Hearth classes are enjoyed by parents from all over the world. The classes are designed to be busy parent friendly. To that end, all of the classroom discussions take place on a classroom message board rather than in real time. You choose the time of day that works best for you during the week and then come to the classroom message board to post your responses. In order to seed the discussion a lesson is sent to your email box, either weekly or biweekly. The lessons are created to inspire and offer ways for you to have direct experience of the subject being discussed. Oftentimes there are suggested things you can do to share these lessons with your children. As well as providing inspiration we aim to create community support for your life and practice. We do this by creating a safe space in which you can explore and share with others. Welcome to our online Sangha!



As Buddhism comes to the West we are discovering creative ways to apply the Buddha's teachings to our time, our culture and our everyday lives. The Buddha's teachings are designed to guide us down a path leading to the end of suffering. In this series we will explore the heart of what the Buddha taught and the spiritual practices which lead to both a harmonious life and the end of suffering. These lessons are designed to be useful to parents and homemakers. One need not be Buddhist to benefit from these teachings.

The lay Buddhist practice series is designed to support homemakers in their everyday lives by creating sangha, or spiritual friendships, and by applying the Buddha's teachings to our relationships and daily tasks, both in the home and out in the world.  Classes are experiential rather than theoretical. As we bring these basic Buddhist teachings into our daily lives and build a sturdy foundation for our home practice we develop more peace and joy into our home and communities.

To register for classes please contact Heather Thornton, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

These classes are taken sequentially. This series includes:

creating a lay buddhist practice Creating a lay Buddhist practice

In this 8- week group we will build a foundation to help support our daily meditation practice by creating a “Shrine Room” in our home. The symbols of a Buddha statue or painting, light, fresh flowers and incense will be used to create a mental culture conducive to meditation. Although ritual is not necessary for meditation practice creating a feeling of awe can help invite our heart into our everyday practice. We will also offer some ways to invite our children to learn about these noble truths alongside us. 

meditate Meditation

This series is designed to support your meditation practice through study, community and an available teacher. We will explore the various aspects of meditation such as, why meditate? What are the obstacles we discover in our meditation? How do we set up a sustainable daily mediation practice? How can we support the body to sit comfortably? Why community support is important and different forms of meditation. This class is experiential designed to help you set up and sustain a daily meditation practice in your home.

4noble The 4 noble truths and 8-fold path for parents

At the core of the Buddha’s teachings, whether they are Zen, Tibetan, Theravadin, Pure Land or any other form, is the 4 noble truths and eight-fold path. Simple, direct and applicable to any culture, these basic building blocks can create harmony in the individual and community. In this twelve- week series we will explore each step of the path and apply the 4 noble truths to the everyday lives of mothers and fathers.

5pre The five precepts

The five precepts are the ethical teachings given by the Buddha for householders. As householders these precepts are the compass we use to guide our lives in a harmonious direction. The 5 precepts, or Buddhist ethics, are- refraining from harming other living things, not taking more than our fair share, not using speech to wound but only to heal, not using sex in a harmful way and keeping the mind clear. The precepts are meant to be chosen and taken freely. In this series we will deepen our understanding of how ethical behavior not only creates a harmonious life but is necessary for full enlightenment.

3refuges The three refuges

Buddhists all over the world take the three refuges; refuge in the Buddha, refuge the Dhamma and refuge in the Sangha. Now that we have created a physical and psychological container for our spiritual practice those who feel called to do so will take a deeper look at what it means to walk the Buddhist path. We will look at the three refuges in detail so that if we choose to take them we can do so with a depth of understanding and heart.


These classes can be taken at any time.

buddhism1a Buddhism 1a

This series is for people who are new to Buddhism and curious about it’s basic tenets. In this series we will discuss FAQ’s questions such as who was the Buddha, what are the basic Buddhist beliefs, description of the major Buddhist sects, a list of references for beginning Buddhist literature and others. This is a good place to ask any questions you have about Buddhism.

evrydaypractice Everyday practices for Busy parents

This series will look at our practice when we are “off the pillow”. Practices such as generosity, gratitude, loving kindness and other practices common to all Wisdom traditions will be explored and practical applications offered.

mortality Facing mortality-the Buddhist perspective on death and illness in the family

This series explores facing our mortality, talking with children about death, grieving, Buddhist perspectives on death and dying, care taking an ill or dying person, parents preparing for death, freedom from the fear of death and alternative funerals and rituals for the dead.

bodytemple Tending the Body Temple

This is a series designed to support parents in taking good care of themselves. It addresses issues related to self- care such as movement, mindful eating, the importance of friendships, caring for the environment, cleansing and other physical and emotional well-being topics.

homeenlighten Home Enlightenment

This is a series about using our everyday home tasks such as cooking, cleaning and making and maintaining a kind home environment to become lighter and happier. In this series we reframe menial tasks such as chopping vegetables and sweeping the floor as moments of intimacy with our life.

koan Koans for parents

Koans are brilliant and beautiful little nougats of wisdom passed down from teacher to student. They are wonderful spiritual technologies for parents because, with koans, we can carry our spiritual practice around with us as we drive our kids to school, do the laundry and make dinner. Guided by koan master John Tarrant Roshi, we will take koans into our lives and share what we discover with one another.

book Book groups

Hearth is pleased to offer an ongoing book group. Each month a different book is read and discussed. The books are chosen by the group members.

relationships Relationships

Besides developing mystical teachings the Buddha left some surprisingly current and useful ideas about practical matters such as relationships. Drawing from the Sigolavada sutta, we will explore what the Buddha had to teach about relationships between husband and wife, parent and child, friends, teachers and students, employees and employers, and spiritual guides and aspirants.


One of the main goals of these classes is to create community. In order to facilitate this it is important that you post at least once a week. Please consider whether or not your schedule permits you to do this at this time before joining a class. If you do not post each week it disturbs the integrity of the community. For this reason, if you can  not post on a given week, or neglect to send the facillitator a note about any problems you are having with posting, we will assume it is not a good time for you to take this class. You can join another class the next time it is offered. Before the class begins the facillitator will contact you. At that time they will go over the class commitments so that you can let them know if this is a good time for you to make this commitment.

In order to keep our classroom a safe space we ask you to remember these guidelines:

*To speak and be heard is powerfully healing in and of itself. We do not need to "fix" one another.

*The Buddha defined right speech as speech that is kind, honest and timely. Please check your intended postings to this.

*What is said here, stays here.


To join the class and post your responses you will need to open an account on our forum board. To do this simply go to . Once there, find the link at the bottom of the page that says “register a new account”. Click on that and follow the directions to create your account. When class is ready to begin we will give you the password for your class. Sometimes past students have gotten their classroom password mixed up with their personal password. You may wish to write both of these down in case you need to access them again.

It is useful if you can provide a picture of yourself by using the avatar option on your profile. This way, each time you post we come to associate your words with your picture. The class is in a closed bulletin board so that we can talk freely amongst ourselves.

Students have found that receiving a notice each time a fellow student posts in the classroom helps them to be more involved. Here's how to set up to receive an email when someone posts on our Invision board:

  1. Log in (to the Hearth Invision Power Board) like you always do.
  2. On the page with the menu of classrooms look in the top right corner for "My Controls"--click on this.
  3. Now look on the menu on the left margin... Under the heading "Options" look for the "Email Settings" and click on this.
  4. Under "Board Preferences," look for the last box to check (for "enable e-mail notification by default"). I set this on "Immediate E-mail Notification".
  5. After you have changed the email settings, following the instructions above, click on the button "amend my email settings". You are now going to receive and email anytime someone in your class posts on the classroom board.

An email will be sent each Sunday with your new lesson. Enter the classroom as suits your schedule, but please enter class at least twice a week and post by friday. In order to receive the next lesson you need to post. If you don’t post we will assume that this is not a good time for you to engage in a class. You are welcome to join us at another time.

To start creating your own lay Buddhist practice and join the classes, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.