‘Working with Rosa – An Imaginal Journey of the Heart’
“Working with Rosa as a teacher means a lot more than just having a chat about meditation techniques. A LOT more. Rosa is a teacher of the heart, as the Leonard Cohen song goes. A teacher of being. We’re friends and co-adventurers. But also, and importantly I think, she’s my teacher. Rosa’s depth of practice, or to describe it more accurately, depth of humanity and wisdom, is palpable. You can feel that she’s an open heart, born from great insight into suffering. Because of this, I feel like nothing is out of bounds for shared investigation – everything is welcome. Together, we are exploring the depths of suffering, the heights of joy and playfulness, and the furthest reaches of the imagination. All of this leads to great, embodied and lived-in openings and insights. Also, we spend a lot of time just laughing our asses off!
We’ve explored Rob Burbea’s notion of the imaginal in my meditation group the Dharmaragarage. Briefly stated, imaginal practice can be described as a kind of fully embodied engagement with story, with imagination, with archetype – from a stance of ‘creation-discovery’ – participation in creative processes where the imaginal is held more lightly than either ‘true or untrue’. The imaginal can be said to become ‘emotionally true’, like the truth of an intense dream perhaps. This imaginal practice has been extremely interesting to play around with. But Rosa really lives in the realm of the archetypical and imaginal, and she connects this with a deep understanding of heartful, embodied practice. As someone with a fairly long history of practice in zen and with techniques like vipassana and shamatha, diving into imaginal practice with Rosa has been an absolutely wonderful new direction.
For as long as I can remember, my imagination has been a very prominent force in my life. It’s what I use to do my job – as a researcher on how people imagine futures and how these imagined futures impact the present. I have also been a practicing meditator for around 20 years, with increasing depth and commitment to practice emerging over the years. However, I’d never really engaged imaginative forms of practice outside a few therapy sessions. To be able to use my rather overcharged imagination in practice, in an embodied, heartful manner to explore the full dimensionality of the human experience under Rosa’s guidance has been excellent and liberating in a number of new ways. It is transforming my relationships, the way I dream and sleep, and, in terms of practice, how I understand techniques like shamatha and the use of koans.
More generally, Rosa is able to listen, feel along with, and reflect on so many aspects of practice and life and emerging insights, and she always has interesting new ways of looking for me to experiment with. She’s honest about the difficult and dark sides of life and practice. With Rosa, I can really find the space for a kind of adventurous ‘everything is possible’ attitude. Right now, we’re discussing a number of directions in which to go to investigate and challenge my fundamental assumptions about and experiences of time. I can’t wait to see where this will take us.
Though I’d consider myself a fairly experienced practitioner, I’ve seen Rosa work with people who are just starting the path of practice, and she’s accessible for and great with people coming from all experiences and perspectives. I’d say do yourself a favor and go on an imaginal journey of the heart with her.”