Dhamma Dena offers 360 degree views of the mountains and high desert, unparalleled sunrises and sunsets, and vast black star-studded desert night skies. Its accommodations are charming yet rustic. All retreats are held in noble silence. It is possible to attend most retreats for any period of time, even as short as one day, although longer stays will yield more depth of understanding and mental and physical relaxation. Beginners and seasoned meditators are equally welcome at Dhamma Dena.
Dhamma Dena retreats are not strictly “meditation” retreats, but rather are aimed at cultivating mindfulness both on and off the cushion, throughout all the day's activities, with particular emphasis on sensing the inner body aliveness in the here and now. The purpose of the retreat is to investigate whether the truth of the dharma can be personally realized, not simply intellectually, but experientially in some meaningful way by each of the students. A wide and varied number of mindfulness practices are introduced to guide the students, in a gentle and relaxed manner, to discover for themselves the truth that is unchanging, and which leads to a reduction of self-created suffering, and ultimately to liberation.
A typical day in the tradition of this lineage begins in the meditation hall. Participants greet the day with simple mindful movements to cultivate inner body awareness, then chant the traditional refuge to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. A period of quiet meditation follows until the breakfast gong is sounded. There are late morning, afternoon, and evening practice periods as well, which may include along with silent meditation: guided meditation to explore the inner body, mindful movement to penetrate the aliveness within our bodies, sacred singing and chanting, walking meditation focused on the precise movements of each body part, meditation in a labyrinth, sacred dance, and mindfulness in Nature, with particular attention to the elemental energies both within and without. Mindfulness and gratitude practices are emphasized in all aspects of the day, including attention to eating and consumption, and to working meditation (mindfully sweeping floors or washing dishes). Dharma talks are offered on a daily basis, and there are frequent dharma discussions throughout the retreat. There are rest periods after all the meals to give students time to attend to their personal needs, nap, or explore the stark beauty of the surrounding desert.
Retreats are held in Noble Silence in order to create the space and inner stillness out of which insight can flourish. The vastness of the desert coupled with an inner stillness that is not stirred up by chitchat creates the ground within which the truth of the dharma can be directly experienced. The gift of silence is both a gift to yourself as well as to the sangha.
Ruth Denison long established the tradition of twice-yearly retreats, one in spring and one in the fall. The Fall retreat is open to women and men, newcomers and experienced practitioners alike.
Housing is simple, most in double-occupancy private rooms; meals are vegetarian.
Shelley Hainer discovered meditation in the late '80s as a student of Advaita Vedanta. When a friend suggested she check out Vipassana Meditation, Shelley found Ruth Denison at IMS. She was curious to see how Ruth would teach the Dharma since Shelley, like Ruth, had a connection to Charlotte Selver, author of "Sensory Awareness." Shelley is certified in the lineage of Elsa Gindler, Charlotte's teacher. Ruth's teaching style, its playful depth and focus in body-mind, somatic connections, and its practical application to daily living delighted Shelley and she continued practicing with Ruth over the years. The last time Ruth visited Shelley in New York, she insisted that Shelley should begin to teach, and we look forward to her ongoing participation in our Fall & Spring Retreats, in keeping with Ruth's wishes.
We are pleased to once again offer our Holiday Retreat in the tradition of our founder, Ruth Denison. It is a special time for old and new sangha to gather and to practice in the spirit of celebration of the Dharma and the holiday season.
The retreat will be co-taught by three of Ruth's senior teachers and students. All sessions will be conducted according to the unique methodology refined and perfected by Ruth herself, one that emphasizes attention to the inner life of the body and its ever-changing sensations.
This method of practice offers students an effective way to stay connected to the experiential truth of Anicca within each present moment. Ruth’s teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin, never stopped emphasizing this particular approach to the Buddha’s teachings.
This retreat offers three modules:
Module #1: 6 days, Friday, 12/15 – Wednesday, 12/20, taught by Nick Herzmark. This module will be a practice retreat on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. The module will emphasize letting go and the spirit of the four foundations. There will be talks, guidance and Q&A each day. Module #1 is for those who want to deepen their practice.
Module #2: 7 days, Friday, 12/22 – Thursday, 12/28, taught by Sakti Rose, Nick Herzmark & Frank Leder. This module will be another phase of Satipaṭṭhāna practice including mindful movement and attention to the details of the four foundations.
Module #3: 3 days, Friday, 12/29 – New Year’s Eve, midnight, Monday, Jan 1, with Sakti Rose & Nick Herzmark. This module will be a further deepening of all aspects of Satipaṭṭhāna practice culminating in our traditional New Year’s Eve celebration.
This course is open to both new students and those experienced in meditation. The retreat will be held in Noble Silence, as a gift to yourself and others, supporting an atmosphere of deep practice.
Students may participate in any or all of the modules, but a student must attend at least one full module so as to allow students to deepen their practice. Students can sign up for all three modules or commit to any one or two from beginning to end.
Your Registration is not confirmed until we receive your $100 deposit. Use the PayPal button below now, or send a check to: Dhamma Dena, PO Box 183, Joshua Tree, CA 92252.
Upon receipt of the deposit you will be sent a confirmation letter containing all the essential details about the retreat.
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Instructors are all long-time practitioners and students of Ruth Denison.
Nick Herzmark, MFT Nick was a close student and friend of Ruth Denison from 1977 until her death. He helped build Dhamma Dena. He traveled extensively with Ruth all over the world. In 1987, Ruth sent him to Sayadaw U. Pandita where he practiced until Ruth joined him to travel in SE Asia and China, studying and practicing together. As a licensed psychotherapist since 1994, he blends mindfulness with western methods. He is currently a student of Ven. Tsoknyi Rinpoche. www.nickherzmark.org
Sakti Rose, M.A., S.E.P. Sakti has studied and taught meditation under the guidance of Ruth Denison since 1995. As a senior Somatic Experiencing practitioner and teacher, Sakti helps individuals suffering from symptoms of stress and trauma. She has taught these skills joining healing and meditation at Spirit Rock since 2008. She is on the faculty of Karuna Training and has practiced Tibetan Buddhism since 1974 with many great masters in the U.S. and Asia. www.saktirose.org
Frank B. Leder, Frankfurt/Germany. Massage therapist and instructor, Natural Health Educator, Co-Founder of the TouchLife Massage method in which mindfulness to the body/conscious touch plays an important role. Frank met Ruth Denison at age 19 and became her student. He teaches mindfulness meditation in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the U.S. since 1993 and is the author of two books: 'Goldene Massageregeln' and 'Achtsamkeitsmeditation und Wege zur Einsicht'. Frank co-teaches in this retreat from December 22-28.
ABOUT THE COSTS
The teachings are freely given. Retreat participants are provided with rustic but comfortable lodging and three vegetarian meals a day, which is barely covered by the suggested donation of $45/day. No one is turned away if they cannot afford the retreat. Full scholarships are offered to those volunteering to prepare one of the three daily meals, and a partial work exchange is available to those who would be willing to come early, stay a day or two afterward to clean up, or to take on more work responsibilities during the retreat beyond ordinary service.
It is customary to offer dāna or generosity to the teachers in appreciation for receiving the priceless gift of the Dhamma.