Month: March 2013

Learning to Meditate (with Ping Pong Balls)

I don’t remember how I found the Shambhala Center in Boulder or why I started meditating. No one had recommended meditation or suggested I might benefit from mindfulness. I’m pretty certain I just wandered in one day.  All I remember is I found myself sitting in the Shamatha Shrine Room at a Monday Night Open Class listening to senior teacher Jim Yensen and wondering what the heck he was talking about. But somehow whatever he said penetrated the confusion and pain of my mind and resonated with me. I was depressed—deeply, wondering, “Why?” Why exist? Why care? Why me? At the Center I found a sense of peace, not unlike that which I found doing yoga. But learning to meditate was different; it was definitely harder and scarier. I felt crazy sitting there with thoughts bouncing around my mind like a thousand spiked ping pong balls. But it was also compelling, somehow. So I started volunteering for Shambhala on Monday nights, and I started practicing regularly. I never had illuminating or climactic moments … no …

The Strength to Sit Still

Fitness buff, Experience Life Magazine writer, and first-time meditator Jen Sinkler joined us for a Simplicity Retreat this past fall. She decided to come to the retreat a after receiving results of a blood test with high levels of Cortisol ( an indicator for elevated stress levels). By coincidence her editor asked for volunteers to attend a beginning meditation workshop and report back on their experience. Below is an excerpt of her article. To read the full article, click here. “I signed up for a three-day “Simplicity Retreat” at the Shambhala Mountain Center (SMC) in Red Feather Lakes, Colo. — a beginning meditation course open to all levels. Though I intended to arrive early and settle in, once I landed in Denver I was lured by the promise of a kettlebell workout in a park and a tour of the rugby megaplex in nearby Glendale. I am inclined to shirk stillness, it seems, even when I claim to want it. The SMC (www.shambhalamountain.org), which has been hosting retreats since 1971, sits on 600 gorgeous acres …

Make Your Mark with Barbara Bash

One of the community’s most well-known and talented artists, Barbara Bash is bringing her artistic skills and teaching talent to the Shambhala Mountain Center April 19-21. She will be teaching, “Brush Spirit: The Expressive Art of Calligraphy.” Bash studied Dharma Art with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Chinese pictograms with Ed Young. She also recently wrote and illustrated the True Nature: An Illustrated Journal of Four Seasons in Solitude. Of her chosen art form, Bash says: “Calligraphy is an inherently sacred activity because it synchronizes mind and body. It is a contemplative practice because it reveals who we are and brings the deep principles of meditation into action and manifestation in the world.” Furthermore, she adds, the practice of writing has been intertwined with religion, including her chosen practice, Buddhism. “The Medieval monks wrote out texts in their scriptoriums, Buddhist monks copied sutras, Arabic calligraphers created elaborate ornamental designs for the name of Allah,” she explains. At this workshop, students will learn three key things, including the strengthening the sense of embodiment in the making of …

The Shamatha Project, Part IV: Background & Far Reaching Implications

Editors note: Thanks to a recent $2.3 million Templeton Prize Research Grant from the John Templeton Foundation, researchers are revisiting the results gleaned from Shamatha Project and further analyzing those results. In the Post I and Post II of this four-part series we offered people unfamiliar with the project the chance to learn more about the project and its researchers. In Post III we discussed the next stage of this project funded by the Templeton Prize Research Grant. And in this final post we are taking a closer look at the lead researcher, Clifford Saron, and the history behind the project. By Sarah Sutherland In 1992 Clifford Saron embarked on Fetzer Institute-funded study of Buddhist monks in Dharamsala with three other researchers. Struck by the monks’ calmness and peacefulness, they wondered whether the monks were simply extraordinary people or whether their extraordinary qualities resulted from their meditation training. Eleven years later, one of those researchers, Alan Wallace, contacted Saron about another project. Why not measure the effects of meditation on people in an intensive retreat …

Ringu Tulku on His Upcoming Retreat: Confusion Arising as Wisdom

World traveler and renown Tibetan Buddhist Master of the Kagyu Order, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche is bringing his wisdom to the Shambhala Mountain Center April 19-21. He will be teaching from his new book, “Confusion Arises as Wisdom,” a commentary on Gampopa’s, “Great Teachings to the Assembly.” Ringu Tulku recently answered a few questions for us about the retreat. SMC: How has confusion arisen as wisdom in your own life? RT: Well, I do not claim that confusion has arisen as wisdom in my life. I was just trying to explain the teachings of the great master Gampopa. These are a collection of his pith instructions that he gave to his disciples on many occasions. Therefore these are called his teachings to the assembly of his students. These teachings were recommended by the 16th Karmapa and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to be translated when the text will be found. I found the text and started to teach from them and found them to be very useful. SMC: What inspired you to write this book? RT: Actually I …

The Shamatha Project, Part III: Forging Ahead

By Sarah Sutherland Editors note: Thanks to a recent $2.3 million Templeton Prize Research Grant from the John Templeton Foundation, researchers are revisiting the results gleaned from Shamatha Project and further analyzing those results. In the first two posts of this four-part series we offered people unfamiliar with the project the chance to learn more about the project and its researchers. In this third post we are discussing the next stage of this project funded by the Templeton Prize Research Grant. And in our final post we’ll take a closer look at the lead researcher, Clifford Saron, and the history behind the project. In Part I and Part II we discussed the inception of the Shamatha Project and the results of the project. Now, thanks to a recent $2.3 million Templeton Prize Research Grant from the John Templeton Foundation, lead researcher Clifford Saron and his colleagues will be taking the Shamatha Project to the next level, further analyzing and expanding the mountains of data they collected in labs they built in the basement of Shambhala …

Meditation & Creativity

New York Times bestselling author Susan Piver will be teaching an Open Heart Retreat April 5-8 at the Shambhala Mountain Center. Susan discovered the dharma in 1995 after reading books by Chogyam Trungpa and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, who is now her teacher. According to her website, she practices a formal sitting meditation, acting right, being nice, digging deep, and forgiving herself when she screws up. Susan writes for the Huffington Post and has written five books, including her most recent, “The Wisdom of a Broken Heart.” Susan has generously allowed us to reprint this article. For more information on her retreat, visit our website. Yesterday I read a tweet from someone looking for advice about taking up meditation for creative reasons. I don’t know this person and I’m not sure what they were looking for, but it started me thinking on what I would say if he asked me directly. Some of you may know that I lead meditation and writing retreats that are about reconnecting with our own creativity and, beyond that, with the …

SMC 2013 I Ching Reading

By Steven Whitacre, Image by Sarah Lipton I Ching (aka the Book of Changes): An ancient Chinese book of divination and a source of Confucian and Taoist philosophy. Answers to questions and advice may be obtained by referring to the text accompanying one of 64 hexagrams, selected at random. -Dictionary.com At the evening feast on Shambhala Day, the beginning of the Year of the (always female) Water Snake, February 11, 2013, we cast the I Ching for Shambhala Mountain Center for the Year.  The result obtained was hexagram #3 Difficulty, with three changing lines, resulting in the second hexagram #7 the Army.  The first hexagram may represent either the recent past or the first part of the year, whereas the second may represent the future or the second part of the year.  Overall, this result suggests that the Shambhala Mountain Center is either experiencing difficult new growth as we return to normal following the High Park fire last summer, or perhaps it’s experiencing difficult growth in new directions with the new director and other changes …

The Shamatha Project, Part II: Collecting Data

By Sarah Sutherland Editors note: Thanks to a recent $2.3 million Templeton Prize Research Grant from the John Templeton Foundation, researchers are revisiting the results gleaned from Shamatha Project and further analyzing those results. In the first two posts of this four-part series we’re offering people unfamiliar with the project the chance to learn more about the project and its researchers. In our third post we will discuss the next stage of this project funded by the Templeton Prize Research Grant. And in our final post we’ll take a closer look at the lead researcher, Clifford Saron. Last Friday we introduced you to the Shamatha Project, a comprehensive meditation study done on the psychological, physical, and behavioral effects of intensive meditation. The study, done in two three-month retreats by Researcher Clifford Saron and others in 2007, revealed some astounding results. “The findings have taught us a lot about the benefits of meditation on our mental and physical health,” said Saron. So, how did researchers measure the results, and what did they discover? To measure the …

A Lovely Day for an Open House

Last Sunday the sun shone bright as we opened Shambhala Mountain Center’s doors for our first open house of the season. It started at 10:30a.m. with a long string of visitors slowly making their way down the path from the entrance parking lot towards Sacred Studies Hall to receive Meditation Instruction from the SMC Rusung Zane Edwards. After sitting practice, SMC’s Executive Director Michael Gayner welcomed us to the Center, and we introduced ourselves and shared our motivation for attending. Many visitors were there for the first time and expressed a curiosity and interest about SMC. As one participant said, “I’ve always wanted to come here; I guess I was just looking for an excuse.” After the introductions, Jim Tolstrup gave a talk on “Ecology and Sacred Outlook towards Environment,” weaving together current ecological challenges, the fascinating history of the SMC land, and meditation in action. Check the blog next week for our first Podcast of Jim’s talk. A round of questions followed during which a visitor asked, “what’s the greenest thing you could do …