Clear Mountain Wisdom
Clear Mountain Wisdom was established by Dan Jorgensen and Claudia Hansson to offer and make accessible the teachings and meditation practices of the Kagyu and Nyingma Lineages. Within the vast world of Tibetan Buddhism, these two lineages were known for their emphasis on direct experience in meditation practice.
We feel it is important to present Buddhist teachings, particularly meditation instructions, in a clear and understandable manner. The essential point of meditation practice in these lineages is to awaken to the mind’s True Nature. To facilitate this, we include a variety of Kagyu and Nyingma practices that lay the groundwork for deeper levels of realization. We stress the importance of developing a regular practice of daily meditation and attending retreats as often as possible. In our work, we make every effort to individualize the Path for each person, so that that life can be lived with vibrancy, an open heart, and the ability to rest in the richness of each moment.
Both of us maintain a strong meditation practice and our teachings come from direct experience in meditation. We consider the student/teacher relationship to be a sacred bond and strive to maintain the highest standard of integrity in our work with those who come to us for meditation instruction.
My Buddhist training began when I met my main teacher, Kalu Rinpoche, in 1974. He was one of the great Tibetan Buddhist masters of the 20th century. As with all of his students, he insisted I follow a very traditional path with all practices being done in Tibetan. He strongly encouraged his students to do the traditional Three Year, Three Month Retreat, which I completed in 1989.
While I am grateful for everything I received from Kalu Rinpoche and other Tibetan teachers, I realized over time that many of the practices I received depended on a Tibetan cultural context. The outstanding exception to this is the Mahamudra teachings, which clearly described a step-by-step path to the direct experience of Awakened Mind. I have practiced these teachings for many years and they form the basis of how I work with students.
In recent years, I have benefited from my association with two American teachers, Ken McLeod and Dan Brown, PhD. From Ken, I learned the importance of working with the deeper levels of emotional patterning in meditation practice. Dan Brown’s teaching and writing has expanded my understanding of the overall structure and technical aspects of the Path of Mahamudra. In addition, in the retreats he taught with Rohob Rinpoche, I was introduced to the teachings and practice of the Dzogchen, an advanced system of meditation in the Nyingma Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
Over the years I have come to realize that movement and energy work is a necessary compliment to the practice of sitting meditation. I include a daily practice of Qigong movement and energy work as part of my own practice. We now also include movement and energy practice in all of our retreats.
As a meditation teacher, I place strong emphasis in these areas:
- Having a clear understanding of the Path of practice
- Precise meditation instructions tailored to the individual student
- Knowing how to work with the emotional material meditation practice inevitably brings up
- The importance of a consistent daily practice
- Doing periodic intensive meditation retreats
- Positive expectation that with proper practice the Path can be realized
In addition to teaching meditation, I am also a licensed psychotherapist with many years of experience. This background is helpful in working with the psychological issues that students sometimes encounter in meditation practice.
I came to Buddhism almost by accident. I was a practicing and involved Catholic until my mid-thirties and attended Catholic schools, including the University of Santa Clara. In 1992, during a particularly difficult time in my life, I began to meditate regularly having been taught the skill during high school. After several years on my own I began to feel a need for a teacher or spiritual advisor, and this led me to my first teacher Dan Jorgensen. Since those beginning years I have also studied extensively with Ken McLeod. I benefitted greatly from the many hours of individual guidance that both of these teachers provided. The initial core of my training was the practices in “Wake Up To Your Life,” Ken’s first book. My work with Ken included training in the yogas of Niguma, yidam practice, mind training, Mahamudra (both the Karma Kagyu and Shangpa Kagyu), the Six Arm Mahakala and many others. I also completed his three year training program for teachers and I continue to work with him as my teacher.
My career background is in research and teaching psychology. After a number of years, I moved into administration becoming a dean and a vice-president. I took early retirement and opened a neurofeedback clinic, which I co-owned and operated for 10 yrs.
Since being authorized to teach in 2005, I now utilize the same approach as my teachers in working with students, which is primarily one-on-one, supplemented with frequent retreats. I find this process very effective in my own practice and try to bring together the essential conditions for students to find their own path. I frequently co-teach with Dan Jorgensen for local retreats and workshops. The core of my teaching is based upon the series of practices known as Mahamudra in the Karma Kagyu and Shangpa Kagyu traditions. I also include heavy emphasis on working with the patterns and habits, which are creating suffering and blocking our experience of freedom and joy in our daily life. I draw upon my own experience with teachers in the Zen and Dzogchen traditions. I accompany these traditional teachings with movement work such as Qigong and other energy practices. My emphasis is assisting students to find a path which enables them to awaken to the richness of life and to the depth and breadth of their own true nature.