The benefits of meditation practice are well documented—ranging from more ease and less stress to deep inner freedom. But even with regular meditation practice we can find ourselves struggling when our workplace is in turmoil; when we’re in conflict with a family member or friend; or just in facing the ups and downs of life.
IMCW’s senior teachers have developed the Deepening Practice Program to help you bring the central teachings of the Buddha more fully into your family, relationships, work, and all areas of your life, so that you can live with greater kindness, awareness, and freedom. See the deepening practice classes and retreats on our Calendar page.
In addition to the suggestions in the New to Meditation and Establishing Practice sections, these are other opportunities you can use to broaden and deepen your engagement on the path. You will find six sections:
- Satsang (exploring truth with spiritual friends) with Tara
- Buddhist Teachings: Special Studies
- A Year of Living Mindfully
- Deepening Practice Discussion Group
- Sutta Study
- Regional & National Training Programs
Satsang with Tara Brach
This meditation class includes a silent 45-minute meditation and time for dharma inquiry (questions about the path and practice) and sharing. Satsang means exploring and realizing truth in the gathering of spiritual friends. The word comes from Sanskrit "sat" (truth) and "sangha" (community or company of spiritual friends). This class meets once each month on Monday, fall, winter and spring. Please see the calendar for current offerings.
Buddhist Teachings: Special Studies (BTSS)
These 6-8 week series focus on the central teachings of the Buddha to help deepen your understanding of the Buddha’s teachings and practices.
BTSS forms an important part of IMCW’s Path of Practice. A typical class includes a period of meditation with instructions, a talk addressing the class theme, a period of discussion, and time for Q & A.
Buddhist Studies classes normally require registration, include assigned readings and handout materials, and focus on the intersection of study and practice. Participants are encouraged to read and study the written (or recorded) material and have their understanding inform and help deepen their practice of meditation and mindfulness in daily life. Classes are open to all who are interested, although a regular meditation practice is strongly recommended.
Major teachings that have been offered in recent years include: the Brahma Viharas, the Four Noble Truths, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, and Practicing the Noble Eightfold Path in our Daily Lives. Future classes planned include Buddhist Heart Practices (cultivating loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity), the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, and Awakening Joy.
Please see the calendar for current offerings.
A Year of Living Mindfully
The YLM program, taught by Jonathan Foust, explores the Buddha's teachings and offers support in integrating the dharma and your personal practice into daily life. This 12-month inquiry includes daily practice, study, retreats, service and small-group meetings in community to deepen and inspire your practice.
The program includes:
- Two weekend retreats
- Three day-long retreats
- Monthly classes
- Small group gatherings
- Monthly one-on-one dharma practices and exercises designed to bring you into deeper self-awareness and connection
- 3 private Focusing sessions with Jonathan
- Participation in Jonathan's public IMCW daylong retreats
Read "A Year of Living Mindfully...or How to Change Your Life, Transform Your Practice and Make New Friends," by YLM graduate Christa Gallapoullos. Originally published in the ENews, February 2011.
Feel free to email Jonathan with any questions.
Deepening Practice Discussion Group
Monthly, October - May
As our practice deepens, it can be helpful to check in on a regular basis with teachers who know our particular strengths and challenges. A safe and private setting is most supportive for discussing experiences and questions in detail. This small discussion group, taught by long-time IMCW teachers Deborah Ratner Helzer and Catherine Brousseau, will provide that opportunity for experienced meditators to explore their practice among like-minded peers.
Deborah and Catherine will provide direction and support for the group, which will be similar to the interview groups offered at retreats, but within the setting of ordinary life. Participants can discuss their practice, receive ongoing guidance, and build connections with fellow dedicated practitioners. The focus will be on deepening and understanding of meditative experiences, as well as integrating mindfulness and insights into everyday activities.
Prerequisites: 2 years Vipassana practice and 2 week-long retreats (or equivalent)
Registration and teacher approval required. Find more information about the Deepening Practice Discussion Group on the IMCW Calendar page, here.
Sutta Study Groups
These groups meet monthly to explore the original discourses (suttas) of the Buddha. The Buddhist Canon contains a wealth of material on many different aspects of the spiritual path, from the practical to the profound, and can provide context, guidance and inspiration. Study group discussion is relaxed and informal, with an emphasis on finding the relevance of the ancient teachings for our own lives and spiritual practice.
Participants are expected to have an ongoing meditation practice to serve as a foundation for study. It's not necessary to have had any previous study of the suttas to join a group, just a healthy interest and willingness to learn.
The group functions more or less like a book club, with leadership rotating for each sutta. The basic text that we work from is:
The current text we are working from is:
The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Anguttara Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi (translator).
Read, "Suttas: Digging for Treasure," by Catherine Brousseau, originally published in the ENews, June 2010.
For more information, contact Catherine Brousseau.
Regional or national training programs
Meditation Teacher Training Institute: DC area 2-year teacher training program
Dedicated Practitioner Program: 2-year intensive study program for lay persons, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Community Dharma Leader Program: Intensive 2-year program for dharma leaders, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA (You must be recommended by a teacher for this program.)
Mindfulness Yoga & Meditation Training Program: 18-month program through Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA, exploring "the philosophical, historical, and practical intersection of the yoga and Buddhist traditions."