Amma, a seasoned meditation teacher, and life coach, draws from decades of immersive experience within monastic communities. Her journey, deeply influenced by the wisdom of these environments, revealed that alleviating suffering often demands a broader approach than what conventional Insight meditation practices and ethical guidelines can provide. Her keen awareness of the complexities surrounding individuals grappling with developmental trauma led her to the realization that a more comprehensive strategy was needed.
In 2017, Amma transitioned from her monastic life to civilian living, bringing with her a profound understanding of the intricacies of the human experience and the diverse paths to healing. This transition marked a new chapter in her journey, one where she channels her insights to support others on their quests for authentic growth and transformation.
Amma’s unique perspective, enriched by her immersion in meditation, trauma-informed approaches, and a commitment to personal and collective healing, fuels her mission to foster connection, authenticity, and empowerment. Her teachings are deeply rooted in nature, self-discovery, and meaningful interactions, encouraging the lives of those she guides to navigate their paths with clarity and purpose.
Why It’s Important
As human beings, we have incredible potential within us – the potential to understand our inherent goodness and to lead lives filled with love, joy, and peace. However, for various reasons, these qualities are often out of reach. Awakening Truth is rooted in both modern insights and timeless traditional teachings. Through a blend of time-proven tools drawn from ancient wisdom and a psychological understanding of trauma and attachment formation within our welcoming community, we strive to bridge the gap between this potential and its realization. Our mission is to guide you on a journey that transforms limitations into possibilities, allowing you to embrace the beauty of your true nature and experience the profound changes it can bring to your life
What You’ll Learn
At Awakening Truth, we provide a rich learning experience that draws from time-tested Buddhist practices, neurobiology, and modern psychology to understand our experience. Our classes offer you the chance to immerse yourself in these practices, fostering the growth of qualities like mindfulness, loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.
We value the practice of inquiry. This leads us to recognize how observing together in pairs and in groups enhances not only our personal growth and realization but also fosters growth among our fellow participants contributing to integration and the journey of awakening.
Additionally, we’re excited to introduce you to Integrated Meditation, a method that targets early imprints within you. Through this practice, you’ll have the tools to gently reshape deep-seated beliefs, allowing you to thrive.
Our aim is to empower you with these practices, helping you cultivate a deeper connection with yourself and the world around you.
There are many ways to get involved and to volunteer you can join a committee or just offer your unique services.
- Board of Directors
- Events Promotion and Communication Committee
- Website and Media Committee
- Volunteer Management Committee
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Thank you for considering me as your mentor. I value the chance to tell you about myself so you have more information to decide whether what I offer and how I teach is a good fit for your aims and values.
Some significant experiences include: Meditation Master Dipa Ma showing me how transformational loving presence can be. A bear (https://youtu.be/i0S-baljhh8) teaching me the power of refuge and surrender. Being a Buddhist nun for 26 years showing me how to suffer wisely, and where to find joy, love and peace that’s innate. Chronic illness continuing to show me many things including finding the balancing between patience with things as they are and doing whatever it takes.
I am devoted to the pursuit and embodiment of truth personally, relationally, in meditation, and watching others grow. Being an MMTCP mentor allows me to do what I love.
I am passionate about cultivating connection, supporting individuals both in their Dharma practice and their growth as teachers. Regardless of the skill you have already achieved, I invite you to step into your full potential.
I thrive in contexts where everyone can show up authentically, lean into vulnerability and experience presence. This includes understanding how different characteristics of identity – levels of ability, race, sexual orientation and gender identity shape our experiences. As part of this effort, I also emphasize trauma-informed practices, and integrate them into every aspect of the curriculum, and where applicable in mentoring my students.
I invite you to be responsible – know your needs, advocate for them asking for support when appropriate and letting me know when I or another have done something to cause you to feel less safe. I will ask you to take leadership roles in both the peer and mentor groups.
You can expect me to refer to the early Suttas particularly when they differ from the teachings of Western secular Buddhism. I do this in order to empower you in your Dharma practice and in your teaching. My teaching style alternates from relaxed and conversational where I ask you questions to didactic where I share information.
I was born in 1962 and started meditating in 1979. My first Dharma teacher, Jack Engler, said, “you have to be someone before you can be nobody.” Thus, from the onset of my spiritual path, I have been interested in psychological development alongside awakening. As a gender fluid, queer, white woman of Jewish ancestry, with invisible disabilities, I understand the importance of belonging and the pain of not belonging. I speak intermediary level Spanish.
I was a Buddhist monastic for 28 years. My first monastic teachers were Ajahn Chah and His Holiness Dalai Lama. I became an Anagarika (postulant) in 1989 and received my first nun’s ordination in 1991 in England. I first started teaching Dharma to families in 1989- and ten-day intensive retreats in 1996.
I left formal affiliations with the Ajahn Chah Forest Tradition and returned to the USA as an independent monastic in 2009. The circumstances sensitized me to harmful patterns around power and privilege. Living in monastic communities in different countries for decades showed me several ways that ending of suffering required more than what was available to us from our meditation practices and ethical guidelines; particularly true when individuals were dealing with developmental trauma.
In 2010, I was part of the first dual platform Theravada Bhikkhuni ordination in North America with Ayya Tathaaloka. I co-created a 3-year training combining Dharma study and practice with leadership skills, psychological developmental and community building. I returned to civilian life in 2017.
I have had many teachers, Theravada, Tibetan Buddhist, Non-Buddhist, monastic and lay, and I feel grateful for all of them. Currently, I’m part of the Diamond Approach school – an evolving teaching that leads to the realization of the many dimensions of our human potential and our spiritual nature. My north star is the truth and so I’m more of a Dharma Cayote than a devote. Love and the power of the land teach me and support me every day.
CULTIVATING: Inquiry, ceremony, land stewardship, singing, writing, and dancing.
DISMANTLING: White privilege, misogyny, patriarchy, homophobia, and climate chaos.
Awakening Truth Blog posts
Forest Sangha Newsletter
Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master
Knee Deep in Grace: The Extraordinary Life and Teaching of Dipa Ma
Freeing the Heart and Mind
Dancing with Dharma
Let the Light Shine
TALKS and GUIDED MEDITATIONS:
Read more about Awakening Truth here: www.AwakeningTruth.org
Why Compassionate Witness?
We live in a divided and increasingly complex society. Together we are experiencing the effects of a global pandemic, isolation, climate chaos, racial tension, hate crimes, political instability, war, disinformation, and more. The way these compounding stressors impact us, interactive meditation can help us find balance and stability.
What is Compassionate Witness?
Compassionate Witness calls upon our shared humanity to embrace suffering. Through inquiry-based mindfulness offered by team of Awakening Truth teachers, with presence and compassion, stress slowly releases and suffering transforms..
Compassionate Witness in practice
We begin with some basic guidelines to create safety and holding. Then offer a guided meditation to allow ourselves to settle. As we feel our bodies more, that invites sensitivity to the vast array of feelings, numbness, joys, and sorrows that may be present. We then make an open invitation for anyone to share about their present moment experience. When someone is speaking we all practice deep listening, adding to the support and safety of the speaker. An Awakening Truth teacher invites pauses and asks simple questions to facilitate acceptance and letting go. In this way, as one person lets go, the group also can let go; as one heals, many of us heal.
How it evolved
Compassionate Witness evolved out of the Interactive Inquiry calls we had for many years and more recently in collaboration with Anita Pottekkatt, Sunil Joseph and Brian Smith.
Compassionate Witness events with Awakening Truth
Every first Sunday of every month
9:30am-11:00am Pacific Time, 12:30pm – 2:00pm Eastern Time.
Zoom link here: Passcode: 082690
Next one will be January 1, 2023.
Emptiness and Attachment Trauma
In addition to giving us tools to live better, healthier, more balanced lives, the Buddha instructed us that meditation is designed to end different kinds of suffering. One kind of suffering ends when we stop speech and actions that harm others. Another comes from unhelpful ways of responding to our and others thoughts and feelings. Profound freedom, one of the hallmarks of the Buddha’s teaching, comes from a radical shift in our relationship to the experience of what is going on.
There are different ways we ordinarily think of ourselves. One is how we know ourselves. Another is how we feel. A third is the ways in which we perceive time and space.
In the first instance we can be filled with pieces of information about our body, history, culture. Yet, as we undergo spiritual practice, there can be a shift from knowing to being. Instead of knowing information, our way of knowing shifts to a quality of awareness, where we are focused on our quality of being rather than what we are knowing.
When we look at how we feel, we can see that sometimes we are filled with kindness, sometimes impatience and sometimes anger. The feelings change and yet they are connected to what we perceive. As we undergo spiritual practice there can be a shift from our feelings being connected to external circumstances, to having feelings of kindness, patience, or compassion that arise independent of external circumstances.
We can see an example of this when a monk who was entered as a prisoner of war was asked if he was ever in danger. When he replied, “yes, I was in danger of losing my compassion for my captors,” he was talking about the importance of holding compassion as a central value for his captors even when they were threatening his life.
While the Buddha wasn’t able to remove the pain and challenges that come from having a body that gets old, sick and dies, he was able to put the suffering of ordinary life into perspective.
The night of the Buddha’s enlightenment, he realized the luminous conscious awareness that is beyond old age, sickness and death. He spent six weeks filled with gratitude for all the people and supportive conditions that allowed him to experience this freedom. He went on to spend the next 40 years teaching about the ethical considerations, community guidelines, concentration and wisdom that would support others realizing the freedoms that are available on the gradual and imminent path.
Understanding attachment disturbance is also important for meditators as they approach profound insights. Before first experiencing emptiness or other non-dual mind states, which is a natural gateway to states of enlightenment, where there is no sense of solidity or separateness, a meditation practitioner is expected to experience fear. [vi] Speaking from personal experience and from mentoring my students, when attachment disturbances are present, the fear as one approaches emptiness activates the abandonment fear. This fear can to turn into terror.
Instead of this fear being something that one moves through as the solid sense of identity shifts, it activates a trauma response. Trauma has to be managed. It causes the person to back off from the perceived threat. When the terror doesn’t become a manageable fear that can be moved through, it becomes an obstacle to accessing or stabilizing the experience of emptiness, or other non-dual mind states. If one has had experiences of emptiness, and the attachment disturbance remains, then the access is often intermittent. This can cause either a doubt in the teachings or further doubt in one’s ability to realize them.
As attachment repair progresses, two significant results become possible. One is that the impact of living in a chronic state of fear and distrust is reduced. This has corresponding physiological, relational and mental health impacts. Another is that a significant obstacle that prevents the access and/or stabilization of non-dual meditation insights is removed.
Our attachment patterns have a lot to do with our basic beliefs in ourselves and the world around us. John Bowlby called this the “Internal Working Model.” As we have more and more experiences of getting what we need, even when this comes from our imagination, our attachment pattern starts to shift. With it our beliefs in ourselves and the world and the patterns of how our nervous system responds can all shift.
One significant consequence of attachment repair is that it gives us more capacity to release trauma out of our system. The significance for meditators is that with attachment repair, the fear that naturally arises as we start to have more direct experience of emptiness, is less likely to trigger a trauma response. Without a trauma response, we don’t have to back away from the experience. Instead, we can move through the fear. Moving through the fear that precedes emptiness, allows more access to emptiness. More access stabilizes the experience of emptiness. When we dont’ have to back away to manage the trauma response, we have removed a significant obstacle for accessing and stabilizing liberating insights that come from the direct experience of emptiness.
The direct experience of emptiness brings a radical change of perspective. With it new levels of joy and freedom are possible.
Equally importantly, when we do get triggered, which for most of us will continue, we have more capacity to see what happened and bring what’s needed to restore balance. Our resilience to navigate the changeable circumstances of life increases.
If more information about attachment repair interests you, please sign up here. We will keep you informed as we have more information about talks, and daylong retreats related to the attachment repair process. Likewise, if you know of communities that would be interested in an introductory talk or daylong, please let us know by emailing email@example.com.
[i] Satipatthana Sutta Majjhima Nikkaya 10
[ii] Good enough parent is a concept deriving from the work of D. W. Winnicott
[iii] Dr. Ed Tronick notes that typically, a parent and their infant are in sync only around 20 to 30% of the time Attachment Theory David Belford, LISW, IMH-E July 2011
[iv] Nurturing resilience: Helping clients move forward with developmental trauma by Stephen Terrel and Kathy Kain
[v] Attachment Disturbances in Adults: Treatment for Comprehensive Repair By:Daniel P. Brown, David S. Elliott
[vi] The Progress of Insight (Visuddhiñana-katha) by The Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mahasi/progress.html