Choose Your Path
Spirit Rock offers a breadth of programs in a variety of formats to fit anyone's schedule and needs, from two-hour classes that meet weekly and daylong workshops on the weekends to silent residential retreats lasting from three-days to as long as two months and advanced practitioner programs that span several years. We've also organized our programs into eight paths below to help you find what interests you.
The Teachings of the Buddha
Spirit Rock Meditation Center is dedicated to the teachings of the Buddha as presented in the Vipassana tradition. Insight Meditation, the practice of mindful awareness, is at the heart of all our offerings. These programs are defined by the core of the Buddha’s teachings and offer an opportunity to explore everything from the basics of practice to the deepest concepts of the Buddha's teachings.
Some of the themes covered in this learning path include: the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, meditation, metta (loving-kindness practice), sangha (community), Vipassana, satipatthana (Four Foundations of Mindfulness), brahmaviharas (modes of conduct), awareness, essential Dharma, wise speech, dependent origination, equanimity, desire, breath, mindfulness of the body, monastic days, anatta (not self), karma, embodiment, abhidhamma (Buddhisht psychology), silence.
Insight Meditation, known as Vipassana in the Buddhist tradition, is a simple technique which has been practiced in Asia for more than 2,600 years. Beginning with focusing attention on the breath, the practice concentrates and calms the mind. It allows us to see through the mind's conditioning and thereby to live more fully present in the moment. Mindfulness is a way of maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment. Meditation practice helps us cultivate the skills for mindfulness.
Some of the themes covered in this learning path include: Mindfulness, meditation, Insight, concentration.
Mind and Emotions
Through an understanding of the nature of mind, we can see that our mind states play a major role in our day-to-day experience, as well as in our physical and mental well-being. Our state of mind influences our attitude and behavior in relation to our thoughts and to others. This mental attitude is a critical factor in determining experience, and thus our health.
Some of the themes covered in this learning path include: Buddhist psychology, judgments, trauma, self-compassion, anxiety, ambivalence, ambiguity, communication, concentration, addiction, grief, neuroscience and psychology, happiness, choice, inner conflict, grateful, joy, ego, anger, clarity, transforming emotions, transforming reactivity, loving what is, presence, emotional resilience, not-self, the thinking brain, grief, healing, discovering reality.
The Family and Relationships
The Fourth Noble Truth of the Noble Eightfold Path to liberation is used to develop insight into the true nature of reality. Through this path, which includes mindful awareness, we can cultivate skillful communication to improve our relationships in the world. These relationships can include partners, children, friends, family and colleagues. At Spirit Rock, we offer programs to cultivate relationships across the spectrum.
Some of the themes covered in this learning path include: Parenting, parent-child relationships, partner-relationships, fear of love, love, communication, change through time, couples, intimacy.
Communities in Practice
Taking Refuge in the Sangha means looking for support, inspiration and guidance from all who walk the Noble Eightfold Path. Spirit Rock offers an opportunity to practice with a community of like-minded people.
These programs are offered for such diverse groups as youth, teens, young adults, elders, LGBT*QI, women's groups, men's groups, people of color, creative communities and more.
The Dharma at Work
Investigate the power the Dharma can have in your life and in your workplace. Bring attention to skillful interactions along with the ability to identify emotional experiences in the body with an intention to help improve daily interactions. The application of mindfulness and mindfulness-based psychotherapy is increasingly appreciated by the therapeutic community as an approach to reducing mental and emotional suffering. Spirit Rock offers continuing education units for many of our programs for psychotherapists, lawyers, caregivers, social workers, educators and more.
Some of the themes covered in this learning path include: psychotherapy, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), leadership, lawyers, educators, healthcare, mindfulness facilitators, caregivers, communication, right view, right speech, right listening, right concentration.
The Body, Movement and Music
The first foundation of mindfulness is mindfulness of the body. This is an awareness of the body as body. It is something experienced as breath, flesh and bone. Introduction to mindfulness is often focused on the breath, experiencing breath and being breath. As the ability to maintain awareness of breath gets stronger, the practitioner becomes aware of the whole body. Body awareness is taken into movement. Chanting and rituals are opportunities to be mindful of body as it moves, and in this way we train to be mindful even when not meditating.
Some of the themes covered in this learning path include: walking meditation, yoga, qigong, dance, improv, chanting, aging, illness, injury, pain, dying.
Science and the Natural World
In 1987, Spirit Rock Meditation Center purchased 411 acres of undeveloped land in the San Geronimo Valley of northern California from The Nature Conservancy, which then used the funds to preserve rainforests in South America. Our landscape is a central part of the Spirit Rock experience. Just as one recognizes that they are a part of a community of practice, the Earth's must not be seen as a collection of commodities for personal use but as a communion of subjects of which we are all a part. This section includes programs about the natural world as well as on the science of meditation from the fields of psychology and neurosciences.
Some of the themes covered in this learning path include: Connecting with nature, the healing power of nature, neuroscience and nature, awakening in nature, sustainable world, the Spirit Rock land.