Monday, September 26, 2016

November Retreat with Michael Ciborski, flyer and registration

When Clouds Turn to Rain:
Practicing to Become an Essential Part of Life

A Mindfulness Retreat in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh
With Dharma Teacher:
Michael Ciborski

November 10 - 14, 2016
Mercy Spirituality Center, Rochester, NY

There are many storm clouds we would rather not see in the world’s atmosphere.  There are parts of our bodies, hearts and minds that we want to get rid of or change. Yet like the cloud, gathering fully into itself and letting go into the rain, the secret of transformation lies not in trying to change ourselves into something different, but in coming home to discover who and what we truly are. 
The cloud and the rain are not two different things.  We already have within us, all that we strive to become. 
When we are burdened with stress and anxiety, when we feel overwhelmed with anger and sadness, life appears full of suffering and despair.  The cloud seems to obscure the Sun and our capacity to help ourselves and others is small.
When we are able to come home to ourselves – as we are, and connect deeply with Life – just as it is, our understanding has more clarity, and our actions can come from a place of ease, inner stability and freedom.  The rain is essential to all of Life, and in every moment we have an opportunity to offer nourishment and healing.
The cultivation of mindfulness in each activity will form the base of this retreat. We will practice conscious breathing, sitting and walking meditations, mindful eating, singing, deep relaxation and joyful togetherness.  This will build a strong collective concentration, allowing us to deeply explore our theme through Dharma teachings, deep listening, care-filled discussions and personal reflections.
Recommended reading to prepare for the retreat: The full-length discourse on the Full Awareness of Breathing (can be found in the book by Thich Nhat Hanh: Breathe! You are Alive)

Michael Ciborski has been traveling to upstate New York for 9 years to lead retreats.  Each year he deepens our understanding of the Dharma, and his relaxed and smiling presence reminds us that ours is a path of openheartedness and joy.
Michael lived and worked intimately with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh both as a monastic and lay practitioner. He practiced for seven years as a monk in Plum Village, France, and received teaching transmission in 2001.  He is married to Fern Dorresteyn, a Dharma teacher in the same tradition. They live in New Hampshire with their son and two daughters.  Together with others they are building a mindfulness practice community for sustainable living and education.  For more information, go to:

The retreat is residential or commuter, centering on periods of sitting and walking meditation and daily Dharma talks by the teacher.
Periods of silence and being wonderfully together are an important part of the retreat experience, as is small group sharing and work meditation.

Is conveniently located near Highland Park in Rochester. This retreat is designed for both beginning and experienced practitioners.

Eleven comfortable rooms, some with single beds and some with double beds are provided, as are vegetarian meals. Please indicate any special food needs on the registration.

The teaching offered by our Dharma teacher is offered in the spirit of generosity. It is a practice of this retreat for participants to make an offering to support the livelihood of the Dharma teacher. We incorporate the offering into the cost of the retreat. 

For those registering by October 20, the cost of lodging for a single room, food and dana for the teacher is $420. If you share a room (and a bed) the cost is $400 each. Due to the large number of people applying for residential space, we cannot reduce the cost for lodging. If you are commuting, the cost for day space, food and dana is $260. If you can only partially attend the retreat as a commuter, the base rate is $150, then add $37 for each day beyond 1 day. Complete retreat cost is due at time of registration. Please note that registration is only by postal mail.
After October 20, please add $10 for late registration.
Cancellation Policy: The purpose of our cancellation policy is to acknowledge that retreatants’ future plans can change unexpectedly and at the same time to clarify that Blooming Lilac Sangha may have already incurred costs for food, etc. or commitments to the retreat center.  If you cancel more than 2 weeks prior to the first day that a retreat begins, you can expect a full refund.  After that if you have a last minute illness or emergency that prevents you from attending the retreat, refunds will depend on money that has gone out already and how solvent the retreat funds are.
Registration ends October 28 or when we are full
Scholarships (Commuters only): We will do our best to help those who cannot afford the full cost to be able to attend. Application is required by October 20.

Check-in is 3-6 pm on Thursday, November. 10. The retreat will end around
2 pm on Monday, November 14.
Retreat event schedules will be available at check-in.

Questions? Please contact
Janet Chaize at 585-533-1461 or

When Clouds Turn to Rain
November 10 - 14, 2016





I, the undersigned, understand that during my stay at Mercy Spirituality Center, I am responsible for my well being and that Mercy Spirituality Center cannot be responsible for any accidents that befall me. I also understand that a silent retreat can be deep and relaxing, but it can also be challenging mentally.  I understand that meditation is a complement to psychological treatment, but not a substitute for psychiatric medication or treatment.  I am not currently withdrawing from psychiatric or other drugs. If I have a history of acute mental crisis, I have contacted the retreat coordinator to discuss the appropriateness of retreat for me at this time.
(signed) ___________________________________________
(If you have questions about the above, please contact Janet Chaize, 585-533-1461)

___I have enclosed $420 for lodging, food, & dana .(by 10/20 – add $10 after that)
___I have enclosed the commuter fee of $260. (by 10/20 – add $10 after that)

___I have enclosed the part time commuter fee of $150 first day and $37 each additional day
___ I have enclosed a donation to the scholarship fund.

___ I have special dietary needs.
They are: _____________________

____ I can help with set up, clean up or other volunteer needs

Please return form and payment to:

Make checks (U.S. Funds) payable to:

Robin Long

Thursday, September 8, 2016

September 2016

Day of Mindfulness
Saturday, September 10th, 2016 from 10:30 am - 4:30 pm in Rush, NY. Please RSVP by September 8th for more information.

We will be working with the four brahma-viharas:  loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity which manifest as forces of purification transforming the turbulent heart into a refuge of calm. These mindfulness practices protect the mind from falling into habitual patterns of reactivity.

Special Guest Teacher
Bhikku KaiLi, a resident monk from Plum Village - Dharma teacher and student of Thich Nhat Hanh, will be spending a week in Rochester with gracious hosts Xiaoping and Min at their beautiful home (address and directions below) from 9/13- 9/21. We plan to make the most of this opportunity to meditate and learn with Bhikku. These are opportunities to bring questions forward from our practice or any part of the book Understanding Our mind.

Thursday, September 15th, 7pm - 8:30 pm
Sunday, September 18th 10 am - 4:30 pm

Please let us know if you will be attending either or both events.

November Retreat with Micheal Ciborski
The retreat with Michael Ciborski is November 10th - 14th, 2016. Please contact us with theme and areas in which you would like to further your practice by September 8th if you are interested in going!

For our complete and up-to-date events scheduling please refer to our calendar. If you would like to add our calendar to your google calendar, please subscribe, to do that click on the + button on the bottom right corner of the calendar window once you've clicked through the link above.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Registration Form -- Satipatthana & Emotions Retreat Day, Nov 5

Satipatthana* & Emotions Retreat

* The Buddha's classic discourse on “foundations of mindfulness”

This retreat is a good introduction to early Buddhist psychology for the serious beginner or the experienced meditator.  No previous knowledge of Buddhism is required.  It is also a hands-on skill building experience for increasing our mindfulness, freedom and vitality while meditating and in daily life.   It is helpful if you train in mindfulness regularly or wish to do so.

Please return to Chris Phillips,, 364 Merchants Rd., Rochester, NY 14609

Name _______________________________________________________________________

Address _____________________________________________________________________

Town ___________________________________________ Zip __________________

Email __________________________________________

Do you have a daily/regular silent awareness practice? Would you like to establish a steadier routine?


Buddha talks about sadda, or “faith,” as an experiential confidence in the Dharma and in practice.
Please rate your confidence level with dwelling happily in the present moment. We will measure that according to the following skills, which are always under development, from the first steps at practice onward. (We will not aim to cover these skills directly on this retreat, but they will come into play and it will be helpful for me to learn some about your practice.)

(Dwelling happily in the present moment could be the subject of an entire retreat!!  If you would like a consultation about these four skills and some ideas for experimenting with them during your meditation, please give me a call and we will set up a time.)

1 = high 2 = moderate 3 = uneven but investing practice time on this 4 = unsure but interested

aiming and sustaining attention upon the chosen object of awareness (e.g. the breathing)      1 2 3 4
recognizing and returning to your primary object when the mind wanders         1 2 3 4
conscious tolerance of discomfort/pain during mindfulness practice                1 2 3 4
cultivating stability/calm/relaxation/peace/joy during mindfulness practice          1 2 3 4

Note that the skills rating is about your perception of your practice, since none of us are able to give a completely accurate assessment of our own practice. Best to answer “from the hip” with the first rating that comes to mind. If your first impulses tend to be overly self critical, best to look at your answer again in a few hours.

Do you have physical limitations which would prevent you from being able to participate in sitting, walking and listening to short presentations from 8:30 am to midday, and from 1:30 or 2:00 pm till 5:30, plus a silent brownbag lunch eaten together around midday? What can we do to accommodate or support your physical needs?

“Noble silence” is a very important mindfulness support which we offer each other to deepen and keep strong our attention and intention, magnifying individual effort through a steady group container. Is there any reason which would make it impossible to offer the gift of complete silence to fellow retreatants and preserve the gift of silence for yourself from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm?

Our Approach to Practice during the Retreat

Between the two sessions, orientation and retreat day, we will:

A) define some important terms from the Satipatthana Suttra and related terms from classical Buddhist psychology – the six sense spheres, feeling-tones, mind events, mental formations

B) explore some options for how to aim attention for each foundation of mindfulness – ways to contact bodily senses, ways to contact feeling-tones through the senses, and ways to experience mind events as sensations. We will explore distinctions between the full spectrum of awareness and thinking as part of that spectrum.

C) do a few Trigger practices – artificial experiments using very short stories, pieces of music and clips of video to “trigger” a mild emotion which we will approach using the 3 foundations (i.e., focal points or frames of reference) recommended by the Buddha in the suttra.

The arc of the retreat follows 3 organizing principles:
1) mindfulness occurs at the 6 sense doors
2) mindfulness works best with simpler sensations and gradually contacts more complex experience
3) mindfulness show us all experience is like a wave, beginning, rising, falling, ending.


Preliminary orientation sessions will be held at various times, to maximize the time we have for practice on the day itself. These will be held at my home, 364 Merchants Rd, Rochester unless otherwise announced. Orientation required – choose one –

Thurs Sept 29 7 – 9 pm       Erin Bullock's Wild Hill Farm, Ionia NY
Wed Oct 19 7 – 9 pm       Brickstone Senior Living community room, 1325 Elmwood Ave, Rochester

Other orientation time slots available upon request.

Directions to Preliminary Orientation

Brickstone Senior Living – “Horizon” community room    1325 Elmwood Ave, Rochester, 14620.

Thanks to Carmel Merrill and Richard Lunt for kindly arranging the hospitality for us with this pleasant meeting space.  On Elmwood Ave in Brighton, Brickstone is on the south side approx 8/10th of a mile from the corner of Rt 15A, East Henrietta Rd, or coming from the east about 5/10th of a mile from the corner of South Clinton.  Please park on the street side of the parking lot near the front door of the center.

Wild Hill Farm    2176 Elton Rd     Bloomfield NY     Hamlet of Iona
Take Monroe Avenue east to Pittsford.  Turn right on Clover St. (Rt. 65) and travel 1.9 miles. Turn left on Tobey Rd. travel  9/10 mile.  Tobey Rd. turns into Stone Rd. go another 4/10 mile.  Make a slight right onto NY 64.  Travel 10.3 miles.  You are now in Ionia.  Turn right onto Elton Rd and go 6/10 mile and look for the grey barn and sign Windy Hill Farm.  We can carpool from Rochester.

The Purpose of the Orientation Session

– preview of retreat schedule
– introduction to the Satipatthana Suttra
– more silence and more practice during the retreat
– more open time to discuss terms and raise questions before the retreat day
– setting groundwork for some of the major concepts
– trying sense-based mindfulness
– exploring ways to divide present-moment sense experience into arenas based on the sense door
– getting a “homework” assignment – how to use voicemails/other recordings to do “trigger practice”
– getting to know elements of each others' practice

Registration required.
Limit 25 people.

When I receive your registration I shall send a confirmation with any questions/replies that may arise. The confirmation will contain the retreat day schedule, detailed directions to our meeting place, a word on “Why this topic for retreat?”, info about the retreat leader.

Chris Phillips
mobile:  845-264-7000         home:  585-305-6949

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Day + An Evening Retreat Nov 5

Foundations of Mindfulness & Emotions

Saturday November 5th 8:30 – 5:30
111 Hillside Ave Rochester Mennonite Fellowship

Required Intro Sessions, 7 – 9 pm Choose One
Thurs 9/29 Erin Bullock's Wild Hill Farm, Iona NY
Wed 10/19 Brickstone Senior Living, 1325 Elmwood Ave
(call about scheduling a third session)

What? We will unpack key practices conveyed by the Buddha in his Suttra on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipatthana). We will use the intro session to cover important concepts from the early Buddhist teachings, such as Body Awareness, Feeling-tones, Mental Formations, and the 6 Sense Spheres. There is an homework assignment to get in the groove for the retreat, with which we will apply these teachings to our own direct experience of sensory life. On the retreat day itself we will try various practices implied by the Four Foundations framework. We will build upon Mindfulness of the Body to explore the windows into freedom offered by Mindfulness of Feeling-tones and Mindfulness of Mental Formations.

Why Mindfulness of Emotions? We would like to experience our emotions with clarity and without interfering in their flow. The energy of resistance and avoidance can be freed up for vital living. Disciplines such as Nonviolent Communication suggest that clear contact with bodily emotions will empower more effective living through relationships and compassionate conflict. The retreat exercises are designed to develop the intentional habits and attentional skills to meet all experience through our senses.  From that groundwork we will find that our competency with bodily emotions can blossom. Meditators can learn by playing with the splash and ripple of our senses.

Who? Chris Phillips has been practicing in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh since 1990. He has meditated with teachers from all the branches of Buddhism, with an especially wide exposure to the
many styles of insight meditation. As a staff person at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies he studied with Pali scholar Andrew Olendzki and Mahayana expert Mu Soeng. He has worked with Joanna Macy offering her “Work That Reconnects.” He is now immersing in the “Basic Mindfulness” practices of Shinzen Young. Both Shinzen and Thich Nhat Hanh are skilled synthesizers and bridge-builders between the common awareness teachings of world religions. Chris has operated a Mindfulness Practice Center, directed a wildlife sanctuary for the Audubon Society, and has run two small microfarms.

Generosity/Dana – Retreats like this are possible due to the generosity of many. In keeping with ancient customs no fee is charged for the teachings. If you would like to see more of this work please lend your support.

To register: forms at
or contact Chris at 845-264-7000, 585-305-6949,

Friday, August 19, 2016

Home Retreat

Home Retreat Schedule

Simplicity of Ch'an; Richness of the Senses”
at the home of Chris Phillips, 364 Merchants Rd., Rochester


Send an email to or give me a call a day or more ahead so I know who to expect and/or contact if there is a last minute change. 845-264-7000    585-305-6949

Especially do call if you would like to stay for some morning work meditation in the gardens 9 am to 11:30, so I can have simple tasks ready..

Morning Practice 7 – 9 a.m.

Open format. Arrive and depart as you wish. Set your own schedule for sitting and motion meditation. The outdoor gardens are nice right now for walking meditation, qi gong or yoga.

(Please remember that the Blooming Lilac Sangha holds morning practice at the home of Min and Xiaoping every Tuesday and Thursday all year, from 7:15 to 8:00. So on Tuesday and Thursdays you have a choice.)

Evening Practice 7 – 9 p.m.

Arrive between 6:30 and 7:00. Sitting and walking together indoors, with tea and dharma sharing from 8:30 – 9:00. Some evenings I will have a dharma talk selected. Others will be simple practice.


On a few nights evening practice will be preceded by a potluck dinner, 5 to 6:30. I will have a pot of grains and some simple beans ready for dinner. Please bring chopped raw vegetables, or fresh fruit of any kind.

Day                  A.M. Practice                      Evening Pratice

Saturday 8/20               off                                                      7 – 9 pm
Sunday 8/21                 7 – 9 am                                              7 – 9 pm
Monday 8/22                7 – 9 am                                              off
Tuesday 8/23                7 – 9 am                                              off

Wednesday 8/24            7 – 9 am                                             S&P meeting, all invited
6:45 to 8:45 – special meeting of Stillness & Presence group, with a reading from Gerald May's Dark Night of the Soul. This is an interfaith small group which explores bridges between shamatha-vipassana meditation (mindfulness) and contemplative, non-verbal prayer in “God traditions.” All are welcome to join. About 1 hour silent practice begins the meeting. Call or email for more info.

Thursday 8/25               7 -9 am                                             14 Mindfulness Trainings meeting
6:30 – 8:30 monthly meeting to read and share about the 14 Mindfulness Trainings and the Order of Interbeing. All are always welcome to join this monthly meeting hosted by Laurie Brewer.

Friday 8/26                    off                             potluck 5 pm      7 – 9 pm
Saturday 8/27                 7 – 9 am                     potluck 5 pm      7 – 9 pm
Sunday 8/28                   7 – 9 am                                              7 – 9 pm
Monday 8/29                  7 – 9 am                                              7 – 9 pm
Tuesday 8/30                  7 – 9 am                                               off
Wednesday 8/31              7 – 9 am                                               off
Thursday 9/1                   off                                                       off
Friday 9/2                       7 – 9 am                                               7 – 9 pm
Saturday 9/3                    7 – 9 am                     potluck 5 pm       7 – 9 pm Close of Home Retreat

Dharma Talk Possibilities

A Basket of Plums -- classic Plum Village songs from the 80's and 90's.  I believe this was performed and recorded in French and English by the Montreal Sangha.  A mix of well known and unknown songs.

Beginning Anew by Sister Tu Nghiem

Thich Nhat Hanh – readings on practicing with the Earth, and from his book Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise.

What is Equanimity? Shinzen Young

Dark Night of the Soul Shinzen Young

The Primordial Rhythm of Nature & Practice Shinzen Young

a reading from Pema Chodron's Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

Directions: 364 Merchants Rd., Rochester 14609
Park on Woodstock Rd. enter the house at rear door off back deck
shoes off in back hallway

walk through kitchen, dining room – meet for practice in living room

More About the Retreat Name

Friday, August 5, 2016

Day of Mindfulness - August 14th, 2016

The August 2016 Day of Mindfulness Connecting and Healing with Nature is Sunday, August 14th with a different start time then usual. Erin Bullock has invited us to her beautiful organic CSA farm in Bloomfield, NY (just south of Mendon). The day starts at 10:30 am and ends at 3 pm.

We will be meditating and walking outside quite a bit so dress for the weather. We may also gather in a lovely old barn. See inline document below for schedule, directions, and photos of this amazing space! Please bring water, sun protection (hats, sun lotion) meditation cushions and blanket or folding chair and a contribution to our potluck lunch.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Family Day of Mindfulness July 9

Come and experience a beautiful drive to the Finger Lakes area for a Family Day of Mindfulness. Bring your favorite child(ren) or inner child! We will be exploring nature and our feelings with fun activities for all ages! 

When? Saturday, July 9, 2016, 10:30 am to 4 pm.
Where? 5745 Federal Rd. Conesus, NY 14435-Home of Michael and Annie O'Reilly
What? Bring a brown bag lunch-drinks and snacks will be provided. Wear clothing for outdoors-long pants tucked into socks is helpful! If it rains we may spend a limited time outdoors.

RSVP: or 585-346-0557

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Day of Mindfulness May 14th, 2016

You are invited to a Day of Mindfulness, on Saturday, May 14, from 10:30 am to 4 pm at the home of Diane Rennie in Fairport at Address: 42 S Ridge Trail Fairport, NY 14450

The day will start with a dharma talk on compassion by Sister Annabel Laity. (see below for brief bio).

Please arrive by 10:30 am so that you can hear the full talk. This Day of Mindfulness complete schedule will be available soon.

If you would like to share a snack, that would be appreciated but not expected. Snacks and tea will be provided by Diane.

Bring a bag lunch for yourself instead of a potluck dish.

RSVP to Diane Rennie via or 585-223-8663 to let the organizers know how many are attending.

Sister Annabel Laity Bio

Sister Annabel Laity, (Chan Duc, True Virtue), was born in England, and studied Classics and Sanskrit before going to India to study and practice with Tibetan nuns. She has been a disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh since 1986, and in 1988, in India, she was the first woman from the West to be ordained as a nun by Thich Nhat Hanh. She became a Dharma Teacher in 1990, and was Director of Practice at Plum Village for many years.She is currently Dean of Practice at the European Institute for Applied Buddhism in Germany, and divides her time between there and Thailand, where she teaches newly ordained novices at Thailand Plum Village.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Gathas From Spring Water Retreat

Much gratitude to Jackie Siwicki for putting together wonderful gathas for the April retreat at Springwater, she has offered them to all of us here.

Thay gave a wonderful talk about losing our balance and falling, citing the high number of people in France (that particular year) who had fallen down. He gave a lovely visual of bamboo bridges in the countryside in Vietnam. A single bamboo trunk would traverse a river or stream. To aid the bridge crossing person, there would be wires strong across at arm level to grasp on to in order to prevent an accident. 

Thay went on to say that we can also “mentally fall down” He recommended using gathas such as the ones that Jackie put together, to act as our guide wires, and to help keep the positive seeds awake in us. 

Here are the gathas which can be printed for your own use!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ramya Kane Continuation Day Celebration

Our dear friend and diligent student of meditation, Ramya Kane, passed away on April 5th at age 85. A celebration of her life will be held on June 18th at 12:30 pm at: White Haven Memorial Park, 210 Marsh Rd, Pittsford, NY 14534.

Credit Blair Hornbuckle.