Sean Feit Oakes, Buddhism & Yoga
Vibrant, relational contemplative practice
I teach Buddhism and Yoga based in many years of practice and study, working with meditation, āsana, prānāyāma, devotion, and inquiry, supporting those who hold these practices as part of their spiritual path. All are welcome to come and explore the mystery of this human life together.
No particular religious belief is necessary to practice with me, but my teaching is strongly rooted in the Theravāda Buddhist tradition as expressed in Thai Forest and Burmese Vipassanā lineages, with expansive influence from Śaiva Tantra and Vaiṣṇava Bhakti Yoga. Like many contemporary teachers in the Insight Meditation lineage, I’m inspired broadly by many Buddhist and Hindu teachings, classical and tantric, as well as contemporary branches of these ancient streams.
Central to my understanding and teaching of spiritual practice is the role of trauma and relational disruption in the process of self-knowledge and inquiry. Trauma comes in many forms, from physical harm through violence and accidents, to emotional harm in unsafe relationships, to the systemic harm all of us experience in cultures where racism, sexism, oppression, and the abuse of communities by rapacious social systems (consumer capitalism, toxic individualism, religious intolerance) are the norm.
Wise action to heal trauma consists in addressing it wisely on all levels, including the personal and societal, and influences every level of spiritual development. My work in trauma resolution is strongly influenced by the work of Dr. Peter Levine (Somatic Experiencing), and my SE teacher and current mentor Steven Hoskinson (Organic Intelligence). I see yogis (folks with an ongoing practice of yoga or meditation) for individual SE/OI sessions and teach on the relationship of trauma to Buddhist and Yoga practice.
Writing & scholarship
I write about current issues in western Buddhist and Yoga communities, as well as art, performance, politics, and social justice. Shorter writing is under “blog” and longer academic essays under “poems + essays”. Writing for this blog has slowed to a trickle like a California river 🙁 as I’m giving all my writing energy to my PhD dissertation, ““This Very Body is the Bodhi Tree”: The Performance of Contemplative States by Practitioners in the Western Jhāna Revival & West Coast movement theater”. I’m close to done, and hope to be truly done by fall 2016.
Please stay in touch (email list signup on the left, contact info at the bottom of the page), and I look forward to practicing with you sometime soon. Blessings always.
weekly group practice
Insight Meditation Satsang. Yoga Tree Telegraph, Berkeley
Every Thu 7:45-9:15pm
Meditation with instructions, wisdom teachings from Theravāda Buddhism leavened with Mahāyāna, Tantra, and existential philosophy, and community discussion of practice. Beginners welcome, and the first Thursday of each month is oriented toward beginners.
Offered joyfully on donation, in the Buddhist practice of dāna (generosity). Thank you for your collaboration as we challenge inhuman capitalism through the subtle and profound practice of gift economy.
Core Philosophy & Energetics. Yoga Garden San Francisco.
Summer Extended (Weekends): July 9-10, Aug 6-7, Sep 10-11
All days 12:30-8:30
August Immersion: August 16-21, 2016
T-F 9-6, S-S 12:30-7:30
This course integrates embodied practice with self-inquiry and the study of the core texts of the yoga traditions. In this philosophy and practice intensive, we will look closely at two primary root texts of modern yoga: Patañjali’s Yoga Sutra and Svatmarama’s Hatha Yoga Pradipika. We will weave between historical context, close reading and discussion, and embodied practice. These two texts teach a full range of yoga practice, including ethics, meditation, mindfulness, and personal inquiry; asana, pranayama, energetic cultivation, and the awakening of the feminine embodied force called kundalini. Exploring the roots of Hatha Yoga in Tantra, we will also look briefly at an accessible tantric source text, Kṣemarāja’s Heart of Recognition.
Completion of this 50 hour module applies to Yoga Garden’s Core Curriculum for 300-hour certification and registration with Yoga Alliance at the 500 hour level; 50 CEUs.
Buddhist Myths & Stories. East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland
4-class series, Wednesdays 7-9pm in October:
Oct 5, 12, 19, and 26.
The Buddhist traditions offer a vast range of teachings, from ethical guidelines for daily life and relationships to instructions for meditation and descriptions of the deepest truths of reality. In this 4-part class we’ll study a selection of core Buddhist texts from both early (Pāli Canon) and later (Mahāyāna) schools, focusing on the mythical stories and cosmology at the heart of the Buddhist worldview.
We’ll look at the doctrines of the 6 Realms, the Wheel of Time, and stories of arahants, bodhisattvas, and Buddhas, and explore how these ancient teaching images and stories can be relevant and inspiring for us today.
Open to all, but oriented toward practitioners with some experience with meditation and mindfulness. The class focuses on study of texts and concepts from the Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhist traditions and assumes some familiarity with basic Buddhist teachings and meditation instructions.
5-day residential retreat: Nov 9-13
Vajrapani Institute, Boulder Creek, CA.
I’m delighted to be joining my friend Pete Guinosso for a second Bodhi retreat, integrating tools from Insight Meditation (vipassana) and Classical Hatha Yoga with his beautiful Forrest Yoga inspired Vinyasa practice. The retreat is mostly in silence, with delicious meals, time to hike in the redwoods, and teachings on mindfulness, healing, yoga psychology, and liberation from the Buddhist and Hindu yoga traditions. The yoga on this retreat is vigorous, so if you haven’t taken Pete’s class yet (you’re missing out!), go to a few to get a sense of his offering. Feel free to contact Pete or me if you want to check in about whether the retreat is right for you.
More info here: http://petegyoga.com/event/bodhi-yoga-and-meditation-retreat-2016/
Meditation and mystery are inseparable. Just as the mysterious cannot be unraveled through calculation, nor can a meditative attitude be acquired as though it were a technical skill. Heidegger remarked, “That which shows itself and at the same time withdraws is the essential trait of the mystery.” Meditation occurs whenever our innermost awareness is trained on the shocking nearness yet elusive distance of what is present.
(Stephen Batchelor, The Faith to Doubt)