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Volunteer Profile: Rob Bishop

This is my story. Who would I be without my story, as Byron Katie asks? Is it true? I'll employ beginner’s mind and say, "Possibly." 

A friend told me about Spirit Rock many years ago. One day while returning from Point Reyes, I made a wrong turn and passed the sign on Sir Frances Drake Blvd. I said to myself, "Hey, there's that place!" I eventually attended a daylong, and Rick Hanson spoke. As a biologist, I was fascinated by the neurology of anxiety and the evolutionary basis for the negativity bias of the brain. I was relieved to discover that my chattering, hyper-critical monkey mind was neither unique nor a mental illness.

I liked the Spirit Rock vibe. The people were warm and friendly. I was fascinated by the teachings. My sister gave me a car GPS unit for Christmas, and I used it traveling to Spirit Rock. When I arrived, I realized I'd set the address in Woodacre as my "Home," as the screen displayed a checkered flag with the message, "You're home!” I've never changed the setting, and now, occasionally when I use my GPS, I smile that my "Home" address is listed as 5000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

I continued to attend daylongs with teachers including Sylvia Boorstein, James Baraz, Linda Graham and David Richo. My practice grew as I became aware of the cause of my suffering: me! What great news. The one thing in life I could change was my perspective. I purchased many books during my visits, and the stack became taller and taller. I was curious about these people who were on a quest to open their hearts and abandon self-preoccupation. Having read Alan Watts’ The Wisdom of Insecurity 25 years previously, I was beginning to understand. Ideas like self-compassion, acceptance and loving-kindness were new to me. The prospect of being at peace appeared attainable, for the first time ever. I've led an isolated life of depression, anxiety and addiction and have viewed others (and myself) as a burden to be avoided. I asked Sean Fargo, event coordinator at the time, how to volunteer. I was attracted to the community and wanted to take part.

I enjoyed Phillip Moffitt’s book, Emotional Chaos to Clarity. During his daylong, I wrote this poem:  

I see myself in others now 
It's no longer "them" and "me"
It's "we"

The "Yield to the Present" sign on the road really says it all! I love it. My father designs items for gift shops, so I created an image of the sign and sent it to him. I gave Sean a couple of magnets and keychains, to see if they might want some in the bookstore. It's been a fun and meaningful way to be part of Spirit Rock.  

I enjoy being a volunteer. I've met more people and made more friends in the last three years than in the previous 20, and Spirit Rock has been a catalyst for this change. From the wonderful event coordinators, to the great volunteer team, other Spirit Rock employees, and the many people who attend, this community has enriched my life.

So, fellow Spirit Rockers, I’ll close with a riddle: What do you call it when you snap a photo while holding your phone in your outstretched arm and standing in front of the Buddha mural? It's called a "no selfie."

Spirit Rock relies on the generosity of our many volunteers. We offer a range of opportunities from one-time projects to ongoing service. Check our website to find out more about out volunteer program or contact our Volunteer & Community Coordinator at Volunteering@spiritrock.org or (415) 488-0164 x224.


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