Author: smcblog

Susan PIver

Susan Piver on Meditation

By Susan Piver // When you can honestly say I am comfortable in myself, the world opens up in a way you could not imagine.  You take care of your home as a gesture of self-respect. You love your body and feed it with joy and ease. Good relationships grow stronger and difficult relationships become more workable. You trust your instincts. You laugh more. You also cry more. The world of emotion is revealed as a source of richness. You go out into the world to do your work, your service, your part with confidence and resilience.  You become a source of strength for others. The path to an open-hearted life begins with the practice of meditation. In the Open Heart Project, meditation is not a life-hack. It is not practiced for self-help  or self-improvement. It is the practice of self-kindness, the very foundation of compassion, wisdom, and power.  Though there are many places you can go to learn meditation, most of them present the practice as a scientifically proven method for achieving excellence. That is great because it …

Peace

By Katharine Kaufman // This morning, right after the sun, I scraped ice off windshield and drove East, past black cows, brown horses, corn and oil fields, into the small town of Mead. A huge decoration says, Peace on Earth. Deflated plastic Santa and reindeer lie on the ground. We lie on the floor, rest our arms over heads and breathe. After class students give me cards and thin-lined journals, a candle, and a small home-sewn bag of lavender.                                                          ~ Last night I watched the black and white film, Roma, directed by Alfonso Cuarón.  After credits roll down the page (like tears) in the bottom right corner of the screen, are the words, Shanti, shanti, shanti.                                                           ~ When Acharya signed his book and handed it back to me I asked for the translation. The first shanti is to the unseen forces, the second to one’s neighbors …

Blake D. Bauer

Healthy Commitment to Self and Other

By Blake D. Bauer // I used to believe that commitment and freedom could not exist together. I thought I could have one but not both. I later learned the highest degree of freedom available was only reached through wholehearted commitment. It is a vital paradox. The key distinction here that is crucial to understand, but often extremely confusing, is that we must learn to commit to loving ourselves first and thus to fulfilling our life purpose before any other form of external commitment can begin or remain healthy. Until we can commit to saying our deeper feelings, values, needs and aspirations matter in each situation, our personal and professional commitments will always result in stress, confusion, struggle or heartache — especially our intimate relationships. If you’re currently having trouble committing to an intimate relationship it’s important to be kind toward yourself as you navigate your next steps. You are feeling this way for a reason. No one wants to feel insecure, distrusting, owned, controlled, or limited in partnership. It is equally important however to …

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, …

How We Practice

By Noel Smith, Director of Practice, Education, Culture and Community at Shambhala Mountain Center // As the snow starts to fall and the days grow shorter, the season simply demands a change of pace. The hectic-ness of the summer has fallen away just like the golden leaves have fallen off of the aspens. Even down in the city, the normal speed naturally starts to slow as the weather demands.  Up here on the land, many of us go deeper with practice and study this time of year. Over the next few months, the ability and opportunity for deep practice and self-reflection becomes a more central theme—seemingly involuntarily! What better to do on a cold winter day than connect with your mind and heart through practice, and curl up with a good dharma book? “Practice” is an incredibly personal experience, and within the framework of creating a good human society, group practice is a crucial ingredient as well. Supporting folks’ individual practice inspirations, while also fostering opportunities for people to come together to feel the power …

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, …