They can distort our perceptions, make relationships with others difficult, and undermine our work and self-esteem. When they are transformed, we open naturally to our underlying clarity of mind and generosity of heart. In this three-day non-residential retreat, we will examine what judgments are and how to work with them, using mindfulness, “heart” practices, and inquiry, especially as developed in The Work of Byron Katie. These methods help us to preserve the discernment often found in judgments, while working through the destructive aspects of judgments.

November 28 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 10 a.m. to noon(see class description at end).

December 2, 9 (Sundays): San Rafael: Marin Sunday Sangha, 5:45 to 8 p.m.: Movement, meditation, discussion. Sangha founded by Phillip Moffitt and held at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. For further information:

December 5, 12 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 10 a.m. to noon(see class description at end).

December 17-23 (Monday to Sunday): Spirit Rock, Winter Solstice Retreat: Embracing the Dark, Inviting the Light (with Oren Sofer and Heather Sundberg), 6-day residential retreat. In this retreat, we will emphasize centering ourselves at the time of the holidays and the New Year, quieting our minds, grounding in our bodies, opening up our hearts, and using inquiry to help give energy to our practice. There will be a special emphasis on opening to the darkness, including to our difficulties and challenges, as well as to the coming light — to our beauty, joy, wisdom, and love. The retreat will include complete meditation instructions, sitting and walking meditation, daily loving kindness practice, daily Qigong practice, evening talks, practice discussions, and a Winter Solstice ceremony

Spirit Rock extends a special invitation to young adults (age 18-26) who wish to attend this retreat at a rate of $35 per night, on a first come, first serve basis. A limited number of special rates are available, please apply early.

January 2 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 10 to noon(see class description at end).

Further retreats January to March, 2019:

January 14-21: Spirit Rock, Metta Retreat (with Anushka, Fernandopulle, Konda Mason, and Heather Sundberg).

March 2-30: Spirit Rock, March Retreat (with Amana Johnson [yoga, trainee], Sharda Rogell, Oren Sofer, Heather Sundberg, DaRa Williams [March 2-16], Arinna Weisman [March 16-30]).0

Ongoing Wednesdays Class, Spirit Rock, Woodacre, CA: 10 a.m. to noon morning class:Share teaching with Sylvia Boorstein (most Wednesdays, either Sylvia or I will teach): 45 minute meditation, talk and discussion. Donald will be teaching August 1, 8; September 12, 19; October 17, 24; November 28; December 5, 12; January 2.

Donald’s Talks At: Dharma Seed (,, Audio Dharma (