Morning Contemplative Offerings

Join us for the new season of growth for spiritual companionship.

Note: Click a heading or scroll down to read the full session descriptions

Wednesday Morning

April 21, 2021 - (06:00- 07:00 PDT)


Daniel Renaud


Sara Zaltash


Genjo Marinello

Friday Morning

April 23, 2021 - (06:00 - 07:00 PDT)


Edward W. Bastian and Jeanette Banashak


Daniel Renaud


Sara Zaltash


Genjo Marinello

Join us for the new season of growth for spiritual companionship.

Full Session Descriptions

Morning Contemplative Practices & Presenters

InterSpiritual Meditation (ISM): A Universal 7-Step Contemplative Process Drawn from the Worlds Spiritual Traditions: A One-hour Contemplative Practice & Conversation

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday

In these sessions, Dr. Ed Bastian, colleagues and participants will experience and discuss InterSpiritual Meditation (ISM), a non-sectarian and universal contemplative process.
ISM helps people of diverse spiritual and non-spiritual backgrounds to develop a personal meditative practice drawn from one or more spiritual traditions. It honors diversity and fosters inclusivity, and it helps us to harness and harmonize our personal spiritual styles to develop our personal practice.

When practiced as a group, ISM provides a non-sectarian contemplative foundation for InterSpiritual communities. It offers clergy, psychologists, healthcare professionals, and spiritual directors with non-sectarian methods and resources to help those who are Spiritually Independent or Spiritual but not Religious (SBNR) to create their own spiritual and/or contemplative practices. It provides social and environmental activists with an inclusive spiritual foundation for active engagement in the critical issues of our times.

The seven steps of ISM were developed by Spiritual Paths’ founder Dr. Ed Bastian in close contemplative collaboration with colleagues from Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Taoist, and Native American traditions. In this process we gather in the language of silence and experience our interdependence. Joining in stillness, we don’t impose on others our own personal beliefs, rituals, or the sectarian names for our absolute truths, deities, or God. We honor and celebrate the wise and compassionate practices of all traditions. We discover a profound unity within our diversity. Celebrating the strength and unity of our diversity, we are of one heart.

More information can be found at Spiritual Paths Institute.

Quietly, each in our own way, we join in the following seven stages together. The sound of a gong leads us from one stage to the next.

1. Motivation:May We Be Healthy and Happy
2. Gratitude:May We Be Grateful for Life’s Many Gifts
3. Transformation:May We Be Transformed into Our Highest Potential
4. Intention:May We Be Loving and Compassionate
5. Mindfulness:May We Be Mindful Through Our Breathing
6. Wisdom:May We Become Wise Through Our Meditation
7. Service:May We Be in Service to All”

Edward W. Bastian

Ed Bastian holds a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies and has been a Trustee for the URI Global Council, President of the Interfaith Initiative of Santa Barbara, and the founding President of the Spiritual Paths Foundation He developed InterSpiritual Meditation and Mandala Process after forty years of research, study, and teaching, especially during the past two decades, with over fifty esteemed teachers from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, and Native American traditions. He is the award winning author of Living Fully Dying Well, author of InterSpiritual Meditation, Mandala: A Process for Creating an Authentic Spiritual Path, Meditations for InterSpiritual Wisdom, and producer documentaries on religion for the BBC and PBS. He is the former co-director of the Forum on BioDiversity for the Smithsonian and National Academy of Sciences, teacher of Buddhism and world religions at the Smithsonian, an internet entrepreneur, and translator of Buddhism scriptures from Tibetan into English. He is on the faculty of Antioch University and has led programs at the Chaplaincy Institute, One Spirit Interfaith, and numerous other retreat centers throughout North America.

Encountering the Divine: Head/Heart Appraoch

Wednesday & Friday

The teachings of R’ Kalonymous Kalman Shapira (1889-1943) have brought much needed soul nourishment to Jews and non-Jews alike around the world for decades, and are currently becoming increasingly popular. As we encounter heightened uncertainty and insecurity, his voice resonates ever more deeply with us.

Referred more commonly as the Piaseczner Rebbe, he was a passionate educator and spiritual innovator. The scion of prominent Chasidic lineages in Poland, the Piaseczner’s teachings and meditation practices are devoted to a profoundly holistic approach to the spiritual life and the cultivation of closeness with the Divine spirit within each one of us. 

Head Approach (Wednesday)

“Head Approach” offering for Wed, 21 APR, 6:00 – 7:15am PST – teaching followed by guided practice.

“Quieting the Mind” – a four-step meditation technique originally taught in Warsaw shortly before the Holocaust. This technique relies on the idea from the Talmud that a person’s dream is one sixtieth of prophecy; the path of prophecy manifests a direct, immanent and personal experience with the Divine. “Quieting the Mind” allows the practitioner, through quietude, to enter the sacred space of “sleeping while awake.”

Heart Approach (Friday)

“Heart Approach” offering for Fri, 23 APR, 6:00 – 7:15am PST – teaching followed by guided practice.

“Opening the Heart” – Cultivating the practice of emotional liveliness and vitality, whether of passionate joy or of a broken heart. When moving from a dulled heart to a broken heart one can then ease towards an open heart, where each awakening serves as a key to opening the gate to one’s soul – each feeling purifies a person’s consciousness and then transcends the limited sense of self to the higher and expanded sense of self. With compassion, gentleness and non-judgmentalism, we learn how to gaze and reflect on that which is occurring within.

Yiscah Smith

Yiscah Smith is a spiritual activist, educator, mentor, and meditation guide, who addresses the spiritual practice of encountering the Divine spark within — the foundation of authentic living. In fact, Yiscah views Judaism as a spiritual practice.

She relies on Jewish spiritual teachings to inform and uplift her students and audiences, acting as a compass, gently guiding them to their unique inner selves. As a spiritual trailblazer, Yiscah exemplifies what it means to carve one’s own path, as she has grappled with the entanglements at the intersection of her spirituality, Jewish tradition and passionate desire to live a life of authenticity. Encouraging, ennobling and empowering others to carve their own paths and to cultivate the integrity to remain faithful to their unique paths is indeed her passion and inner calling.

Yiscah teaches Jewish contemplative practice and spiritual texts at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and at Applied Jewish Spirituality. She has also founded and directs Conscious Community Nachlaot, an organization in Jerusalem that hosts Shabbat in-person spiritual gatherings, virtual guided meditation sits and spiritual text classes. In addition Yiscah works with individuals in her private spiritual mentoring practice. Yiscah has earned a reputation as a sought-after inspiring international public speaker.

Morning Centering Prayer

Wednesday & Friday

Centering prayer has become widespread in many religious circles as a non-discursive contemplative practice. It is a simple way to rest in God. It is a prayer of surrender inspired by the teachings of Saint John of the Cross and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing. Fr. Thomas Keating described it as heartfulness rather than mindfulness. It is a contemplative practice that allows for a more profound knowledge of God and self to grow in faith and serve others move freely and fully. 

Daniel Renaud

Fr. Daniel Renaud, OMI, is a priest, religious and itinerant preacher with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate of the US province. He ministers from the Oblate School of Theology (OST) campus in San Antonio, Texas. Fr. Renaud has degrees and training in drama education, theology, pastoral ministry, and psychodrama. He is a Certified Spiritual Director from Creighton University and a Spiritual Directors International member, and in current training for certification in dreamwork with The Haden Institute, North Carolina. Fr. Renaud has preached retreats to priests, deacons, religious and laypeople in Canada, the US, and Asia on various topics such as desire and spiritual intimacy, 12 steps recovery, Ignatian spirituality & Jungian psychology, and ecological conversion. Fr. Renaud is adjunct faculty at OST and is a frequent blog contributor. His areas of interest are resilience and trauma recovery, dreamwork and spiritual growth, and contemplative practices and mysticism.

For more details see

Sacred Morning Voice

Wednesday & Friday

When we listen to our own embodied voice, we come into connection with our unique and specific incarnation of spirit. Our voice transforms corporeal experience into transcendent experience. Sharing our voice with our surroundings, we create a living system of song that we can lovingly tend with presence and awareness. 

Drawing on vocalization techniques from devised performance lineages and sacred singing practices, Beloved Sara will guide the group through a meditative exploration of the voice within the body, encouraging connection with the living systems that each participant finds themselves in, and sharing practices towards tending the songs that are co-created by the human and more-than-human world.

Photo Credit: Dimitris Lambridis

Sara Zaltash

Beloved Sara Zaltash is British-Iranian artist, astrologer and spiritual practitioner, Fellow of the Schumacher Institute and Associate Fellow of St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. They are internationally acclaimed for their contributions to Extinction Rebellion and for their inclusive adaptation of the Islamic adhan, which they have offered as an act of sacred activism in radical contexts all over the world since 2012.

“Those hushed minutes of impassioned chanting reminded us of our shared faiths, and the possibility of spiritual harmony.” —Haaretz

Zen Meditation

Wednesday & Friday

Silent Zen meditation: take a seat planting one’s tailbone deep into mother earth and beyond, breathe slow whole breaths, gently and attentively listen to the symphony of now, wait and watch for any insights that spontaneously arise. We will begin a 25 minute sit with four bells and conclude with one, take a two minute stretch break, and begin the second 25 minute sit.

Genjo Marinello

Genjo Marinello Roshi began his Zen training in 1975. He moved to Seattle in 1976 to serve as a VISTA community organizer in the central district of the city. In 1980 Genjo was ordained as a Zen monk, and in 1981-82 trained in Japan at the Zen temple Ryutaku-Ji. In 1999 Genjo succeeded Genki Takabayashi Roshi as the second abbot of the Seattle Zen temple, Chobo-Ji, and became a Dharma Heir in his lineage of Rinzai Zen in 2008. Genjo has been a member of the University Friends Meeting (Quakers) since 1983. In 1989, Genjo completed a certificate program in Spiritual Direction (The Pacific Jubilee Program) and he is also a psychotherapist in private practice. For several years Genjo was the volunteer Buddhist pastor of the Twin Rivers Correction Center in Monroe Washington and has served as adjunct faculty at the Seattle campus of Antioch University.

Connecting with Nature's Wisdom through Poetry, Meditation and Journaling

Thursday & Saturday

For this morning practice we will connect to the wisdom of nature through poetry and then ground ourselves with a gentle guided meditation. To explore the insights of our practice more deeply we will journal and then close our morning session with a time for sharing with one another. Connecting with the wisdom of Mother Earth allows us the opportunity to be present with ourselves and those around us creating a sacred space in which to begin our day.

Shannon Sullivan

Shannon Sullivan earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Arizona in May 1995. As a Certified Spiritual Director, Licensed Massage Therapist, Meditation teacher and Creative Writer, Shannon combines her passion for the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual worlds into her everyday life in Tucson, AZ. She has been facilitating eco-spiritual workshops for the past four years through Insight Timer, St. Francis in the Foothills UMC, Spiritual Directors International and Chautauqua Institution of New York.

Gentle Morning Yoga + Qi Gong

Thursday & Saturday

Come find deep embodied presence, relaxation, and rooted, wakeful energy through gentle yoga, mindful movement, and nourishing qi gong.  Moving our bodies in rhythm with our breath and with the natural energies supporting us, we will find stillness within flow and silence within sound.  This practice will be gentle, awakening, balancing, and grounding.  All are welcome.  Please come with a yoga mat or blanket to practice on, a pillow/bolster/blanket for support, and a chair or cushion to sit on for meditation.
Lizzie Salsich

Lizzie Salsich

Lizzie Salsich is a community builder and spiritual practitioner in her home of St. Louis, MO.  She is heavily formed by and trained in a number of body-and-earth-based sacred practices and enjoys sharing these practices with her communities.  She currently facilitates SDI’s New Contemplatives Initiative and enjoys growing with SDI into a more multigenerational, multicultural, and multispiritual community.

Authentic Movement and the Sacred Body

Thursday & Saturday

Authentic Movement is an embodied practice moved with eyes closed in the presence of a witness. We listen for Divine Presence and let ourselves be moved by the sensations and impulses that arise. This is a practice done in silence in safe, sacred space. We invite the healing of our inner witnesses to literally and figuratively move from judgment and criticism to compassion and wonder. Come as you are. Leave as you will be. No experience necessary to join us.

Julie Leavitt

Julie Leavitt is a body centered psychotherapist and spiritual director in private practice. She has taught dance/movement therapy at Lesley University for almost 30 years. IN 2014, Julie received her DMin at Graduate Theological Foundation in Jewish Spiritual Direction. She received the Samuel Cohen Prize for excellence. Julie was a doula for many years, present at the birth of many babies. She has officiated at weddings, baby naming ceremonies, funerals, and various life cycle passages. Julie was invited to be a part of the teaching team of Lev Shomea, a training program for Jewish spiritual direction where she was trained. She helped train three cohorts of students with her beloved colleagues. She is a part of the original team of spiritual directors with Ikvotecha, Spiritual Directors of Hebrew College Rabbinical School in Newton, MA since 2005 and also offers spiritual direction at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, OH. She is a practitioner of Authentic Movement, a form of Movement Meditation. This is where she has learned, by experience and practice, about the deep spiritual Presence possible to connect with through the body, in sacred connection with others. Julie has taught Authentic Movement in a Spiritual Context throughout the country. She performed her dance piece, Imagining Talmud, June 2016. She is a performing artist with Selmadanse and Back Pocket Dancers in Boston, MA

Mindfulness Meditation

Thursday & Saturday

Description forthcoming

Sean Murphy