Author: smcblog

The Four Immeasurables Practice in Global Pandemic 

By Dr Nashalla Gwyn Nyinda, Menpa TMD Living in highly unusual circumstances, we have been facing unknowns, fears surrounding vulnerable friends, family and indeed ourselves in a global pandemic. When we realize, as a global community, we are all suffering together, this helps us understand our sameness as human beings. The Four Immeasurables practice in Buddhism helps turn the mind towards realities of experiencing the nature of our samsaric world. The interdependence and how we perceive “self” in relation to others is the basis of any practice of radiating light, healing, love and compassion to all who are suffering. By cultivating these four aspects, we achieve happiness for ourselves and others, even amid enormous uncertainty and fear. The Four Immeasurables Loving-Kindness Compassion Joy/Appreciation Equanimity Loving-kindness  Loving-kindness contains an ardent wish that all sentient beings, without exception, be happy. The attitude of loving-kindness is akin to feelings a parent has for their offspring. Parents want their children to enjoy good health and success in life, without hardships. We expand this same feeling by meditating and wishing …

planning a retreat

Plan to Retreat in 2022

by Dhi Good What’s the best thing you’ve ever given yourself? For me, the most precious and meaningful gift is time. Time away from the day-to-day fray of life, time to be with myself, time to move and be still and listen and just be. Time to eat mindfully, get plenty of rest and get away from those devices that buzz and beep for attention throughout the day. We all need time to reset, let go of habits that don’t serve us well, and get back to who we truly are deep down. We plan for holidays and trips to see the relatives, but when it comes to planning for our own health and wellbeing, our longing to reconnect with one’s self tends to fall to the bottom of the list. For 2022, why not try making your retreat(s) a priority? Whether you go for a yoga retreat or a silent meditation intensive, you will be taking a step toward wholeness and restoration. For me, I find that after several days on retreat I’m often …

work with senses

Working with our Senses and our State of Mind 

by Steve Vosper So, life can be challenging. We all know this. The question arises, what can we do about it? In my October SMC Newsletter posting, Challenges are the Path, I suggested that perhaps those challenges can be a way forward, rather than obstacles in our lives. In September I had also suggested that Mindfulness is the Key, and that’s where this particular rubber meets the road.  With our own basic mindfulness, we can work with our senses, work with our state of mind. We can begin to understand ourselves better, begin to transform ourselves for the better and begin to engage in our lives more fully.  That said, this doesn’t involve taking on some kind of dreadful project or big addition to our seemingly endless to-do lists. Nor does it require special skills and experience that only the select few can access or accomplish. It just involves a slight shift in attitude, a slight turning toward ourselves right now. It simply involves being with ourselves, being kind to ourselves in our present situation, …

how to be yourself

How to Be Yourself 

Excerpt from the international bestseller You Were Not Born To Suffer by Blake D. Bauer “Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.”     Hermann Hesse If you stop pretending to be something you are not, or to feel other than you do, then what? If you were to let your mask come off, and show the world all of who you really are, then who would we all get to meet? If you stopped trying to fit in or to please your parents, friends, partner or whomever else’s approval, praise or love you seek, then what would you say? Where would you go? And what would you do? If you allowed the world to see your darkness and your light, your vulnerability and your power, do you fear you’d end up alone? But wait, are you not alone already when you feel misunderstood or unable to express what you really think and feel?  It is ironic that we as human beings inevitably have to ask ourselves, ‘How …

silent retreat

The Gift of Silent Retreat 

by Jon Aaron  The silence amidst the noise the gem at the core of every experience is polished by simple attention into shining magnificence -Nirmala  “words do not come” I remember my very first experience on an 8-day retreat. I had no idea what to expect. I had been meditating for a year or so and decided it was time to try a retreat. The challenges in the first few days felt insurmountable. I wanted to jump out of my skin. By the end, I never wanted to leave! Each time I was ready to give up, something was said by one of the teachers which gave such encouragement and confidence that my thoughts of leaving vanished. This was helped by the support of everyone else as we practiced together in community. It’s hard to describe what happened. Suffice to say it changed my life forever. Retreat practice is such a unique opportunity, and these days in-person retreats are even more special. With vaccines, ease of testing and a communal commitment to keeping each other safe, we can …

embodied listening

Embodied Listening: An Interview with Hope Martin

Hope Martin has taught the Alexander Technique for 33 years, trained Alexander teachers for two decades at the American Center for the Alexander Technique, and operates Hope Martin Studio in New York City. She is a Meditation Instructor, Focusing trainer, and a close student of Pema Chödron. Her particular passion is in helping her students discover how easeful, upright posture is an expression of their human dignity, confidence, and innate wakefulness. We recently had the good fortune of chatting with Hope about her upcoming November Online retreat: Embodied Listening®: Trusting the Wisdom of Direct Experience and learning a bit more about what can be expected during the weekend retreat. Watching and listening to this rich conversation between Hope and Dhi, brings the following guidance to mind: “Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are.”                        –Pema Chödron Hope’s wisdom and grace suggest that as we learn to build a friendly relationship with ourselves, we …

Sadhana

by Katharine Kaufman First there is a landing. Then a letting go. Then curiosity about what happens next. You wake up. Somebody has made you breakfast. You go into the beautiful studio, and lie your mat down and you lie down on your mat. Maybe you need a chair. Maybe you’re exhausted. Maybe you’ve recovered from surgery or sickness this year and your balance is off. Or you have worked non-stop. Or you have lost your work. You yield. Life on retreat is simple on purpose, so you have space to discover and cultivate your practice as it shows up now, in your body. Everything here at the Shambhala Mountain Center supports this. The teachers, staff, meals, schedule, the room you stay in, the stupa. The way the retreat is designed, from the opening welcome to the closing appreciation, supports you. What I mean to say is you are held by the balance of these things pointing in the direction of your practice. “Sadhana,” has many meanings ranging from formal personal practice to daily life. …

Challenges are the Path

by Steven Vosper In my September SMC Newsletter posting, Mindfulness is the Key , I suggested that we could afford to relax and open to our world completely.  Then I posed the question, why not, what’s holding us back?  I think it’s a good question, a very personal question, and one that’s worth thinking about.  Maybe we’re afraid, maybe we’re too busy, maybe we’re too lazy, or maybe we don’t even want to relax and open to our world completely.  Whatever the case may be, if something is holding us back in our lives, then perhaps it’s worth exploring further.  Maybe we can see it more clearly, understand it more fully and discover something new.  Can we actually turn towards our lives, look more closely at the obstacles and the challenges in our lives and find a way through, a path forward?    Let’s give it a try. Let’s bring a deeper awareness to the patterns in our lives, the causes, conditions and habits that hold us back. Who knows what we might discover? Perhaps our …

In Challenging Times, Your Body Knows What’s Needed

We invite you to listen to Hope as she’s interviewed by Jonathan Bastian on KCRW about Embodied Listening.  The show aired on April 10th. Hope’s engaging interview begins at 21:53 into the podcast.   by Hope Martin There’s a lot of uncertainty and groundlessness right now. Many of us have strong feelings of anxiety, fear or worry; a sense that we don’t know what’s coming, that our world has irrevocably changed. It might be hard to know how to handle our feelings, or what to do with them. Maybe we’ve been ill or know people who are ill or who have died.   Perhaps we’ve lost our business or our job or have other concerns or challenges.  Or maybe we’re doing very well with our own particular situation – may it be so! nevertheless, the world is reeling.   Embodied Listening, comprised of Mindfulness Meditation, the Alexander Technique and Focusing, teaches a different and life-enhancing way to be in relationship with what is happening for us. We learn to experience it and explore it in a bodily way.   When strong emotions or anxiety arise, dropping into the body gives us resources that have always …