Author: smcblog

Cyndi Lee

Radical Inclusivity and Just Showing Up

By Cyndi Lee // The other day a friend of mine texted to cancel our lunch date. The reason, she wrote, was that her body wasn’t feeling well and was telling her it needed to rest. After wishing her a delicious nap and a speedy recovery, I couldn’t help but wonder about this conversation between her and her body. I pondered how it could be that her body is not her and, if so, who is she that isn’t a body? Of course, this brings up age-old questions about the nature of consciousness, impermanence, and the definition of the true self. But what I’m really struck with is how we separate ourselves from ourselves. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word, yuj, which is typically translated as to yoke or bind, to join, unite or re-unite. In other words, yoga is relationship. Of course, we know that mind and body are part of each other. You cannot have a body without a mind or a mind without a body. But sometimes we forget. One …

A Contemplative Approach to Viewing the Eclipse

By Andrea Schweitzer, Ph.D. in astronomy // There has been a lot of news about the upcoming “Great American Solar Eclipse” on August 21, 2017.  If you are able to get to a location for totality of the eclipse, it will be an incredible experience to remember.  Or, if you’re only able to see the partial eclipse, that is enjoyable and worthwhile, too! There is a lot of detailed information being published about the eclipse *(see resources below). I would like to suggest that it is also important to contemplate how you might like to feel as you witness this celestial event. Hopefully this will be a memory to last a lifetime, and that is worth considering in advance. Quiet and Reflective Observe the eclipse from under a tree, and be surrounded by a myriad of crescent suns. Play with your fingers and enjoy the “pinhole projection”  effect. Celebratory Invite others to join you, and plan an eclipse party.  There are many educational activities  for kids and adults that you can do before and during the eclipse. …

Blake D. Bauer

The Purpose of Suffering, Depression and Disease

By Blake D. Bauer // The body’s suffering is a mask the mind holds up to hide what really suffers.  — A Course in Miracles As a culture and as individuals we need to swing the pendulum of attention towards transforming our dysfunctional mental and emotional life if we want our body and outer world to reflect a healthy internal environment. But before we can take these steps we have to find the humility to open our mind, especially if our current approach is not getting us the results we want. We have to admit that we didn’t know better and acknowledge that maybe our views have been limiting or not very healthy for us. This is not about making ourselves wrong, thinking we are flawed or blaming ourselves. Rather it’s about recognizing the fact that we inherited some very self- destructive habits and beliefs from people who were doing their best, with what they knew, at the time. And now, our body, life and world is screaming out for us to finally heal our …

Reading As a Path to Awakening

By Albert Flynn DeSilver // Here’s a funny question: What is reading? I mean really. The act of looking at words splayed out across a page or screen? (An army of ants skittering across an expanse of white sand, a flock of geese strewn windward against a dusk-lit sky). Maybe reading is a primal act of tracking and hunting. Footprints, deer trails, wing movements in the batted-down brush. We are looking for signs of movement, action, food. Contemporary reading is based on an ancient primal embodied knowledge of studying the landscape—scrawl of branches against a winter sky, tide patterns left in the sand at the tip of the ocean’s reach, a musical script the wind left via quick ripples against the calm face of the bay, hexagonal patterns of drought-cracked earth, debris patterns at flood lines, terminal moraines and glacial erratics (giant stones left behind in open meadows by receding glaciers). Each a lone word, sentence, phrase, or paragraph—nature leaves her book wide open, her journal pages flapping in the wind, for us to drink …

Mindful Hiking

Practicing Mindfulness and Awareness in Nature

By Kay Peterson // A passing rainstorm doesn’t have to ruin a hike if we remember to bring a raincoat or don’t mind temporarily getting a little wet! The clouds are certain to pass and we may even be left feeling stronger and more rejuvenated than we expected. Our emotional landscape is much like the weather – we may not be able to control it, but we do have power over our reactions to it. As human beings, we have a tendency to gravitate toward pleasurable experiences and to avoid potentially painful ones. One could argue that some of that tendency is a by-product of important survival instincts. We need to be able to identify and act when we encounter potentially life-threatening situations. However, this “instinct” can also run amok – especially these days when we rarely find ourselves being chased by dinosaurs 😉 Sometimes that part of the brain that alerts us to potential danger has been trained to be reactive – to be especially sensitive – often due to some kind of trauma …

Healing Sound

Becoming

By Richard Rudis // Let’s imagine it’s approximately 2,600 years ago and you’re sitting by the bank of the slow moving river Nairanjana somewhere in ancient India. The sunrise is dazzling and the early morning rays warm your face. The only sound is that of a light wind in the tree-tops and the Earth awakening to a new day. As the morning fog lifts a huge tree, previously unnoticed, materializes high above you on the river bank. Among its large surrounding roots a thin, a stately man is seated in peaceful mediation; his eyes half closed, his expression serene, his energy mountain still. Fascinated you doggedly vow to remain near by, refusing the desire to wander off to participate in life beyond this moment. Unhurriedly time passes. Eventually the man stands and with a half smile he acknowledges you before walking into the surrounding jungle. Unwilling to release the subject of your vigil you follow. Several weeks pass softly wandering while going about life’s chores. You sense that superficial space and time appear to warp …

Healing Sound

Healing Secrets of Sound

By Christine Stevens // The roar of joy that set the worlds in motion Is reverberating in your heart —Radiance Sutras, Dr. Lorin Roche We are all wired for rhythm by our circadian sleep and wake cycle, our brain waves, our cardiac beats, and even our neural firings. This is our personal music medicine. So many people have been told they have no musical ability. They believe they can’t ‘hold a tune in a bucket’ or keep a beat. But the truth is we are the music. I call it “homo musicalis”. The healing power of music is not just a fluffy concept; it is based on both historical and research-based evidence. One of the fathers of music therapy, psychologist and music therapist Dr. Mark Rider, known for coupling musical experiences with active visualization for pain reduction, writes about the power of group sing-alongs to treat trauma responses for veterans. In fact, group drumming has been shown to directly activate the immune system and calm stress responses. A 2001 study published in the journal Alternative …

Insight Meditation

Living Fully, Loving Well—Reflections on the Awakened Heart

By David Chernikoff I first became interested in death and dying in my early teens. It wasn’t a choice as much as a necessity. Because of numerous early losses, most of them sudden and unexpected, I felt deeply drawn to understand the essence of living and dying at a time when most of my peers were preoccupied with very different concerns. At the time, I had the sense that I’d been singled out, bullied by an uncaring universe or an incomprehensible God. Looking back, I can see the blessings that were wrapped in the painful packages of grief and trauma that touched my life so many years ago. Those events shaped the unfolding of my journey in a way that is clearly evident in retrospect. It’s not surprising that I chose to study psychology, religion, and theology in the years that followed. I was passionately interested in the way we heal our hearts, bodies, and minds as well as “big picture” questions related to why things happen the way they do. In my late twenties …

On Being a Teacher

By Susan Piver // I just finished teaching two retreats at Dechen Choling Retreat Center in France, “The Open Heart Retreat” followed by “Fearless Creativity: A Meditation and Writing Retreat.” On the last day of the last program, a student kindly asked what it felt like for me when a retreat was over. Our group was sitting at the breakfast table in the main building, a chateau dating back more than a hundred years. The land was in full June bloom and the only sounds were bird calls. We were so far away from our regular lives, whether in New York, London, Amsterdam, or right down the road in the village and I could feel the glow of retreat all around. There were expressions of appreciation for what we had experienced and also sadness at leaving this place and each other. “Retreat magic” refers to the feeling one gets after days and days of quieting the mind and turning inward. It is far from sleepy. It is not particularly “relaxing,” rather, it is enlivening, a …