Author: smcblog

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 …

Healing Guilt, Shame and Insecurity (Part 1)

By Blake D. Bauer // Do you constantly make yourself wrong for feeling the way you feel or for desiring the things you desire in life? Do you find yourself feeling guilty after you express your emotions or after doing something just for yourself that’s not about pleasing someone else? Do you constantly fear hurting others when making a choice that’s best for you, but then find that you stop yourself and hurt yourself instead? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’re just like me and most people on the planet who suffer with deep guilt whereby we not only feel that we are a problem – that our mere existence is a burden – but also that we are somehow wrong, bad or sinful for wanting to be happy, well and truly loved. Is the fact that we’re surviving really enough? Should we just accept that it’s ‘normal’ to live in fear, with deep insecurity, shame and anxiety? Is asking to thrive, to achieve your dreams, to feel completely satisfied …

Finding the Voice of Self-Compassion

By Michelle Becker // In first grade I had a really mean teacher.  Several decades later, I can still feel the hot sting of humiliation as she stopped the class so they could watch me clean out my desk.  Clearly it wasn’t up to her standards. I was already painfully shy as a girl and this was a particularly cruel punishment to dole out in my case.  I got through that year, but it didn’t leave me any more organized, less shy or more confident about school. The best thing I can say about that year is that I survived.  I really don’t think I learned much. Luckily in third grade I had a remarkable teacher, Ms. Foust.  This was the 60’s and she was oh so kind and cool. My mom called her a hippie.  She lived on a sailboat and played her guitar for us. We sang all the hits of the day as she strummed on her guitar.  I began to feel safe and seen. I began to relax. We did art. …

“SMC had a baby!” An interview with Kristen and John about having a baby at SMC

By Whitney Trotta // It was a lovely summer afternoon in the mountains at SMC. The rain had passed through earlier, and with the sun back out, it was only a little wet sitting down on the bench beneath some Ponderosa Pines. Kristen and John graciously agreed to be interviewed the week before they were due. I was curious about how they felt about raising a child at Shambhala Mountain Center—and what got them here in the first place! Whether you know John and Kristen personally or not, you’ll enjoy getting to know them here. Whitney: Tell me about your first time at SMC! John: It was a weekend in July 2000. Noel, myself and another friend were on an exodus trip from Madison, Wisconsin to Northern California. We had a friend volunteering here (at SMC) for the summer and stopped in just to visit him. We stayed a couple of days—it was great! We continued on our way, and as the summer panned out, California did not pan out. So my buddy said “Hey, …

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 …

Mindful Eating

[Video] You Can Heal Your Broken Relationship with Food

By Marcella Friel // If you are a woman who struggles with food, have you ever wondered why your restrictive diet regimens routinely leave you worse off than when you started? There’s a core piece of the healing puzzle that those diet plans never touch. *** In this video, food and body image coach Marcella Friel shares with Mimi Valiulis, Dean of Online Studies at Shambhala Online, success stories of women who went way beyond the dieting trap to liberate their food patterns once and for all. Join Marcella Friel at SMC: From Emotional Eating to Emotional Freedom: Liberate Unwise Food Choices with EFT Tapping, October 30–November 3 // Click here to learn more >>   About the Author Marcella Friel is a mindful eating mentor who helps health-conscious women love and forgive themselves, their food, and their figure. She is the author of two best-selling courses on DailyOM and of the book Tap, Taste, Heal: Use Emotional Freedom Techniques to Eat Joyfully and Love Your Body. Marcella’s writing appears in Elephant Journal and elsewhere. …