Online Meditation Retreats

Saturday mornings practicing with an online community of meditators under Jack Risk's leadership

For persons who have previously been trained in meditation by Jack Risk

Date of Next Retreat:
Saturday, April 27, 2019
8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (Central)

Three Hours of Community Practice

Typical Schedule (times are Central Time)

  • 8:15 Log on
  • 8:30 Welcome and introduction
  • Teaching by Jack (15 minutes)
  • Qigong (20 minutes)
  • Meditation (45 minutes)
  • 15 minute break
  • Qigong (20 minutes)
  • Meditation (45 minutes)
  • Discussion (10 minutes)
  • 11:30 Close

How to Take Part

  • Register with Jack ahead of time.
  • Log onto the session a few minutes before the start time by pressing the button below.
  • No charge but dana is practiced.

Click this button to join the online session

click to join session

Get Yourself Ready

  • Try to meditate every day for at least a week leading up to the retreat
  • Read over any materials provided for the retreat
  • Technical:
    • Highspeed internet access and valid email account
    • A device capable of processing HD video
  • Good to have:
    • Quiet, undisturbed space
    • Enough space to do qigong
    • Chair or cushions for seated meditation
    • Water, thermos of tea etc.

Why a Half-Day Retreat?

A concentrated period of practice will pay off in increased skill, a quieter mind, reduced karma. A half-day is a small commitment of time and can make a big difference in moving your practice forward. Practice requires practice.

  • Reinvigorate your meditation
  • Expand your ability and willingness
  • Learn from others
  • Derive encouragement from the group experience
  • Enjoy a peaceful morning

Retreat Resources and Outcomes

Online Meditation Retreat, 27-Apr-19 Bodhidharma's Two Gates of Practice

Click on the link below to open the slide presentation from the retreat.

Online Meditation Retreat, 26-Jan-19 The Meaning of Suffering

Click on the link below to open the slide presentation from the retreat.

Online Meditation Retreat, 27-Oct-18 In Praise of Zazen

Click on the link below to open the slide presentation from the retreat. This presentation contains the slimmed-down notes on Hakuin's Zazen Wasan

Click on the next link to open the larger commentary by Jack Risk on Hakuin's Zazen Wasan

Cultivating Quiescence, July 2017

Click on the link below to open the slides from the retreat on Cultivaging Quiescence that was held in Winnipeg July 21 and 22, 2017.

In this retreat I am well aware that I was presenting a lot of material and that some of it was a bit complicated. However, my attitude was that I might not get another chance to work with the people in Winnipeg and I wanted to leave them with principles that would stand them in good stead.

The section on the benefits of meditation ought to provide you with some motivation. Don’t turn these into goals or you will short circuit your meditation by striving to attain something, i.e. letting your meditation be steered by desire and willfulness. Just keep meditating.

Stability and clarity are the criteria against which to evaluate your meditation. You need both.

The concepts of laxity and excitation provide you with tools to work with in your meditation. Meditation is a matter of balance — as soon as you veer off course in either direction you are in for trouble. Of course, we all do on a regular basis but it doesn’t take much to recognize that this is where we are falling short. If you are able, for a while, to maintain the point of balance between laxity and excitation, you will almost certainly notice the sorts of things that can happen in that meditative state. As well, you will be helped to make quick progress in your practice.

The list of the nine stages of progress in meditation is the work of scholars in a university setting — Buddhist universities in which thousands of students practiced on a daily basis. As such, it is hair-splittingly precise. Please, don’t waste much time trying to fit yourself into the list. But it is good to look it over on an occasional basis to see whether and where you are making progress.

Almost all of what is in our minds is karma — the accumulation of experience and memory. Thoughts and emotions arise on a continual basis and are fuelled by karma. Virtually always, they are problematic and unhelpful. They keep us rooted in the past. The best thing to do is to get out of them. This allows the healing process to take place unfettered. It also permits the underlying goodness of our natures (buddhanature; prevenient grace for Christians) to emerge and for our lives to be changed by it. To get out of thoughts and emotions learn to hold the attention on “sheer awareness and sheer clarity of experience.” Some might call this “nothing in particular.” As the mind begins to settle down and become quieter you will be able to see more clearly the extent to which you can hold the mind in balance. Hold it in balance and pay attention only to the work of keeping it there. This is practice.

Heart Sutra Retreat, April 2016

Click on the link below to open the slides from the retreat on the Heart Sutra that was held April 29 and 30, 2016 at St. Matthew's West End Commons.

Compassion Training Workshop, February 2016

Click on the link below to open the slides from the compassion training workshop/meditation retreat that was held on February 26 and 27, 2016 at St. Matthew's West End Commons.

Outcomes of Mini-retreat, February 2014

What is Meditation For?

Responses to “What Is Meditation For?” Shared by Participants at a Meditation Mini-Retreat, 21-February-14


  • Why do I meditate?
  • What do I think meditation is for? Why is it important?
  • What does meditation do for me? What have I noticed?
  • What do I hope for from my meditation?
  • Why do I think I ought to practice more than I do?


  • To find inner peace
  • To be more relaxed
  • I feel good—physically and emotionally
  • To get rid of blockages, karma
  • It reduces my anxiety
  • It lightens the mental load
  • I am able to recognize habits, habitual thoughts
  • To quieten the internal chatterbox
  • To build presence, stay in the present moment
  • To reduce ego
  • It lowers blood pressure
  • To gain insights, solve problems
  • To think more clearly
  • I find I am able to communicate better with others and the relationships go better
  • To be more compassionate
  • I am less reactive
  • I feel more grounded
  • Life has a sense of flow, things are more fluid, I don’t worry about big decisions
  • It helps you not to want more than the Joneses, to be happy with what we have
  • It helps me be less judgmental
  • Meditation is the bridge between the physical and the spiritual worlds
  • Your vibrations are infectious, others see changes in you and they are motivated to change
  • Meditation is time for “me”
  • I want to be able to die well—calm and confident, looking forward to what's ahead of me

Some Answers from the Tradition

The linked document provides notes on:

  • Reasons to Practice
  • The Two Wings of Training in Meditation
  • How to Meditate
  • The Path of a Bodhisattva

download article

Outcomes of Weekend Meditation Retreat June 6–8, 2014

Advance Reading: Xin Xin Ming (Verses on the Faith Mind) by Sengcan

This is a classic written in the seventh century by the Third Patriarch of Chinese Chan Buddhism. You can find an interesting set of materials about the poem at http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/zen/fm/fm.htm.

download pdf

Presentation Powerpoints

You can view the slides for Jack's talks.

download pdf

Small Group Discussion Sessions

Slides to Guide Discussion

Friday Evening: What do you like best about your meditation practice?

  • calming the mind
  • sense of peace
  • relaxation of the body
  • deep breathing
  • connects mind and body
  • grounding
  • letting go of control (less need of control)
  • sense of flow, being in harmony with everything
  • more gratitude
  • more generosity
  • more empathy and understanding
  • slowed my thoughts
  • easy to do
  • group setting
  • learn more teachings
  • can do it as time permits
  • I feel better
  • vacation from the thinking mind
  • reduces tension
  • settles my mind
  • experiences of flow of energy
  • helps detach from problems
  • allows time for myself
  • more about being and less about doing
  • being with like-minded people
  • transfer being grounded to my workplace
  • gives us capacity for change—skill for healthy living
  • makes us aware of our bodies
  • helps us take charge of our health

Friday Evening: How has your meditation practice changed you or your life for the better?

  • greater clarity of mind
  • having spiritual insights
  • in the present moment
  • leave work behind
  • better focus
  • keeping calm
  • less worrying
  • less anxiety and stress
  • less depression
  • laughing easily, joy
  • helps relationships and interactions with others
  • know what's important and what isn't
  • health improvements
  • sense of wellbeing
  • made me better equipped to handle things
  • my relationships are better with my family and friends
  • let others have their own opinions without judging them from the point of view of my own beliefs
  • suchness
  • presence
  • letting things wash off you
  • mind is clearer
  • decreased anxiety
  • not zoning out, brain has been able to repair itself
  • I sleep better
  • less pain in my body
  • more patient
  • release of negative qi through the movements
  • less nervous
  • easier to stay calm
  • helps me sleep
  • more with people
  • worry less
  • helps keep blood pressure normal
  • philosophy behind it teaches me how to live a better life
  • less need for medication

Saturday Morning: Share an interesting meditation insight

  • There is only one problem and one solution in Samsara. The problem is we are disconnected from universal consciousness. The solution is to reconnect with universal consciousness. When we reconnect there is love with all that is. Meditation is the best way to reconnect.
  • the importance of connecting mind and body
  • simplicity—nothing is complicated when you are "online"
  • I store pain in the body
  • setting boundaries
  • people are unique (compassion is required)
  • pain is survivable
  • patience—the long view
  • I am willing to change
  • knew I needed to take care of me as opposed to others
  • persevering
  • it's about the mind
  • deep knowledge: needed something and found a treatment

Saturday Morning: Share a story of healing

  • greater personal flow of energy—we can replenish our energy
  • more connection with ourselves
  • I don't have to rely on others when making decisions
  • personal transformation
  • heal anxiety
  • I had stored pain my womb, ovaries, lower back etc. Went for a healing session with Jack and the following day the pain had completely vanished. I continue with the practice at home and with the groups and the tension is disappearing.
  • My coffee intake has decreased by a third without any conscious effort
  • Qigong practice has diminished my stress levels
  • I have less pain from my fibromyalgia; if an episode occurs I recover much, much more quickly
  • I am calmer—the monkey brain is settling
  • my body no longer reacts as strongly to outside issues
  • I am eating!
  • I have lowered my fibromyalgia medication
  • my body is more supple
  • relieved fear
  • more settled when stressed
  • more open to experience, being in the moment
  • focusing before a very hard job
  • my tremor is lessened
  • reconnecting neuro-pathways
  • arthritis improved, medication lessened
  • learning to focus on personal self-care

Saturday Afternoon: A difficulty in meditation encountered by members of the group

  • thoughts keep coming
  • too much scatter brain
  • headache
  • no meditation to start with: frustration
  • wanting to do it perfectly and not being successful
  • distractions
  • negative attitude
  • encountering sore back and stiffness
  • uncomfortable chair
  • how to make time
  • correct technique to avoid sore neck in seated meditation and sore knee in reclining
  • length of time in meditation—giving myself permission to stretch
  • thoughts keep coming
  • hunger
  • itchy and uncomfortable—I become hyper-sensitive
  • meditation is not taught in school
  • being a perfectionist—expectations
  • location, environment, noise
  • society's values: how to spend your time
  • teach our children to be busy
  • won't succeed at goals: waste of time
  • organization of time: excuses, not making it a priority
  • we don't consider getting together to practice
  • pain and depression
  • finding qualified teachers
  • avoidance: of self, of problems, of feelings
  • making time to do it—sacrificing other priorities
  • letting go, being present
  • having expectations about results
  • boredom
  • doing it alone
  • entertaining doubts
  • getting caught up in thought
  • wanting to "relax," to "crash"
  • an answer to these problems: we're so lucky to be doing this when there are so many people who are lost and suffering

Sunday: Discuss the quotation below in light of your own practice.

It is not necessary to try to discard the mind of a sentient being. And searching for something like “correct” dharma [teaching] is also a big mistake. Simply strive to keep your true self from becoming defiled—that is all. “Seeking” and “discarding” are both mistakes.

Mirror of Zen

  • seeking our true self in meditation
  • letting go of thought
  • to be in the moment
  • not fighting unpleasant thoughts but observing and letting go
  • accepting doing what is right for ourselves
  • letting go of outside influences
  • being true to ourselves
  • remain true to the practice of meditation as a discipline
  • trust the process
  • be aware of judging—self and others
  • to develop non-dual thinking
  • give the mind a brake/break
  • meditate
  • care enough to do something about it
  • be caring enough o your mind in its seeking of "no mistakes"
  • made me more accepting of negative thoughts and more okay with them
  • not creating an internal conflict
  • not to label self negatively and being accepting of imperfections
  • limiting—will not work in the same way for each individual
  • trust and listen to your feelings, intuitions
  • take care of self
  • seeking is too much effort, striving
  • setting the self up for failure, pushing too hard
  • try to set up conditions for the true self (Buddha self) to become uncovered

Sunday: What changes could you make to your daily life that would aid your meditation practice?

  • have a time and place to meditate
  • commit to daily practice—being true to myself and accountable to myself
  • I don't know yet
  • some kind of a reminder from someone or something (an app?)
  • spend less time listening to political ranting from people, also on the radio
  • get more information via reading
  • being patient
  • top priority: first thing in the morning
  • positive feedback from others
  • involving friends and family
  • drinking less coffee
  • discipline
  • accept failure, slow results
  • less time on Facebook
  • set goals e.g. increasing practice time
  • adjust bedtime and get up on time
  • have the area available
  • make a routine so it becomes habit

































What People Say

Daily practice is not enough. You need periodic, concentrated practice as well....Group practice provides a safe, focused environment where practitioners can help each other.

- Chan Master Sheng Yen

Contact Jack

(204) 298-8586

(902) 680-0372


Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada




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