I try to help practitioners approach their meditation practice and their lives with compassion and wisdom. Bringing a loving attentiveness into each moment allows us to learn kindness rather than condemnation, and discernment rather than judgment.
I feel that it is essential not to make a split between the formal practice that happens on retreat and the informal practice that happens in daily life. At the core, formal practice and daily life practice are the same. In all arenas of life we can create the same dedication to wakefulness and sensitivity. The right place to practice meditation is wherever we are. The right time to practice is right now. And the right way to practice is to know what we are doing whenever we are doing it.
We can live each moment in a fresh way, free from expectations of how things should be and open to how things are whether we are sitting on the cushion, washing the dishes, or talking with a friend. With practice, we can discover a current of underlying joy and find that all of life is sacred.
Meditation practice is an offering to the world. When we meditate, we practice not only for ourselves, but for all beings. In meditation there is a gradual purification of heart. This purification allows us to trust ourselves and to respond spontaneously to others with compassion and insight.
Having taught formal retreats since 1986, my current interest is in supporting individuals and groups in integrating and applying the teachings and insights in daily life, and working with small groups in the exploration of the dharma for liberation of mind and heart. My talks draw on the traditional teachings and their pointing to liberation here and now.
Pari Ruengvisesh was born and raised in Thailand. Her practice is rooted in the Mahasi tradition under the guidance of Sayadaw U Pandita, Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Sayadaw U Vivekananda, Michele McDonald and Steven Smith. A graduate of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leaders Program, Pari is committed to practice on intensive retreats and applying the teachings in her daily life.
Pascal Auclair has been immersed in Buddhist practice and study since 1997, sitting retreats in Asia and America with revered monastics and lay teachers. He has been mentored by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Massachusetts and Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, where he is now enjoying teaching retreats. Pascal teaches in North America and in Europe. His depth of insight, classical training, and creative expression all combine in a wise and compassionate presence. In addition, his warmth and humour make Pascal a much appreciated teacher.
Rabbi Jeff Roth is the founder and director of The Awakened Heart Project. He was the co-founder of Elat Chayyim where he served as Executive Director and Spiritual Director for 13 years. He is the Author of Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life, Jewish Lights 2009. He is an experienced meditation teacher and the facilitator of over 90 Jewish meditation retreats.
I first encountered Buddhism in 1974, and it blew the doors wide open for me with its profound and practical insights into the mind, suffering, and true happiness. Over time I gravitated to the original teachings of the Buddha, embodied in the Theravadan tradition, for their down-to-earth clarity, and important sources for me have included the teachers of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the Pali Canon itself. More recently, I've explored grounding the dharma in modern evolutionary neuropsychology - "neurodharma" - recognizing how mind arises dependently upon the body, especially the nervous system as it tries to meet ancient needs for raw survival. I am especially interested in using these approaches to heighten the learning - the cultivation (bhavana) - from beneficial experiences (otherwise often wasted on the brain) to reduce the underlying sense of deficit and disturbance that causes the craving that causes suffering and harm. Overall, I feel amazingly blessed to have the opportunity in this life to ride the dharma stream and share its gifts with others!
After practicing family medicine in Quebec for twenty-three years, Robert Béliveau chose to take his career in an unexpected direction, but entirely consistent with his beliefs. He decided to devote himself to teaching methods of stress reduction. His encounter with Jon Kabat-Zinn, renowned for having integrated mindfulness meditation in traditional medicine, was decisive. He leads mindfulness based stress reduction workshops at the Épic center of the Montreal Heart Institute. He is co-author with Jacques Lafleur, psychologist, of Les quatre clés de l’équilibre personnel.
A dedicated practitioner of Vipassana (insight) meditation, Roxanne Dault (she, her) has sat many long retreats in Asia and in the West. Roxanne is a Guiding Teacher at True North Insight where she teaches weekly sits and residential retreats. She is involved in different projects to share the Dharma in the West. She has completed the four-year Insight Meditation Society (IMS) Teacher Training. Her teaching is influenced by indigenous spiritual practices, her many travels and her experience in Somatic Experiencing®, a body-mind approach aimed at relieving the symptoms of trauma. Roxanne wants to share her love for the Dharma so that we can all touch freedom in every moment! She speaks French, English and is learning her ancestors' language, Anishinaabemowin. www.roxannedault.ca
The most compelling part of my practice right now comes in the form of my writing. For a long time, I've focused my teaching and writing on lovingkindness. Now as I look more deeply into lovingkindness, I find that it actually rests on another foundation, the expression of faith.
Faith is the topic I am exploring most in teaching and writing. Today there is a tremendous upsurge of interest in a new kind of faith, based on a practice where people can experience a direct spirituality, one without rigid dogma or compulsory belief in a specific cosmology. This is a spirituality that rests on personal transformation.
Vipassana allows us to take a method of mind training and craft a way of life that is more compassionate, more ethical and more powerful than our unawakened lives. The Buddha's teachings give us an immediate experience of what we can do to change. Faith in the teachings means we align ourselves with a vision of our greatest possibilities. This is the heart of the practice.
At the peak of his career, former social work professor and founder of War Child Canada, Steven Hick dove into the Dharma full-time in 2005. He has since founded the Ottawa Insight Meditation Community and now teaches insight meditation with an emphasis on reducing the stress in our daily life. He is Director of MBSR Ottawa where he established MBSR teacher training in Manitoba, Newfoundland and Alberta. Steven is the author of numerous books including Mindfulness and Social Work and Mindfulness and the Therapeutic Relationship. He holds a PhD in social work, and is a father and activist. Steven has been practicing meditation and yoga since 1979 with a variety of teachers, including Matthew Flickstein, Adyashanti, Bhagavan Shanmukha and Thich Nhat Hanh.