Lama Rod Owens is the Guiding Teacher for the Radical Dharma Boston Collective and teaches with Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme) where he is also a faculty member for the organization’s teacher training program. He holds a Master of Divinity degree in Buddhist Studies from Harvard Divinity School with a focus on the intersection of social change, identity, and spiritual practice. He is a co-author of Radical Dharma, Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, which explores race in the context of American Buddhist communities. He also contributed a chapter on working with anger and difficult emotions in the book Real World Mindfulness for Beginners. He has offered talks, retreats, and workshops at Harvard, Yale, Tufts, NYU, and other universities. His current writing project is an exploration of intersectional masculinity and spirituality.
The method I use most in teaching is anapanasati or mindfulness with breathing. Breath awareness supports us while we investigate the entire mind-body process. It helps calm the mind and gives us a graceful entry into a state of choiceless awareness--a place without agendas, where we are not for or against whatever turns up in the moment.
In this state we relax into ourselves. We allow the mind to empty itself of its own content and take us into a realm of silence.
Choiceless awareness, with the transition into and out of silence, has fascinated me for a long time. What are the barriers to our minds becoming silent? How do we remain in silence long enough to receive its countless benefits? Can we learn to bring thought-free wakefulness into each aspect of our ordinary, daily living?
As lay people we need a practice that helps us learn how to live whole-heartedly, to do justice to the many challenges of lay life, and at the same time grow in the dharma. This includes moving gracefully back and forth between our daily life and intensive retreat practice.
Presently, I am deeply interested in using Buddha's Charter of Freedom of Inquiry, the Kalama Sutta, as a framework for my teaching. In this teaching, the Buddha invites us to question and doubt. It invites us to use personal experience to test and verify the truth of the teachings. This in turn encourages us to acknowledge life's greatest teacher: Life itself.
The challenge for us all is to question ourselves. Do we know how to live? If the answer, in any way, is no, then bring in the dharma and let's see how the teachings help us live in a wise and kind way.
Larry Yang, a longtime meditator, trained as a psychotherapist, has taught meditation since 1999 and is a core teacher at East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, CA. He has practiced in Southeast Asia and was a Buddhist monk in Thailand.
Leela Sarti has been a student of the Buddha's teachings and practices since she was 16 years old. She lives with her family in Sweden and in addition to teaching Insight Meditation retreats internationally works individually with students in her psychotherapy practice in Stockholm. She is a long term student of the Diamond Approach and part of a teacher training program in that tradition.
Leigh Brasington studied the jhanas with the late Ven. Ayya Khema, who authorized him to teach retreats on the jhanas. He was also empowered to teach by Jack Kornfield. He teaches numerous jhana retreats throughout the year, at venues that include Cloud Mountain, Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, Gaia House, Vallecitos, and Southern Dharma.
Booker brings her heart and wisdom to the intersection of Dharma, embodied practice, and activism. She began working with system-involved populations in 2005 and was a senior teacher and Director of Trainings with Lineage Project for 10 years, and facilitated an intervention on Riker's Island from 2009-2011 through NYU. Booker shares her expertise nationally on creating culturally responsive environments and changing the paradigm of self and community care. She has spoken at Mind&Life Institute’s International Symposium, Contemplative Minds in Higher Education, and Mindfulness in Education conferences, as well as at universities across the country. She is a co-founder of the Yoga Service Council at Omega Institute, and the Meditation Working Group of Occupy Wall Street. Booker is a co-author of Best Practices for Yoga in a Criminal Justice Setting, a contributor to Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality’s report on Gender & Trauma, YOGA: The Secret of Life, and Sharon Salzberg's book Happiness at Work. Booker is on faculty with the Engaged Mindfulness Institute and Off the Mat Into the World. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Mindful Yoga and Meditation training (2012), Community Dharma Leaders’ Training (2017), and will complete Spirit Rock’s Teacher Training in 2020.