IMCW’s Mentor and True Refuge Companion Programs

Warm Hand To Warm Hand

The principle of sangha animates IMCW’s Mentor and True Refuge Companion programs. The Mentor Program, restarted last spring after a brief hiatus, pairs seasoned practitioners with those seeking to deepen their practice. The True Refuge Companion Program, now being relaunched, supports sangha members facing aging, illness, or death, as well as their caregivers. 

Sangha, or spiritual community, is the third jewel and refuge in Buddhism. Sangha was key to the twenty-five-hundred-year tradition in which the Buddha’s teachings were passed from “warm hand to warm hand,” as Suzuki Roshi put it. In the mentor and companion programs, sangha members explore the dharma together in ways that transform them both.

On November 20, 2021, from 10:00 to 11:30, IMCW is hosting an information session where you can learn about the programs from the sangha members leading them.  Please attend if you are interested in volunteering or engaging with either program. Both programs will offer training to those interested in becoming mentors or companions. 

The Mentor Program

As committed meditators and dharma students, IMCW mentors are spiritual friends rather than teachers. They support mentees who seek to establish or maintain a daily meditation practice. While a mentor may offer insight gained through their study and practice, the benefit is profoundly reciprocal. By learning the art of pausing and allowing, the mentee reteaches the mentor. Ray Manyoky and Katy Flanagan will offer training for new mentors in early 2022; current mentors have received training. 

The True Refuge Companion Program

Companions hold space for the practitioners’ difficult and uncomfortable experiences, something loved ones often cannot do because of their urgent wish for recovery and fear of loss. Service in the program nurtures the companions’ awakening, especially their capacity for metta and clear seeing.   

Jill Drew and guiding teachers Mary Aubry and Susan Akers plan to offer a one or two-day program in January 2022 to train new volunteers and refresh those currently serving as companions. The program began in 2016 after most of the companions attended an eight-month course led by Mary, Susan, and other IMCW teachers called Sacred Journey: Being With Aging, Illness, and Death.

If you have a committed daily practice and are inspired to volunteer as a mentor or companion, please join us on November 20 at 10 o’clock. You can also contact the Mentor Program coordinator Katy Flanagan or the True Refuge Companion coordinator Jill Drew with questions about the programs (you may click the contact links or copy/paste the email addresses into an email).

Katy Flanagan is a graduate of the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program taught by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. She teaches mindfulness to members of marginalized communities, including incarcerated persons, returning citizens, and those in recovery programs. She teaches at the Center for Mindful Living, a project of IMCW.


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