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"Ripple" Stories from Scholarship Recipients - 2

Please send your stories to Gratitude@spiritrock.org  and include your preferred method of communication in case we would like to contact you.

Opening Hearts, If only for a Second
I've received 2 scholarships. First I did a mindfulness retreat, then a metta retreat.

After the Mindfulness Retreat: I was working as a rape crisis counselor, helping little girls and boys who had been sexually assaulted. I requested the scholarship and received a much needed 5-day retreat.
When I went back to work with my clients, I was rejuvenated and passed on to them mindfulness, breathing and being present. One little girl, a 9 year old who had been gang raped by 5 uncles, told me that when she started to think about that day , she would put her hand on her belly and breathe, just being close to the 'yucky' feelings until they subsided. (I had told her there was no way to escape those memories, just be present to them and that they would subside.)

After the Metta Retreat: Now I work helping men and women who have just gotten out of prison (and are substance abusers) readjust to society.  I pass on the idea of mindfulness, metta and presence to my students.
In my prison classes, after I orient them to the class, I tell them my wish for them- and I use a mix of things I got from Metta. Here is what I say to them: "May you be safe and protected from harm, May your body support you with physical strength and health, and may your life unfold with ease and joy." It really breaks down barriers and softens up these marginalized, neglected and mistreated segment of the population.

Often I hear "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me." But what speaks more is the smile that warms across their faces and I can just see their hearts opening, if only for a second.


The Freedom of Self-Acceptance

On the last day of the 2005-06 New Year’s Retreat at Spirit Rock, I asked the teachers if the Buddha knew he was the Buddha when he was alive. “The Buddha was very clear that he was enlightened. He said ‘I am enlightened. I am free,’ ” Gil said.

My 2005 New Year’s intention was freedom, and without planning to, I spent much of the retreat reflecting on the meaning of freedom in my life.

The Buddha knew he was the Buddha without question. I asked that question in the meditation hall because every day I long to touch that kind of deep knowing in my life. I want to know that I am free, to feel it in my pores and the soles of my feet, to sing a song of freedom as I march through my days. This is what I want my life to be about: knowing that I am free and swimming in it like a dolphin. I want to know from an unshakable place – with roots like old, wide redwoods – that I am (and all of us are) free.

“Hot damn. I could build a whole life around just this,” I thought to myself after the teachers said yes to my question. Reflecting upon the evolution of my practice over the past year, I realized I had already begun. I remembered that the pursuit of freedom is about realizing that freedom has been in my pocket all along, I only needed to look.

At one point during the retreat I remember hearing a voice inside myself say: “My life is not going to look like anyone else’s so there is no use in comparing myself to others.”

This felt extremely comforting, like my wise self was speaking to me over a loudspeaker. I am so tired of judgment. So very, very tired of judging myself and others. This year in 2006 my intention is self-acceptance; accepting myself just as I am. It is another word for freedom.

To submit your own story send it via e-mail to Gratitude@spiritrock.org.

Donate now to the Scholarship Fund

Being with the Big Emotions of Cancer

I’m very grateful to Spirit Rock for the scholarship. When working there is little time available to do a retreat. When out of work due to illness there is time but little money. This gift filled the gap.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May. I had been told by the acupuncturist and others that I should learn qigong to facilitate healing and help reduce the effects of chemo and radiation. I am a long time meditator, so seeing the offering at Spirit rock for a retreat with qigong was enticing. I attended in the middle of the chemo therapy; bald and a bit dazed, with my fingers crossed that I could pay attention.

The instruction and the movements were so gentle. The effects so palpable that I could get myself out of bed for the 6am sessions.

As a meditator I often can watch the emotions passing through. I feel though, that I bully the persistent ones. They keep coming back and i subtly participate in moving them away. Working with the qi gong and them sitting was a revelation. Centered in the hara, the largess of the emotion was not frightening. I could allow myself to feel the full force of it. It then moved in it's own time, and didn't keep haunting me.

Cancer has a lot of big emotions that travel with it. I am so grateful to be able to be with them. I am so grateful for the deep silence at Spirit Rock and the profound kindness of the teachers.

How does it ripple?

People often fear the idea of cancer; it ripples when due to the kindness of the teachings and the teachers, I can be with whatever it is that is connected to cancer. There is a beautiful directness to so many of the people I have met dealing with cancer. It ripples cause I have more moments where i can be.
It ripples because I have shared Teja Bell’s instructions with interested friends.

It ripples ‘cause I walk down the street and can feel the energy of the body breathing. And maybe, just maybe it will ripple when I return to my job as a public school art teacher, working with adolescents.  Maybe I'll keep my center a little longer and maybe it'll be palpable.

Thank you, Ellen

My Whole Life Has Been Affected by That One Week of Silence

I know that for me, being able to attend retreats at Spirit Rock by grant or scholarships has helped my life in all aspects.

I have a "rare" health condition that caused me to have acute allergies, sinusitis, HASHIMOTO thyroiditis and several other health conditions. Western medicine has no treatments for my condition, which is heavy metal toxicity caused from dental use of mercury, nickel, and palladium, also aluminum. My treatments are all alternative medicines, and are very expensive.

I have become vividly aware that one needs to work on the total being, and that is the mind, physical body, soul and spirit. My budget usually allows me to work on the physical body only. I prayed for help and someone told me about Spirit Rock, and their scholarships. It took me awhile to take action because my pride got in the way. I was ashamed to take a handout. My "Ego" wouldn't allow me to accept a gift.

After some shift shaping occurred in my life, I was ready to do whatever it takes for me to heal myself. I have always gone the extra mile to help others but couldn't accept help myself. So the bottom line is, I am so thankful and grateful for your sponsors and especially those for the People of Color retreat.

During my retreat last August, I felt for the first time "JOY" in my heart. I have dreamt about seeing a multicultural environment all my life, and I guess I have been in search of such a community. I have tried to write such a life in my film script stories for video/film, but was not able to include the feelings and emotions.

The People of Color retreat last year was an awakening for me. I still get goose bumps just thinking about that experience. Now I have experienced what I couldn't write in words. I have lived it for a few days. And... ooh, I'm so thankful and happy.

I am sharing this experience with everyone who dare listen to me speak. I did a ten day Vipassana retreat from December 26, 2005 to January 6, 2006 with the Northern California Vipassana Center in Santa Rosa, and many people I met there wanted to know more about Spirit Rock after I shared my story. In fact last week I receive an email from a South African woman who went to your web site. She stated how impressed she was with your programs. So the people who sponsor your programs can rest assured that their efforts and kindness are appreciated and most importantly needed.

My whole life has been affected by that one week of silence, which is leading me to partake in more. I would never be able to afford any retreats for spiritual growth, because my budget just doesn't allow that kind of expense. My heart overflows with love for what Spirit Rock makes available to all people. Please let your donors and sponsors know how their generosity is helping people like me in my healing process. From their goodness, I am able to work on my mind, body, soul, and spirit.  And I am eternally grateful. I am inspired to give more and do more because of the generosity of people like your donors and sponsors. What wonderful role models. "It takes the efforts of a Village to have a healthy and whole community."

Here's something for all of you at Spirit Rock: May each of your lives be filled with divine love, abundance, prosperity, joy, happiness and peace. May you be well and in perfect health. May you feel the love of all recipients who attend Sprit Rock's programs. The "GOD" in all of us is working.

Thank you with all the LOVE in my heart.
(I'Ammatha) Trudi

To submit your own story send it via e-mail to Gratitude@spiritrock.org.

Donate now to the Scholarship Fund

How to Reach Enlightenment - Stop Clinging

“Enjoy these last few precious moments of our lives,” Eugene told us in a half-serious, half-joking tone on New Year’s Eve. Then, he bowed and sent us off to our silent New Year’s Eve party in the dining hall.

Most of us laughed when he said this, including me. But after a short giggle, I paused. Something inside me bowed in acknowledgement of this profound truth. At age 24, I realized how skilled I am at not thinking about or believing in the inevitability of my own death.

Tears of joy streamed down my face as I became aware of how alive I felt in this moment of coming to terms with death. Having spent the week in precious silence, practicing how to be free, I felt more alive than I had in several months. My memory flashed to the handful of moments of presence I had experienced that week: resting in the reverberation of my body breathing itself, awakening to the heavenliness of my hips during walking meditation, savoring red dal and curried vegetables as if it were the first time. And I realized then that I could die peacefully with the way I had spent my days. I walked down to partake of the popcorn and spiced cider feeling happiness radiating from my heart in every direction. “I am dying, and I am living too,” I thought to myself, “What a blessing.”

Earlier that same evening during Eugene’s Dharma talk on the Eightfold Path he told us the Buddha’s synopsis of how to reach enlightenment: to stop clinging. After he said these simple but complex words, I wanted to stand up and burst out: “Hey everyone, didn’t you hear what he said? He told us the key to our Freedom!”

I knew then what I wanted to let go of from the past year. I wrote ‘everything’ in capital letters on my little slip of white paper. When I tossed it onto the sacred barbeque pit for the New Year’s Eve ritual, I watched it smolder in the flames with anticipation of everything from 2005 fading away. In that moment even my toes wanted to let go. With my whole being I wanted to release the year’s events: all the stuff I loved, all the suffering, all the blah moments. During this time of reflection and creating memory at Spirit Rock, I was willing to let go. I was free.


To submit your own story send it via e-mail to Gratitude@spiritrock.org.

Donate now to the Scholarship Fund

Gratitude to Donors

The partial scholarship to CDL3 has been so good for me!  It has jump-started my individual practice, which in turn deepens and enriches life. Participation in the training has given me the boost I needed to reach out in a number of ways to share in the community:

I have now for several months been leading a weekly meditation group through the local Center for Faith and Action--an educational program offered through a Presbyterian Church that has as its goals to foster both the inward spirit journey and action for peace and justice. This group is growing--now has average of eight-ten every week, with new people coming all the time.

A practitioner friend and I have been cleared to offer a pilot meditation group at the Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women, substance abuse program.  They also want us to begin one at the Roederer Correctional Complex (men, substance abuse program), which we will do as our time permits.  This is being arranged through the Division of Mental Health, where all involved have been most supportive of our work.

Just Saturday I offered the first day-long vipassana retreat in Louisville, sponsored by our local Interfaith Paths to Peace.  This attracted sixteen participants on a snowy/sleety day.  The day went well and evaluations indicated most of the participants want another retreat!

I am deeply grateful to donors with the vision and great heart to make these sorts of beginnings possible. May you live in peace!


Renewed Optimism & Compassion for Social Work

Through a scholarship, I was able to attend two consecutive retreats in 2005. As a result, whether in my role as single mom, as Program Coordinator in a faith-based community, or as a prisoner rights activist and visitor to San Quentin’s death row, I have found increased ability to maintain my equanimity in the face of constant challenge. I'm more able to maintain my emotional stability even in the face of tremendous adversity. The practice has given me new capacity to move forward in my social justice work from a place of renewed optimism and compassion.

This spring I'm doing a 6-month program on socially engaged Buddhism (coordinated by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.) My ability to thrive in this program will be the direct culmination of my retreat practice this past summer.

Thank you again for this tremendous opportunity for growth and healing.


To submit your own story send it via e-mail to Gratitude@spiritrock.org.

Donate now to the Scholarship Fund

Opening to Myself and My Students

It feels like a lot of time has passed since the August Vajrapani retreat. I am very grateful for the scholarship fund that enabled me to attend.  It came at a time of deep questioning and uncertainty. In addition, I was, and am, also coming to grips with being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. 

It was a challenging retreat. Many demons came to visit. With the help and encouragement of the three teachers, I feel I accessed a new level in my practice.  In effect, I was able to have awareness with a wider view. There was less identification with the objects. 

In terms of my daily life and activities in the world, I feel the retreat helped me to just relax. I teach children at a charter school who are troubled – in many different ways – emotionally, physically, genetically, environmentally.  Prior to the retreat, I have at times felt resentful.  Instead, now I am able to relax with them, with myself, and just let it be.  I don’t feel I offer any great difference to those vast numbers of beings who are suffering in this world.  But I am better able to help my 24 kids by just being more available and by continuing to open to their pain and to mine. 

My meditation practice for the last year, and in particular the retreat this summer, has allowed me to work with the acute symptoms of my illness when they occur in an easier way. At times I can only just sit and breathe with it. There is nothing else to do.  Maybe I am blessed to be able to work with death on a daily basis. The center that the practice has provided, allows me to be more compassionate with myself and with others. 

Perhaps the most important piece I took away with me from the retreat was the reinforcement to perform the Metta practice regularly, for myself and for others who are suffering.  At times I sing it out silently at the supermarket, in traffic, for my kids, on the street. It has become a part of my life, like the pulsing of my blood. 

Thank you to all the kind benefactors who allowed me to attend the retreat. I would not have been able to do it otherwise.


Read more "ripple" stories from Scholarship recipients by clicking here.

Donate now to the Scholarship Fund

Please send your stories to Gratitude@spiritrock.org and include your preferred method of communication in case we would like to contact you.


Please contact us with any questions:

Bobbi Perez
(415) 488-0164 x283



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PO Box 169 • Woodacre, CA • 94973