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  • September 21, 2018 10:06 AM | Anonymous

    By Zach Hively

    Our individual dharma practices take us each on a personal journey. Volunteer Elisabeth Peterson’s has taken her a long way over the last fourteen years: she’s ventured all the way from the back row to serving the community from the front of the room.

    “I’ve always been an introverted person,” Elisabeth says. “When I’d show up at the Dharma Center, I’d sit in the very back. It was like I was in hiding. Incognito. Somebody might say something to me or ask something of me—oh my gosh,” she gasps with mock horror.

    Actually, Elisabeth’s journey started even further away than the back row. She had to get herself to the Dharma Center in the first place.

    For many years, she says, she practiced meditation off and on. She started with transcendental meditation in the tradition of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and primarily gravitated to her practice in times of trouble. “But as far as part of a daily life, brushing-my-teeth sort of thing, no,” she acknowledges. “That didn’t come until much later for me.”

    Elisabeth encountered one of her biggest times of trouble when her spouse died 14 years ago. She experienced total groundlessness and a loss of her main identity. She now views that time as a blessing, because of where it has brought her, but in those moments, it was the most stressful time she had ever experienced.

    To cope, she turned toward her intermittent practice and her spiritual friends. And not long after, she read about the Durango Dharma Center’s grand opening—now two locations ago, at the space on Colorado Avenue—and decided to check it out.

    Of course, she sat in the back row.

    “It spoke to me right away, though,” she says. “It was just being around the energy you get, that you connect with, that I just loved. It was good for me. It offered spiritual understanding, comfort, and that’s what I needed at that time.”

    It wasn’t very long after that that Elisabeth decided she wanted to give back and started volunteering as part of the cleaning crew. At the time, the center was so small, just one person could accomplish all of the cleaning in a couple of hours. Peterson would put her Kirtan chants on the sound system and clean the center by herself.

    “It felt good to be doing something for the sangha,” she says. She would imagine people coming in and enjoying a nice clean place to sit and practice. “I felt like I was contributing something—like I was more a part of the Dharma Center than someone who came and sat in the back row and slipped out real quick afterwards.”

    Since then, Elisabeth has taken on all sorts of volunteer work, including a multi-year stint as the center’s volunteer coordinator. In that role, she helped coordinate a network of dozens of volunteers who greet, clean, and perform other tasks for the Dharma Center.  Along with others, she still leads Thursday night sits, which she has stewarded for years, and her practice has remained deep.

    “I love being able to support others in their practice, in any way I can,” she says. And as for sitting in the back row these days? “Unless I get there late, not so much!” she laughs. “I like to see the people now. I’m not that shy anymore.”

  • June 29, 2018 10:54 AM | Anonymous

    By Zach Hively 

    Sari Salisbury is a fixture at the Dharma Center, but it took a serious kick in the pants to get her meditating in the first place. 

    “I slipped on a carpeted stairway, and my heels went out, and I landed on my sacroiliac,” says Sari. “I went BOOM BOOM BOOM down the steps. Really cracked it. And I had to ride back home on a plane the next day.” 

    On that flight, she sat on a donut pillow and stared at the seat ahead as she thought, “you know, I think I want to learn to meditate.” 

    Years later, Sari, who has a degree in biology and was a health educator, read that the sacroiliac was given its name—the Latin root sacer means “holy”—because of the ancient belief that the sacrum is where the spirit enters the body. “And I got a whack on mine!” she laughs. 

    That moment laid the foundation of Sari’s dedicated meditation practice. In fact, when she decided to move away from California, one of her main requirements in a new hometown was a dedicated sangha. Now Sari has lived in Durango for the better part of twenty years. She’s probably one of the few seniors who moved here because she loves the winter, she says—that, and her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren live here. 

    But, critically, she also found the Dharma Center, which then was called Durango Sangha. It was only a few members who met in each other’s homes. “I started when it was just a living room affair,” Sari says. 

    In the years since, as a steadfast practitioner, she has watched as the sangha has grown from a handful of members into the vibrant community it is today. “There’s a delightful part of knowing there are that many people who have found out that Buddhism has some real practical value to it—and that meditation is magic,” she says. “I know it makes my life go better.” 

    In addition to her meditation practice, what feeds Sari’s spirit is the sense of community in the Dharma Center. To her, the sangha relationship and relating to other people are as important, if not more so, than the meditation she does.  

    That’s why volunteering is such a valuable aspect of her life. She’s helped start a number of programs at the center, including the mindfulness 12 Step group and the extended sitting group, and she enjoys creating opportunities for other people to develop themselves as human beings through their own volunteer service and dharma practice. 

    “People are very generous with their volunteering,” Sari says. “Buddha says you receive so much when you get the idea you want to give. And when you give, it feels so good. And when you think about it afterwards, it still feels wonderful. It's a good glowing feeling.”

    “I want to do my part,” she adds. “It’s a way of caring. I’ll be surprised if, when I die, I am not still volunteering in something.”




  • June 22, 2018 5:08 PM | Anonymous

    Dear Dharma Friend, 

    We at the the Durango Dharma Center recognize the need for inspiration, solidarity, and refuge as we practice to embody an active commitment to non-harming in today's world.

    We are in alignment with the following statement from the Spirit Rock Teachers Council. We share this with you in response to the concerns many of you have voiced and as a gesture of wisdom from the larger Vipassana community.  

    Yours in the dharma,

    DDC Dharma Council (Erin and Maureen)

    DDC Board of Directors (Marc, Connie, Cindy, Lynne, Vic and Kate)

    The Spirit Rock Teachers Council met on Tuesday as a group and offers these reflections on recent news. May this be supportive to you in your practice.

    Statement from the Spirit Rock Teachers Council

    As Buddhist meditation leaders, teachers and practitioners, we are concerned with the welfare and safety of everyone in our society. These commitments are based upon an understanding of our shared vulnerability in this life. Separating migrant children from their families unambiguously harms children and their families — this harm is immediate and severe and endures across generations through the lingering effects of trauma. Under no circumstances can we as contemplative practitioners, spiritual leaders, or moral human beings imagine circumstances in which it is acceptable to engage in acts that harm children. We cannot forget that we belong to each other. We feel deeply the heartbreak of families being torn apart.

    We, as teachers for Spirit Rock Meditation Center and for tens of thousands of Buddhist practitioners around the country, reaffirm the Spirit Rock Statement of Values and stand with many other secular and religious organizations —organizations spanning the political and theological spectrum — in condemning these acts. These acts represent a dramatic deviation from the standards of morality and basic human decency that form the fabric of civilized society. Unraveling that fabric has a corrosive effect on our capacity to live and thrive together.

    The Executive Order issued June 20th was initially reported as a hopeful development, but closer scrutiny finds that it fails to remedy previous harms and may actually compound difficulties for some migrants. Therefore, we must remain engaged to ensure that humane policy change is implemented and family reunifications are expedited. We encourage you to contact your representatives to voice your concern, to connect with organized efforts to express your values, and to support reputable advocacy organizations.

    We must also pause to consider how this depth of moral confusion was enacted and tolerated and take steps to nurture the values that make such depravity unthinkable.

    Signed*: 

    Sally Armstrong

    James Baraz 

    Matthew Brensilver

    Eugene Cash

    Debra Chamberlin-Taylor

    Howard Cohn

    Mark Coleman

    Anne Cushman

    Dana DePalma

    Anna Douglas

    Bonnie Duran 

    Andrea Fella

    Anushka Fernandopulle

    Gil Fronsdal 

    JoAnna Hardy

    Susie Harrington

    Will Kabat-Zinn

    Ruth King

    Jack Kornfield 

    Brian Lesage

    John Martin 

    Nikki Mirghafori

    Phillip Moffitt

    Kittisaro

    Kate Munding

    Wes Nisker

    Mary Grace Orr

    Sharda Rogell 

    Donald Rothberg

    Erin Selover

    Gina Sharpe 

    Oren Jay Sofer

    Tempel Smith 

    Heather Sundberg

    Thanissara

    Erin Treat

    Pamela Weiss

    DaRa Williams

    Diana Winston

    Kate Lila Wheeler

    Larry Yang

    * Note: certain Teachers Council members are on retreat and may not have had the opportunity to sign this statement as of yet.


  • April 25, 2018 9:03 PM | Anonymous

    Starting in late April, Thursday Evening Sitting Meditation will be facilitated by a collective of senior students, mentored by Erin Treat. The offering will consist of a welcome and sitting meditation, along with a brief dharma reading chosen by the facilitator. Please join us for our newly inspired Thursday Evening Sitting Meditation. 


  • April 25, 2018 8:45 PM | Anonymous

    We are looking for four or five additional volunteers to join the Dharma Center's cleaning team. This is a wonderful opportunity to both deepen your practice through service and to support the Dharma Center in a hands-on way. 

    Volunteers generally serve once or twice a month for 1½ to 2 hours. We typically clean the first three Monday mornings of the month at 10 am and the last Sunday of the month at 2 pm. 

    Please call or email Holly at hollyhatch4@gmail.com or call her at 908-500-8118 for more information or to sign up. 

  • January 05, 2018 2:47 PM | Anonymous

    The Mindfulness-Based 12 Step group will continue to meet at the Dharma Center from 12-1 pm on Wednesdays. We are also offering a new meeting time on Sundays from 4:30-5:30 pm. This new meeting will start up on January 21st. 

    Mindfulness-Based 12 Step is an open gathering blending mindfulness and the 12 steps as resource tools for developing healthy relationships with ourselves and all other people, places, and things. Sharing and attendance at these gatherings is held in confidentiality and anonymity. All are welcome!

  • December 08, 2017 7:55 AM | Anonymous

    Sati Sunday is an opportunity to practice sitting meditation and participate in a discussion with relevant Buddhist topics. These sittings, held the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month from 9-10:15 am, will be offered by Katherine Barr, community dharma elder. Suitable for all levels and beginners welcome. The dates for 2018 are: 

    December 24 

    January 14 & 28

    February 11 & 25

    March 11 & 25

    April 8 & 22

    May 13 & 27

    June 10 & 24

    * No Sati Sunday on July 8 because of Daylong Retreat with Noliwe Alexander

    July 22

    August 12 & 26

    September 9 & 23

    October 14 

    * No Sati Sunday on October 28 because of Weekend Retreat with James Baraz

    November 11 & 25

    December 9 & 23

    Feel free to contact Katherine with any questions. katgb@frontier.net, 970.769.3417


  • December 06, 2017 4:23 PM | Anonymous

    The SenGen Kalyana Mitta (Spiritual Friends) Group is a gathering for those of us 60 years old and over to contemplate the inevitable processes of aging, illness and death. We also celebrate the joy, wisdom and experience that comes with growing older. 

    SenGens strive to make this a safe, confidential and supportive space for participants to share feelings from the heart without judgment or advice. You can learn more at our website www.dursengens.com

    Please join us!

    Where: Durango Dharma Center 1800 East 3rd Ave.

    When: Second and Fourth Tuesdays from 3 - 4:30 PM
    More Info: For more information, please contact Ellen Park at gellenpark@gmail.com

    Please note that SenGen is made possible through the efforts of a facilitator team that meets periodically to select themes and books. We always need and welcome more volunteers for this team. Please contact Martha McClellan at mmm@bresnan.net if you would like more information.

  • June 09, 2017 6:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Do you have children in your life? Would you like to cultivate skills that support their growth and your sense of ease? Come meet with others who are interested in practicing mindful ways of engaging children. 

    We will be exploring meditation, calming our minds and discussing new ways to engage children that support ourselves, our children’s development and our peace of mind. The group will be using Patty Whipfler’s new book, Listen, a breakthrough in child-rearing based on the latest brain studies for children.

    This group meets on the second Tuesdays of the month from 12 - 1 PM and fourth Tuesdays of the month from 6 – 7 PM and is open to all who care for children—grandparents, teachers, camp counselors, etc. No specific experience necessary and all are welcomed. 

    To signup for the Mindful Parenting Group email list, click here >>

    What: Mindful Parenting Support Group
    Where: Durango Dharma Center 1800 East 3 rd Ave. #109 (Next to the Library, across from St. Columba school)
    When: Second Tuesdays 12 - 1 PM and Fourth Tuesdays from 6 – 7 PM
    More Info: For more information, please contact Maureen Fallon-Cyr (970) 749-1691

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Durango Dharma Center • 1800 E. Third Ave. • P.O. Box 1631 • Durango, CO 81302