Month: April 2019

B. Alan Wallace on Meditative Stability and Insight

By B. Alan Wallace // I have been drawn to the practice of shamatha from the time I was first introduced to it, in Dharamsala, India, in the early 1970s. I was immediately intrigued by the possibility of using the methods of shamatha (the word literally means “quiescence”) to explore the nature of the mind firsthand. Such practices lead to advanced stages of samadhi, or meditative concentration, where one is able to focus unwavering attention on a single object. This object may be as small as a single point or as vast as space, so it does not necessarily entail a narrowing of focus, only a coherence of focused attention. This is what Tibetan Buddhists refer to when speaking of “achieving shamatha” and “settling the mind in its natural state.” After studying and practicing Buddhism for ten years, I devoted myself for another four years to exploring solitary retreats in Asia and the United States, training first under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and later under the Sri Lankan monk and scholar …

Katharine Kaufman

The Good Vehicle

By Katharine Kaufman // My father taught me how to move with wind and water. He taught me to read the direction of the wind by turning my cheek, appreciate the lines of the sail and cleats and tiller. He said, watch out, you’re luffing. Luffing is when the sail is not taught; there is bagginess in the bottom triangle of the sail. If the wind was steady, and sea calm, and if it wasn’t too cold, and the current didn’t drag the boat; that was the best thing. Sometimes we’d sing about the drunken sailor as we bailed water with a cut out clorox bottle, watched out for buoys, looked ahead for reefs, shallow places, looked at the sails, horizon, water, my family’s barefeet. ~ When I first learned about Yoga and Mediation I thought when teachers said return to what is happening now, that it was their present moment I should have. That the present was more magical, fancy, mysterious then what my present had to offer. I wanted Richard Freeman’s present moment, …

Zen Calligraphy: A Path of Deepening Your Way of Life

By Kazuaki Tanahashi // The lines you draw may initially look unskilled or clumsy, but soon they will gain elegance and fluency. Each moment of practice is a moment of learning. Your eyes will see more acutely and your hand will draw more elegantly. The progress, however, may not be as immediate as you desire. That will allow you all the more opportunity to improve your brushwork and enjoy your experience endlessly! Calligraphy is not a goal-oriented task, but rather a path for deepening your way of life. Three of the general styles of calligraphy are exemplified below: the Zen Circle, Ideography, and One-Stroke. About the Author Kazuaki Tanahashi is a painter, calligrapher, writer and peace worker. Born and trained in Japan, he is known for creating a genre of one-stroke paintings and multi-colored Zen circles. A fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, his brushwork has been featured in many solo exhibitions. He teaches and performs worldwide. His publications include Brush Mind, The Heart Sutra: A comprehensive Guide, and Painting Peace: Art in a Time …

5 Things To Know About Meditating for a Whole Week

By Ryan Stagg // At the end of a recent week-long meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center another participant remarked about how difficult it would be to explain her experience back home. “We sat a lot, walked in circles, and didn’t talk much,” she said with a laugh. And yet somehow after a week of performing this simple routine, often in complete silence, we all had smiles on our faces and a clear appreciation for the journey we had just completed. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what, but some transformation had undoubtedly occurred. The atmosphere in the room was simply lighter and more spacious. There is something very radical about choosing to go on a meditation retreat. In many ways it stands in contrast to the speediness and excitement of our everyday lives. It also creates a fundamental shift in our perspective—rather than seeking fulfillment externally, we resolve to sit and look inside, at our own bodies, hearts, and minds. The effects of embracing this contemplative perspective have long been promoted by practitioners and …

Follow the Threads — Mindful Awakening

By Michael W. Taft // Mille viae ducunt homines per saecula Romam When I started meditating in my teens, I believed in Enlightenment. I was going to get to the Big E, which involved having certain mind-blowing experiences. You’d see the Light, or God would open her kimono, or whatever, and after that you’d glow in the dark. I was super enthusiastic and worked really hard to do whatever I believed it took have those experiences. Months in caves in India. Pilgrimages to rivers, glaciers, and to the tops of mountains. Celibacy. Studying at the feet of masters wreathed in garlands of flowers. Mostly lots and lots of meditation. This setup for an article usually now transitions into saying that all that was a waste, and that Awakening is always available in every moment without any of that stuff. But that’s not at all how I would describe what I’ve found. Instead, I feel like, Yes, awakening is available in every moment, especially if you’ve done lots and lots of meditation. Even all those rituals, …

Andrew Holecek

The Benefits of Lucid Dreaming

By Andrew Holecek // One of the most common questions around lucid dreaming is, “Why bother?” Life is already so busy, what’s in it for me? After forty years of exploring these special dreams, the scope and depth of their potential continues to astound me. The benefits are almost too good to be true. But the vast literature supports these claims, thousands of students I’ve worked with continue to verify them, and my own experience confirms these remarkable gains. Not everybody will experience these benefits. It all depends on how deeply you engage in the practices, how firmly you believe in them, and how patient and determined you are. Many people will be thrilled to simply indulge their lucid dreams and leave it at that. The entertainment value is enough. At the other end of the spectrum are those who pursue lucid dreaming and dream yoga as a lifetime path. These are the dream yogis and yoginis who realize that these practices can lead to complete enlightenment. Most people are somewhere in the middle. They …

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. 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 things that have been drawing my attention lately?” See them in your mind as a slide show. Just like cards, collect these slides and set them aside for now. Allow yourself to be in …

Rick Hanson

[VIDEO] Dr. Rick Hanson – Neurodharma: Practicing Meditation with the Brain in Mind

In this clip from SMC’s Reality Online Summit, Dr. Rick Hanson discusses scientific and spiritual importance of recognizing that our basic needs our met, and how this can allow for more full experiences in meditation. Join us at SMC for Neurodharma Retreat with Dr. Rick Hanson: A 10-day Experiential Exploration of the Deepest Roots of the Highest Happiness (Sep. 20–29)             About the Author Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times best-selling author. His books are available in 26 languages and include Resilient, Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture. He edits the Wise Brain Bulletin and has numerous audio programs. A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, he’s been an invited speaker at NASA, Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, and other major universities, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. Dr. Hanson has been a trustee of Saybrook University, served on the board of …

Land Stewardship

A Conversation about Caring for the Land

Mac McGoldrick and Laura Booth talk about helping the land heal after a year of construction and forestry projects.  Mac is SMC’s Senior Director of Master Planning and Project Management, and Laura joined his team this spring as the new Land Steward. First of all, welcome to SMC, Laura! Would you mind sharing what made you want to live and work here? Laura: I feel all the work I’ve been doing up until now has led me to this point. It’s really exciting to have a vision and do such important work towards our goals! It’s thrilling to be a part of something that has so much potential.  How did it feel for you both the first time you stepped foot onto the land here at SMC? Laura: Several years ago I came to SMC just for the day to see the Stupa. It was shocking to see such a massive and incredible Stupa hidden away in the middle of the mountains, not that far from Fort Collins. Being at the Stupa was so uplifting. …

Relief and Restoration: SMC, A Surprising Salve

By David Schreier, Member of SMC’s Governing Council // It’s been a tough couple of years. Both my temporal and spiritual worlds have been shaken to the core. First, my temporal world was turned upside down by the new political administration in Washington, D.C. And while it would normally have been a reliable refuge from conventional misery, my spiritual world was then rocked by allegations of clerical misconduct and abuse of power. It’s been hard for me to find much to feel good about in either of these realms these days. I’ve experienced a quality of depression and groundlessness that I’ve never felt before; I’ve felt like a leaf blowing and drifting with nowhere to land. Watching the news has become too much to bear, and it’s been nearly impossible to find my practice mind. It was in this context of sadness that I traveled to Shambhala Mountain Center in early April 2019. The land was transitioning from winter to spring – muddy trails, patches of snow, running streams, and meadows coming back to life. …