Month: February 2014

Relationship as a Path of Awakening: A Conversation with Bruce Tift, MA, LMFT

  Bruce Tift will be leading Relationship as a Path of Awakening, May 16-18, 2014. He’ll also be giving a talk on the subject in Boulder on April 25. How can we use the inherent disturbance and richness of our intimate relationships as an opportunity for wakefulness? Psychotherapy helps us understand the deep historic conditioning we bring to our relationships. Buddhist practice cultivates the confidence that, in each fresh moment, we are free in how we relate to this conditioning. Let’s explore how we can learn to keep our hearts open within the profound provocation of intimacy. Bruce Tift, MA, LMFT, has been in private practice since 1979, taught at Naropa University for 25 years, and given presentations in the U.S., Mexico and Japan. His new CD, Already Free: Buddhism Meets Psychotherapy on the Path of Liberation, explores the human issues of neurosis, anxiety, body awareness and relationship dynamics. If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.

Ikebana: The Contemplative Art of Flowers

By Alexandra Shenpen, Sensei and Travis Newbill Shenpen, Sensei will be guiding Ikebana/Kado: The Contemplative Art and Way of Flowers, April 18-20, 2014 Ikebana is more than just flower arranging. Rather, it is a practice through which we explore nature & life,  the relationship between heaven, earth, humanity and personal artistic process — whether we feel we are artistic or not!  We begin by learning traditional, harmonic forms. Engaging with Ikebana as a contemplative practice awakens the unconditional beauty of  our world,  inspiring a way of living. Below are some words from our wonderful teacher, Alexandra Shenpen, Sensei and some images of arrangements created by introductory students. On structure and improvisation: “Forms tame us, helping us to wear-out our artistic ego, so that what comes through is fresh and awake, an expression of  what’s already there — both in ourselves and in nature.  This is a wonderful ground for later improvisation.   In other words, structure provides a language of flowers — and from that language, not only can the poetry of botanical materials communicate more …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Kill the Buddha

  Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center. Black honest and white too pure for stars to hold. The shakier the fringes the more it may be expanding. More space-venue for exploration. Dön Season Day Two: In the morning, Mr. Cushman helped me with the Vajrasattva mantra. It’s long and hard to pronounce. In the evening when Greg lead the chants, he whipped through the mantra so swiftly that I had no chance of reciting it along with him. After a few times through (we recite “Pacifying the Turmoil of the Mamos” 21 times during Dön Season)… After a few times through I gave up on trying and instead just opened up to Greg and connected with his recitation. He was positioned beautifully, an elder master, conducting the ceremony using sacred implements–bell and dorje, displaying mudras. Later in the evening… A disagreement with teacher in class regarding …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Snow Beast Ezmerelda

  Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center. I have a tiny friend named Harrison Hood. And a big, funky friend named Ezmerelda. I want you to know them, so I write this blog.  Last night we watched a film called Art Machine at Dhyana–Kaleigh (my boss-homie) and Eric’s place. Director Gayer (aka Michael the supreme boss-homie of SMC) is the executive producer. I’m going to interview the writer/director (Doug Karr) in a couple of days and we’re going to help spread the word about the film, which was good. It’s about a kid artist growing into his adult version of himself. I knew that at some point he’d be taking psychedelics. A few nights ago we had a dinner party at Dhyana, and the dominant topic of conversation was consciousness and psychedelics (something’s in the air). I didn’t say much. I haven’t read too much about it. The …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Renunciation/Blossom

  Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center. Wet behind the ear, mind-flower shedding petals and onto my shoulder, cool petals, living still, still connected to earth. Petals from the flower-song, becoming smaller. And not separate from fresh blossoms. Valentine’s Day–We handed out flowers from the previous night’s Ikebana class and the haikus that Heather, Tara and I made for all the members of the community. We invaded lunch-time with glittery wishes and cheer. People seemed to enjoy it. Just before lunch a group of staff gathered at the Stupa to film a Shambhala Day greeting from SMC. Nice weather, cheerfulness… A super-love day between and Heather and I and… and this is really key for me… it seemed like that situation was connected to a larger one. Like… romantic love and communal love feeding one another. That’s how we both experienced it. I hope …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Earth!

  Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center. Earth, I know you’re alive. People, I know you’re alive. Plants and people equally alive. It’s a stretch for conceptual mind to accommodate that. We’re not living in harmony with the earth, okay? But… We are aspiring to. The other evening, President Reoch held another fireside gathering for the staff. In Shambhala we call these sorts of things “salons,” yet no one seems to be very clear about what a “salon” is. Seems like: A salon is a gathering, not a party. A salon is celebratory and yet, sincere. A salon is neither business nor recreation. A salon is authentic and social. So, Jared the Land Steward started a fire. Zane the Rusung (a protector role) attempted to do so but it went out, at which point he said: “I don’t start fires, I put them out.” …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Don’t Stay Stuck

  Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center. Sweltering Florida is a heavy swamp,, shirt soaked in doubt, mowing the lawn, day to day dirt. Muck. Mountain air is fresh.   Last night I was asked to describe a transition which has occurred in my life. I spoke about the move from suburbia Florida to a mountain-dwelling contemplative community. I said lots of things: What did I leave behind? Petting my cat. Being close to my Mom. Swimming in the ocean. (and other lovely peoples and things, of course) What have I gained? My life is rich with meaningful relationships. I laugh so much more! So much more. That actually says it all, I believe. I feel confident that I am right where I need to be. –Lately, in the middle of my morning writing (as just now), I get a little knock on my …

Floral Notes and Bardo: All Textures, Musical

  Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center. Jump–out of my body Be–in my body Shuffle Grasp, oh, leggo Pop, shine into a room Crystal-air fingers sweeping across body–floor, air waiting for nothing, all textures holy Storytelling, all the time. The story of my weekend: Friday evening–long journey through the snow to Elkhorn house, jamming and arts and crafts. A fun scene. Beautiful free-music and glitter all over the place culminating in a multi-person hula hoop molecule moving to the sounds of ragtime piano music (funky old out of tune piano at Elkhorn house). Slumber party in Heather’s room. In the morning, Dorje Kasung color-guard, hoisting the flags. We stood in our pajamas and saluted out the window, joined them in singing the anthem, then: “As you were!” Back into bed giggling. Chores at the Stupa, deep cleaning. Felt great. Some practice afterwards. Later group …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Playful Culture

  Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center. Last night was the first in a series of classes on Shambhala Culture and Decorum. Various experienced teachers will be leading these classes for us, the community. The question is: What is enlightened culture and how may we manifest that together here at Shambhala Mountain Center? The first question posed last night was: What is culture? The class included an engaging discussion around these questions and a hilarious and educational group exercise in which we wrapped gifts for Greg Smith. The point of the exercise was to explore the difference between a speedy, accomplishment-oriented approach to living and a more organic, appreciative one. Many of us felt that our broader national culture is based on the former, which is very masculine, and that we are interested in creating a more feminine, playful, caring culture at SMC and …