Author: smcblog

How to live my life after cancer? 

by:  Natalie Pascale Boisseau  The question is similar for everyone, no matter which cancer one is diagnosed with, no matter the stage of the cancer, no matter the treatments or the side effects afterwards.  The question is the same, how do I live my life after a cancer diagnosis, after a deep brush with a life threatening disease?  Ten years ago, I experienced this first hand when I was given the shocking news that a large tumor, a rare cancer, was growing, invading my belly.  The next Friday that week, my primary care doctor called me after hours.  She told me, “Natalie, no matter what will happen to you in the next weeks and months, no matter what challenging treatments you will go through, please know that you are not to identify yourself with the illness.   You are not the disease.”   In the middle of it, though, or even after a series of treatments and surgeries, cancer is the center of your life.  So the question arises: who are you?  Where are you at? What is next?  …

What does Meditation have to do with Running?

by:  Michael Sandrock One of the special spots in Colorado — and there are many! — is the Shambhala Mountain Center northwest of Fort Collins, near Red Feather Lakes.  It is 600 acres of aspen and pine-laden hillsides nestled next to national forest land.  There are endless trails and dirt roads to run nearby, as well as a variety of retreats to attend, including Labor Day weekend’s “Running with the Mind of Meditation and Yoga,” which I first went to 15 years ago. That first exposure to meditation and mindfulness was transformational, and so, like many others, I watched updates last year when the Cameron Peak Fire swept through the area, burning more than a dozen buildings on the center’s land on its way to becoming the first Colorado wildfire to burn over 200,000 acres.  Saved from destruction was the iconic Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Which Liberates Upon Seeing, a must-see Colorado visit, and which can indeed, for the person who is ready, spur liberation. (As the Zen master Shunryu Suzuki said, enlightenment can come …

Giving ourselves grace, Part 2: Remembering possibility

by:  Marissa C. Knox Uncertainty and impermanence are two of the deepest, most fundamental truths of being human. If we know nothing else, we know intimately the experience of change and of not knowing what is to come. Change can bring loss and destruction, and it can also bring creativity and growth. And if we are honest with ourselves, we do not know exactly what change may bring. There is a sense of mystery to each day and to each moment when we recognize the presence of possibility that is inherent in our human experience. It is an act of profound kindness and generosity to remember that who we are is changing and changeable, that our lives are not set in stone, that our minds and hearts can open and transform.  Remembering the truth of possibility may be one of the most powerful ways we can give ourselves grace.  Giving myself grace has become a way of life that has buoyed me through seasons of doubt, scarcity, grief, anxiety, and all of my pained responses …

How to Prepare for Autumn’s Arrival

by:  Sara Avant Stover Autumn is my favorite time of the year, perhaps because I grew up in Connecticut surrounded by the splendor of changing leaves. The season’s crisp winds, golden light, and first days of school instill a fresh, buzzing, alive feeling inside. I feel inspired to complete unfinished projects before the holidays, and I love bringing out cuddly winter sweaters, woolly scarves, and cozy tights. Long walks through crinkly leaves remind me of romping in leaf piles on my way home from school as a young girl. The magic of the season extends deeper than our wardrobes, though, for during these crucial months, nature prepares for her long winter’s rest and teaches us to do the same. It is time to gather, store, organize, and wind down from summer’s high tempo and the relentless forward momentum that modern living usually demands. When the crisp winds of autumn start to blow, we need to tune in to the signal that it’s time to start slowing down. As leaves fall to the ground, they decay …

Emotional Resilience: Learning from the Buddha’s Life Story

by:  Lama Elizabeth Monson, PhD The life story of the buddha is one of the most powerful examples in religious literary history of how it is possible to transform our relationship to difficult emotions from one of suffering and avoidance to one which allows us to live lives sourced in kindness, ease, wisdom and love. We could say that the life story of the buddha presents us with a paradigm for exploring how to be in relationship with the reactive emotional energies, both internal and external, that keep us from accessing and responding to the world from our innate place of refuge – our Buddhanature – a way of being that is naturally compassionately responsive and which is unconditioned by reactivity. Even for those who do not identify as “Buddhist,” the Buddha’s life story offers a powerful template within which to explore one’s personal spiritual journey and relationship with emotional reactivity. When we read carefully, we see that the Buddha’s life story is our own story writ large and as we explore the Buddha’s life …

Writing as a Path to Awakening & Healing

by:  Albert Flynn DeSilver * One morning when I was twenty-two years old, I woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed with no idea how I got there. And I was under arrest. It was the seven words of the District Attorney, uttered with searing conviction, that saved my life. “You will not get a second chance.” I didn’t tell her that this was my second chance. Two years prior I was at a rowdy party drinking myself to oblivion in order to numb-out a recent break up, when I wound up stumbling around outside then passing out face-down in the driveway. A couple hours later my best friend jumped in his car, cranked up the tunes, and with no idea I was there, drove right over me. Another story. I took my first verbal standardized test when I was twelve scoring in the lower tenth percentile. In the parent/teacher conference that followed I heard the phrases “he has trouble expressing himself verbally” (Yeah, no shit) and “he’s showing signs of dyslexia.” Dyswhatsia? I had no idea …

Giving ourselves grace, Part 1

Marissa C. Knox When life is painful or difficult, we are often told to “give ourselves grace.” But what does this really mean? How do we give ourselves the thing that is already and always here? Perhaps it means to be self-compassionate, or to allow ourselves to be human. Or maybe it is about prayer, asking for help, seeking guidance. Some might give themselves grace simply by giving themselves space – space to feel, space to rest, space to breathe, space to be. It may be the act of listening to a song, a bird, a river. It may be a delicious nap. Yes, and there is no one right way to give ourselves grace. For me, giving myself grace is a life practice. It is a way of being that guides my days and provides an anchor, a compass, and a map for how I want to be in each moment.  Trusting in the presence of grace is how I begin and end each day of my life. Though, this is not something that …

སྒྲོལ་མ་ Drölma – Green Tārā, The Bodhisattva Goddess: Enlightened Feminine Wisdom in Action

By Nashalla G. Nyinda Menpa TMD // As with most Bodhisattvas, obscure and sometimes contradictory origin stories abound. In one myth, Avalokiteśvara, the great bodhisattva (the literal meaning of his name is “The Lord Who Looks Down”) was observing the innumerable beings suffering in the worldly realm. The Buddha taught The Four Noble Truths, the suffering involved at birth, old age, sickness, and death were endless. The human realm is complex in it’s suffering because even if we try and avoid our pain, we run headlong into it. Beings suffer when there is basic lack of resources and also the lack for what is desired. Likewise burdens arise through actions, situations and objects we never wanted. In short, humanity seeks happiness, but co-creates suffering and only until non-dual wisdom arises within that we live in cycles of unhappiness and wanting out of our pain. Avalokiteśvara had at this time been steadily working to liberate innumerable beings from the sufferings of existence, yet, still uncountable beings suffered. This realization brought him to tears. As he wept, his tears fell creating a vast lake. From …

Befriending Your Inner Critic

The Inner Critic relationship is pivotal as we “do our work”.  These parts of our inner world can offer such rich feedback as to how we care for ourselves, what we perceive as threats and how to move beyond a fraught relationship into one that can be healed and ultimately so very supportive in our journeys. Best selling author Sara Avant Stover speaks to us on how being an Internal Family Systems (IFS) practitioner can provide guidance on cultivating our relationship with the Inner Critic through different modalities as we work to heal old wounds.  SMC is delighted to host Sara’s upcoming Online retreat offering: Befriending Your Inner Critic.   Join Sara for Befriending Your Inner Critic   About the Author Sara Avant Stover is a bestselling author and teacher of feminine spirituality. After a cancer scare in her early twenties, Sara moved to Thailand, embarked on a decade-long healing and spiritual odyssey throughout Asia, and has since gone on to uplift tens of thousands of women worldwide. The founder of the world’s first Women’s Yoga …