Month: April 2021

Samu: Training the Mind to Stay Present

By Dhi Good // “Meditation in the midst of activity is a thousand times superior to meditation in stillness.”  Zen Master Hakuin Ekaku Samu is work practice, meditation in the midst of activity. In Japanese Zen monasteries, samu involves the work of keeping the monastery clean, the monks fed, the buildings and grounds maintained. One could consider it a break from the rigors of zazen, or sitting meditation. Or it could be one of the most challenging and rewarding meditation practices available to a sincere practitioner.  As a Zen Buddhist in the 1990’s, I loved all aspects of the meditation experience. The little Zen garden with a cherry tree leading to the zendo. The persistent call of the wooden han, signaling it was time to enter the zendo, or meditation hall. The clean wooden floor lined with brown meditation cushions. Chanting the opening and closing liturgies, koan practice, the stories and dharma talks about ancient Zen masters. But samu was something else — not formal zazen, and not merely doing chores. It was neither, and …

Becoming Ageless As We Age

By Marcella Friel // Having no choice but to stay home this past year, I’ve taken advantage of the lockdown to deepen my commitment to what had previously been my “do-it-when-I-feel-like-it” yoga practice.  Enlisting the support of a pod mate, we’ve been spending 90 minutes a day, five days a week, in meditation, asana, chanting, pranayama, and luxurious periods of shavasana.    This has been an extraordinary endeavor for me, given that I started this rigorous practice with such severe low back pain I could barely bend down to tie my boots or pick up my cat’s food bowl.  For years I accepted my worsening condition as an inevitable ravage of time. And yet now, at age 59, I’m wrapping up my sixth decade of life feeling more fit, foxy, and flexible than I did 10 years ago, maybe even 20.  My once-disabling back pain is now a minor discomfort. I do headstands and full lotus postures with ease.  My renewed physical vitality, combined with the deepening self-knowledge that comes only with years of experience, make …

The Power of Yin

As we look forward to hosting an online retreat with long-time friend of SMC Sara Avant Stover next month, we’d like to share a dharma talk she gave during another retreat this past winter. In this talk, Stover, a bestselling author and teacher of feminine spirituality, speaks about The Power of Yin. “In a world that still condemns the feminine, or yin energy—like softening, resting, being, allowing—we still have a ways to go before really restoring this fundamental energetic balance,” she says, “first within ourselves and then on the planet.” We hope you enjoy this talk, and you can learn more about the upcoming retreat below. Join Sara for this upcoming online retreat: About Sara Avant Stover Sara Avant Stover is a bestselling author and teacher of feminine spirituality. After a cancer scare in her early twenties, Sara moved to Thailand, embarked on a decade-long healing and spiritual odyssey throughout Asia, and has since gone on to uplift tens of thousands of women worldwide. The founder of the world’s first Women’s Yoga Teacher Training, Sara …