In-depth Nondual Meditation Course with Michael Taft
Hi, everyone ~
This document covers the basics of the Fall 2022 Reversing the Stack course, and should give you enough information to decide whether you’re interested, and where to sign up if you are.
If you’re wondering about the “3” in the name, it’s because this is the third cohort to take this class. We’ve had two others running for several years now!
I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
In this course you will learn a system of deepening your nondual practice step-by-step, on the cushion and in daily life. Overall the course follows what I call the “Reversing the Stack” model, meaning that you will establish a firm basis in non-conceptual/objectless meditation (“resting the mind in awareness”). From this basis, you will then learn to investigate sensory arisings and the mind, as well as how to bring this open mind to all daily activities. As the course progresses, you will discover how to contact awake awareness (i.e. Rigpa) and furthermore how to stabilize this contact.
This course will be a small group (limited to 25 students), very focused and interactive, meeting once a week on Zoom for six months.
There is an application process to get into the course.
- Runs from 10 Sept, 2022 to (approx.) 25 February, 2023
- Saturdays from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM Pacific Time (90 minutes)
- Runs for 24 classes each semester (~6 months)
- Admission via an enrollment process (apply here)
- Do a minimum of 60 minutes meditation daily.
- Attend the live classes unless missing a class is absolutely unavoidable (expected attendance is at least 21/24 classes)
- Take an active part in class discussions.
- Meet with your “practice pod” regularly outside of class for small-group community practice discussions
- Read/view all assigned materials (books/videos/etc).
- Participation in the course Slack channels
- Attend “office hours” – periodic one-on-one short interviews with me about your practice
The overarching teaching framework for this course is my model of nondual meditation and investigation, entitled “Reversing the Stack” (RtS). There will be some prerequisites for the class so that you’ll be familiar with the basics of the stack model before we start. Roughly analogous to Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Nondual Shaiva Tantra, or Zen practices, RtS is founded upon the practice of contacting the natural mind first, then stabilizing this contact, and working outward/upward from there.
From this basis in the natural state, we then begin an investigation of many aspects of our being: thoughts, feelings, the body, psychology, even consciousness. Eventually we will learn to stabilize the viewpoint of awake awareness on the cushion and then off the cushion in increasingly broad facets of our lives.
Along the way, we identify the “lumps in the gravy”; our blockages, psychological complexes, automatic reactivity, fixation, and ignorance, and—using techniques based in the natural mind—explore, embrace, and ultimately heal these difficult areas.
How all this unfolds over the course of the six months will depend on how you, the students, respond. I like to keep things very interactive and flexible, so we will find our way through this material together in an organic manner.
There will also be books to read, videos to watch, etc.
A big part of this class will be our group interaction. The logic behind choosing Zoom as a platform is that it will allow us to talk, for you to pose questions, and for us to go much more deeply into the practices and concepts we are working with than is usually possible. rse
Each class period will be 90 minutes in length. Each of these weekly periods will be laid out something like:
– Student check-ins
– Guided meditation
– Teaching and discussion
The length of each of these sections will vary weekly, based on the material being presented and the needs of the students. There will be “office hours” held each week before class, in which students can speak one-on-one with Michael about their practice.
More about the Class Schedule, Platform, and More
The course theoretically runs for 24 weeks in a row, but obviously that will not literally happen, especially given the late fall holidays in the US. There may also be a week or two when, due to circumstances like illness, vacation, holidays, or scheduling conflicts, I will be unable to lead the class, and it will be canceled for that week.
On these canceled weeks, there will be no live class, and the schedule will pick up on the next possible week. Each canceled class will be made up at the end of the six months, bringing the total number of classes to 24. In other words, the course could actually take place over 7 months or so.
Class Platform: Zoom
Discussion Platform: Slack
Documents, etc.: Google Drive
Videos: various platforms
The main platform for the course will be Zoom.
We have one required Slack channel for timely class notifications (“We’ll be 5 minutes late tonight…” for example), as well as some sharing of documents. There will also be an option to engage in student-to-student discussion via Slack. Students also organize a study group that meets on Zoom.
Finally, each class will be recorded and posted on a password protected Vimeo account for your viewing pleasure and convenience. These videos are not able to be downloaded, only streamed, and they will never be made available to anyone other than the people in this iteration of the course.
As you can see, this course will require you to be fairly comfortable with today’s basic online technology. If you feel like you will need a lot of help to learn to use these tools, this may not be the right course format for you.
All prospective students are required to fill out an enrollment form. Filling out the form in great detail will be helpful in your admission.
Here is the link to the application form.
Students will be selected in order to create the most vibrant learning atmosphere for all students. It’s all about balancing the makeup of the overall group. If you are not selected for admission, that is not a statement about your qualities as a person, a meditator, or anything else.
It is best if you have a long-term meditation practice before applying to join this course. Deep practice in several traditions would be preferred. Furthermore, I’m looking for students who are highly motivated, interested, engaged, and raring to go. Please do not apply if you aren’t intrinsically motivated.
One of the wonderful aspects of this course is that it tends to form a long-lasting, small, and highly-connected sangha. Even though the signup is for 6 months, most people end up staying through several rounds or “semesters.” This means that—once you get in—you should probably bank on staying in the course for several years.
If you are selected for the course, you will be notified and given instruction for payment. If you are not selected for this round, you may use your application form for future courses and apply again.
A certain number of prospective students will be offered a spot on a waiting list, in case others don’t enroll or drop out.
If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, simply fill out the required extra fields in the enrollment form.
About the Pricing, Payment, etc.
Payment possibilities come in three tiers: Basic, Supporting, and Scholarship.
Just like it sounds.
Supporting members pay for their course and support other students via scholarships, as well as offering extra dana to me to help defray the costs of running this program. Please consider helping others to join the course, regardless of their financial situation.
The scholarship option offers the program on for a greatly reduced rate to qualifying students. Scholarships are supported by other students.
The course is limited to 25 students. My goal is to make at least 5 scholarships available, although this will depend on how many supporting members there are.
You can receive a refund within the first 30 days (ie. four classes), minus a $150 fee. After that, you are fully committed and there are no refunds. There are no refunds for monthly recurring accounts. You will simply not be charged again after the end of the current monthly cycle.
Payment links and instructions will be sent to students who are accepted into the program. Full payment is required to begin the course.
Some comments from students in the earlier iterations of this course:
“This class has broadened and deepened my practice, challenged my narratives, expanded my perspective, formed an interesting community, and generally been a great use of time and attention. Highly recommended.”~ Roger R.
Joining RtS was undoubtedly the best decision I’ve ever made for my practice. I never really believed that a teacher is needed to fully access awakening, but Michael is that dude. His diverse teaching and direct impact on our practice has been the most precious gift. To say that RtS changed my life would be a ridiculous understatement.~ Alex R.
“This class is providing a new direction for my meditation, with a fresh lens each week that helps me let go of struggle, drop into awareness with more ease. The small group I meet with creates sangha, helps keep the momentum going, and adds other unique perspectives. Michael has a knack for cutting to the core, drawing on a depth of experience in a wide range of traditions. He is wise, kind, caring, funny, and joyful. His interactions with other students during the classes are pure skillful means, very instructive.”~ Linda W.
I love being part of RtS. It focuses on awake awareness with a shared core practice template and yet it is absolutely open to and supportive of each person’s individual practice and experiences. Michael provides many options to expand on the basic template and individualized help in class and in one on one short interviews. Every class includes a brief report from each of us, so it clear we are each exploring in different and changing ways and there are wonderful differences and commonalities in what we find. It is occasionally unsettling and most often an absolute relief and delight that there is no right, better, or expected way this is supposed to unfold. No fixed markers or experiences I should have is specific ways. Nothing solid to hold onto or measure myself against. Awakened awareness has become more and more recognizable and easier to rest within. RTS has been and continues to be a wonderfully supported journey with moments of discovery, joy, frustration, love, broken hearted sadness, terror, wonder, fear, gratitude and so much more. I highly recommend the RtS course and Michael Taft as a teacher.~ Elizabeth P.
The Reversing the Stack class has been very important to my development. Michael’s teachings are dynamic – they weave in neuroscience and psychology, consider the unique situation we’re in as a society, and incorporate the practices and backgrounds of the group. This is a diverse, autonomous sangha where the expectation is that you are creating your own path alongside others. At the same time, the level of support and presence within the group is extraordinary. I would highly recommend RtS to anyone who has big questions and is committed to discovering the answers.~ Nick B.
“With great skill and patience, Michael guides us though an ever-deepening journey up, down, and through the stack model of meditative practice. Now, when I contact vast spacious awareness, the results are profound, permeating so many more aspects of my life experience than I thought possible.”~ Helen D.
RtS is a combination of a great teacher, an even greater sangha, and a lot of fine dharma. Directly pointing to the mysterious heart of the issue, supported by the hearts & pointers of fellow travelers, culminating in immediate intimacy with this organic process called life. If you want to awaken deeper, while standing with both feet on the groundless ground of lay life, this is the course you’ve been looking for.~ Manuel F.
RtS class provides a super useful way to orient to your surroundings once you’ve entered the stream and are wading into deeper waters. The RtS class will deepen your vipassana practice from the conceptual level into the level of pure awareness. Michael is great because he meets you where you are. He doesn’t hold to a rigid view and doesn’t demand that you see through his eyes. The RtS class provided many useful tools, the most valuable of which were experiential exercises and guided meditations that allowed the teachings to come alive for me. Words become less helpful in these deeper waters and the experiential aspect is the best part about the RtS classes! If you decide to sign up for an RtS class, you will learn a great deal, for sure, but perhaps more importantly you will get to experience vivid awareness space with like-minded meditators and a great teacher!~ Art J.
I’m very much looking forward to the journey of this course with you.
If you have further questions about the course, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use a subject line something like “Questions about the RtS Online Course.”