Sunday, December 8, 2013

Taking Refuge in Your Life with Larry Yang

Taking Refuge in Your Life: A Half Day Retreat with Larry Yang


Larry Yang

Larry Yang leads meditation retreats nationally and has an interest in making the wisdom teachings of the Dharma accessible for LGBTQ communities and Communities of Color. Larry is a Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader and is mentored as a teacher by Jack Kornfield. He has spent 6 months in Southeast Asia as an ordained Buddhist monk under meditation master Ajaan Tong, with travels in Thailand, Nepal and India. Larry is a leader and teacher at the new East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, CA. His website is:
Date(s):December 7 (Saturday)
Time:9:00am - 12:30pm
 meditations in the Vipassana Buddhist tradition. There will be a dharma talk and opportunities for group sharing. Open to all levels of meditation—new, beginner, or experienced. Please join us, get on a cushion or chair, settle your mind, keep your heart open, and see what you discover! You do not have to call yourself a Buddhist to benefit from meditation.

Description:InsightLA is proud to present Larry Yang, a pioneer in his work of bringing meditation and Buddhist practice to multicultural communities in the West. He brings his vast experience to InsightLA for this very special daylong event.

Taking Refuge is one of the most beautiful aspects of the Buddhist meditation practice. We take Refuge in the deep potential of Freedom in each of our lives, in a path which has been journeyed by generations of our ancestors, and in communities of like-hearted and like-minded spiritual friends. We offer this sacred space to all communities of color with the intention to access a sense of safety and ease for the spiritual journey of seeing clearly our true nature.

Invitations into meditation will focus on cultivating an open awareness spacious enough to hold all that arises moment to moment, including guidance in sitting and walking

I did this retreat yesterday with Larry Yang.  Here are my notes:

It was very powerful to be with so many like minded people of color.  Larry had a real gentleness about him.  His voice was loving his words were kind.  I really enjoyed him and the other people in the group.

It was raining a lot when I entered in the building on Olympic in Santa Monica for Insight LA.  On the street as I parked I saw a few black women and some Asians.  I knew they like me most be going to the People of Color retreat.

I checked in, got some tea, and entered into a conversation about Spirit Rock (a place I really want to go this year after I finish working on Hart of Dixie).

Larry sat on the wooden platform in the main room with a semi circle of cushions backed by a semi circle of chairs and began to talk about the gentleness and cleansing of the rain.  I wish I could write down exactly what he said.  It was very beautiful.  I sat on cushions with a blanket rolled beneath each knee.  That's how I am meditating lately.  I want to be on the ground but I want to protect my bad knees.  I think I am a getting a little better at sitting on the floor.

Larry said:

No spiritual tradition has a monopoly on Enlightenment.  We all have a yearning for satisfaction or content to be at peace.  There is no single teaching the teachings are interwoven.  Enlightenment is small moments many times.  There are 84,000 doors to go through (and 84,000 is just a number meaning infinity) so find the teaching that you can feel truly relaxed in but don't attach to the door itself.  Figure out where you feel at home.

He quoted from Maya Angelou

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

You have to internalize luminosity so you can be that luminosity. 

First you have a thought then you have an intention and then an action.

It's important for people of color to sit together because it brings attention to what has not paid attention to.  Sometimes it is hard to get to a deep place in meditation when you don't feel safe in the room because there are no other people of color."

Many people talked about being the only one or one of a few people of color in a class and feeling uncomfortable.  I feel that way just like they did.  I talked in my group how much world when I was a girl was very diverse with people of many colors and the older I get the whiter my world gets.

Larry said we often don't feel safe in these all white environments on a visceral level.  We can't language it but we know it's there.

Larry said:

"Mindfulness is simply meeting the moment for what it is and in that gentleness things start to settle.  Within it (and Buddhism) there is an invitation to believe your own experience and not be imposed upon.  Being aware of what works for you."

One woman asked about pain and if she is supposed to sit with the pain or how to handle it when it comes up when meditation.  Larry said the body is a teacher but we don't pay attention in the body.  Pain is a teacher telling us what are limits are. We have to take care of ourselves in order to take care of the world.

Our first meditation centered on the breath and then we did a walking meditation.
I had never really done a walking meditation before in this way.  I had tried a little from reading Sharon Salzburg's book but I don' t think I got it until yesterday,  yesterday I think I really was doing it.  I concentrated on my foot planting and lifting taking small careful slow steps.  It was raining but I held an umbrella and was mindful of it.  Sometimes I felt like a geisha.  Sometimes my mind completely wandered but I just was mindful of it and came back to me steps. Because
Larry had talked about the gentleness and the purification of the rain, I walked slowly and gently with my umbrella off of Olympic Boulevard.  Other people walked to.  I got lost in the walking and everyone else had gone back in when I realized I needed to go back in too.  I had missed some of the next lecture.

When a women talked about trying to reconcile being African-American raised catholic and interest in Buddhism. She said African-Americans are always talking about praying.  Larry mentioned Thomas Merton who merged Catholicism and Buddhism (I have to look into him).  He said prayer is asking a question and meditation is receiving the answer.  I, myself,  am very interested in Buddhism but I don't want to give us Jesus and I don't believe I have to.  Jesus for me is a door, Buddha is a door,  I am not going to attach to the door.

One woman mentioned Against the stream and they have a people of color sit and also ecstatic dance.  I think someone else was telling me about that.  I am going to check into Against the Stream.

Anyways,  It was a wonderful morning.  When we went around the circle and Larry asked as to give a few word intention my intention was to "expand and grow" and I really did.

Thank you Larry.

Thank you all the beautiful people at the People of Color Sit.


  1. A huge thanks for sharing this post. We also provide yoga meditation Retreats in rishikesh. Really feels thankful to you for sahring with us. this post little bit inspiration for me and looking forward to see your next post.

  2. Thank you for your kind words and reading my little blog


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