Jonathan Foust

December 27, 2009

The New Year’s Retreat

Filed under: Dharma, Meditation, Photography — jonathanfoust @ 12:36 pm

Digging out from the blizzard of '09.

Today we pack up and head out to the New Year’s Retreat.  This year we’ll have 120 people, our largest group yet.  I suspect we’ll have both sides of the coin.  A large group builds a lot of energy as we practice for five days in silence together.  We’ll also probably be treated to an unprecedented symphony of sniffs, coughs and sneezes.

I’m looking forward to the week, which will be paradoxically quite busy for me.  I’ll be leading mindful movement sessions twice a day, facilitating group interviews, private interviews, leading some sits and giving a talk on “Impermanence and The Body.”

Enjoy your week.  Happy holidays!


November 13, 2009

New Undergrad Course at George Mason

Filed under: Cool Things, Dharma — jonathanfoust @ 12:24 pm

For those of you local to DC and Arlington in particular, you might enjoy checking out this new undergrad course at George Mason’s Center for Consciousness and Transformation.

The course is called Consciousness, Meaning and Life Purpose.


(Thanks, Jill.)

The Charter for Compassion

Filed under: Cool Things, Dharma — jonathanfoust @ 11:40 am

A number of folks have alerted me to the Charter for Compassion, which a very cool international focus on celebrating acts of kindness.  I’m just getting into it, but it has some wonderful elements you might find inspiring.


(Thanks, Christa and Sylvia.)

November 10, 2009

Buddha’s Brain

Filed under: Dharma — jonathanfoust @ 8:48 pm

I’ve just started Rick Hanson’s book, Buddha’s Brain:  The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom.

The book is about effective, research driven ways to light up the circuits in your brain that will bring you more joy, fulfilling relationships and inner peace.

I did the Community Dharma Leadership training at Spirit Rock with Rick and am impressed with his  training as well as his sincere desire to get the word out on the fantastic research demonstrating how meditation impacts so many aspects of our lives.

As Rick writes in the book, “If you can change your brain, you can change your life.”

More on the book here.

Buddha' Brain



October 30, 2009

Doing Time, Doing Vipassana

Filed under: Dharma, Video — jonathanfoust @ 5:54 pm

If you haven’t seen the movie “Doing Time, Doing Vipassana,” it’s incredibly inspiring.  And it’s now on youtube in five parts.

For more on yoga and meditation in the prisons, this Wikipedia link has a lot of information.  If you’re interested in doing prison work here in the DC area, let me know and I can connect you with some very active and inspiring people.

October 21, 2009

One of My Homies: Father Thomas Keating

Filed under: Dharma, Video — jonathanfoust @ 11:55 am

I had the opportunity to meet Father Thomas Keating at the Garrison Institute at a conference a few years ago on inter-disciplinary traditions where I was leading yoga and meditation and could take part in the sessions. He was teaching about “Contemplative Prayer.”

I loved his explanation of how he got started into this.  Someone asked if they could use a room to teach meditation in their church.  Attendance was so high he got alarmed and starting attending.  From his own practice he has managed to articulate what is essentially ‘mantra’ meditation into a format that has made it accessible for countless people.

He has a wonderful transmission.  When he taught at the conference it was clear he was giving a talk he’s given thousands of times, but he used that as a way to personally connect with each person through eye contact.  I was touched and inspired by his friendly and caring nature.

(Thanks, George!)

October 12, 2009

Interview with Karen Armstrong

Filed under: Dharma, Video — jonathanfoust @ 11:03 am

Here’s a link to an interview between Karen Armstrong and Tavis Smiley.  As Don, who passed this on to me, said in his email, “Interestingly, she makes many of the same points the Dalai Lama spoke of in the compassion portion of his teaching Saturday.”

Here is the link to the PBS interview (video).

By the way, Karen Armstrong’s book “Buddha,” blew me away.  Highly recommended.

(Thanks, Don!)

October 8, 2009

What Christians Can Learn From Buddhists About Suffering

Filed under: Cool Things, Dharma — jonathanfoust @ 10:46 am

I did a two and a half year Community Dharma Leadership Training through Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Califorina a number of years ago and one of the best things that happened to me was making a friend of Gordon Peerman.

blessed relief full cover

As an Episcopal priest he has served  for many years within the framework on the church and as a psychotherapist, consultant, deep practitioner and teacher who encourages mindfulness practices, he is a true ‘dharma bum.’  He writes with clarity, selflessness and wonderful humor.

He has a very-well received book out called Blessed Relief:  What Christians Can Learn from Buddhists About Suffering.  I had the opportunity to read this in one of it’s first drafts and feel this book is a contribution that over the years will just keep on giving.

You can read more about it here.

October 4, 2009

A Way Cool Mindfulness Aid: Nick Chang’s Online Meditation Bell

Filed under: Dharma, Meditation — jonathanfoust @ 10:35 am

Med bell

In the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh’s communities, a random bell sounds during the day.

When you hear the bell you are invited to pause, take a breath and reconnect with the Here and Now.

Many years ago I got inspired by this practice and set my digital wrist watch to go off every half hour.  To be honest, much of the time I was annoyed, but other times it served as a powerful moment of waking up out of whatever trance I was in.

My friend Nick Chang has designed a website that provides this service for you.  You can choose your bell, how often it sounds and whether or not you’d like it at random intervals.

You can access the meditation bell here.

Thanks, Nick!  Awesome!

September 30, 2009

What is the Attitude in Your Mind Right Now?

Filed under: Dharma, Photography — jonathanfoust @ 3:29 pm

When Joseph Goldstein was in DC this summer he shared an inquiry he’s found quite helpful in his meditation practice.   I’ve noticed it helpful as well and have been sharing this when I guide meditation.

“What is the attitude in your mind right now?”  Is there striving?  Aversion?  Grasping?

Somehow this question can help to ‘reset’ my awareness from being consumed by a reaction to what’s happening to an attitude of softening, noticing and being more present to whatever is there.

In class this week I mentioned the retreats led by Sayadaw U Tejaniya, who emphasizes focusing not as much on technique as on being intimately aware of the attitude in each moment – the relationship to this play of pleasant, unpleasant and neutral sensations.

Sayadaw U Tejaniya

Sayadaw U Tejaniya

Tricycle Magazine recently featured an interview with U Tejaniya where he goes deeper into the practice of ‘mindfulness in everyday life.”  He also has a few interesting things to say about his experience of depression and the practice of ‘noting,’ which I mentioned in class this week.

I hope you enjoy it.

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