Oh Shim started practicing meditation in 1983 in Zen Master Seung Sahn's lineage and since then has more than 700 days of long retreat time. In Korea she sat five ninety day retreats under Zen Master Seung in ancient Buddhist temples. During a five precepts ceremony Soen Sa Nim gave her the name "Oh Shim" which he translated as "Enlightenment Mind". The very characters for enlightenment mind are the ones which compose the name Bodhicitta, which is the mind of enlightenment or the great wish to save sentient beings from suffering.
During the time she trained in the Kwan Um School of Zen, she took both the five and ten precepts in Berkeley and in Seoul, Korea with Zen Master Seung Sahn and eventually the 16 precepts as a Senior Dharma Teacher in a ceremony near Los Angeles.
There is a particular inspiration she feels with Zen Master Seung Sahn for the depth and profundity of his Zen teaching and her training in Korea. In her Dharma travels, she also met Bhante Dharmavara, the oldest living monk in the world who was 107 when she met him in 1997. The many beloved teachers she's studied/s with include Sharon Salzberg, Marie Mannschatz, Carol Wilson, Sojun Mel Weitsman, Eugene Cash, Howie Cohn, Zen Master Anita Feng, as well as innovators such as Charlotte Selver who pioneered the fledling field of somatics and founded the Sensory Awareness Foundation. In 1989, Ammachi, who was later awarded the Gandhi-King Award for Nonviolence, came to the house where she was living. She was fortunate enough to meet Ruth Denison in 2010 and recently spend a few precious moments with her in her last few days on earth. Her memory of her loving spirit remains with her.
Her many inspirations and teachers she has directly trained with include the Dalai Lama, Zen Master Dae Kwang, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Joseph Goldstein, Krishna Das, Marshall Rosenberg, Bob Stahl with whom she is grateful to have studied the teacher training for Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Braco. She also was fortunate to meet Father Bill O'Donnell a number of times during his last eight months of life for his kind counsel for which she is still profoundly grateful.
In 2007, she received two symbolic presents which arrived synchronistically just in time for her Birthday. One was a sandalwood bust of the Buddha which arrived in transit from India through what seemed an unlikely connection (such that he claimed no interest in religion) and one was a demi-Buddhist robe from Bhutan in the color turquoise. In another unusual encounter more recently in the Fall of 2014, she entered Peet's Cafe in San Anselmo, where a Sufi Master from Jerusalem blessed her. The woman accompanying him told her his name is Sidi Shaykh Muhammad al-Jamal. He kept blessing her with all her wishes as she wept.
Nonviolent Communication is a profound influence on her world and view. She began studying NVC in 1997. In 1999 and 2007, she attended four International Trainings with Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Marshall's groundbreaking work is changing the world of communication and therapy. Dr. Marshall Rosenberg was named on Oprah.com as one of 7 men transforming the world. Marshall Rosenberg took to the ether this February. His love and being in someone's corner will be greatly missed. He was beyond any gender, nationality or tribal affiliation and deeply cared about people's well-being. I am ever grateful for the training I received with Marshall and I wish him love and happiness wherever he is, in whatever adventure.
As a result of her training, Denise taught NVC in San Quentin and in Cornell Corrections in San Francisco. Her first mediation was with people who said that they would kill each other. She is certified for state mediation and is currently a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist seeing clients in Berkeley and Marin.
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Denise's focus in her practice is on opening the heart and to be creatively of benefit to sentient beings whether it is to help open hearts or just be, in presence. She enjoys practicing meditation and she is amazed at the powers of the mind and the power people have to heal and grow. It's one of the most, if not the most, exciting adventures in life.
May you have bright illumination on your journey.