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"In truth we are always present; we only imagine ourselves to be in one place or another."
—Howard Cohn

No-Self in the Brain: Insights from Neuroscience
Rick Hanson
Saturday, July 15, 9:30am - 4:30pm
Community Meditation Center
Sliding Scale $75 - $200. Please bring your lunch. Code RH3D17.
OPEN-Register Here

We all experience having a particular identity that helps us navigate the world, but that sense of self is also a source of great suffering, as we cling to its wants and react to how others treat it. The Buddha taught that "not-self" was one of the three fundamental characteristics of existence, alongside impermanence and suffering, but what he actually meant by that has been the subject of much discussion ever since.

In this workshop, we will examine "self" and its release in light of Buddhism and modern brain science. These perspectives inform each other, and together they offer powerful and practical tools for deconstructing the apparent self. In this workshop, we will cover: Buddhist perspectives on the interconnectedness of all things and thus the "emptiness" of any apparent thing; the four defining characteristics of the presumed "I"; the absence of these characteristics in both your experience and your brain; why the apparent "I" is not just "empty" but actually does not exist; ways to fill the hole in the heart and thus reduce self-ing; and brain-savvy ways to relax the sense of self, take things less personally, feel more at peace with the world, and rest in the spacious awareness.

There will be plenty of opportunities for questions and discussion. No background in meditation or neuroscience is necessary.

Teachings are appropriate for the general public as well as health care professionals. Health care professionals will be able to incorporate the tools and practices offered in this program when working with clients. Continuing Education (CE) credit available. See below for more information.

Learning Objectives for participating health care professionals- Based on the content of this program, you will be able to:

  • Describe three attributes of the psychological self-presumed by Western psychology philosophy;
  • Describe ways in which those three attributes are actually not present in the phenomenology of experience;
  • Describe ways in which those three attributes are actually not present in the neural structures and processes that underlie representations of the presumed self in the brain;
  • Teach clients two methods for relaxing the sense of self.
Young Adults (18-26) and Seniors (65+ with limited income) are invited to attend this day for $45.


General Information

Online registration for our programs is available until 12 noon of the last business day prior to the day of the event (e.g. online registration for a Monday program ends at 12 noon on the prior Friday). There is an additional $5 fee for registering at the door. If you can't attend an event you registered for, please see our Cancellation Policy.

Visit our Online Bulletin Board for Ride Sharing to find or offer a ride.

Volunteer/Work Exchange opportunities, as well as full or partial Scholarships, may be available for this program. For more information, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator at volunteering@spiritrock.org or (415) 488-0164 x224.

Scholarships are not available for events listed as “Benefits.”

Even if you have been to Spirit Rock before, please review our Non-Residential Programs FAQ for useful information about what to wear, what to bring, how to get here, and more.

Continuing Education

This course offers 6 CE credits for $60 for psychologists and California licensed MFTs, LCSWs, LEPs, LPCCs, and nurses. If you have a different license and are interested in CE credit, please check with your licensing Board to see if credits for programs from APA or BRN approved providers are accepted.

Continuing Education credit is co-sponsored by the Spiritual Competency Resource Center, and the Institute of Noetic Sciences. The Spiritual Competency Resource Center is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Spiritual Competency Resource Center maintains responsibility for this program and its content. The Institute of Noetic Sciences is a provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP10318 for 6 contact hours. The California Board of Behavioral Sciences accepts CE credits for license renewal for programs from APA approved agencies.

Credit is awarded for instructional time only and does not include movement. For more information, including attendance and cancellation policies, see Continuing Education (CE) Credit.

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