Ruth Gendler, "Imagination"

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

March 3 (Saturday): Spirit Rock: Through the Dark Night: Breaking Down, Breaking Through, Waking Up (daylong, with Marisa Handler), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many of us at some time pass through a “dark night of the soul,” an extended encounter with pain, confusion, and disorientation, sometimes manifesting as depression or breakdown or loss of functioning. In the West, such experiences are often hidden and regarded with shame. In some other cultures, they are viewed as central to individual evolution, bringing transformation, purification, and amazing gifts. On this daylong, we will explore this phenomenon through meditation, short talks, and sharing. We will offer a map of the dark night as part of awakening, identifying perspectives and practices that help us with this process. For further info, go to

Marisa Handler has practiced Insight Meditation in retreats and in her daily life for 15 years. As a writer, singer-songwriter, teacher, and coach she has the necessary tools for healing chronic physical and mental illness, and for deepening our experience of awakening. She is the author of the memoir, Loyal to the Sky, which won a Nautilus Gold Award for world-changing books, and her essays, fiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous publications. She teaches Creative Writing at Mills College and Stanford University as well as workshops at Esalen and CIIS. She is also a committed practitioner of Byron Katie's The Work, Authentic Movement, and Biodanza.


March 14, 21, 28; April 4 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 10 a.m. to noon (see class description at end).

March 18, 25 (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 info, go to

March 24 (Saturday), San Rafael: Marin Sangha Daylong, 9:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Awakening Individually and Collectively in a Time of Crisis and Need: A Day of Community Practice and Inquiry. How do we integrate our spiritual practice with our need to help respond to the crises and needs of our larger world? In this daylong, we will combine periods of silent practice, helping us to quiet our minds, deepen insight, and open our hearts, with exploration of the connection between inner and outer transformation—through guided meditations, interactive practices, short talks, and discussion.

Recognizing that there are phases of more inner work and more outer engagement, and very personal ways of navigating this balance, Donald will help us clarify a number of themes related to engaged practice, such as: seeing the world with dharma eyes; working with wise speech and cultivating empathy in the midst of differences and conflicts; opening to difficult emotions and working with reactivity; and connecting with the vision of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “beloved community.”

Location: St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. Open to those who have attended at least one Marin Sangha Sunday gathering. For further info, go to

April 1 (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 info, go to

April 4 (Wednesday morning class), Spirit Rock. 10 a.m. to noon (see class description at end).

April 7: Spirit Rock, Transforming the Judgmental Mind (daylong), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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. We will examine what judgments are and how to work with them, using mindfulness, “heart” practices, and inquiry, helping us to preserve the discernment often found in judgments, while working through the destructive aspects of judgments. We will also explore how we internalize the judgments of our society in a number of ways, particularly related to race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Participants will have the option of regular follow-up sessions. For further info, go to

April 8-15 (Sunday to Sunday): Insight Retreat Center (Santa Cruz Mountains), Metta Retreat (with Nikki Mirghafori). A silent mindfulness retreat with alternating sitting and walking meditation, instruction, dharma talks, work meditation, and practice discussion with the teachers. Suitable for both beginners and experienced practitioners. Registration opens December 8, 2017. For further info, go to

April 23-28 (Monday to Saturday), Berkeley: Mindful Communication: A Wise Speech Retreat (with Oren Sofer), non-residential 6-day retreat, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.Integrating our meditation practice with our speech and communication is one of the main ways to bring deeply-held values into our daily lives and actions in the world. In this retreat, we will connect mindfulness and lovingkindness practice, the Buddha's teachings on wise speech, and the contemporary discipline of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Collectively, these practices form a powerful foundation for cultivating awareness and empathy, strengthen our ability to stay present in challenging situations, and develop our capacity to listen and speak from the heart. The retreat will include periods of silent meditation and interactive speech exercises. This retreat is designed both for those who want to bring more attention to speech as a spiritual practice, and for those who have emphasized communication and want further grounding in meditation. NVC will be taught at a basic level; reading Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication is recommended. Participants will have the option of continuing with follow-up sessions after the retreat. Location: Sacred Streams, 2149 Byron St., Berkeley, CA (15 minute walk from North Berkeley BART). Cost: $300 + Dana-- some scholarships available. Info/Registration: To be announced.

May 13-20 (Sunday to Sunday): Spirit Rock, Settling, Seeing, and Spacious Awareness (with Susie Harrington): In the context of a small retreat, we will train in three inter-related modes of practice. 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 our experiences of our bodies, thoughts, and emotions, and the general patterns of experience, both more personal and more universal. We see more clearly when we are reactive, when we suffer, when there is a thick sense of self, and we learn to be more with the impermanent flow of experience. 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. 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. For further info:

June 4-10 (Monday to Sunday): Spirit Rock, Aging, Dying, and Awakening (with Eugene Cash and Anna Douglas). Living life fully includes aging and dying. It's a natural process, and ripe with spiritual possibilities. Aging brings loss; what we once assumed to be "ours" slips away, revealing the pervasive truth of impermanence. But even as our memory slides, our cognitive speed slows down, and our bodies become more fragile, qualities of the heart reveal themselves. We see that the potential for wisdom and compassion does not depend on the state of the body or on our age, but rather on the training of the mind to abide in timeless awareness. It is best to begin this training before you are ill or dying. Then, like a treasured friend, your own mind can accompany you through the challenges of aging, loss, illness and dying. Right now, we know we will die but we do not know when or how. Through engaging in a variety of contemplations on death in the communal space of retreat, our confidence in our capacity to meet death peacefully increases.

Join a group of your peers who are interested in life after 55 as a new stage of life, one which offers opportunities for deepening in wisdom and compassion, and loosening our fears around dying. Teachings will offer a blend of the traditional ancient wisdom of the Buddha Dharma with more contemporary views and resources for helping us prepare for death. This is a silent retreat with one period a day of interactive contemplative inquiry in dyads or small groups. In addition, there will be daily instructions in mindfulness, meetings with the teachers, dharma talks and qigong. Prerequisites: Completion of at least one 5- to 7-night silent insight meditation retreat. Participants must be age 55 or above. For further info, go to

June 24 (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 info, go to

Further daylongs and retreats in 2018:

August 19-28: Spirit Rock, Concentration Retreat (with Sally Armstrong, Susie Harrington, and Phillip Moffitt)

August 31: Spirit Rock, Cultivating Wise Speech: Becoming More Skillful in Your Speech Practice (Including in Difficult Situations)

September 17-23: Spirit Rock, Transforming the Judgmental Mind (with Eve Decker, Robin Gayle, and Shahara Godfrey)

October 1-7: Vallecitos, New Mexico: Mindful Communication (with Oren Sofer)

October 28 - Nov. 6: Southern Dharma (near Asheville, North Carolina), Settling, Seeing, and Spacious Awareness

November 23-25: Spirit Rock, Transforming the Judgmental Mind through Mindfulness, Heart Practices, and the Work of Byron Katie (Non-Residential Retreat)

December 17-23: Spirit Rock, Winter Solstice Retreat (with Oren Sofer and Heather Sundberg)

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 February 28; March 14, 21, 28; April 4; further dates TBD.

Donald’s Talks Are Available At:

Dharma Seed (

Audio Dharma (

Benicia Sangha (

and other sites.