Sean Feit Oakes, PhD

Welcome. This website contains material related to my work as a scholar-practitioner, weaving between academic research and community-based teaching. My research looks at the experience of subtle states of consciousness in Western contemplative arts, and works toward a robust, socially-inclusive Buddhist phenomenology. In my communities, I teach Theravāda Buddhism, Insight Meditation, and Haṭha Yoga as supports for personal liberation and social justice, working with practitioners of meditation, āsana, prānāyāma, devotion, and inquiry. I also write about current issues in Western Buddhist and Yoga communities, as well as art, performance, politics, and social issues. Shorter writing is on the blog and longer academic essays under Performance Studies.

No particular religious belief is necessary to practice with me, but my teaching is strongly rooted in the Theravāda Buddhist tradition as expressed in Thai Forest and Burmese Vipassanā lineages, with expansive influence from Śaiva Tantra and Vaiṣṇava Bhakti Yoga. All are welcome to come and explore the mystery of this human life together. My current teaching schedule is at the bottom of this page.

Central to my understanding and teaching of spiritual practice is the role of trauma and relational disruption in the process of self-knowledge and inquiry. Trauma comes in many forms, from physical harm through violence and accidents, to emotional harm in unsafe relationships, to the systemic harm all of us experience in cultures where racism, sexism, oppression, and the abuse of communities by rapacious social systems (consumer capitalism, toxic individualism, religious fundamentalism, intolerance) are the norm.

Wise action to heal trauma consists in addressing it wisely on all levels, including the personal and societal, and influences every level of spiritual development. My work in trauma resolution and the cultivation of resilience is based in Organic Intelligence, the radical nondual healing practice developed by my mentor, Steven Hoskinson. I am also influenced by the work of Dr. Peter Levine (Somatic Experiencing), Dr. Stephen Porges (Polyvagal Theory), and Buddhist approaches to systemic oppression being developed at East Bay Meditation Center, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, in the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader’s program I studied in, and in the larger community of faith-based activism.

I see people with an ongoing practice of yoga or meditation for individual sessions, and teach on the relationship of trauma to Buddhist and Yoga practice. Stay in touch if you’d like (email list and contact form), and I look forward to practicing with you sometime soon. Blessings always.

Teaching Calendar

Ongoing Practice

Insight Meditation Satsang
Namaste Yoga & Wellness
2820 7th St, Berkeley
Tuesdays, 7:30-9:15pm

We sit in meditation, exploring different aspects of inner practice, and I offer a talk and discussion on an aspect of practice, generally from the Theravāda Buddhist tradition, but often integrating perspectives from Mahāyāna, Tantra, and Yoga as well, with digressions into politics and trauma.

Offered fully on donation, or “Gift Economy”, influenced by the beautiful Buddhist practice known as dāna (“giving”). Your generosity helps me offer practice somewhat outside the assumptions of the capitalist system, and others of lesser resources to be able to come.


Classes, Workshops, Retreat

Core Philosophy: From Inner Peace to Inner Power
Yoga Garden San Francisco
286 Divisadero, San Francisco
Oct 7-8, Oct 28-29, Nov 18-19

In this philosophy and practice intensive, we’ll look closely at two primary root texts of modern yoga: Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra and Svatmarama’s Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā. We will weave between historical context, close reading and discussion, and embodied practice.

These two texts teach a full range of yoga practice, including ethics, meditation, mindfulness, and personal inquiry; asana, pranayama, energetic cultivation, and the awakening of the feminine embodied force called kuṇḍalinī. Exploring the roots of Haṭha Yoga in Tantra, we will also look briefly at an accessible tantric source text, Kṣemarāja’s Heart of Recognition.

More info and registration here.

Intro to Organic Intelligence® with founder Steve Hoskinson
Ashtanga YOga Berkeley
Studio 38, 933 Parker Street, #38, BAY 5, Berkeley
Fri Oct 13, 6:30-9:30pm: intro to OI
Sat Oct 14, 10am-5:30pm: clinical approaches
Sun Oct 15, 10am-5pm: demo day

Organic Intelligence (OI) is an elegant approach to healing and the cultivation of resilience rooted in principles of mindfulness and kindness for ourselves and others. Restoring healthy self-regulation in the nervous system through a gentle, relational process, it is an approach to counseling, a beautiful map for healing and personal growth, and a model for supporting systemic change in organizations and communities.

The weekend will include basic of the theory and practice of Organic Intelligence, as well as meditation and movement practices that support the restoration of rhythmicity and coherence in the Nervous System. Healers, activists, yogis, artists, and those who work with both individuals and groups, all can be well-served by this work.

CEU’s available for Fri and Sat classes.

Registration links for each day here.

This intro is in preparation for the 3-year OI Human Empowerment And Resilience Training I’ll be teaching in the East Bay starting next summer. If you’ve been interested in this work, here’s a great place to start!

Haṭha Yoga Sadhana: The subtle dance
Namaste Yoga + Wellness
2820 7th St, Berkeley
6 Tuesday mornings, Nov 7-Dec 12, 10am-noon

At the heart of both Buddhist and Hindu visions of liberation are practices that prepare the body, heart, and mind for powerful and fundamental shifts in perspective. These practices, called “yoga” in both lineages, support us to investigate and eventually understand our place in the world and our relationship with changing experience, including gain and loss, pleasure and pain, birth and death. These practices are physical, emotional, intellectual, and energetic, and work to both heal the deep traumas of attachment and developmental distress we call “psychological,” and the subtle traumas of existential despair and ignorance of our role in the world we call “spiritual.”

Because physical movement with the goal of cultivating energy is one of the most dynamic and creative forms of liberation practice, I call it “The Subtle Dance.” It can be both blissful and uncomfortable, deeply easeful and deeply challenging. Because the process builds on the basic skills of embodied mindfulness and safety in movement, this series has a prerequisite of 2 years of yoga practice (or comparable movement discipline) and some exposure to mindfulness or meditation practices.

We will explore:

  • intuitive āsana, learning to follow the path of subtle impulse
  • prānāyāma and bandha, the heart of Classical Haṭha Yoga
  • movement inquiry, transforming postures into meditative process
  • mindfulness of nervous system states & working with energy

Prerequisite: 2 years experience with yoga āsana and meditation, or talk to me. Capped at 10 students.

$120 for the series, no drop-ins. $95 before 10/24.

Register here. (Search for my name, or scroll down to November.)

2018 Winter Retreat

Join me and an intimate group of dedicated seekers for a week of slow, heartfelt practice. We will share the practices of meditation, yoga, and open movement, held within the healing framework of Organic Intelligence (OI), the power of spiritual community, and the sublime environment of the deep woods.

This 7-night silent meditation and yoga retreat is for practitioners with at least 2 years experience in yoga and meditation. We will work with practices that weave between the Buddhist and Hindu streams of energetic cultivation and embodied inquiry.

2018 Winter Retreat
January 3-10, 2018
Double Bear Retreat
Boulder Creek, CA

More info and registration.