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Barbara Mahon: Volunteer Profile

Barbara Mahon  

My Spirit Rock journey began in 2008 when I moved from Boston to Sonoma. I participated in an occasional daylong and two residential retreats with Narayan Helen Liebenson and Christina Feldman. For many years I was a member of the Insight Meditation Center in Cambridge, MA, where Narayan, Michael Grady and Larry Rosenberg are teachers. They all guided me on the Vipassana path, which I began practicing formally after much reading and meditation and following a long contemplative practice in the Christian tradition. I was extremely fortunate to begin my Buddhist practice with their guidance, for which I am forever grateful.

When I became ill and was unable to travel to Spirit Rock, I was fortunate to practice at the Shambhala Center in Sonoma. Being mostly well again this past year has allowed me to return to my root Buddhist Vipassana practice and to the beautiful life-giving presence of the Spirit Rock Community. I decided to volunteer not so much as an opportunity to serve, though it is that, but to be able to attend programs without charge. For a 72-year-old senior with very low income living in subsidized housing, the volunteer program makes participation possible.

One’s spiritual journey is lifelong, with many beginnings and often a lovely unfolding — sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes enlightening, sometimes daunting. Volunteering at Spirit Rock helps me stay alert to the intention and aspiration of my practice and affirm that to others. It affirms the truth of my inner being and the expression of that knowing. I am given the opportunity to be in the presence of many differing and wise teachers and to be part of a community that aspires to live the teachings and the practice. As a volunteer I have learned to live kindness toward myself and others on a deeper level. I have learned to be more present and to recognize when I am not or cannot be. I have learned the age old lessons of working in community, of a shared vision to serve in loving-kindness for the well-being of all. This is often challenging and calls me to put myself aside when I am reluctant to deal with sometimes difficult emotions. I have learned that good people with the intention to value and respect each other are able to create a place of peace, acceptance, safety and warm welcome for each other and those who come the Spirit Rock way.

Volunteering at Spirit Rock has added richness and depth especially in this phase of my journey. As a “young” elder, I recognize that my best offering now is my presence and open heart. Serving others comes back multi-fold to my own merit and then cycles to the benefit of all beings. It’s an opportunity to welcome and celebrate. A gladdening of heart.   Spirit Rock relies on the generosity of our many volunteers. We offer a range of volunteer opportunities from one time projects to ongoing service. Check our website to find out more about our volunteer program or contact our Volunteer & Community Coordinator, Sally Segerstrom, at Volunteering@spiritrock.org or (415) 488-0164 ext. 224.

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