MahaSati Empty Essence of Mind/Pure Awareness Training
“The invitation of the MahaSati journey is self-empowering, allowing each student of the dharma to discover and explore their own authentic direct experience of deepening pure awareness and wisdom – with the voices of the community cheering them on – encouraging them to express and manifest what they are discovering.” Heather Sundberg, teacher
This 2 Year+ Individualized Training for is for the dharma practitioner who is on long-term quest to uncover the freedom of their own authentic expression in the dharma. The MahaSati Training offers you the opportunity (within your individual life circumstances) to develop more commitment and continuity on your path of awakening, within the intimacy of a small community and the teacher-student relationship. Supporting you to make the teachings and practices more fully your own, within an interactive learning community, to deepen your access to awakening.
Thai Forest Tradition Lineage
Teacher Support Long-Term
Small Community of Experienced Practitioners
Psychologically Mature, Embodied
“In the reflection of being seen and supported long-term by their teacher and peers, I see ardent students of the dharma blossom, finding their own language and voice for their unique experience of the dharma, as well as developing fuller confidence in themselves as practitioners and in the promises of the spiritual journey itself.” Heather Sundberg, teacher
“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 – MahaSati 2016 Training
The MahaSati Essence of Mind/Pure Awareness Training
Skill Building, Continuity of Training, Connection and Support
Meditation Skill Building
Bringing the Foundational MahaSati teachings and practices together into comprehensive long-term practice path, allowing a development of maturing practice, which points directly to freedom.
- Deepen your experience of embodiment to support seeing clearly and letting go (1stFoundation of Mindfulness)
- Mindfulness of the Nervous System:
- Learn to ground and discharge reactivity in the nervous system
- Increase your capacity to settle and collect the mind, which provides power and balance to clear seeing. Additionally, optional training in jhana practice is offered.
- Access to Pure Awareness/Essence of Mind:
- Discover the techniques of doorways into Pure Awareness, informed by the Thai Forest Tradition (MahaSati)
- Energy Practice:
- Develop a relationship with Energy, the expressions of energy in body and mind and the skillful ways to use energy to balance and support deepening access to Pure Awareness (MahaSati).
- Re-orient the mind to see and respond from the lens of the truths of the Three Characteristics, Impermanence, Unsatisfactoriness, and Not Self. Deepen further into the Three Subtle Characteristics of Emptiness, Suchness, and the Nondual.
- Transforming Reactivity:
- Recognize, include and release reactive habit patterns, such as the flavors of greed, aversion and delusion, which prevent you from experiencing fullness of freedom in life.
- Letting Go and Release:
- Increasing familiarity with the direct experience of letting go and release at different levels, both as a development and a result of deepening practice.
- Heart Practices:
- Balance the awakening qualities of heart (lovingkindness, compassion, joy, equanimity) with Pure Awareness (MahaSati).
- Maturing into Pure Awareness/Essence of Mind:
- As we integrate and stabilize the deepening access to awareness and insight, we become ever-more familiar with the many of the beautiful qualities of Pure Awareness (MahaSati).
- Including but not limited to: Emptiness, suchness, spaciousness, timelessness, inclusivity, and mature equanimity.
“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 four-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, OR – MahaSati 2020 Training
Supporting Continuity in a Maturing Dharma Practice
MahaSati is both a practical and intuitive training, inspired and designed to support you to develop a relationship with ‘the mystic in you.’
- Cycles on the Spiritual Path:
- Identify and support different cycles on the spiritual path.
- Including: Skill building, Learning to balance qualities in meditation, Working with difficulties, Experiences of insight and awakening, Integration and living the insights
- Removing Obstacles and Confusions:
- Recognize and transform obvious and subtle places in your meditation and dharma practice which have been chronically stuck or confused.
- Possibilities include: A teaching which is confusing to you, an aspect of practice such as concentration or embodiment, a difficult prior experience in your practice, a subtle misunderstanding in practicing with emptiness etc.
- Explore the suttas from the Pali Cannon which support MahaSati practice and point towards awakening
- Learn to study traditional teachings in a way which supports your direct experience in practice.
- Creatively originate your own appropriate language, metaphors and practice techniques for the teachings.
- Maintaining Balance:
- Cultivate a mature discernment of how the different teachings and practice techniques balance and support the growth of transformation and freedom in direct experience.
- Maturing View of Practice:
- Understand some of the difficulties and gifts which can arise in a long-term maturing spiritual journey
- Developing Confidence:
- Develop confidence in yourself as a practitioner, as well as confidence in the promises of the spiritual journey itself.
- Cultivating Qualities for Long-Term Spiritual Work:
- Increase a sense of Inspiration, Courage and Patience for spiritual work.
- Being willing to more fully open to the possibility that freedom is indeed possible, in this very life. Exploring maps of awakening. Developing the understanding and tools to integrate deep insights and awakenenings over time.
“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 – MahaSati 2020 Training
Growing Connection and Support
Long-term connection and ongoing conversation with others is imperative to cultivate many of the needed spiritual capacities needed to live our deepest dharma understanding in this world.
- Deepen your trust in the spiritual journey, in yourself, in others, and in the world.
- The Gift of Making a Commitment:
- Experience the sense of fulfillment of manifesting a long-term dharma commitment, with others.
- Teacher Guidance:
- Experience the guidance of a teacher who is committed to supporting your long-term spiritual development in a self-empowering way.
- Continuity of Exploration:
- Be supported to embark on long-term explorations in areas of interest in theory, meditation, or daily living on the spiritual path.
- Dharma Friendships and Sharing:
- Grow meaningful dharma friendships over time with others who are drawn to taking their practice ‘to another level’.
- May include: Opportunities to dialog about practice in daily life, ask questions, clear confusions and doubts, share vulnerabilities, work with troublesome interpersonal habit patterns with more Wisdom Awareness, ongoing conversations on particular topics of interest (Ex: Mahasati in family life, activism, creativity, 12 step work), and more.
- Learning to Communicate from Direct Experience:
- Cultivate the confidence, heartfulness and skills to communicate about direct experience with others.
- Fostering the capacities of non-judgment, openness to a range of experience, listening skills, resting in vulnerability, courage, patience, identifying and releasing the ways we unconsciously present ourselves and play roles, and more.
- Celebration of Spiritual Work and Growth:
- Celebrating shared experience and personal/spiritual growth together over time.
“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 – MahaSati 2016 Training
** Please note: The MahaSati Training can be interwoven with many other modalities of spiritual/social work as part of your daily life practice, including psychological explorations, diversity training, service work, family practice, creative expression, activism and more. However the training itself focuses on the meditative path and is grounded in and influenced by the teachings and practices of the Thai Forest Tradition.
** In addition, the MahaSati Training is Not a teacher training.
Heather does not train or authorize teachers in the MahaSati Lineage and
asks that those who teach who participate in the Training commit to not teaching MahaSati,
out of respect for the depth and length of training required to teach the more advanced practices.
“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 – MahaSati 2022 Training