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The Center for Mountain Stream Meditation in Nevada City, CA is Open!

By Heather Sundberg, Teacher for Mountain Stream Meditation Center


Mountain Stream Meditation Center at dusk


Mountain Stream Meditation Center is happy to announce that our Center in downtown Nevada City opened on January 7, 2013. Mountain Stream Meditation has been a 501(c)3 since 1993, and was founded by Spirit Rock teacher John Travis, who began teaching in the Sierra Foothills in 1987. Spirit Rock-trained teacher Heather Sundberg joined the community as the second teacher in 2011. We have been hosting sitting groups, daylongs and residential retreats for a couple of decades, but we never had our own space. The long-term dream of our own center seemed very far away.

To our surprise and delight, in 2010, a generous donor offered most of the money to purchase a single family home in downtown Nevada City to be transformed into a community meditation center. Thanks to further generous donations, the Center is now paid for in full.


In 2011, we ‘practiced’ through a long uncertain process with the city to be granted the necessary permits. Our community would sit in numerous city meetings, encouraging our practice to stretch while listening deeply to the concerns of our new neighbors, ironing out the details, compromising repeatedly, and working with the part of our minds that wants to know the outcome and fears things will not work out. At each meeting we had a ‘metta team’ (loving-kindness) sitting in the back wishing well to all involved in the meeting.  

In 2012 we undertook a massive remodel project to transform the building and land from a home into a center. Our main construction team of four people worked for more than six months practically for free, supported by other volunteers. To expand the future meditation hall, we moved the load-bearing wall in the building, lifted the ceiling, and added a lovely bay window. Moving more walls, we added a welcome foyer, a tea room and ADA compliant restrooms. In the backyard of the property, we removed a swimming pool, and re-graded the land, while creating beautiful places for walking meditation and quiet outdoor reflection. After the remodel was complete, we filled it with beautiful Buddhist art from many countries and traditions collected over the last 40 years by John Travis.



Before (L) and After (R) photos of the interior

The day before the Center opened, we invited a few of the community members who had contributed an exemplary amount of time, heart, and financial resource to building both the Center and the organizational structures which will serve the Center, to a simple blessing ceremony led by John and Heather. That first ‘sit’ in the meditation hall was pristinely quiet (thanks to the double paned windows someone generously offered), and everyone shared their intentions for practice at the Center. Gifts were given and refuges (awakening, truth, community) and the five precepts of non-harming were taken. John made everyone laugh by dancing around the meditation hall sprinkling us with ‘blessed water’. Heather led the circumambulation through and around the entire building chanting loving-kindness phrases, and wrapping the building in its’ very own ‘protection cord’ which is a reminder of our basic integrity, and capacity to awaken, and ‘protects’ us from habitual unhelpful mind-states.


New gardens at Mountain Stream Meditation Center

The intention behind our non-residential Center is to provide an all-dana (donation) model to support meditation practice, study, and community both for our local community and for the wider circle of communities connected with us, including Auburn, Rocklin, Sacramento, Placerville, Davis, and Chico, as well as Reno, and Carson City, NV.  We happily welcome occasional visitors from the Bay Area who travel to practice with us.  Over time, our Center will remain small and intimate, with a permit for only 49 people per event.  

For the last 25 years we’ve offered a Monday Night sitting group, as well as regular daylong retreats. During our first six months of operations at the Center we have added a second more interactive sitting group, a First Sundays community program, a Family Program, and a two-year Committed Students Study Program. Our Committed Students Program is a particular favorite, as it is the first time in our community’s history in which practicioners from all of our Northern California & Western Nevada state affiliated groups have met regularly over time to deepen practice together. 

We see our little community Center as being near the front of a new movement in the national Insight Meditation community, and envision a time in the not-so-distant future in which many more towns nationwide have their own community meditation centers. Raising our children together, supporting the aging process, deepening community, and of course awakening together will provide the ground for Insight Meditation to remain one of our important dharma traditions in America for generations to come. We, at Mountain Stream, feel grateful to be a part of this larger dharma movement at this time.

We invite you to come up and visit us – we are only 3 hours from the San Francisco Bay Area!


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© 2014 Spirit Rock - An Insight Meditation Center
PO Box 169 • Woodacre, CA • 94973