The Community page is where sangha members can post self-organizing sangha participant activities such as hikes, picnics, outings, other practice opportunities, resources, etc.  These activities are not initiated nor officially sponsored by Upaya Sangha of Tucson LLC.

If you would like to post an event, please send an email to Sensei Al Genkai Kaszniak with the title, event description, date of the event, where to meet, how to contact you, etc.


Bill Thompson’s Art & Poetry

Click here to see Bill Thompson’s art and read his poetry.


New Announcements:

The annual Upaya Zen Center Varela International Symposium will occur Thursday, May 25 through Saturday, May 27, and will be available both for in-person attendance and online participation. There is no fee for online registration, though contributions are gratefully accepted by Upaya Zen Center. This is an event organized each year by Roshi Joan Halifax and myself, and this year’s theme is particularly relevant to the many challenges we are all facing in this precarious existence within a deeply interconnected world. There will be no sangha meeting on May 27, in order to accommodate my role and allow as many as you as possible to participate. It should be a lively, informative and inspiring three days. Even if you cannot attend all of the sessions, registration will allow you to access session recordings at a later time. Please consider.
Warmest wishes,
Sensei Al Genkai Kaszniak
Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD; Richard Davidson, PhD; Al Kaszniak, PhD, Sensei; Evan Thompson, PhD; John Dunne, PhD; Adam Frank, PhD; Amy Cohen Varela; Andreas Roepstorff, Ph.D.; Melissa K. Nelson, PhD; Molly J. Crockett, PhD; Laura Candiotto, PhD
How do we make sense of our experience and our place in this very precarious world?  Powerful recent approaches in neuroscience and philosophy have appreciated the mind as a complex system, deeply connected with the experienced world. Sensemaking, in this view, is interdependent worldmaking and includes the experience of intersubjectivity arising in cooperative social interactions. These complex dynamic systems are in constant flux, existing precariously on the edge of chaotic disorganization.
The remarkable faculty for the 2023 Varela International Symposium includes leaders in the philosophical, cultural, and scientific exploration of an intricate view of “sensemaking” and its implications to the precarious processes throughout the universe, the cultural embeddedness of worldviews, and the emergence of moral action.
The symposium honors, and is named for, the seminal contributions of neuroscientist, philosopher, and Buddhist practitioner, Francisco Varela, who, with colleagues Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch, initially challenged the then-dominant models in cognitive science, establishing the groundwork for the research and scholarship that the symposium faculty will explore.
Presentations and panel discussions occur along with contemplative practice during this unique program which is organized and sponsored by Upaya Zen Center and Institute, Santa Fe, NM and Mind and Life Europe.
We are so grateful that the faculty is enthusiastic to do this program online. At Upaya and Mind & Life Europe, we are deeply committed to serving you responsibly and with great care.
This online, donation-based program takes place on Thursday, May 25 starting at 7:45 p.m. U.S. Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) and concludes on Saturday, May 27 at 4:00 p.m. MDT with Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD; Richard Davidson, PhD; Al Kaszniak, PhD, Sensei; Evan Thompson, PhD; John Dunne, PhD; Adam Frank, PhD; Amy Cohen Varela; Andreas Roepstorff, Ph.D.; Melissa K. Nelson, PhD; Molly J. Crockett, PhD; Laura Candiotto, PhD.





Tucson Dharma Friends Study Program

This peer-led group meets twice a month to promote engaged practice and Dharma discussion in an informal, friendly, and contemplative atmosphere. We meet at 10am on the 1st and 3rd Thursday morning of each month, via zoom. We have regular members who are lifelong practitioners, as well as those new to Buddhism. All are welcome! For more information, please contact Dawn Messer at

After a brief Summer break, meetings will resume in October, 2022, with study and discussion focussing on the following writings:

October: “3 Steps to Awakening” by Larry Rosenberg: Deeply trained in both vipassana and Korean Zen, this beloved teacher shares the essence of more than 50 years of dedicated meditation practice in this slim volume. He distills the arc of practice into three steps: whole-body breath awareness, breath as anchor and choiceless awareness. 

November-December: “Beyond Distraction : Five Practical Ways to Focus the MInd” by Shaila Catherine: a pragmatic guide to overcoming distraction and directing our attention more skillfully by a highly-accomplished teacher. 

January onwards: “Pāramī : Ways to Cross Life’s Floods” by Ajahn Sucitto: A profound and practical guide to the pāramīs (pāramitās in Sanskrit) as a daily life practice by one of the great teachers in the Thai Forest tradition. 


Outdoor Meditation/Hiking Club

To provide an opportunity for our members to explore eco-dharma by practicing in a natural setting, sangha participants have independently initiated an outdoor meditation club. We meet periodically (weather permitting) to go on a walk or hike, with about 30 minutes dedicated to silent walking or seated meditation. Please check contact Dawn Messer at for more information about location and exact meeting times.


Breast Cancer SUPORT Project

Survivors and Partners Online Research Together

University of Arizona College of Nursing


The University of Arizona College of Nursing has received a grant from the National Cancer Institute to conduct a nationwide online study of compassion meditation or health education designed to help reduce the distress experienced by breast cancer survivors and their supportive partners. Participants will receive either formal meditation instruction in Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) or health education information about survivorship through Zoom sessions in 8 weekly 2-hour classes. Between classes, participants will be encouraged to practice meditation at home using audio recordings supplied by the study or engage in healthy lifestyle activities. At the end of the study, all those who attended the health education classes can choose to receive the compassion meditation classes if they would like.

 Cognitively-Based Compassion Training is derived from Traditional Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and developed by a former Buddhist monk at Emory University’s Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics. The program is completely secularized and is appropriate for people of any, or no, religious background. Instructors are trained and certified by Emory University and are themselves long-term meditators experienced in teaching meditation. Research is showing that participants enjoy learning to meditate and that survivors and their partners who practice compassion meditation are less emotionally distressed, support their underlying immune functioning, and have enhanced quality of life overall. These effects may even be stronger when survivors and partners meditate together. Using online technologies can allow those who don’t live near established meditation centers have better access to resources

Recruitment for the study is now open. People who are interested in learning more can visit the study’s online site, and can also leave their contact information there to receive a reply.

You may be eligible to participate if:

  • You are a breast cancer survivor who finished major treatments a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 5 years ago;
  • You are a family member who lives with a breast cancer survivor and will participate with her;
  • You or your partner exhibit a level of distress required for the study;
  • You are available and able to take part in online group classes;
  • You have access in your home to a computer or tablet with a 12-inch or greater diameter screen (participants will receive help in connecting to the online resources);
  • You are able to understand English.


The SUPORT study is funded by the National Cancer Institute to the University of Arizona College of Nursing, grant number R01CA264047(Thaddeaus W.W. Pace, Ph.D., Principal Investigator). It is conducted in collaboration with Emory University Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-based Ethics. The study has been approved for safety, privacy, and confidentiality by the University of Arizona Institutional Review Board.


Mindfulness Retreat & Cultural Immersion 

in France

   Healing the Mind • Restoring the Earth

September 11-24, 2023


“Too many people distinguish between the inner world of our mind and the world outside, 
but these worlds are not separate. They belong to the same reality.”
  -Thich Nhat Hanh, Interbeing

This moveable Feast time together includes three days at the venerable Chateau teaching estate of Dechen Choling- Tibetan for ‘The Great Bliss’, located in the spacious Limousin forests of southern France.  The unique retreat center is set in a lush pocket of paradise, nestled between vineyards, rolling hills, meadows, and majestic old growth trees, a perfect refuge for walking, contemplation, and meditation.  All presentations will be in English.


Led by Catherine Eveillard, president of the Dechen Choling Council, and practitioner in mindfulness and Shambhala teachings for almost forty years, Catherine will lead the retreat “Caring for the Earth – Gaia: An Approach to Global Ecology”.  The retreat explores the links between spirituality, meditation, compassion, and courage practices.  There will be periods of compassionate practice, sharing circles, meditation, forest walks, ecological thinking and engaged Buddhism.


We then share  six days immersed in the southern France spiritual community, founded by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Vietnamese zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh.   We will be embedded in the daily rhythm of the internationally renowned Plum Village contemplative community,  partaking  in foundational teachings and meditations on mindful living and cultivating altruistic intent.   As the trees shed their leaves, what afflictions can we shed to lighten our load?  


Guest teacher will be Roshi Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt, Zen koan teacher, who will offer daily teachings in Embodied mindfulness.  The sessions share movement exercises deepening  awareness of one’s physical body, awareness of sensations, and exploring through exercises and guided meditations, a deeper contact with oneself, cultivating trust and recognizing our own reactivity and triggers, and presenting ways to rechannel our behavior.


Departing Plum Village, we will participate in two days’ teachings, exercises, and dialogues nurturing our practice of Embodied mindfulness at Roshi Linda Myoki’s retreat center- a glorious landscaped gem of a garden estate in the storied Dordogne region of southern France.  Linda will lead us in some of the practices she imparts when training teachers in ten countries as Director of the Institute for Mindfulness-Based Approaches.  Roshi Linda  will be sharing Tai Chi and QiGong movement and other meditative bodywork and MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) that she has practiced and taught for 40 years.  
In our cultural immersion, we will also visit spectacular gardens, museums, French markets, hamlets, castles and wineries, and the jaw-dropping Lascaux Caves featuring prehistoric cave paintings and neolithic culture.

Contact:   Charles Simmons and Marla Perry Simmons   (520) 331-8338


Anti-Racism & Dharma Resources Submitted by Upaya Sangha of Tucson Participants

Angel Kyodo Williams (2000). Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace. New York: Penguin Compass.

Angel Kyodo Williams & Lama Rod Owens (2016). Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Zenju Earghlyn Manuel (2015). The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender. Boston: Wisdom Publications.

Hilda Gutierrez Baldoquin (Ed.) (2004). Dharma, Color, and Culture: New Voices in Western Buddhism. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

Resmaa Menakem (2017). My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. Las Vegas, NV: Central Recovery Press.

Tricycle, Jan 31, 2017 presient article “Teachings for Uncertain Times” by Wendy Joan Bittlecombe Asgar. It presents a video series with 13 Buddhist teachers of color. I especially love the Feb. 6 one by Mona Chopra: a METTA MEDITATION for BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Aspen Ideas Festival <>

21-Day Equity Building Habit Challenge <>

James Baldwin’s fiercely true (1965) UK speech why Black Lives Matter. The subjugated and the master: <>

James Baldwin’s talk before the National Press Club (1986) about distorted myths and the truth of our interdependence (CSPAN). During Q&A at 40 minutes into this, James Baldwin gets to the heart of it.

Land Loss and Black America < utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2018%202020%20-%201654815923%20UPDATED&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2018%202020%20-%201654815923%20UPDATED+Version+B+CID_b0f697ba9778dd1d4339d644b7c6fc0f&utm_source=campaign_monitor_us&utm_term=might%20address%20this%20vestige%20of%20slavery>


Two New Support Groups at TCMC

Note: Now Being Offered Online:

TCMC is now offering two practitioner-oriented interactive support groups, meeting on the first Sunday: one for cancer support, the other for grief support.

  • SARANA Cancer Support is open to anyone dealing with, or affected by, cancer, at any time, for any reason. Dealing with a life-threatening illness, especially cancer, is a physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually complex, traumatic situation. Everyone involved needs support, but it’s not always easy to find. especially in a spiritually supportive environment. It can be helpful being with people who “get it,” people with whom no one needs to explain anything. And hearing the differing perspectives of those in the room can be eye-opening. Sarana will meet on the first Sunday of each month, from 12:30pm-1:30pm, just after the Sitting Together program. Each meeting will start and end with a few minutes of silent meditation. Sarana is a Pali word for “refuge” or “shelter.”
  • SANTIKARA Grief Support is open to anyone dealing with grief and loss of any kind, whether current or from time past. Santikara will meet every first Sunday of the month for 90 minutes, from 2:30pm-3:30pm. Each meeting will start and end with a few minutes of silent meditation. “Santikara” means “soothing” in Pali.

Neither of these groups will have an agenda, except what each person brings to the group. We’ll have basic guidelines, which we’ll review at the beginning of each meeting, and a facilitator to keep things on track, but that is the extent of any formal structure.


Facilitator contact information:
Steve Ross, MA, LMFT (CA): (520) 825-2009 or
Sen Talley:  520.989.3347 or


Sangha Care Support Volunteers

While there are many resources both for hire and as formal volunteer programs through Neighbors Care Alliances across Tucson (contact Pima Council on Aging 520-790-7262), a few of our regular sangha participants have offered their limited availability to help their fellow sangha participants if something unexpected arises where they need some additional help which might include a friendly visit or phone call, assistance with errands, meal delivery, etc.  Please send an email to <> with questions or requests.  We might be able to help you either find existing community resources or do a little limited assistance.  Take care.