Dharma Training Programs

Once you've attended many Spirit Rock programs and a number of retreats, and the teachings of the Buddha have become integral to your daily life, you may feel ready to commit to one of our Dharma Training Programs to deepen your practice.

Dharma & Yoga Training Program

This five-month, RYT200, immersive training program addresses body, mind, and heart through the study of mindful asana, pranayama, anatomy, mindfulness principles, meditation, and the wisdom teachings of Yoga and Buddhism. Students will develop both their personal practice, as well as the ability to guide and lead others. This training led by a certified yoga therapist to promote healing and strengthening the body for easeful movement, rather than idealized poses, increasing accessibility for a wide range of physical abilities. The heart of the practices will include the Brahma Viharas, with a focus on Metta, providing both refuge and support for kindness and compassion towards ourselves and others. 

Mindful Non-Profit Leadership Training Program

This training program cultivates the mindful leadership skills of focus, clarity, emotional regulation, compassion, self-awareness, and well-being for non-profit leaders in the social change sector. Through mindfulness curriculum, meditation instruction, group discussions, and practice opportunities, participants will develop skills and behaviors that can be applied directly to their personal and professional lives. By sharing their knowledge and experience with their staff, colleagues, and communities, participants will strengthen relationships and workplace environments to expand impact beyond their own learning and for the broader benefit of their work and organization.  This is a 5-month certificate and training program for Directors, Executive Directors, Board Members, C-level leaders, or equivalent, of non-profit organizations, within the San Francisco Bay Area.

A Year to Live

This year-long program, based on the book A Year to Live by Stephen Levine, is designed for people of all ages, regardless of life stage. In community, we will focus on waking up and living life more fully through the exploration of death as spiritual practice. In our largely death-denying modern culture, few are encouraged to actively contemplate the inevitability of our death, or that it could happen at any time. The Buddha recommended that we do just that, not to frighten us, but to use death as an object of contemplation to help us awaken to the fragile, fleeting, and precious nature of our lives. Ultimately, this is a year-long practice in forgiveness, gratitude and letting go. Through guided meditations, inquiry and small group discussions, we will be guided, with the support of community, through a process of living this year as if it were our last.

Living Dharma Program - Exploring and Integrating the Eightfold Path in Daily Life

This eight-month program is for meditators / Buddhist practitioners wishing to engage wholeheartedly in a deep exploration of their dharma practice through the study and teaching of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. Using the classic Buddhist teachings of sila, samadhi, and panna (ethics, meditation, and wisdom), we will look at how we cultivate mindfulness, kindness, and balance given the inner stresses of modern life and the outer social challenges of inequity and pressure of climate change. 

In this practical, experiential, and meditative program, through the exploration of the Buddha’s eightfold path, we will inquire how to live and respond to life with awareness, wisdom, and compassion. This program may serve as a foundation for more extensive practitioner programs and trainings.

Dedicated Practitioners Program

The Dedicated Practitioners Program is an innovative program for serious practitioners of Insight meditation to deepen understanding of the Dharma, strengthen practice, and integrate compassion and wisdom into our day-to-day lives. Through this program, we study traditional texts and Buddhist suttas and use the dharma, our meditation practice, and our sangha to understand ways suffering and freedom is created in our hearts, our lives, our communities, and the world. Integral to this program is an exploration of the gross and subtle manifestations of social suffering evidenced through innocence and ignorance, and its impact on personal and collective well-being and liberation. Our intention is to create a diverse and vibrant community of practitioners who support each other in waking up and in bringing more wisdom and compassion into the world. This program, designed as an intensive lay practice period, offers a comprehensive curriculum on the Buddha's teachings over two years. In addition to five 7-day training retreats, participants commit to maintaining meditative practice, monthly coursework, monthly group meetings, and contact with a mentoring teacher.

Advanced Practitioners Program

The Advanced Practitioners Program is intended for senior students of the Dhamma who want to explore the liberation teachings of the Buddha through practice, study, inquiry, and interactive exercises. It is a year-long program consisting of three retreats and is intended for those who have completed programs like Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioners Program (DPP), Community Dharma Leader Program (CDL), Heavenly Messengers (HM), or an equivalent. The purpose of this program is to bring to life the liberating teachings of the Buddha both on retreat and in our daily practice.

Community Dharma Leaders

In these demanding times of deep suffering from spiritual, economic, socio-political and environmental ills, the practices of Buddhism can support ethical, wise and compassionate responses. As the Dharma sinks deeper into Western experience, access to practice in diverse, multicultural communities is beginning to widen.  As this bears fruit, leaders who are ethical, understand the principles of Dharma practice, and can elicit clarity, kindness, patience and wisdom within their communities, are urgently needed. In support of this, Spirit Rock offers training and support for committed Dharma practitioners who have potential to develop leadership skills. The foundation of the training is the ancient lineage of Theravada, yet, it is also designed to encourage creative, intuitive and innovative responses in applying these timeless teachings to contemporary lives. These teachings offer a Path through the complex difficulties of our world in spiritual, social, political, cultural, interpersonal, and personal contexts.

Retreat Teacher Training

Retreat Teacher Training is an intimate 4-6 year process that includes extensive study of traditional texts and contemporary Theravada teachings, a wide range of teaching skills and practices, mentoring and apprenticeship with senior teachers, as well as further training with meditation masters from a variety of lineages. For the past 25 years, Spirit Rock has sponsored these teacher training groups, and trained teachers across the country.  Initially these trainings were offered by Jack Kornfield, and now they are run collaboratively by a collective of teachers from Spirit Rock, the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, MA and the Insight Meditation Center (IRC) in Redwood City, CA.

Students cannot apply for this level of training. Instead, every four to six years, retreat teachers from Spirit Rock and associated communities recommend their best candidates – students who they believe have the profound depth of meditation practice, the wisdom, experience, compassion, maturity and teaching temperament to join the next training group. Such candidates will almost always have done dedicated years of practice and a number of extended retreats, such as regular two-month retreats at Spirit Rock, three-month retreats at IMS, and, in many cases, periods of training in Asia.

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