Wednesday, September 6, 2017

September 2017 Newsletter

Blooming Lilac Sangha Newsletter - Sept '17

Two brown paper bag lunches side by side

September Day Of Mindfulness

Plan to attend our next Day of Mindfulness on Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm.

Bring a bag lunch. This day will be held in the city of Rochester-stay tuned for the location. If you have ideas for a theme or would like to help plan the day, please respond to Annie by email at:
Film Poster with silhouette of a monk's head and shoulders with back turned to us with sky skrapers blurry and visible in the far distance in a setting sun.

"Walk With Me" Film Rochester Screening Update

"Walk With Me: was filmed over three years at Plum Village and allows us to experience life at the monastery as well as Thich Nhat Hanh's teaching.

Date: Tuesday, October 24th at 7:30 pm.

Location: Regal Henrietta, 525 Marketplace Drive, 14623

The film will be shown on October 24, but you still must get your tickets ahead of time online via gathr.

If you would like a guide to getting tickets click here.
Bench in front of house amidst garden with stepping stones mulch, a small tree and bush on either side.

Fall Retreat with Michael Ciborski

When: November 9th  -  13th, 2017.

Location: Mercy Spirituality Center on Highland Ave. Rochester, 14620

You can attend as a commuter or stay at the retreat center.

Registration will be posted in the next few weeks.

Registration Open for Several One-Day Retreats With Chris Phillips

Chris Phillips from our sangha is offering several one-day retreat workshops to build mindfulness skills. Taking registrations now for:

Dwelling Happily in The Present Moment Foundations of Mindfulness Part I
Saturday, September 16th, 9 am – 4 pm

Rehabilitating Concentration – What is it? Why we all can do it?
Saturday, October 7th 9 am – 4 pm

Both these events will be held at Rochester Mennoninte Fellowship, 111 Hillside Ave, Rochester NY 14610

More information available at Chris's website

BLS Caretaking Council

Date: October 12th, 2017 , 6:30  -  8:30 pm

Agenda items welcome and input appreciated, all are welcome to attend and participate.

What is the Blooming Lilac Sangha Caretaking Council?

Like any garden, flower or other living thing a sangha needs to be tended and nourished to stay healthy and thrive. It needs attention, effort, and thoughtful reflection to ensure that its roots and practices remain strong, its direction and efforts are chosen with awareness, and that it offers support and guidance mindfully to Sangha brothers and sisters and the world, all with loving kindness. The Blooming Lilac Sangha Caretaking Council was convened to help realize this intention. An evolving forum for considering the Sangha's past and future in the present moment, it is open to all members of the Sangha. It is a gathering to review our past practices and choices, our current circumstances, and to make recommendations, choices and decisions for the future on how to best use our time, effort and resources. Like any other practice opportunity its goal is to address these tasks in mindfulness, to be a place where the concrete and practical are approached with awareness.

Monday, August 21, 2017

August Day of Mindfulness

This day will be an opportunity to give healing and love first to our bodies and minds, 

priming our capacity to love others

Sunday August 27  12:30 pm to 6 pm, Potluck dinner included. Please RSVP to

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Walk With Me Screening Tuesday, October 24 at 7:30 PM

Blooming Lilac Sangha is hosting a screening of "Walk With Me, A Journey into Mindfulness" Featuring our Teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh 
Regal Cinemas Henrietta 18
Tuesday, October 24th at 7:30 pm.
Please join us at this special event. Ticket prices are $10.80 
Please purchase tickets early, as the film will not be shown without filling a limited number of seats. To purchase tickets, go to

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August 2017 Newsletter

BLS Newsletter - August 2017

Walk With Me Screening

The Film: "Walk With Me" has been released! Filmed over three years at Plum Village, the monastery in France where Thich Nhat Hanh lives. One viewer said: "This film immerses us into Thich Nhat Hanh's practice of mindfulness and approach to life. It sets a beautiful mood while showing the life at a Buddhist monastery. The viewer experiences Thich Nhat Hanh teaching, children asking difficult questions, monks and nuns playing calming classical music …"

Blooming Lilac Sangha is hosting a screening on Tuesday, October 24th at 7:30 pm here in Rochester. The film will be shown at Regal Henrietta, 525 Marketplace Drive. We will only be able to screen the film if enough people attend so invite your friends and family about it and sign up soon!

Follow this link to purchase your tickets. Your credit card will not be charged until enough people sign up. Once 50 people sign up, GathR films will confirm with you by email that "Walk With Me: will be shown at Regal Henrietta (Henrietta Stadium 18). If 50 people do not sign up by the deadline early October, we will not be able to screen and your credit card will not be charged.

Watch the Video

August Day of Mindfulness

Save the date: Sunday, August 27th 12:30 pm - 6 pm Day of Mindfulness includes potluck at 5 pm. All Welcome. More details to come.

Fall Retreat

Your input needed regarding our fall retreat with Michael Ciborski which is Nov 9th - 13th, 2017. This retreat will be in Rochester at Mercy Spirituality Center on Highland Avenue. You can attend as a commuter or stay at the retreat center. If you plan on attending, please respond to this e-mail with your aspirations or needs for the retreat. Out of these, Michael will develop the teachings for the retreat and the general theme. DEADLINE for offering retreat aspirations, themes, needs is August 10th. (This is Not the retreat registration deadline) an email with the retreat registration form will be sent out when they become available.

New format for Thursday evening meditations

Instead of reading one book together over a period of months, we are reading a short reading from one of Thay's books. The format includes:
  • 20 to 30 minutes of sitting meditation
  • Short reading (10 minutes)
  • Dharma Sharing (20 minutes)
Come anytime!

Chris Phillips Home Retreat Invitation

When: Aug 28th to Sept 17th.

Chris Phillips House
364 Merchants Rd

My "Home Retreat" time is a casual affair that really ramps up the fruits of practice, integrates mindfulness into my daily life and carries benefits forward easily. I hope it's that way for the people who join in. Last year was the 3rd or 4th year of doing this. I kept it more private in 2016. Now it's time to return to inviting others to share practice about 1/3rd to ½ of the days during the Home Retreat period.

Morning and evening practice periods, 2 hrs, open to all Guests from various spiritual communities will share their spiritual journey

Schedule and more details coming soon.

- Chris Phillips

Fielding Interest in Skillshare for Fall

Dear Friends,

A few of us were talking about all the people we know who have some kind of creative pursuit but have little opportunity to share it with others. We're imagining a get-together where we could share with each other. It could include all kinds of creative activities: writing, poetry, music, photography, crafts, painting, acting, cartooning, videos, storytelling or anything else we haven't thought of.

The date, format, and location aren't worked out yet, and would depend on the response we get.

As the summer is very busy for many people, we are thinking of a Fall date for this event. To move ahead, we need to have an idea of the level of interest. If this interests you, please email me (Robin Long) at

We invite your questions and suggestions as part of the reply - or simply note: Keep me updated!

- Robin Long

Co-Meditation with Chris Phillips

The core of this method is a meditation which we do together in silence, except that we use "spoken labels." These labels make it a Co-meditation. We design the labels together based on your current practice needs and interests, so each co-meditation is different.

Labeling is built upon the Vipassana method of Noting made popular in Burma in the 19th century.

Labeling also serves to keep our attention directed to the senses and the present moment, in much the same way as Thich Nhat Hanh teaches the use of Gathas, short verses or phrases to support the aiming and sustaining of attention.

To get some impressions of Co-Meditation Coaching check with one of the sangha members listed below who have experienced this practice with me.
  • Arlene Levitt
  • Gail Wilder
  • Janet Chaize
  • Wendy Smith
  • Bernie Shore
  • Jo Ann Wilson
More details and contact info are available at my website.

- Chris Phillips

12 truths I learned from life and writing by Anne Lamott

For my dear sangha - here is a video of Anne Lamott an author giving a Tedx talk with wise and funny words for this moment. - Arlene Levitt
Watch the Video

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July Day of Mindfulness

Date: July 22, 2017

Time: 10:30 AM - 4 PM

Location: Wild Hill Farm
2176 Elton Rd, Bloomfield, NY

RSVP: Annie or 
820-9044 by 7/20

Bring a brown bag lunch, drinks and snacks will be provided. Wear outdoor clothing, long pants tucked into socks is helpful, as is rugged footwear. 

10:30-10:50   Arrival/settle in
11:00-11:15    Mindful breathing
11:15-11:45    Dharma
11:45-12:00   Eating meditation
12:00-12:15   Walking Meditation
12:15-1:00     Food Contemplations  throughout the Brown bag silent lunch
1:00-1:30       Sitting meditation/Break
1:30-2:00       Making seed envelopes and filling them.
2:00-2:30      Touching the Earth
2:30-2:45      Five Treasures QiGong
2:45-3:00      Silent sitting
3:00-3:30      Singing
3:30-4:00      Dharma Sharing/Departure and sharing earth’s nourishment with the world

Monday, July 3, 2017

Dear Sangha,

I'm looking for support in these three ways: 

Co-meditation Coaching 

I've been experimenting with a new way of sharing practice which involves setting up an interactive meditation. You and I would set it up together to optimize your dharma growth areas and to change obstacles into windows of opportunity. I'm still welcoming people to help me refine and become fluid with these methods. Thanks to Arlene, Gail and Janet for giving it a try. I'm glad you have liked it enough to continue!! If you're looking for someone to share practice with who can offer you suggestions, tried and true techniques, and new ways of looking, but not spend our time only “talking about” practice please contact me. 845-264-7000

My styles of techniques are heavily influenced by Thich Nhat Hanh, Insight meditation, and the early Buddhist psychology of the Pali discourses. I encourage one common theme for all meditators of staying rooted in the senses. It requires about an hour of your time, plus some corresponding in advance to brief me about what is happening in your practice and what your meditation hopes and aspirations are. We can meet at your home or mine, or any quiet place where we can be undisturbed. If you would like to stay in touch to continue the experiment I'm happy to offer suggestions, observations or questions, by phone or email in between meeting up. Gifts are welcome to keep the project going.

Support needed for monthly practice sharing 

A few months ago several friends began gathering monthly on a Saturday to share 4 hour workshops on the vipassana methods of Shinzen Young. These are internet conference calls. To continue the group needs to find a laptop or a smartphone (Android or I-phone) to borrow one weekend a month. The audio jack on my laptop has broken, and mine is a windows phone, so we are unable to put the audio into speakers so all can hear. For July the dates are 7/14 – 16. Can you help? If you'd like to learn more about this group everyone is welcome, especially beginners to meditation. Call me for more info. 845-264-7000

Do you have a couple hours this summer to meditate together and do garden chores? 

Since the years when I ran the St Fiacre Microfarm CSA helpers have gathered at my home (the “microfarmhouse”) to pray or meditate together and share work. One person still comes on a regular basis, and we meditate before gardening. Others come when they can. This season I'm finding myself in particular need of support and structure as I help my good friend through aggressive cancer treatments. I would like to continue and expand this simple way of sharing a mindful approach to work and a semi-monastic lifestyle. It's a way that I can get help I need and support others in making their daily meditation routine strong. If you are interested please be in touch. At this time of year 7 30 or 8 am is good for the meditation, and I'm working for 2 or 3 hours after that. Almost any morning is good. Just call in advance to schedule.

Thanks! 845-264-7000

Sunlight of the Heart
True Precious Vow

Saturday, July 1, 2017

July 2017 Newsletter

Blooming Lilac Sangha Newsletter - July '17

Education Benefit / Garage Sale

When: July 21st and 22nd

Where:  Mary H’s home near Highland Park.

40 Alpine St
Rochester, NY 14620

Blooming Lilac Sangha members mentor three boys from Vietnam. They often attend our Family Days of Mindfulness - see picture above.

Proceeds from the sale will go to the family to help with education costs.

If you would like to donate items to the garage sale, please send an e-mail to by July 9th, so we can plan ahead for use of space and coordinate transport of the goods etc.

Day of Mindfulness

Plan for a midsummer day of mindfulness and reconnect with the Summer in you! July's Day of Mindfulness will be on Saturday July 22nd from 10:30 am to 4 pm. Location, is yet to be decided contact Annie O'Reilly to RSVP or if you have a suggestion for a theme or would like to host. She can be reached at 585-346-0557

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

When: Saturday, July 29th, 4:30 pm - 7 pm

Where: Flying Squirrel Community Center
285 Clarissa St
Rochester, NY 14608

Our Sangha is joining SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) for a monthly community dinner in Corn Hill.

Bring a dish to pass (enough for 10 - 15 people) and/or snacks/beverages/desert. Please bring a copy of the recipe and label any allergens and whether it is vegan or vegetarian as a courtesy to the community.

Contact Janet if you have questions or to RSVP by sending an e-mail to

For more info or to follow Rochester's SURJ chapter here are links to Surj Roc's website and Facebook page.

14 Mindfulness Study and Practice

The 4th Thursday of every month there is an opportunity to study and practice the 14 Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing. All are welcomed to come. For more information contact Laurie Brewer by email at:

Sunday Practice at the Zen Center

If you would like to support Sunday practice at the Zen Center by leading sitting and walking meditation, making tea or leading Dharma sharing, contact Laurie Brewer at:

Stillness & Presence Update

The “Stillness & Presence” groups continue to evolve. Part small home-based silent practice community and part interfaith dialogue, we look for ways to bridge the common ground between contemplative prayer and dharma. The words “Stillness” and “Presence” represent the two wings of Buddhist meditation – Samatha and Vipassana – in Christian terminology.

The original group still meets on Tuesdays at three-week intervals at the home of Eileen and Thom Metzger in East Irondequoit, 7 – 9 pm.

The Wednesday group meets on 2nd and 4th Wednesdays, 6:30 to 8:45 pm, rotating between the homes of Carmel Merril and Richard Lunt, Mary Gleason, Chris Phillips, Karen Smith and Karen Helles.

Each group evolves differently based on the needs and interests of the main  participants. We begin with a common curriculum to set up a framework for understanding contemplative prayer and dharma meditation. Then it increasingly takes on its own character. The Tuesday group has been exploring non-dual spirituality from various traditions for about a year, and now that has morphed into investigating the spatial meditation themes and flexible uses of attention within Les Fehmi's Open Focus Brain. Our gestalt is moving towards neuroscience and awareness.

The Wednesday group just completed an enjoyable journey through Gerald May's Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychological Exploration of the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth. Our new book is Larry Rosenberg's Breath By Breath. Larry uses the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing to unpack the tools of Insight Meditation. It's a wonderful resource if you want to strengthen your breath and body awareness as the platform from which to liberate the mind!  A near the start of a new book it's a good time to join in.

New participants are welcome. Contact me to arrange a meeting to review the core Stillness and Presence curriculum.

I'm considering the possibility of starting a new Stillness & Presence group which would meet by internet video calls and shared documents monthly, with in-person practice meetings several times per year. This would let more people participate and would help prevent over-extending my schedule. The theme for this new group would focus on the mystical spirituality of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross interpreted through a Buddhist lens. Thich Nhat Hanh encourages us to return to our traditional spiritual traditions and share with them the freedom and happiness we have harvested through the Dharma.

This new group needs 5 – 8 participants to get started. If you know someone comfortable with God-talk yet willing to shed attachments to images and ideas to meet what's really unfolding, with a sincere wish to deepen their prayer life or navigate the challenges of long-term spiritual growth, please tell them about this idea and put them in touch with me by email at:

Thank you,
Chris Phillips
Sunlight of the Heart

Go Digital with Mindfulness Bell

The newsletter of Thich Nhat Hanh's Plum Village monastery in France has a digital option now. Current subscribers can switch to digital and spare some trees if they so choose.

If for some reason one wanted print and digital that is also an option. Would-be subscribers: all options are available at Mindfulness Bell's website.

Fall Retreat

The Fall retreat with Michael Ciborski at Mercy Prayer Center is scheduled for Nov 9th - 13th, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

Day of Mindfulness “Developing Stability in the Practice of Mindfulness”

June 25, 2017
Please RSVP by replying to this e-mail or contacting Annie at by June 24

12:30-12:50 ARRIVE
12:50-1:10  Sitting Meditation with Guided “Cyclone Meditation”
1:10-1:20 Walking Meditation outside
1:20-2:20 Recorded Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh “Cultivating Peace, Joy, Happiness”
2:20-2:30 Walking Meditation
2:30-3:00 Writing a gatha to remember positive traits within
3:00-3:20 Sitting Meditation
3:20-3:30 Walking Meditation
3:30-4:00 Three earth touchings                
4:00-5:00 Dharma sharing
5:00-5:15 Break and prep for potluck
5:15-6:00 Potluck dinner

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June 2017 Newsletter

Blooming Lilac Sangha Newsletter - June '17

Buddhist Peace Fellowship

The Buddhist Peace Fellowship are meeting on Saturday, June 3rd, 5 pm near Pearl St in Rochester NY. Call 585-533-1461 for the exact location.

Caretaking Council

All our welcome!  “….Caretaking Council is a gathering to review our past practices and choices, our current circumstances, and to make recommendations, choices and decisions for the future on how to best use our time, effort and resources.  Like any other practice opportunity its goal is to address these tasks in mindfulness, to be a place where the concrete and practical are approached with awareness.”
Time:  Thursday, June 8, at 6:30 pm


June Day of Mindfulness (DOM)

Day of Mindfulness is Sunday, June 25 from 12:30 pm to 6 pm in Rush, NY.  Includes guided meditation, walking outdoors, recorded talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, touching the earth and looking deeply together. Bring something to share for potluck dinner at 5 pm. If you have questions, would like directions, or plan to attend, please RSVP with Annie by June 23rd. She can be reached at 585-346-0557

Call to Racial Justice - ARISE

Blooming Lilac Sangha (BLS) responded to the call for Action from ARISE (Awakening Through Race, Intersectionality and Social Equity), ARISE is a group of practitioners in the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition who see the urgency of looking deeply and healing  the seeds of separation, of racism and oppression. Six members of BLS met on 4/25/17 to discuss how we might embody the mission of ARISE. Notes are available here and we invite anyone interested in getting involved with this initiative to contact us by email.

The larger Thich Nhat Hanh Sangha has developed materials to help us all look deeply.

Arise Letter to the Community an Update Awakening Through Race Intersectionality and Social Equity

Education Benefit / Garage Sale

Donations and buyers appreciated.

When:  Garage Sale July 21st and 22nd

40 Alpine St
Rochester, NY 14620
Blooming Lilac Sangha members mentor three boys from Vietnam. They often attend our Family Days of Mindfulness.

We are holding a garage sale July 21 and 22 at Mary H’s home near Highland Park.

Proceeds from the sale will go to the family to help with education costs.

If you would like to donate items to the garage sale, please send an e-mail to
by June 15th, so we can plan ahead for use of space and coordinate moving of stuff etc.

Coming Home to our Interbeing Nature Retreat

MorningSun Mindfulness Center and Micheal Ciborski invite you to a weekend retreat from Friday June 16th 5:00 pm - Sunday June 18th 2:00 pm

MorningSun Mindfulness Center
655 Gilsum Mine Rd.,
Alstead, NH 03602 United States

Awakening Together: Healing the Ancestral Heart

The monastic community founded, ordained and trained by Thich Nhat Hanh will be making stops in NY late August at Blue Cliff Monastery on their US tour this year.

We invite you to join us for retreats, public talks, and days of mindfulness, and learn how you can bring the miracle of mindfulness into your daily life.

If you'd like to arrange or participate in a carpool please contact us at

Tour dates:

Twitter #awakeningtogether

New BLS Facebook Page

Blooming Lilac Sangha (BLS) is excited to announce what we have created a Facebook page.

We are doing a trial at this time and experimenting with what ways we can best utilize FB for outreach, event scheduling, media sharing and more.

In a few months we will check in and evaluate whether we want to continue our FB presence or perhaps use FB in more passive ways that doesn't duplicate work for our volunteers.

We're not sure whether we will post each event since we have many repeating events, and FB is not capable enough to automate repeating events. For now we will start by posting special events such as Days of Mindfulness or similar workshops.

If you are a FB user please have a look and Like our page and share!

If you have any comments or feedback, email us or leave us a comment on FB :).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Family Day of Mindfulness May 20: Planting Seeds of Joy!

Come and experience a farm complete with chickens, horses, veggie gardens and tractors. Bring your favorite child(ren)! We will be exploring our windhorse; planting seeds; and meditating… for all ages!

When? Saturday, May 20, 2017; 10:30 am to 4 pm.
Where? RSVP to Annie for location and directions. (See below).
What? Bring a brown bag lunch. Drinks and snacks will be provided. Wear clothing for outdoors-long pants tucked into socks is helpful, rugged footwear is recommended! If it rains we may spend a limited time outdoors.

RSVP: or 585-820-8025 by May 18, 2017