Featured Live Course with James Baraz

The Four Buddhist Heart Practices Course (Brahma Viharas)

A 4-week live online course to open the heart as a complement to Insight (mindfulness) meditation practice. View/listen to the recordings anytime until the end of February, 2024.

What Are the Four Buddhist Heart Practices?

The classical Buddhist heart practices, the Brahma Viharas (Loving-kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity), are all about our connection with ourselves, others, and the world around us. They connect the mind and heart so that our meditation practice and everyday mindfulness incorporate both clarity and kindness. The course offers formal meditation instructions and talks on how to apply these practices in our lives. Each teaching builds on the previous ones as we learn the different ways the heart can open to ourselves, those close to us, those we have difficulty with, and all beings.

2023 Dates and Topics for the Brahma Viharas Course

Live Zoom sessions: 6:30 - 8:30 PM California Time (18:30 - 20:30 UTC-7) every Tuesday Oct 31 - Nov. 21. All sessions are recorded and available within 48 hours. View/listen anytime until the end of February, 2024.

  • October 31 - Session 1: Loving Kindness (Metta)

  • November 7 - Session 2: Compassion

  • November 14 - Session 3: Sympathetic Joy

  • November 21 - Session 4: Equanimity

How it Works

Each 2-hour Session Includes a talk on the week’s focus, a period of guided meditation with instructions + time for interactive Q&A. You Receive:

  • Video + downloadable audio-only recordings of each Live Zoom Session, including a guided meditation for each of the 4 Heart Practices. (It is not necessary to join the live sessions to take this course.)

  • Weekly practice letters, including a session recap and suggestions to support your meditation practice.

  • Access to course support to answer questions between sessions

  • Email Notification whenever new materials are posted. Materials remain available until Feb. 28, 2024.

The Four Buddhist Heart Practices Course (Brahma Viharas)

"The course offers formal meditation instructions and talks on how to apply these practices in our lives. Each session builds on the previous ones as we learn the different ways the heart can open to ourselves, those close to us, those we have difficulty with, and all beings. I welcome you to join me." --- James Baraz

The Heart Practices Course - Donation-Based

Offered in the Spirit of Dana (The Buddhist Principle of Generosity)

Finances for the Course

While there is no formal charge for the course, it is offered in the tradition known as dana (pronounced "dah-na"), a Pali word meaning generosity.

Dating back to the time of the Buddha, there has existed an interdependence between those who offer the teachings and those who receive them. According to the Buddha, generosity, or sharing what we have, is one of the central pillars of a spiritual life. The Buddha created a system to develop a quality of open-handedness whereby those who share the teachings are dependent on those who receive them. Monks and nuns go on daily alms rounds with a begging bowl, relying on the generosity of lay people for support in continuing their teaching and spiritual life. James has been offering these teachings on a dana basis for over 40 years through retreats and classes.

The suggested donation is US $100 for the course 
(US $25 per session)

Each person’s situation is different. This suggestion is a guideline. You may give less or you may give more. The principle is that generosity should be a source of joy for you from a sense of appreciation for the teachings. You may choose one of the other options, depending on your situation. If you need to offer less for the course than the options provided or if you have any questions or concerns, email [email protected].

View Pricing Options

James Baraz


James' Teaching Schedule

James Baraz has been a meditation teacher since 1978 and leads retreats, workshops and classes in the U.S and abroad. He is the creator and teacher of the online Awakening Joy course, since 2003. He's also a co-founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. 

In recent years, he has  focused on dharma and climate change. He serves as an advisor to One Earth Sangha, a website devoted to Buddhist responses to climate change. 

His books include Awakening Joy with Shoshana Alexander, and Awakening Joy for Kids with Michele Lilyanna. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Jane, and has two sons and three grandchildren.

Sarah-Marie Hopf

Course Assistant

Sarah-Marie Hopf will be assisting James Baraz  during the live course sessions, as well as answering questions in-between sessions. 

Sarah-Marie is a mindfulness meditation teacher, an International Coaching Federation-certified integral leadership and development coach, and the founder of Thriving in a Noisy World. She's passionate about supporting growth-minded, purpose-driven individuals in their inner development journeys for the benefit of all. To her work, she brings experience at the intersections of leadership development and organizational change, human-centered design, and systemic social innovation. 

First discovering the dharma at age 13, Sarah-Marie is a seasoned mindfulness practitioner and regularly sits Insight Meditation retreats. She is a graduate of Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach's Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program and a certified mindfulness teacher through the International Mindfulness Teachers Association. A German/American, she’s currently based in Oakland, CA.

Praise for James' Four Buddhist Heart Practices Course

“James' guidance and the information from this course have helped to increase my efforts to be more patient and compassionate towards my family, friends, and all other beings”

“I really enjoyed the course and James’s approach - encouraging, supportive and always kind. Thank-you!” ”

“My mind has become much more equanimous and happy by doing these practices. I feel less hesitant to talk to strangers and feel more connected with other people." ”

“These heart practices are amazing. They have helped to strengthen my meditation practice and (more importantly) my mindset throughout each day.” ”