MahaSati 2020 – 2023 Training
The MahaSati training offered by Heather has gifted me with greater presence in mind, body, and heart and, to my surprise, has helped reorient the way I experience the world and myself. Responsible for all this is, in part, the format of the program – a two-year-long exposure to teachings, ongoing and consistent, integrated and gradual, in a variety of awareness, embodiment, concentration, heart, and energy practices – but much of the credit rests upon Heather’s teaching skills. She is a devoted and caring teacher, reflecting her educator background, who variously instructs, challenges, inspires, and consoles, all providing an environment conducive to deepening practice. Signing on for MahaSati with Heather is one of the pivotal steps I have taken in my contemplative career.
~ Randy, Portland, OR
MahaSati reflects the Mahayana influence that pervades the Thai Forest tradition. Building on a solid base of mindfulness practice, it expands to include a deep understanding of emptiness and not-self, expanding beyond understanding to direct experience, and ultimate release into “the peace that passes understanding.”
The MahaSati training offers the rare opportunity to have an ongoing , one-to-one -relationship with a skilled and generous teacher. Heather has much of value to offer, based on her own longstanding and deep practice, and she shares her knowledge and experience with wisdom, generosity and heart.
~ Diana, CA
Learning Mahasati from Heather has supercharged my Buddhist practice, allowing me to find more small moments of peace in daily life. For me, the best part of the program is having Heather as a long-term teacher, and the best part of that is our monthly phone checkins. Heather’s warm and supportive listening skills and her insightful customized practice suggestions are a constant source of inspiration and motivation for me and a real boost to my practice. In addition, Heather’s expertise with compassion has been invaluable in helping me to accept and release habitual self-judgments. I love the specific teachings and techniques of Mahasati and the Thai Forest lineage too, especially the focus on the path to awakening and frequent grounding in the body and heart. For the first year and a half of the training I struggled to figure out exactly what Mahasati is and how “I” was doing at it. In retrospect, I think that was just part of my own path. Now it feels like Mahasati has opened up and connected to all of the core teachings in Buddhism. I love it!
~ Tom, NV
I started the MahaSati practice with Heather in 2020 and I am so grateful. Rather than homogenize teachings from a smorgasbord of traditions, Heather is teaching within a lineage. This has brought so much coherence and clarity to the practice. Heather is so authentic and brings so much heart to the teachings, she is truly inspiring. She really gets to know you and your practice. The benefit of continuity with one guiding teacher is enormous. Practicing MahaSati has led to a deepening of practice, an opening of awareness, and increased wisdom. There is so much more ease and equanimity in daily life. I have seen and experienced a degree of untangling that I wasn’t sure was possible before engaging in this practice. The path is clear, and I am on it.
~ Cill, WA
After years of reading meditation books and signing up for the occasional retreat, my practice was beginning to feel a bit stagnant. When I stumbled upon Heather I was immediately taken by the depth of her teachings and knew I had found someone to work with. Heather has provided me the support and encouragement to move from my concentration-heavy approach to a more awareness-based practice. The result has been more openness, spaciousness, heartfulness and, of course, insight. Less conceptual and more embodied, I have developed a trust in my practice that had previously been lacking. Her guidance has been invaluable on my journey and I look forward to continuing with her and our dedicated sangha as we traverse deeper into the terrain of MahaSati.
~ Chris, Seattle, WA
Heather’s MahaSati training makes me think of the poem about the thread that runs through all aspects of one’s spiritual life . In my life that thread has taken on many forms: different martial arts and yogas, Qigong, therapies, recovery from addiction, somatic experiencing and a number of meditation techniques. MahaSati practice offers me a unified framework that holds all of these modalities of growth. And with that comes a sense of ease and refuge. I increasingly return to Heather’s question: is there anything that can’t be held in the field of pure awareness? It provides a growing sense of serenity in the midst of whatever arises.
 The Way It Is, William Stafford
~ Charlie, CA
I have been a dedicated vipassana meditator for more than fifteen years and I have sat with at least a dozen teachers through more retreats than I can count over those years. Yet I have grown more and dug deeper in the past two years engaging with MahaSati and learning from Heather than from all the years before. The MahaSati curriculum is a coherent multiyear progression of Heather’s teachings beautifully organized in the form of dharma talks, guided meditations, meditation practices, and readings that guide the meditator through the important issues of the practice. The value to me of this long-term focus has been immense. It means I have been able to really wrestle with the issues that matter, coming back to them time and time again to build a real understanding. It has been a real luxury to work long term with a guiding teacher I can meet with monthly, who has come to know my progress on the dharma path. That continuity has enabled me to make progress on many issues that have in the past derailed my practice. The best part of it all is the deep knowledge and the boundless compassion Heather brings to her students, based on a lifetime of experience for the reality of meditation practice, for what really happens when you shut your eyes and open your heart to all the fears and pains, joys and insights we struggle with on this path. I feel very fortunate indeed to have found the MahaSati program.
~ Bob, WA
Following a spiritual path flourishes with the support of community and Heather Sundberg not only brings her extraordinary teaching skills to this MahaSati training, but fosters community with a class cohort as well as with small groups that meet at least monthly. These have both been invaluable to me. The Thai Forest tradition informs Heather’s teachings, which she shares with the wisdom that comes from her decades of commitment to meditation practice. It can be a lonely road, dismantling and unlearning cultural hoodwinks as we begin to develop the skills to see clearly, to awaken. The MahaSati training that Heather offers is a compassionate and professional vehicle.
~ Jan, Seattle, WA
When I first met Heather I was drawn to her warmth, honesty, humor, and compassion. Over the years I have come to appreciate her integrity, wisdom, depth of knowledge, and her commitment to her students and the practice. During our monthly 1 on 1 sessions, I don’t have to pretend to be “spiritual.” I can be my regular old messy self. She gets me, and my mode of suffering, because suffering is universal, and she’s been there herself. I can stop trying so hard and “trust in the unfolding” of this good heart. As a trained educator, Heather is aware of various learning styles, and teaches in a manner that offers something for everyone. For me, living the practice is what it’s all about. I have found myself, during very trying life circumstances, relying on the tools she has taught us,and opening up to greater awareness in more mundane situations. I feel privileged to have Heather as my teacher, and the support of my fellow travellers on this path.
~ Trish, WA
MahaSati 2022 – 2023 Training
Mahasati training with Heather has been an incredible boon to my meditative practice. The pure awareness techniques provide additional tools in the toolkit that supplement insight meditation in a really profound way. Heather is deeply committed to her students and this lineage of practice which comes through in her transmission of the teachings and care for students. Having a long term relationship with a teacher such as Heather is also a great way to have confidence in the roadmap of practice growth. She is truly an inspiring guide and teacher. In short, I’m so grateful I get to be part of this training and the Mahasati community with Heather!
~ Wes, NV
This MahaSati training is invaluable to develop trust in the teachings, the teacher, in yourself and your own practice which is the foundation to deepening your own practice. Since is based on relations you don’t have to stand on blind trust. It’s instead something that’s thrives with time as the training goes on. For me the keyword in this MahaSati training is relations which leads to trust in the teachings and in life itself.
~ Christina, Stockholm, Sweden
I’m so glad I joined the MahaSati training program with Heather! Not only is she a wonderful teacher who really takes great care transmitting the teachings and respecting the Thai Forest lineage, but she’s a genuinely caring person who really wants to make sure you succeed and understand the material. I’ve found the individual, small group, and larger group support to be invaluable as well, all of which has been wonderfully incorporated into the rest of the program. The program itself doesn’t move so fast that it requires a significant commitment from your life, but also gives you plenty to explore so you feel like there’s great value. You’ll have plenty to learn and play with! That being said, I think the most valuable aspect of this training program has been the way MahaSati weaves so many areas of practice together, along with the open-awareness practices that make it so unique. It’s a vast terrain that has the depth and mileage to support both deeper phases of practice like on retreat, and more supportive and relaxed phases of practice like in daily life.
~ Nathaniel, AR
Heather is an inspiring, skilled, and eloquent teacher. Her warmth and generosity shine in her sessions. I have a feeling of “coming home” as I practice her Mahasati curriculum that highlights the body (with lots of practical nervous system practices), samadhi, and awareness. Because of her personal biography, I deeply trust her interpretation of the Dharma. She has a delightful sense of humor and uses her varied life experiences as teaching examples. I am so glad I took the plunge and committed myself to her 2-year program.
~ Karen, VT
As a new 2022-2024 Mahasati student I can attest that my spiritual growth has benefitted greatly under Heather’s guidance. In August I experienced what was actually my third weeklong MahaSati retreat with her. On day 5 during her guided meditation I opened into a gentle “Resting in the Knowing “ experience, an opening into Awareness beyond relative world object identity. This continued in meditation sessions during and after the retreat. She prepared me for mild temporary, ego states vacillating between joyful highs and fear based doubt. Her skillful tools helped me quickly ground and comfort myself and gain several insights. Heather had proactively prepared me for post retreat integration. Under her tutelage I realized these states of mind were merely my small self wanting control over a new landscape. I am happier and more confident in my new refuge – a source health and wisdom coming from within myself. I am coming home to myself.
~ Sedna, MN
It has been said that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. I have found this statement to be entirely accurate and the teacher has appeared. Heather is a very experienced Dharma teacher who takes your strengths and transforms them into deep Dharma teachings. Through her wonderful guidance I have experienced many profound insights that have been life-changing in who I think I am and how the world is. The program is simple but profound and I would strongly encourage anybody who was interested in experiencing the Dharma to commit to this wonderful teacher and program.
~ Steve, CO
I had no idea what MahaSati really was, but I trust Heather as a teacher so I embarked on the 2-year journey. And wow, I’ve never looked back! I’ve been a meditator for many years, and thought I understood the concepts I’d learned over the years from other teachers. But during the MahaSati retreats, I had so many insights, and I realized I needed a teacher like Heather to really understand what I had learned over the years. I highly recommend the MahaSati training if you are looking for a deeper understanding of awareness and how that can benefit your everyday life!
~ Natasha, CA
I have known Heather for a few years already. I met her at a Jhana retreat that Leigh Brasington and her were co-teaching before the covid-19 pandemic. I found her teachings about pure awareness and emptiness clear and inspiring. I was very happy to hear more about these two aspects of practice that I thought were somewhat underexplored in the Theravadan tradition. It made me curious about her teaching program and I was pleased to be able to join it. Heather is a decades-long, experienced Dhamma practitioner and teacher, deeply rooted in the Forest Theravadan tradition as taught at Spirit Rock and in Thailand. Practice and teaching are and have been her entire life. She uses the body and body practices as a vehicle to open up to and ease into pure awareness/emptiness, coined Mahasati by her root teacher, Luong Por Jumnien. Over the years, she developed a rich multi-faceted teaching program, also informed by Tibetan Buddhism, that I am currently following. She is a very kind and caring teacher who will follow you and your practice attentively through individual conversations and group retreats, making sure that she understands where you are at and what next steps may suit you best. Very few teachers in the Theravada tradition offer this kind of personalized follow-up. Heather is actually the only one I know. I would wholeheartedly recommend her program if this approach to the Dhamma appeals to you!
~ Michel, Seattle, WA
As a long time meditator who has not worked closely with a teacher before, Mahasati practice with Heather has been a wonderful training and practice. Working with a group as well as with Heather one on one is allowing me to deepen my practice and engage with Buddhism more actively, with more focus. I’m very grateful and excited about what further Mahasati practice and teachings will bring!
~ Alma, CA
The training? Profound. Life-changing. Healing.
Heather? Inspired. Dedicated. Knowledgeable. Caring.
She includes a broad range of written and audio resources as well as somatic practices that foster calm and access to Pure Knowing.
~ Carolyn, NC
MahaSati 2016 – 2023 Training
Heather is a profoundly dedicated, ardent and supportive teacher. She is that rare breed who is available and interested in the deep experience of the practitioner as an individual. Mahasati, as Heather teaches it, is a training that opens many doors in the mind, the heart and the body. Her steadfast encouragement is to enter the subtlest domains of experience so that “Nothing is left out”. This inclusion of all that arises in the mind, the body and the heart has helped me to develop a grounded trust in my practice, allowing everything that is known to become a doorway into pure awareness, wisdom and clarity. This breadth, this depth, this generous and open invitation, is the very heart of Mahasati training to me, and I am deeply grateful for it.
~ Vivienne, CA
The MahaSati training has provided a map for insight practice, which helps me find landmarks and understanding where I am at any given time along the terrain. Working with Heather has been just what my system needed, her consistent, inclusive and wise leadership encourages me to be my own teacher, to collect and settle my mind in order to wake up to the wisdom inside. She’s supported this process with extraordinarily helpful reading resources, recordings of teachings and one-on-one sessions. For the first time in my decades of practice, I feel truly supported and held in community and wisdom.
~ Claire, WA
Heather Sundberg has been my guiding teacher since 2012. She began to transmit the lineage of MahaSati in 2013 and my life has changed forever. It is difficult to describe MahaSati because it is a different journey for everyone who studies it. One cannot separate the teachings of MahaSati from Heather. Heather’s teaching of MahaSati is the message and the two cannot be separated. MahaSati is more than just perception, it is a way of being that leads to the release of our deepest conditioning and behaviors. It is opening the door to awareness and wisdom in everything we sense through our bodies and minds. An integral part of the MahaSati journey is paying attention to our energetic states to help cultivate awareness on a consistent basis. All of this has helped to bring a sense of ease and equanimity that makes life so interesting! MahaSati is all-encompassing, pragmatic and mystical! Awakening is possible—now!
~ Brad, CA
The power of the MahaSati training is the continuity of commitment from our Teacher, our Sangha, and from myself. Heather provides clarity of teaching, a deep heart, and an intimate connection with her students. Her commitment is felt and reflected in our dedication to our evolving practices. The support and sharing from the Sangha feels like an embrace of an old friend. So comforting, so kind, and so encouraging. The truth of the Dharma is the guiding light of the practice, but the commitment and strength derived from this community has allowed me to trust my process and grow exponentially in wholeness.
~ Angela, NV
I feel that the common thread across all religions is the desire to live a life with integrity. And I feel that integrity is a very rare quality indeed, even in Buddhist circles! We all have shadow sides that we would simply rather avoid than face, and thus we continue to cause harm to ourselves and others. For me, I find Heather’s flavor of awareness practice to be the best antidote I have found. She’s not perfect herself–she’ll be the first to say that–but she does provide, for me, an excellent example of how to face life with integrity, that I haven’t found in any other teacher, and she knows what practices to teach in order to sustain others on the path. It has been an awesome experience for me. ~ Amanda, CA