The most precious thing we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.
—Thich Nhat Hahn
In Buddhism there is a term for spiritual friendship or what we are calling Practice Guide—kalyana mitra— which means "good or noble friend" in Sanskrit. This friend can be a spiritual teacher, peer or guide that supports us along the path as we engage in the work of awakening.
When we offer and receive spiritual friendship, we become a part of the long interdependent tapestry of relationships going all the way back to the time of the friendships that supported the Buddha in his enlightenment. Simply put, we are part of wheel of Dharma as it turns in contemporary life, being strengthened by all who came before us and for all who will follow in our footsteps.
One-on-one time with a Practice Guide
Dharma Refuge’s Practice Guide Program offers one-on-one meetings with a Practice Guide for the purpose of talking about your meditation experience and its application to everyday life. Among the kinds of concerns our Guides can help you with:
Each session is up to 45 minutes in length, beginning and ending with a brief meditation.
Dharma Refuge supporting members receive this service as part of their membership. We also invite others to use this service and ask that those who are not members make a donation to support our sangha.
Arrange a meeting with one of our Practice Guides
Learn more about Jane and John below.
Jane Ellen Bleeg
Jane’s mission is to live a balanced, ethical life while being of service to others. She was captured by Buddhist practice in 1974 after reading “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki and visiting San Francisco Zen Center. Drawn by a perspective/practice that accepts suffering as natural and teaches skills for navigating life with all its joys and challenges, she combined practice with her work as a college psychology teacher in California, then wandered across the US to find a teacher and community with whom she could deepen her practice and make a long-term commitment.
Jane landed at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, underwent lay ordination with Dainin Katagiri-roshi and served in varied roles, including tenzo (head cook), teacher of introduction to meditation sessions, organizer of workshops with visiting spiritual teachers, and Center administrator. After 7 years, Jane moved to Rochester and primarily practiced on her own for 30 years. She participated in diverse retreats and trainings during that time, including with Thich Nhat Hanh in Rochester and Minneapolis and for 10 days in residence at Plum Village in France. Most recently she has participated in retreats and classes with Zen teacher Tim Burkett and Tibetan Buddhist teachers Anam Thubten and Sue Kochan.
Buddhist practice has been the grounding force in Jane’s life as she lived in three regions and travelled a winding career path - college professor, freelance writer, cook, nonprofit administrator and philanthropy consultant. She served as executive director for the American Diabetes Association’s Rochester chapter (two years) and for Rochester Grantmakers Forum (13 years).
Jane has been a member of Dharma Refuge for the past 5 years, is Board Secretary and Membership Coordinator, and co-teaches the Meditation Lab.
Contact Jane Ellen Bleeg to request a meeting.
John’s passion is guiding companies, communities, and individuals in integrating mindfulness practices. He helps others grow emotional intelligence skills so they can better navigate the complex world of human interaction, becoming better individual performers and leaders as well as happier people.
He is also a Search Inside Yourself (SIY) Certified Teacher, guiding participants through a two-day retreat that combines emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and neuroscience to offer tools that bring out one’s best and most effective self. Through a combination of content and experiential exercises, the program helps people make real changes in their professional and personal life.
John is also a graduate of the SIY Engage program. Provided by the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), Engage provides advanced mindfulness and emotional intelligence training. It integrates deep personal development with practices for introducing mindfulness to organizations and creating positive change.
With a career spanning over 30 years in Rochester, New York technology companies, John is currently a Technical Product Manager/Team Lead at Pharos Systems, International, providing print management solutions for mindful businesses around the world. John is a facilitator and primary contributor to the corporate Change Management program at Pharos. For the past decade this program has been taught to all Pharos employees, providing skills and tools for successfully managing change, both at work and at home. Before Pharos he was co-founder and Managing Director of Ten Technologies, LLC.
Having practiced with Dharma Refuge for 6 years, John is currently Board President as well as a member of the Tech Team. An avid reader and lifelong learner, he is fascinated by the expanding list of findings in neuroscience that provide a scientific basis for mindfulness practice.
Contact John Stewart to request a meeting.
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Dharma Refuge meets at Covenant United Methodist Church
– second floor (elevator accessible)
1124 Culver Rd, Rochester, NY 14609
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