Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation

With Bruni Dávila & Liz Powell
Five Tuesday Afternoons
August 2 to 30, 1:30 to 3:00 p.m.

Lotus Flower 2

Insight Meditation or Vipassana, is a simple technique, beginning with focusing the attention on the breath. The practice concentrates and calms the mind. At the heart of Insight Meditation is the practice of Mindfulness, a practice of moment tomoment observation which cultivates a clear, stable and non-judgmental awareness. While mindfulness practice can be highly effective in helping bring calm and clarity to the pressures of daily life, it is also a spiritual path that gradually dissolves the barriers to the full development of our wisdom and compassion. During this introductory course, the basic instructions in insight meditation will be given sequentially, starting with a focus on mindfulness of breathing, followed by mindfulness of the body, of emotions, of thoughts, of mind and of the application of mindfulness in daily life and on retreats. No preregistration necessary.

Liz Powell is IMC Dharma Sprouts and Dharma Rocks family programs leader. She has been practicing Vipassana meditation since 2004. She emphasizes mindfulness in daily life in her work as a Marriage Family Therapist, and enjoys retreat practice as well. Since 1996, Liz has worked with children, teens, and adults, first as a court-appointed special advocate for children, then as Director of Youth and Family Services for Kara, a non-profit peer support agency providing services for people and organizations dealing with a terminal illness or death. She currently serves as an IMC board member.

Bruni Dávila has practiced Vipassana, and Zen (in various traditions) since 1995 and at IMC since 2006, with Gil Fronsdal as her primary teacher. She is a graduate from the Sati Center Buddhist Chaplaincy Training and the IMC Dharma Mentoring Program. In her livelihood, she manages environmental projects.

No cost – Donations Welcome – No Registration Required
Insight Meditation Center – 108 Birch Street, Redwood City – 650-599-3456
Website: www.insightmeditationcenter.org E-mail: insightmeditationcenter@gmail.com

Training in Buddhist Chaplaincy – Sept.-June

Taught by Jennifer Block, Gil Fronsdal, Paul Haller & a variety of guest teachers.  A year-long training in Buddhist chaplaincy and spiritual care giving, oriented to Buddhist practitioners with at least four years of committed practice. Its aim is to provide a strong foundation in Buddhist chaplaincy for volunteer chaplains, those working toward being professional chaplains, and those serving the pastoral needs of their local sanghas. Information: www.sati.org , or karuna@sati.org

AIDS Walk San Francisco July 17th

Walking BuddhaAIDSWalkSF2016

On July 17, a group of Sangha members from IMC/IRC will walk the walk. Our intention is to help relieve suffering in our community by raising funds through donations. The funds will benefit dozens of organizations working to stop new HIV infections and support people living with HIV/AIDS. Here’s how you can help:

  • Register & join our team, IMC/IRC Compassion Team, and help us raise funds. Walk with us in person or as a virtual walker. Our team #1065

Tell your friends & family about our Compassion Team and share us on social media.

AIDS Walk SF 2016 Fact Sheet

For more information, please contact Joe Hayes at joe@insightretreatcenter.org


The April – June 2016 Newsletter is Now Available

The April – June 2016 Newsletter is Now Available

Seven Factors of Awakening Program


January – July 2016, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.7FA

Fridays: Jan 29, Feb 26, March 25, April, 22, May 20, June 24

Saturday: July 9

The Seven Factors of Awakening are qualities cultivated on the path to liberation. These seven – mindfulness, investigation, energy, joy, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity – refer to both psychological qualities we can develop as well as practices to be undertaken. When fully developed, they are know as the seven jewels of Buddhist practice.

This eight-month program is an opportunity to explore and practice with these aspects of Awakening as a support for meditation, daily life and the path of liberation. This will be done through a combination of teachings, practices, and discussions. Readings and reflections will be provided for practicing between the monthly meetings.

Pre-requisite: IMC’s Eightfold Path Program or the equivalent, 2-4 years practice, 2 residential retreats, or permission from the teachers. Contact imc7factors@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.

Registration is required. Please submit your application online.
Deadline to apply is Sunday, January 24, 2016.

IMC November Events


The Great Passing Away of the First Buddhist Nun: A Benefit for the Saranaloka Nuns

Saturday, November 14,

  • 6:30 – 7:30 pm – reception
  • 7:30 – 8:30 pm – Dramatization
  • 8:30 – 9:00 pm – reception


IMC will host a grand dramatization of the great passing away of the first Buddhist nun, the Buddha’s foster mother, Mahāpajāpatī. The dramatization will be based on an ancient poem that confidently asserts the spiritual potential of women. It also celebrates the role Buddhist nuns have for teaching the Dharma and displaying the attainment of liberation.

Dramatizing the story of Mahapajapati and supporting the Aloka Vihara nuns is a way to celebrate how the practice and teachings of women and Buddhist nuns is an important part of Buddhism becoming well established in the United States.

The Aloka Vihara nuns will participate in the evening.

For more information about the nuns, visit their website at Saranaloka Foundation — which supports Theraveda Buddhist Nuns of the Forest Tradition in the West.

IMC October Events


Summer Food Drive – May/September

Benefits Second Harvest Food Bank


 THE POWER OF GENEROSITY: The struggle to end hunger in Silicon Valley -Toren Fronsdal

Most-Needed Foods 

The Food Bank accepts all non-perishable food donations, but especially needs these nutritious items:

    • Meals in a can (stew, chili, soup)
    • Tuna and canned meat
    • Peanut butter
    • Canned foods with pop-top lids
    • Low-sugar cereals
    • 100% fruit juices in single serving boxes
    • Canned fruit packed in juice
    • Canned vegetables (low salt)

Collection canister is located in the community hall, left rear from main entrance.

Monetary donations can be submitted here.

Food drive is sponsored by IMC’s LGBTQ Sangha. imcqueersangha@gmail.com


Memorial Day Weekend Family Retreat information

Memorial Day Weekend Family Retreat: K- 8th Graders and Parents

Saturday May 23- Monday May 25.

Jikoji Retreat Center, Los Gatos.

Practice together as a family during a relaxed weekend that will offer structured retreat practice and small group sharing with other parents, teens, and children, along with hiking and appreciation of the forest, grasslands, and views from the top of the Santa Cruz mountains.  The site features camping and a limited number of shared dorm rooms. .  Registration by lottery will open on the IMC website at the beginning of February.


Note: Applications with a $200 deposit received by 3/15/15 will be entered into a lottery. Retreatants will be notified in late March if they have been admitted or are on the Waiting list. Subsequent applications will be added to the Waiting list.

Registrar: Questions? Email Liz Powell at eapowell@aol.com

Teachers: Richard Shankman, Liz Powell, and others

Memorial Day Weekend Family Retreat in English & Spanish (K- 5th Grade)


Noon Sat. May 28 to Noon Mon. May 30, 2016

with Richard Shankman, Andrea Castillo, Liz Powell & Bruni Dávila

During this weekend we will meditate together as families, as well as in separate groups for parents and children. There will also be plenty of time to enjoy hiking, arts and crafts, and spend free time relaxing outdoors. Everyone will also share in doing simple chores.

Please click on the 3 links below to carefully review detailed information about the retreat, and then to apply:


Retiro en Español e Inglés para niños de kinder a sexto grado y sus padres

con Andrea Castillo, Bruni Dávila, Liz Powell y Richard Shankman. Del 28 al 30 de Mayo de 2016 en el Centro de Retiro Zen Jikoji.

Información General  Información Adicional e Importante   Inscripción

Freedom Through the Third Precept

The avoidance of sexual misconduct is the third of the five cardinal Buddhist ethical practices. Sexual feelings and behavior are deeply rooted in our biology, psychology, and social life. After puberty, many people spend significant amounts of time thinking about and involved with their sexuality. Even celibate monastics can devote much energy addressing their sexual feelings.

As an ethical precept, the avoidance of sexual misconduct means striving to refrain from causing harm through our sexuality, even unintentionally. Rather than defining sexual misconduct in terms of any specific sexual behavior, the emphasis is on considering the impact the behavior can have on others and oneself. It means taking into account much more than the particular sexual activity one may be involved in.

Practicing with the third precept requires bringing mindfulness to some of the most intimate and personal areas of our lives. As such, great care and respect is warranted as we bring greater attention to our sexuality. In terms of sexual relationships, mindfulness includes considering the intentions, expectations, and commitments of everyone involved. Without clarity about these it is easy for people to feel disappointed, hurt, or betrayed. Mindfulness in sexual relationships also includes awareness and acknowledgment of any emotional vulnerabilities our partner may have. Past hurts may be re-triggered from what may, on first impressions, appear to be appropriate sexual relations. Mindfulness can also be extended to awareness of the wider social contexts for our behavior. Are commitments being broken with our sexual activity? Are there others—partners or relatives—who would be hurt?

Because the sexual drive can be strong enough to override a person’s wisdom, compassion, and common sense, help is sometimes needed to avoid engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior. The commitment to the third precept can provide this help. It is a safeguard from unexamined, impulsive sexual behavior. It is also a protection from later regrets or worse.

Our sexuality can be a part of the Buddhist path to liberation. Rather than something that is outside the purview of Buddhist practice, sexuality can be a rich arena for practice when we bring mindfulness and investigation to it. One way to do this is to consider our sexuality through the perspective of the Eightfold Path, the Buddha’s most common description of the path to liberation. These eight practices are comprehensive enough to address the complexity of our sexual lives. Together they contribute to “Right Sexuality”.

Right View, the first practice of the Eightfold Path, is applying the perspective of the Four Noble Truths to our sexual intentions and behavior. The first Noble Truth asks each of us to consider whether there is any actual or potential suffering—to ourself or to others—connected to our sexual behavior. The second Noble Truth asks us to notice any craving or compulsion that may be part of sexual desire. The third Noble Truth is learning to recognize—even if just as a potential—the possibility of the cessation of any and all suffering connected with our sexual desires. It means to realize a peace and deep abiding sense of fulfillment that dissolves sexual compulsion. The fourth Noble Truth is the Eightfold Path; it is a set of practices that can bring this fulfillment.

Through practicing Right View we use our awareness of suffering to help us become free of suffering. When suffering and craving are not recognized, suffering can remain the backdrop for ones’ life. Recognized, we can begin to dissolve the backdrop.

The second practice of the Eightfold Path is Right Intention. Discovering the deeper and often subconscious motivations that drive sexual behavior and feelings is one of the very important ways to have Buddhist practice become thoroughly integrated into one’s life.

Right Intention means to avoid three forms of wrong motivations. These are intentions motivated by cruelty, ill will, and lust. Rape, coerced sex, and sexual aggression are examples of extreme sexual behavior that can be motivated by cruelty. Asserting oneself on one’s partner or ignoring his or her well-being can be driven by anger or hostility. Objectifying and disrespecting one’s partner can be a consequence of dominating lust.

Applying Right Intention in our sexual lives involves having our sexual behavior motivated by compassion, loving-kindness, and renunciation. Sexual behavior can be a valuable way of expressing appreciation, love, care, and respect for others. Having these as part of our sexual behavior ensures that sexual relationships are more than skin-deep affairs. They can be nourishing and nurturing of some of the best qualities of our hearts.

Renunciation is an important part of healthy sexuality. Renunciation is the capacity to let go of any desire which might cause suffering and hurt. Without being able to let go of sexual desire, there is no freedom. Spiritual freedom is not to be free to act on our desires; it is being free to choose wisely which desires to act on. It is to be free of compulsive desires.

The third step of the Eightfold Path is Right Speech. For our sexual lives to be an integral part of the Buddhist path it is crucial that we tell the truth. Sexual misconduct often involves deceit and secrecy, activities which undermine efforts to be mindful and transparent. To practice Right Speech in relationship to our sexuality means to be honest. Sexual relationships between people in committed relationships may not appear to have sexual misconduct, but, if there is no honesty, it cannot serve as part of the path of practice.

Next is Right Action. This is usually explained by the first three precepts, not to kill, not to take what is not given, and not to engage in sexual misconduct. To not take what is not given is very important in sexual relationships. It means not expecting or requiring one’s partner to agree to one’s sexual advances. It means avoiding any assertiveness in which one forces oneself on an unwilling partner.

Right Action is followed by the practice of Right Livelihood. This means we participate in the economic life of our society in ways that avoid causing harm. When Right Livelihood is applied to our sexual behavior it includes not paying for sex or pornography. It also means not participating in a line of work that perpetuates harmful sexual behavior and attitudes. For example, someone pursuing a path of liberation would not create sexualized advertisements. Also, they would not facilitate the sexual exploitation and dehumanization of others.

The next step in the Eightfold Path is Right Effort. One way of practicing this is to make an effort at cultivating skillful, positive states of mind such as happiness, contentment, calmness, compassion, and equanimity. These and other positive states are the primary source for having an abiding sense of inner fulfillment and well-being. In terms of our sexuality, developing these positive states of mind is an antidote to using sex to fill an inner void, anxiety, or depression. When we have the pleasure of positive mind states, the physical pleasure of sex may be less alluring or even necessary. Instead of a pursuit of pleasure, sexual activity can then be an expression of love and appreciation.

The seventh Eightfold Path practice is Mindfulness. Sexual behavior and sexual relationships are among the most complicated, multifaceted aspects of our inner psychological life and outer inter-personal life. Sex and sexuality involves hormones, social conditioning, beliefs, motivations, emotions, and the mysterious activity of “chemistry” between people. Sex is seldom about simple pleasure. To be mindful of our sexuality is to begin to unpack all the complexity it comes with. As the different aspects of this complex stew are seen clearly, we can learn where our freedom is found in relationship to it.

Right Concentration is the eighth and final element of the Eightfold Path. Here concentration is synonymous with a profound sense of calm and well-being. The mind that is settled and concentrated is said to be unified. This means there is a strong sense of integration or wholeness when we are concentrated. These benefits of concentration practice have a direct effect on our sexual lives. On one hand, we are much less likely to have our sexual desires motivated by the desire for recognition, belonging, security, approval, pleasure; or to avoid anxiety or unhappiness. On the other hand, it can support sexual intimacy as a vehicle for deep communication, respect, and love for our partner.

In Buddhism, monastics practice celibacy, a path which can be a meaningful and healthy path to freedom. The task for sexually active lay practitioners is to discover how their sexuality can be a meaningful and healthy part of their path to freedom. One way to do this is to apply the Eightfold Path towards a thorough investigation of our sexual lives.

—Gil Fronsdal



The Buddha’s most explicit path of practice is the Eightfold Path. This is a set of eight practical approaches to bring Buddhist practice into the width and depth of our lives. The Eightfold Path Program is an introduction to each of the Eightfold factors so participants will discover how to apply each set of practices in ways that are personally meaningful. Pre-requisite: completion of IMC’s Introduction to Meditation course or the equivalent.
The program has the following elements:

1. 2-1/2 hour monthly meetings that include teachings, meditation, and discussions.
2. Readings, reflections and practices for each month.
3. A monthly one-hour personal meeting with an Eightfold Path mentor to discuss one’s practice and reflections on the Eightfold Path factors.
4. Ends with a one-day Eightfold Path retreat at the Insight Retreat Center in Scotts Valley on June 20, 2015.


Introduction to the 9-Month Eightfold Path Program, Sunday, September 14, 1pm to 3pm

Right View — Sunday, October 19, 1:00 to 3:30 pm
Right Intention – Sunday, November 16, 1 to 3:30pm
Right Speech – Sunday, December 7, 1 to 3:30pm
Right Action – Saturday, January 10, 10am to 12:30pm
Right Livelihood – Sunday, February 8, 1 to 3:30pm
Right Effort – Sunday, March 8, 1 to 3:30pm
Right Mindfulness – Sunday, April 5, 1 to 3:30pm
Right Concentration – Sunday, May 10, 1 to 3:30pm
Concluding Daylong Retreat at IRC – June 20 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Eightfold Path Program is full. Auditors are welcome to participate at the monthly meetings.

Concentration Retreat

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Woodacre, CA

August 12-21, 2013
With Phillip Moffitt, Andrea Fella, Adrianne Ross, Donald Rothberg

Concentration (samadhi) defined as the collection and unification of the mind, was emphasized by the Buddha as one of the aspects of the Eightfold Path. It can bring joy to your practice and develop the skillful use of pleasure in the meditative process. Whatever your level of practice, you can improve your Insight Meditation (Vipassana) by strengthening your concentration skills. Your ability to concentrate will develop in response to the attention you give it.

This retreat offers a series of techniques for staying on the meditation object for extended periods of time. We will explore the factors of concentration that lead to the deep absorption states known as jhana. Teachers will also give instruction for utilizing concentration during insight practice.

For further information see: https://www.spiritrock.org/calendarDetails?EventID=3432

Video: “Metta Comes to the West” by Gil Fronsdal

Gil Fronsdal: Metta Comes to the West from Insight Meditation Center on Vimeo.