Bridging the Gap between Silent Practice and Presence in the World

Bridging the Gap article

The upcoming retreat, Awakening Together: Conflict and Freedom, led by Gregory Kramer and Gina Sharpe, will bring together meditation community leaders, teachers and seasoned practitioners from the traditional and relational Vipassana communities. The retreat is designed to introduce a relational Vipassana practice and help us understand, through experience, how this can support individuals and communities to become more aware and fully present with one another to work through conflict, stress and difficult situations. It is a powerful opportunity to link wisdom and compassion practices.

All of us are individuals with unique cultures, races, language and customs. Yet as human beings we are completely interwoven with each other, and all desire love, kindness, and compassion. As meditation practitioners, when we practice singly and silently, we are able to overcome conflict and to be loving, kind, and compassionate in the abstract. Yet often when we step into the relational world, our equanimity and the loving qualities we cultivate on the cushion can seem easily lost. Within spiritual communities, the spiritual path can have a solitary tonality when the bridge from individual, silent practice to being with others is not an integral part of our practice.  A lack of meditative connection can grow and when interpersonal situations become difficult, communities and individuals within them can experience turmoil, stress, and alienation.

This retreat will invite inquiry into recognizing mutuality even when we are caught in such alienation, self-identification, and conflict. Our exploration of Insight Dialogue will ripen basic meditation practice, illuminate the Buddha’s core teachings, and build the bridge between personal awareness and harmonious relations with others. As we deepen concentration and mindfulness, we will move through and into relationship, linking our silent meditation to meditation in relationship and dialogue. We will use Insight Dialogue as a way to bring mindfulness to acts of body, speech, and mind and bring our meditative skillfulness to relationship. In so doing, we hope to close the widely reported gap between our practice and our “real world” skills, especially during times of conflict.