Month: December 2015

Setting an Aspiration (Rather than a “Resolution”) for 2016

Do you have any New Year resolutions in mind? Any big changes you’d like to see happen in 2016? What is your approach to that whole thing, and what has your experience been in past years? Here’s a way of framing this tradition that you may find helpful: In our culture, the idea of making these “resolutions” — changes that we schedule to take effect immediately at midnight on January 1st, and then sustain indefinitely — is often treated with either an unhealthy degree of ambition and wishful thinking, or else cynicism and a sense of… “screw it.” A wonderful teacher and mentor of mine, Jon Barbieri, identifies the problematic aspects of resolution-making, and offers a different, more sane way of thinking about the prospect of “self-improvement.” The approach that he offers is based on harnessing the energy of renewal that comes along with the changing of the calendar year, and with that, embarking on a journey with the intention of gradually shifting the habitual patterns that bring about the results that we find to …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Wrapping Vapor

A million fat flakes last night, left an inch of powder. Two million thoughts about my life — grasping for certainty, hopelessly knitting because I can’t bare the frays.  Recognizing that and relaxing into the vulnerable not-knowing.  Pema would be proud. A dream of wrapping it all up — like a Christmas present? — before dathun.  So that I can unwrap it afterwards?  What am I talking about: Naropa application and Boulder housing mostly.  I’m on the way out, though I have half a year left here. ‘Tis the season — to submit applications for grad programs and housing in college town. Intense — waiting for mentors to confirm that they’ll write letters for me, and realizing it’s the holidays and folks are out of their business/email routines, perhaps preferring to not have tasks laid upon them. Meanwhile — the land.  The community.  The shrine room.  The life in the nest with Heather. Shambhala Mountain Center life.  That’s what this blog is “about.” I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago (at Shambhala Mountain Center). 33 …

In the Company of Women: Precious Knowing

By Katharine Kaufman Home At Shambhala Mountain Center I have the good fortune to be at the Shambhala Mountain Center at this moment so I can tell you what it is like in the winter here — at least right now. Still & quiet. Today I walked up to the ridge — maybe to get nearer to the sun. There was some trudging through snow and also big patches with no snow. I rested on an outcropping of rocks. A group of deer were close to the Stupa. They looked up at me and leapt away as if gravity were no problem. Inside the Stupa I was struck by what feels like the thickness of many years of people practicing. The good humored gentleness and authentic way of the staff feels so warming. I am called back to this place. This is one of my homes. On Inspiration My idea for the women’s retreats began from my sense that it would be great to gather, and do practices on the coldest day of the winter …

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Effects of Sun and Sand

On stage, witnessed, with no script–messy. Masking bewilderment with a self-soothing heroic narrative is cowardly.  Pretending to have courage/knowledge is miserly.  The rules are training wheels. You’re gonna see me scrape my knees up real nasty.  I’m a klutz.  I am going to relentlessly sing through the shakes, in hopes that perhaps you’ll be kind enough to drop your judgment and hear me.  I’ll try to hear you. Gonna take my bike out. I say such stupid things and the feedback is more vivid, the more that I practice, the more that I become sensitive to the personal quality, directness, of the whole thing.  Aggressive in such subtle ways, “We know not what we do!” Arrogant in such subtle ways, trying to hold it together.  Trying to do it.  Do what? Trying to be so smooth, to manifest according to our ideals.  Please allow lots of room for stumbling and don’t identify with dummy or genius at any point along the path, and when you do, don’t identify as a person who does, and when you do… …

Stop Cleaning Your Plate: 5 Steps to More Mindful Eating

By Marcella Friel I just came home from lunch with a friend, where I ordered Caesar salad with chicken. What arrived at the table was a mountain of romaine lettuce large enough to rival the 14,000-foot peaks in my Colorado backyard. This was not one, but at least six full portions of salad, intended for one person. I shrugged, sighed, ate a few handfuls, and pushed the rest away. And no, I didn’t take a doggie bag of soggy lettuce home to sit in my fridge before I threw it out. Leaving the restaurant, I sadly recalled Chögyam Trungpa’s words in Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior: “When people go to restaurants, often they are served giant platefuls of food, more than they can eat, to satisfy the giant desire of their minds. Their minds are stuffed just by the visual appearance of their giant steaks, their full plates.” In our modern industrial food culture, we face an unprecedented dilemma: We don’t want to waste our food; yet we’re served such huge portions we …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Florida Boy, Be Brave!

After a summer of so much activity, movement, money spending, speed, I had this dream of holing up in this lodge room all winter long, not leaving the land at all or spending any money.  That’s pretty much what is happening, but the dream now has some cracks in it.  Some say: the cracks are how the light gets in. I’m planning to head to Boulder for Christmas with dear friends, and then to a concert in March.  Wonderful things, and troubling — because I am scared of winter driving.  Ice on roads, insane mountain curves and death-cliffs. I had a conversation with a couple of elders a few weeks ago about it, and they made the dangers quite vivid for me.  At the same time, it’s something that people do.  Each of them do it.  And they had a sense of humor around it, even though they were discussing possible death. “You’re bound to have a white knuckle experience at some point if you’re driving in the winter.” That statement made it very easy …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Soggy Cloak and Golden Strands, Entwined

Heartbroken by hearing about extreme prejudice, I imagined myself as a Muslim American who prays for peace.  I felt it deep in my heart and so I chose to add my voice to the big mix, rather than keep quiet in hopes of causing less disturbance. I said something about Donald Trump on Facebook.  First time. Immediately, a friend posted a photo below: Donald Trump with a butthole where his mouth ought to be. Then, right after that, another friend showed up. His profile picture is him standing beside Donald Trump.  He said: “What are you doing for your country, Travis?” Representatives from both sides of the spectrum. I responded by thanking friend #2 for respectfully asking that provocative question, opening up conversation.  Really! Thank you for showing up and not letting my remark drift off into the choir of like-minded people.  Thank you for reminding me who I’m speaking to. This is a dense area for me.  A soggy cloak.  Soaked in blood that may turn golden in the sunlight if I am not …

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Holiest of Hassles

A choir of Zen practitioners in brown robes, downstairs, chanting — our room is flooded by this holy resonance. Nice while in the bathtub. Stopped us in our tracks the first time we heard it. Yesterday morning, it made it impossible to get into my work. Too beautiful and captivating! The holiest of hassles. I suspect that all the hassle I experience in this life is this way. All the interruptions to my pre-conceived notions of right and wrong, all the occasions of shattered scripts. When I go into my head, into the grumpy narrative–bah humbug–I’m missing the masterpiece. But, but, the sorrowful moans of the grumpy cello of complaint! Yeah, yeah… but don’t go too far into that story. There’s been a nasty stomach bug going around the community.  It hasn’t gotten me, but it did get Ryan.  We spoke about surrender (to illness, sweat lodge, discomfort of all sorts) can allow the wisdom to flow, the message to be received.  So, from that point of view… a stomach flu is sort of like …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Good Nest Gives Rise to Song

This good nest gives rise to song–inspiration, insight, visions.  Looking at possibilities in my work-life –the SMC Blog–my baby–visions for breathing life into it.  Linking that up with the newsletter, the video stuff.  The whole thing a cohesive offering.  A stream.  Contributions from the community and visiting teachers.  I see a doorway opening.  A stream of work that I can get into. Offering. Offering. Offering. Forming relationships–with thousands of people.  We are the center of a mandala. Ideas also for personal projects.  Sensing greater organization and execution. So much more leisure as well! Actually getting a bit deeper and more expansive with my practice and study.  Time in the evening to read for pleasure, get into the headphones and listen to music, sweet time with tidbit. Last night, after an hour of reading and some time with Floating Points, I took off the headphones and heard singing coming from the bathroom. I went in to visit.  Heather in the tub, all the water drained, “waiting to get a bit chilly so that taking a shower …