Author: smcblog

An Interview with “The Original Kitchen Scalawags”

By Whitney Trotta // I recently had the pleasure of interviewing some of the “Original Kitchen Scalawags.” It was fun. These guys know how to make some pretty delectable dishes… and all have quite unique stories of how they ended up here, who inspires them in their kitchen creations, and, you may even walk away with a recipe at the end of it all. Read on to hear from Chris B., Jeff, Eben, and Martel—four of Shambhala Mountain Center’s outstanding kitchen crew, and October’s “SMC Community Members of the Month.” 1. When did you first arrive to Shambhala Mountain Center? How did you hear about it?    Chris B.: I think I heard about SMC from a friend of mine in Fort Collins. Interestingly, my dad had property up at Crystals Lakes, so we had driven by the turn off that leads here many times. I was looking for Core Staff positions as I was leaving my teaching job in Greeley, and a job in the kitchen was available. It sounded exciting, and I applied, …

Susan Piver on Meditation and Creativity

By Susan Piver // The other day, I read a tweet from someone looking for advice about taking up meditation for creative reasons. Could it help one become more creative, they wondered? I’ve had ample opportunity to study this question. I lead meditation and writing retreats that are about reconnecting with our own creativity and, beyond that, with the moment of inspiration. And after all, what is creativity, exactly, besides a continuous series of moments of inspiration? Which raises the questions: What is inspiration and where does it come from? Can my meditation practice help? When it comes to the latter question, the answer is “absolutely” and “maybe not.” Fascinatingly, Dictionary.com offers us this definition of “to inspire”: “To infuse into the mind; to communicate to the spirit; to convey, as by a divine or supernatural influence; to disclose preternaturally; to produce in, as by inspiration.” And this: “To draw in by the operation of breathing; to inhale.” At no point is the definition offered: “to be clever” or “to impress.” Rather, the definition points …

MBSR

Paying Attention to One Detail: Listening

By Janet Solyntjes // Listening in Meditation How many times have you wondered what to do with the discursive mind in meditation? Before we “do” anything, it is important to listen. With what kind of ears do we listen to this internal voice – the monkey mind? Our listening is with the ears of non-identification. Listening without identifying with the words is not the same as blocking out thoughts or ignoring what is already present in the mind. To listen in this way takes tremendous gentleness and courage. Sometimes the thoughts are self-critical, sometimes they are gibberish, and sometimes they are emotionally charged. Just listen. Let them be. Can you do this for the next 10 minutes? Step 1: Settling into your body, into being present with yourself. Step 2: With curiosity, noticing the internal dialogue. Are the thoughts passing through your awareness few, many, quiet, or loud? Step 3: Listening without identifying. Opening to present thoughts with an attitude of gentle observation. Step 4: Letting go of the “exercise” and proceeding. Listening to Others …

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, …

Blake D. Bauer

The Search for Love

By Blake D. Bauer // “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” — Jalaluddin Rumi Our search for love and connection is the one true driving force behind everything we do and everything we desire in life. Once our striving for approval, recognition, security or success loses its momentum, we finally realize we’ve simply been looking for love in all its manifestations, because when it comes down to it, what else really matters? In many cases, even before our physical survival needs for food, water or shelter have been met, our need for love surfaces as the primary motivating factor in life, because love is what makes life truly worth living. Love, and the genuine meaningful connections that arise with it, is the true medicine that heals, inspires and fulfills, and this is why, whether we’re willing to admit it or not, we are either directly or indirectly in the pursuit of love right now. This universal …

Birthing / Deathing

By Kathy Kinkaid // When my mother died, I felt as if she had birthed me again. Being a care-giver to aging parents can put you in a strange place.  I had in many ways become the mother of my mother right up until the end of her life.  It was in that process that so many life experiences appeared to be weaving together in a mysterious way. This is something women have done for many years – cared for the dying / birthed new life. I’d often wondered if death were not a sort of birth / birth a sort of death.  I mean, when we are born, we are immediately in a strange land. We had been so comfortable as a water creature only to find ourselves now breathing air.  This is a repeating pattern in life. When I married, I changed my name & realized I was no longer who I had been. The shift was an inside job, mostly & felt quite surprisingly drastic.  We do the same type of thing when we …

Essentials for a Daily Practice

By Sara Avant Stover // A daily practice doesn’t need to be strict and mechanical. Rather, it can feel supportive, like seeking the solace of a good friend. In this class, I share essentials of an effective, nourishing (and doable) daily practice. This is a potent time of year to rekindle our passion for our practice. Plus, the world is calling us to more—and that more isn’t possible without a solid foundation of a serious, daily practice. May this class inspire you to deepen your inner sight.           About the Author Sara Avant Stover is a yoga and meditation teacher, best-selling author of The Way of the Happy Woman, and The Book of SHE, and an inspirational leader to tens of thousands of women worldwide. The creator of The SHE School and the Women’s Yoga Teacher Training, Sara has been featured in Yoga Journal, the Huffington Post, and on ABC, NBC, and CBS. www.TheWayoftheHappyWoman.com

Your Posture is the Practice: An Interview with Hope Martin

By Debra Hiers // A great way of working with the body in meditation is the Alexander Technique, a process that enhances body awareness. This subtle yet powerful modality offers a way to be more relaxed and comfortable in your body by teaching you to recognize and let go of postural habits that cause discomfort and that distance you from being fully present in your life. It is communicated through a teacher’s verbal and gentle hands-on guidance, but ultimately teaches you how to be your own teacher and apply the principles for yourself. Hope Martin began taking Alexander Technique lessons in 1980, and completed a three-year training program in 1987. Shortly after that she participated in a month-long meditation intensive and found that even with her extensive Alexander training, she still had “a lot of trouble sitting, a lot of burning in [her] back, a lot of pain and discomfort.” She knew from her own experience the obstacles people encounter sitting on a cushion or chair for extended periods of time. “When you’re sitting, and all …

Reflection: The Key to Continuous Learning

By Dhi Good // When we take time regularly to contemplate the values we embrace and the goals we set, we create a cycle of continuous learning. This kind of learning needs no external authority. It’s how we access and act on our inner wisdom. Reflection can be an excellent companion to a meditation practice. Meditation practice helps us learn to work with the mind. For example, when we decide to develop a meditation path, how will we know if it is working as intended? How will we know if it is worth the effort and investment of time? That’s where reflection can help make meaning from life and guide our future choices. Cut off the Critic and Cultivate Curiosity    Too often we cut off reflection and pronounce harsh judgements on ourselves, saying: “I’m no good at this. My mind is a mess. I’m too lazy, busy, or frazzled.” With such a critical approach, it may be tempting to give up on our intentions because the setbacks or challenges are too painful to examine. We’d rather avoid …

The Power of Wisdom and Compassion

By Michelle Becker // I’ve noticed that when life gets really difficult – whether due to a natural disaster like the recent, devastating hurricanes and earthquakes, or due to more personal issues like the health crisis of a loved one or difficulty in our interpersonal relationships – We, humans, often react by going to extremes. On one end of the spectrum, we can fall into despair, becoming overwhelmed with pain and grief, unable to be present with things as they are. On the other end of the spectrum, we can bury our heads in the sand and push away any awareness of the suffering around us. Maybe we spend every waking hour at work, fixated on a project, or we drink or eat a little too much, or binge watch our favorite shows. Either extreme keeps us from being present with things as they are, just in different ways. And why would we even want to stay present in difficult circumstances? Because being present with things as they are doesn’t trigger the added layer of …