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Renouncing evil action, cultivate the wholesome.
Clarify the mind. This is the lineage of the Buddhas.

      (Dhammapada 183)

Welcome, and blessings on your path.

This site contains resources for Buddhist practice, trauma healing, and social action, as well as Dr. Oakes’ teaching schedule. If you benefit from the material collected here, you can support us with a gift of any amount. Thank you for your generosity.

Sean Feit Oakes, PhD

Performance Studies
Organic Intelligence
Insight Meditation
Haṭha Yoga

This month at Satsang (October 2019)

Insight Meditation Satsang
Tuesdays 7:15-9pm
Ashtanga Yoga Berkeley
933 Parker #38

 

We’re working our way through the Noble Eightfold Path, and are entering the sīla (Ethics) limbs of the path. Starting on Oct 8, we’ll explore the Buddha’s powerful and radical teachings on Speech, Action, and Livelihood, the heart of relational and social action work in this lineage.

Particularly for these topics, we’ll bring in aspects of social justice discourse, communication and relationship material, economic theory, and more.

Insight Meditation Satsang
Tuesdays 7:15-9pm
Ashtanga Yoga Berkeley
933 Parker Street, Studio 38, Berkeley

 

As always, talks and practices weave together personal, relational, and systemic inquiry, exploring the inseparability of individual and collective liberation.

We begin with chanting a short Refuge & Precepts pūjā from the Theravāda Buddhist tradition, followed by 30 minutes of meditation, part guided and part silent. After a break, there’s a talk and discussion on an aspect of Buddhist practice.

Beginners are welcome anytime, and the group is offered fully on donation, in the beautiful and ancient practice of Gift Economy.

History of Yoga Course
An 8-week course diving into the ocean of ideas, practices, and culture that evolved into modern yoga. Designed for serious students of yoga and meditation, this is a university-level introduction to Yoga history from an engaging scholar-practitioner.
An exploration of one of the most gorgeous and enigmatic Mahāyāna Buddhist texts, The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom, or “Heart Sūtra.” The course, hosted by our friends at The Sutra Project, combines a new practitioner-oriented translation by Dr. Oakes and Dr. Christopher Wallis, drawing on their decades of practice and study.

Teaching Schedule

Ongoing

Tuesdays 7:15-9pm
Ashtanga Yoga Berkeley
933 Parker/8th, #38, Berkeley

Meditation with instructions based in the Insight Meditation tradition and its sources in Thai and Burmese Theravāda Buddhism. The focus of the group is on deepening in both traditional Buddhist practice as understood in the Theravāda traditions, and exploring the links between individual & systemic liberation in the form of social justice and collective healing practice.

Learn more.

I’ve started a FB Group, called “In It To End It,” for study and discussion of Buddhist ideas, focusing at least as we begin on my areas: the Pāli Canon of the Theravāda lineage, the Prajñāpāramitā vision that is the heartwood of the Mahāyāna, and the profound and liberating social inquiry of deconstruction.

I’m starting with a series of free videos for advanced beginners who want to dive into the beauty and richness of the Buddha’s discourses. This will be a space for inquiry and study together; ideally a virtual saṅgha

Join the Group.

Honoring the Six Directions: Buddhist teachings on relationship and community
daylong

December 15, 2019
East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland

In a beautiful and famous discourse, the Sigālaka Sutta, the Buddha taught a framework for lay people (non-monastics) to build and sustain healthy communities. He used the model of the Six Directions, where the practitioner thinks of themself in a web of relationships: with their parents (east), teachers (south), partner and family (west), friends and colleagues (north), employees and dependents (below), and with religious renunciates and charities (above). Because very few people have intact relationships in all of these “directions,” the practice becomes a framework for healing, and processing the wounds we bear as members of families and communities of many kinds.

The model can help us feel into the gifts and support we receive from, and give to, people in all these different relationships to us. It becomes a reflection on ethics, wise action, social engagement, and the sustaining of beloved community by learning to honor the distinct gifts and challenges of each type of relationship. We will explore ways to care for and heal the harm and trauma that has come through many of these relationships through compassion and forgiveness practices. And cultivate the beautiful qualities of gratitude and generosity that are the glue that holds the whole web together.

We will explore this beautiful model through reflection, writing, discussion, meditation, and a group ritual to honor the maṇḍala of the Six Directions and the web of interdependence that is all of life.

Learn more & register. 

A Lineage of Liberation: Intro to the history of Buddhism
study & practice class series

4 Mondays, January 6-27, 2020
East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland

It’s said that the moment the Buddha’s first student realized liberation, the whole universe resounded with celebration, and the “Wheel of Dharma” began to turn. Since that first turning, millions of men and women, giving their lives to practice, have realized the end of suffering, and through their dedication to practice and teaching, spread the Dharma around the world.

In this introduction to Buddhist history, we’ll look at the origin and spread of Buddhism as a world religion. We’ll weave between mythic and historical modes of understanding and storytelling: Bodhidharma crossing the ocean on a single reed, Buddhist emperors of Tibet conquering most of China then being themselves conquered, evidence in texts and art throughout Asia of the richness and complexity of Buddhist culture.

We’ll talk about cultural exchange, empire and politics, oral tradition and translation, how the monastic order spread across Asia, and how the Dharma arrived in North America with Asian immigrant communities, eventually taking root in non-Asian communities as well. Learning about the paths this beautiful tradition has taken to arrive here, whether it is our primary faith or not, depeens our practice of tolerance, cultural fluency, and gratitude that the Wheel of Dharma continues to turn for the benefit and blessing of beings in all time and space.

In addition to lecture and discussion, we will explore simple meditation practices from several of the major Buddhist lineages.

Learn more & register.

Winter Teen Meditation Series
meditation class series

6 Sundays, Jan 26 – Mar 1, 2020
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Woodacre

With Sara Oakes

Open to 14-19 year olds in High School and beyond.

Learn meditation, relax deeply, speak your truth and develop your mind — all while hanging out with other great people your age. Through the practices of mindfulness and Insight Meditation, we take the time to reconnect to ourselves in order to experience more peace, wisdom and compassion.

Classes will include movement, community building games, meditation instruction and council — a practice of witnessing the group’s collective wisdom. The final class will include a potluck celebration and a half-day of practice among the trees on Spirit Rock land. During the class, parents are welcome to read, meditate and connect with each other in the Spirit Rock bookstore and foyer.

Learn more & register.

Energy, Embodiment, & Inquiry: Buddhist Approaches to Yoga & Breathwork
daylong

Saturday Feb 29, 2020
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Woodacre

At the heart of both the Buddhist and Hindu lineages are practices that prepare the practitioner for transformative insight. These practices, called yoga in both lineages, cultivate states of stability, empowerment, and embodiment.
 
In this day retreat for students of either meditation or yoga, we’ll learn a sequence of movement warm-ups that lead into breathwork and an exploration of subtle energy. All of the practices are internally focused and accessible to all bodies. The focus is on intimacy with the body as an energetic field, and on bringing loving awareness to the complex beauty of our human experience.
 
The movement practices shared by the Buddhist and Hindu Yoga traditions are largely concerned with breath expansion (prāṇāyāma), joint mobilization, and the cultivation of internal energy. In this daylong we will explore simple versions of these practices, most of which can be done by any body type or skill level, sitting in chairs or on cushions or benches.
 
We will not be practicing on sticky mats, or doing postures oriented toward muscular strength or flexibility. Students who wish to have a full yoga āsana practice in their day should plan for that outside of the workshop time.
 
Embodied Awakening: Trauma, Healing, & Collective Liberation
daylong

Sunday Mar 29, 2020
Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Woodacre

Many people come to meditation and yoga to help heal old wounds, both physical and emotional. Trauma is a nervous system injury, caused by shocking or dangerous experiences as well as ongoing relational and systemic threats. As nervous system interventions, meditation and yoga can be helpful in trauma healing, but like all interventions, they must be used with sensitivity.
 
In this day retreat, we will explore current trauma resolution theory and learn gentle practices that can support healing and resilience. This day retreat is designed for those who suffer from trauma, as well as caregivers, family members, and teachers of yoga and meditation.
  
Continuing Education (CE) credit available. Teachings are appropriate for health care professionals as well as the general public.  Health care professionals will be able to incorporate the tools and practices offered in this program in ways beneficial to clients or patients.  See below for attendance requirements and more information.
 
Learning Objectives for participating health care professionals-
At the end of the program you will be better able to:
  • Describe conditions that support or impede access to the body through sensation, the role of sensation tracking in nervous system regulation, and contraindications for sensation tracking as a clinical intervention;
  • Describe the physiological effect of trauma on the nervous system;
  • Describe how cultural factors contribute to the persistence of trauma symptoms, especially for people and communities subject to systemic oppression;
  • Discuss how cultural conditioning results in unconscious bias and habitual reactivity, perpetuating systemic oppression as well as stress and anxiety.
Continuing Education content level: Intermediate. 6 CE credits available.
 

Learn more & register.

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