Author: smcblog

Expansive Nature of Love: Beyond “My little corner of the world”

By Allison C Zangmo & Anyen Rinpoche // Cultivating the expansive nature of love is the essence of the dharma.  What does that actually mean? As human beings, we are limited in so many ways.  Our physical nature is limited; when we feel physical pain or illness or the suffering of aging, our ability to love ourselves and others is also limited.  Our emotional nature is limited; when we feel personal pain and suffering, when our minds are focused on our own experience and cannot relate to the experience of others, or when we think the intensity of our suffering is unique, our ability to love ourselves and others is limited.  The nature of our breath is limited; when our breathing takes on the characteristics of our emotions, when it becomes hot, heavy, or fast-paced, our ability to love ourselves and others is limited. The nature of the everyday mind is limited; when we are too focused on the things that we think we want and need to feel comfortable and safe, our ability to love …

Paul Spiegelman

Go On A Silent Retreat? You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

By Paul Spiegelman // Like most of you, the thought of going to some remote spot and not talking to anyone for several days was not at all appealing.  Neither was the idea that I would need to turn off my phone and completely disconnect. So you could imagine the anxiety as I took the two-hour drive from the Denver airport to the Shambhala Mountain Retreat in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado last Monday. I had been invited, along with about 15 other business leaders, to attend a “transformative experience” by Rob Dube, author of donothing: The Most Rewarding Leadership Challenge You’ll Ever Take.  Rob is a long-time member of the Small Giants Community, a devotee of meditation, and a good friend.  Though I have to admit I never would have agreed to do something like this, I wanted to support Rob.  When we got to the retreat and went around the room, I found that most of the attendees were nervous participants as well.  But here we were. In the weeks leading up to the event, I wasn’t too concerned about …

Practicing Simplicity: Two Teachers on Zen

By Katharine Kaufman and Michael Wood // The beginner’s mind has many possibilities — Shunryu Suzuki The upcoming SMC retreat, “Practicing Simplicity,” is the result of an ongoing conversation between two friends and students of Zen. Katharine’s Zen practice is foundational to her work with Poetry and Contemplative Movement Arts. Michael revels in the paradoxical; learning from ontological and cultural engagements with Dharma Art and Zen philosophy. It is through our shared intuitive appreciation for the beauty of fragility and contingency of expression that we have come together to offer this weekend introduction to Zen retreat. Please join us in discovering the simplicity of Zen practice.  Michael says: In the Sôtô Zen tradition, the primary practice is shikantaza- or “just sitting.” While we do not sit as a means to an end, through the process of sitting, we find that as our thoughts settle and a  glimpse of the non-dual nature of reality reveals itself, awareness and the ability to concentrate on the precision of forms and transience of the present arises. In doing so, experience is once again …

The Practice of Dropping: An Antidote for a Busy Life

By Brian Spielmann & De West // When we’re babies, the ability to grasp, which becomes fully developed around 9-12 months, is one of the most important developmental milestones. This core skill demonstrates planning, hand-eye coordination, muscular strength, and motor skills. As adult spiritual practitioners, we have the opposite issue: how do we stop grasping and let go? Our minds are constantly grasping and fixating, creating much suffering in our minds and tension in our bodies. As Mick Jagger says, “You can’t always get what you want.” And that grasping is where samsara begins. The Buddhist and Yogic traditions both offer clear, practical instructions on how to let go fully. When we integrate these traditions, working both with our body and our mental awareness, we have a powerful dual pathway to further relaxation and sense of peace. Take a Load Off The good news is that our thoughts and emotional baggage don’t actually exist. They come and they go, and we can let them arise with no judgment or need to push them away. We …

Yuval Ron

Sacred Music: The Most Powerful Medicine We Have

By Yuval Ron // This spring 2019 I will be coming to Shambhala Mountain Center to explore the inner world of Nada Yoga—the Yoga of Sound—the use of sacred music and movement in Zen and Sufi traditions, and to experience the healing powers of sound meditations. Meditation has been found to be a powerful remedy for anxiety, fear, depression, high blood pressure, and other debilitating emotional disorders. Music is the most powerful tool for meditation. The sound resonates through our body and mind. Some studies that I mention in my book Divine Attunement: Music as a Path to Wisdom have shown that humans and animals synchronize their breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and physical movements to the rate of the musical pulse they are exposed to. In other words, when you play rapid music, breathing, movement, heart rate, etc. will become faster. If you play calming music, the heart rate drops and the process of relaxation begins. Thus, music can usher us into meditative state, even if we do not wish to go there! However, …

MBSR Vacation

The Paradox of Pleasure

There’s a natural sacredness in the world – in the blue sky, muddy earth, the sound of leaves fluttering, faces of children at play, the feeling of muscles exerting, the change of season. We need not pursue pleasure, it’s present when were willing to experience the world directly. It’s as if our eyes have grown scales making it hard to see. When we relax the scales fall away.

Can You Make Friends with Entropy?

By Michael W. Taft // One time as a little kid, I burned my hand on a hot stove. My mom gave me a towel with ice cubes in it to hold. Tears poured down my cheeks as I sobbed. I remember looking at my palm, which was extremely painful, and thinking, “Why me?” Suffering is an integral part of being alive. Nobody likes it. We’d all want to get completely rid of it if we could. As I said, suffering is just the way it is. But why? Why is suffering such a central aspect of our lived experience? In short: entropy. The universe is entropic, meaning that all things fall into disorder and decay eventually. Life in the universe does just the opposite, however. The physicist Erwin Schrödinger famously described life as an anti-entropic system—that is it creates order within itself. But eventually, each life, too, must succumb to the travails of entropy. We age and grow old, and this is the result of entropy. We die and our bodies decay, which is also …

Blake D. Bauer

The Search for Love, Part 2

The funny thing about most of us is that even though love is the one thing we all want more than anything in life, it’s also the one thing that scares us more than anything else. Love scares us to our core because it requires our heart to be open and vulnerable to ourselves, to other people and to the world. We fear this love we desire so strongly because it opens our heart, and when our heart is truly naked we feel ourselves, we feel others, we feel our world, and we feel the love and the pain we’ve held in, closed our eyes to and disconnected from for so long. Rather than fully feel the intensity of life, we unintentionally close our heart and cut ourselves off from the pulsating truth of what we feel because we’re scared of experiencing uncomfortable emotions like rejection or insecurity that are inherent to human existence. Of course, we’re not aware of this, but in doing so we actually reject our true self, which is the source …

Mindful Business

Going Back to the Breath: Integrating Meditation and Mindfulness With Business Leadership

By Rob Dube // It’s an interesting dynamic to find a deep connection while sitting in complete silence with a complete stranger, but that’s exactly how my relationship with this week’s donothing® podcast guest, Janet Solyntjes, began. While attending my first extended silent retreat as a student, few—if any—words were actually exchanged between Janet and myself. Despite that communication hurdle, I instantly knew my mindset as a business owner would be altered after a week with her. Possessing unmatched insight, serious wit, and a compassionate spirit, Janet has the innate ability to click with anyone from dedicated health professionals to skeptical CEOs. More than a mindfulness virtuoso, Janet fully understands today’s complex society in ways few others do. Unpretentious and fully grounded in reality, her wisdom is perfect for business leaders seeking a stronger connection to themselves and their employees. During our most stressful moments, if we can’t snap our fingers and transport ourselves to a tranquil safe space, how do we instead find it mentally? Since that first introduction, I’m happy to say Janet …

Take These Two Vows for a Fresh Beginning in 2019

By Jonathan Barbieri // Each year we usually have some positive experiences and some negative. By the end of the year there is a quality of shifting – that the energy of the previous year has come to a culmination; it could feel charged or stale and often is somewhere in-between. There is a reason that the New Year’s celebration is several thousands of years old. It has always been a time of renewal – fresh beginnings throughout the world. A time of reflection on our aspirations and human capability. Whether we feel confident about going forward or uncertain the ground is ripe, we human beings have enormously rich qualities. We have intelligence, kindness, caring and an inner strength. These innate qualities are the foundation for the New Year as well as our life journey. Each year at Shambhala Mountain Center, people gather for a New Year’s retreat called Take a Leap. Being at a special place, during a poignant time together with special people, is a great environment to nourish our rich and positive …