Month: May 2016

Pema Chödrön says: “Don’t lose heart.”

This morning I had a conversation with my co-workers about some challenging circumstances that I’m in the midst of. With my description, I imagined I painted a storm cloud — complete with rumbling thunder and generally full of doom. And then I added that as dreadful as it feels, in the background is a sense that it’s a good, necessary process. In large part, I have Pema Chödrön to thank for helping to condition my mind to hold pain and terrible shit-storms of life within a view of path and awakening. In this video, she begins by relaying a most helpful bit of encouragement: Don’t lose heart. For more than a decade I’ve been turning to Pema Chödrön books in times of strife just to get a bit of encouragement like that; just to be reminded that this very moment — whatever the texture — is the process of awakening in living color. She always says: “Feel it.” And doing so allows us to know the reality of life on earth, and develop empathy for …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Crystal as Lotus

This morning I abandoned “other” projects and felt lighter. Only bringing the SMC beauty into being. She’s gone, I’ve wept. Shadow mood yesterday after too much low-alcohol beer the night before, after three hours of driving on farm roads — reviewing recordings — after dropping her off at the terminal, weeping, after having too much food to celebrate (?) together — last meal sort of thing. When we were pulling off the land friends came out from their offices and put dandelions in our windshield wipers, hugged Heather, skipped and danced and waved behind the car as we pulled off. The previous morning Joshua approached our breakfast table and encouraged Heather to design some things for the gift store. He expressed warm appreciation for who and how she is, how she dresses, her overall aesthetic and creative way. He wept. He said: “The more of you in the world, the better.” The previous night we had an amazing banquet to honor Heather and Sophie — land steward, who was also leaving. Toasts, feast, beauty, hugs, …

water writing: homage

By Katharine Kaufman Shibata Sensei is so old that it takes two people to prop him upright. Yoshiko holds his left side. She is the daughter of Zen master, Kobun Chino. We are here, at the home-made Zendo, in a small dip in the Santa Cruz mountains, because it’s the 10th anniversary of Kobun’s death. Kobun’s expression of being came from the natural depth of what it is to be human and nature. Every body has it. He told me not to speak of it so much, as if my saying the words, original nature, chipped something away from the type of beauty that is also truth. When my friend Janet Solyntjes hosted him at Naropa College she did all these things for him. She registered students for the class, drove him where he wanted to go and made sure he had a place to stay where the sound of the refrigerator was only a quiet hum. In the end he thanked her for the glass of water she gave him to drink once, before …

Lila Yoga

A Simple Visualization Meditation from Yogacharya Erica Kaufman

By Erica Kaufman ~~~ I developed this simple meditation to help people experience a state of yoga—where the mind is clean and clear. The feedback has been remarkable.  Visualizations like this tend to free us in a profound way and we actually experience limitless support as we sit. The tools of yoga are vast and highly useful. I grew up with yoga and am energized to support you in the many ways it feeds our soul and health. We will practice tools in mindfulness and meditations like the one above, pranayama (yogic breathing), asana (yoga postures), satsang (spiritual gatherings), hike, chant, and be, at the upcoming retreat I’ll be leading at SMC. Imagine the divine sweet scent of the trees at Shambhala. Close your eyes and watch your breath. Regulate your pace and make the habitat for your breath spacious by sitting with a long spine and a broad chest. Comfortably slow and deepen your breath. Continue for a few minutes. Now take note of where your mind usually goes. Ask yourself: “what are the …

Ken Wilber on Mindfulness and Why “Growing Up” is as Important as “Waking Up”

As mindfulness has grown in popularity, it’s questionable whether it’s potential as a tool for enlightenment has been sufficiently acknowledged. Ken Wilber — author, philosopher, and founder of Integral Institute — notes that mindfulness is mostly valued for it’s benefits to health, productivity, and emotional well-being. Enlightenment, he says, is not so much a part of the popular motivation towards this practice. In the video below, Wilber contextualizes mindfulness — referencing it’s origination close to three thousand years ago, and how it relates to this moment in human development. And, how modern people might relate to the idea of enlightenment… or not. Later in the video, he succinctly introduces the provocative idea that throughout human history, people have either been focusing on “Growing up” or “Waking up,” but we have never done both at the same time. Therefore, he says, this history of humanity is that of a broken species — whether we’re considering people from the East or West. I hope you enjoy the video, and, if this whets your appetite, I encourage you to check out the …

Diane Musho Hamilton on Creativity, Emotions and the Necessity of Conflict

Sitting before a blank page, waiting to decide on the opening words of this post, I’ve been experiencing a sense of unease, disruption, chaos — in mind and body. And that’s no surprise. It turns out that the space of creativity — and communication in general — is tinged with uncertainty, and that brings with it some rather challenging psychological and physiological upheavals. It’s interesting to learn about the evolutionary basis for “fight or flight” and how we’ve evolved in such a way that allows us to accomodate the gushing of adrenaline and cortizol without actually bolting from the room of lunging at a fellow human with our claws out. More to the point though… meditation is quite helpful in allowing us to not only accomodate our emotions, but to ride them in such a way that the intelligence of these energies can be harnessed and employed in the service of creativity. That’s what was happening with me as I began writing this post. And that’s what happens each time I pause and wait for …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Slip Slidin’ Away

Sadness as this moment, world we’ve built, slips away.  Two weeks from today, Heather leaves the land.  I’ll stay, and we’ll move to Boulder together August 1, after I come out of Sacred World Assembly — a big retreat that feels like graduation. I’ll stay on with SMC, working part-time, doing the blog, email, marketing thing while I study poetry, grad school. I’m going to sing some songs, I think.  Last night, it was raining on the cabin — oh the cabin, which was hell a year ago, overrun with mice, no toilet.  This time around mice haven’t been so bad and we’ve got a little camping toilet in the closet.  It’s still a bit of a chore to clean it out, but… legit. This perch: The northeast corner of the room is my zone.  We have sheets hung from the ceiling that roll down and up.  When down, they form a princess bed situation for Heather, and for me, a meditation-secret-movements, sacred space. I’ve got a window that looks out across the valley to …

Celebrating the Garden Project

We spent this past snowy May Day morning celebrating an incredible act of generosity that has made a real impact on our community culture here at Shambhala Mountain Center — the sponsorship of the SMC Garden Project by the Aida & Mike Feldman Philanthropic Trust & the Feldman Family. This grant allowed us to build a geodesic dome greenhouse last September, which has provided over 2,000 pounds of food (mostly greens), and also allowed us to purchase a bright red Massey Ferguson tractor, which has helped our land & forestry crews immensely. We gathered with Sonia Feldman (granddaughter of Aida and Mike) and Larry Rich from the foundation, along with members of the SMC community and governing council for brunch festivities: beautiful foods prepared with the microgreens grown in the greenhouse, speeches & toasts to the shared experience, and a tour of the greenhouse. Watch the slideshow below to see how this project came together! Our deep gratitude goes out to the Feldman Family Foundation for giving our aspirations the chance to become physical reality, and for supporting our …