Author: smcblog

[Video] Winter Dathün: What Is It Like to Retreat for a Month?

In this short video, Acharya Daniel Hessey and past retreat participants share their thoughts on what it’s like to spend a month on retreat in the winter at Shambhala Mountain Center. Meditate for 7-14 days or the full month of dathün with Acharya Daniel Hessey at Shambhala Mountain Center (Dec. 16, 2017 – Jan. 14, 2018) – click here to learn more   Join Acharya Daniel Hessey and other meditators for Winter Dathun: Creating Enlightened Society (Dec. 16, 2017 – Jan. 14, 2018) – click here to learn more

How to Communicate Well in the Heat of the Moment

By Janet Mueller // I am always looking for good analogies to help people grow in their capacity to communicate with strength and compassion, especially it if can help us get a better sense of why communication can be so challenging sometimes. There is one I’ve been using recently that captures the contradictions we experience so many times with communication: While it is easy to pass the written test, we often fail the practical exam. Most of us, most of the time are pretty good at communicating. We go through life, talking with others and figuring out what we need to. But when we are in a difficult communication, when we are in the heat of the moment, all the skills and talents we usually have seem to disappear. When it comes to dealing with conflict, this seems to be the case across the board. When I ask any group – young people, professionals, parents – they all have a great list of things they could do when faced with conflict. This list includes things …

How to Value Yourself & Stop Hurting Yourself (Part 1)

By Blake D. Bauer // Excerpt from the international bestselling book You Were Not Born To Suffer It’s often not until we allow other people to treat us horribly and therefore feel worthless or valueless that we realize our approach to life truly needs to change. Unfortunately, things have to get seriously bad, painful or out of control for most of us before we realize how important it is to honor and value ourselves consistently in every moment, situation and relationship. For those of us who often feel inadequate, insecure, undeserving or unworthy of love, we will constantly abandon and betray ourselves for the love of others to the point where we repeatedly find ourselves in situations where we feel used, unappreciated, valueless or worthless to those around us as well as to ourselves. Underneath these painful situations, however, is the empowering truth that we’re not actually victims in any way. We’re actually the ones who’ve compromised ourselves for the conditional acceptance, approval, attention and support of other people and thus we can change this self-destructive …

Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating: Why Bother?

By Marcella Friel // It’s so easy to believe that our struggles with food are our fault. It’s so seductive to blame and punish ourselves for our failed attempts to curb our less-than-mindful eating habits. However … Not only is such self-condemnation counterproductive (as in, “the beatings will continue until morale improves”), it also blinds us to the social realities that got us into this predicament to begin with. Food is the most fundamental expression of human culture. According to Zen chef Edward Espe Brown, “In cultures where eating rituals were widespread, people experienced few eating disorders. Conversely, we see that ours is a culture with few eating rituals and numerous disorders.” In our industrialized, setting-sun world, our eating rituals consist of opening take-out cartons, eating at our desks, grazing mindlessly, or chowing down microwaved meals while checking Facebook. If the purpose of food is strictly to provide nutrition for our bodies, why should we care about how we actually eat? In this video I invite you to explore the social and cultural forces that …

Follow the Threads — Mindful Awakening

By Michael W. Taft // Mille viae ducunt homines per saecula Romam When I started meditating in my teens, I believed in Enlightenment. I was going to get to the Big E, which involved having certain mind-blowing experiences. You’d see the Light, or God would open her kimono, or whatever, and after that you’d glow in the dark. I was super enthusiastic and worked really hard to do whatever I believed it took have those experiences. Months in caves in India. Pilgrimages to rivers, glaciers, and to the tops of mountains. Celibacy. Studying at the feet of masters wreathed in garlands of flowers. Mostly lots and lots of meditation. This setup for an article usually now transitions into saying that all that was a waste, and that Awakening is always available in every moment without any of that stuff. But that’s not at all how I would describe what I’ve found. Instead, I feel like, Yes, awakening is available in every moment, especially if you’ve done lots and lots of meditation. Even all those rituals, …

Advice for Setting New Year Intentions (Rather than Resolutions)

For the past several years, Shastri Jon Barbierri has come up to Shambhala Mountain Center to lead a group retreat designed to help people enter the new year with strength, intention, and joy.  In this short interview, Jon shares some wisdom related to this process of setting intentions rather than resolutions, as well as what he’s learned from leading this retreat year after year. Enjoy the video below, or scroll down to stream/download the audio. Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Take a Leap into 2018: Establish Your Intention and Commitment with Shastri Jon Barbieri, December 29, 2017–January 1, 2018 — click here to learn more Audio may be streamed below.  To download, follow this link, click “More,” click “Download.” Featured image by Corey Ruffner About the Authors Shastri Jonathan Barbieri is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Lineage who has taught Buddhist and Shambhala trainings extensively throughout North America for over 30 years. Jon has been engaged in several livelihood pursuits including consulting with cities and counties on workforce development, creating contemplative co-housing communities, and, most …

Judith Simmer-Brown

[VIDEO] Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown: Loving-Kindness Meditation

In this video, which originally aired as part of SMC’s Beyond Mindfulness event, Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown guides us in practicing loving-kindness for ourselves—which is, as she reminds us, the basis for having compassion for others. Join Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown for Compassion Training: The Practice and Science of Compassion for Self and Others, October 14–20, 2017, at Shambhala Mountain Center — click here to learn more About the Author Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, where she has taught since 1978. As Buddhist practitioner since the early 1970’s, she became a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1974, and was empowered as an acharya (senior teacher) by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in 2000. Her teaching specialties are meditation practice, Shambhala teachings, Buddhist philosophy, tantric Buddhism, and contemplative higher education. Her book, Dakini’s Warm Breath (Shambhala 2001), explores the feminine principle as it reveals itself in meditation practice and everyday life for women and men. She has also edited Meditation and the Classroom: Contemplative Pedagogy for …

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 …

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. …