Author: Travis Newbill

Partnering with the Land: SMC’s Conservation Forestry Project and the Cameron Peak Fire

By Travis Newbill // To the untrained eye, the ponderosa forests of Shambhala Mountain Center have never been anything less than pristine wonderlands. But to experts in the field of conservation forestry, these ecosystems have actually been unhealthy for many years. That’s according to SMC’s Master Planner Mac McGoldrick, who came onboard in 2017 with an eye not only for pretty landscapes, but truly healthy ecosystems — two values which can be in opposition sometimes. When Mac first laid out the plans for Phase 1 of the SMC Forestry Project back in 2018, he got a lot of pushback from people who didn’t want to see what they regarded as precious trees cut down. While that sentiment is certainly understandable, says Mac, it amounts to a classic case of missing the forest for the trees. “Our forests had become overgrown, homogenous, and crowded,” he says, “and what happens when those circumstances are present is that tree health suffers, understory growth suffers; we start to eliminate habitat for living beings, and we are possibly impacting watershed, …

[WATCH] Susan Piver on Writing as a Liberatory Practice

If meditation is about releasing attachment to thoughts, why would anyone want to put them in ink? If this age-old question ever gets in the way of your ability to sit down and write, you may find relief in this reminder from Susan Piver that there is a way you can tell your story that can liberate you from that story. Watch the two minute clip below: We hope this helps you along towards the writer’s desk this winter. And if you’d like a bit more encouragement — and blocked off time to actually write — check out our upcoming online program with Susan on writing & meditation: About Susan Piver Susan Piver is a Buddhist teacher and award-winning New York Times bestselling author of many books, including The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation and her latest, The Four Noble Truths of Love: Buddhist Wisdom for Modern Relationships. Known for her insight, clarity, and humor, Susan has an international reputation for being …

MBSR

[Watch] Janet Solyntjes on How Mindfulness Helps Reveal Our Personal Truth

In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the uprising for social justice in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, it seems fair to assume that many people are experiencing intense emotions right now and uncertainty about how to navigate… all of this.  In a few weeks, SMC will be hosting an online Mindfulness Meditation Intensive, and recently we asked Janet Solyntjes—a longtime MBSR teacher, and co-leader of the retreat—to share her thoughts.    While Janet didn’t claim to have all the answers, she offered that mindfulness practice—especially in an intensive retreat context—is a way to “feel into, and relax into, the truth of what you don’t know—and perhaps little threads of what you do know. It’s an invitation to do the personal inquiry that we all need to do in one way or another. And, in retreat, it’s a way to do that in community, and to feel the interconnectedness.”  For those seeking some guidance for their practice and/or considering the benefits of carving out some retreat time, I encourage you …

Andrew Holecek

[WATCH] Andrew Holecek on Working with Fear & Anxiety; Navigating This Bardo

Andrew Holcek is a Buddhist teacher and author (and dentist and concert pianist) who has earned the nickname Dr. Death because of his extensive knowledge of the death and bardo teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. And his presentations on this universally relevant (and dreaded) topic are enriched by his unending interest in the findings of western psychology and neuroscience as well. Basically, he’s a good person to check in with if you realize that life as you knew it is over and you need a map for navigating the in-between state—the bardo.  Of course, some of the trickiest, most crucial, and most immediate tasks in navigating the bardo have to do with relating to—rather than from—fear and anxiety. It’s quite possible to do this well, Andrew says. And, if you can, this crisis, this time of uncertainty, can accelerate your spiritual and psychological development rather than initiate a spiral of regression.  Andrew offers helpful perspective, as well as one of his “emergency meditations,” in this recent interview. Enjoy the video below, or scroll down to stream/download …

[WATCH] Dr. Rick Hanson: “Finding Calm and Contentment in Turbulent Times”

  In this video, filmed live with Shambhala Mountain Center, Dr. Rick Hanson—the renowned psychologist, best-selling author, and meditation teacher—shares techniques and insights that are directly applicable to life in these challenging times. In addition, Rick has offered a package of bonus material to everyone who finds their way to this video. It includes a few guided meditations, as well as the first chapter of his new book Neurodharma—which just came out May 6! Click here to get the bonus material! As Dr. Hanson says: “The deepest roots of the highest happiness are in the body. At the intersection of modern science and ancient wisdom – which could be called neurodharma – we can find very effective tools for resilient well-being.” May this be of benefit. About Rick Hanson Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times best-selling author. His books are available in 28 languages and include Resilient, Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture. He’s been an invited speaker at Google, NASA, …

Susan PIver

[VIDEO] Susan Piver Gets Personal

And that’s part of what makes her such a great teacher. She notes that she doesn’t have fancy credentials, so what she has to offer—rather than some expertise from on-high—is the way meditation and Buddhist teachings influence, and manifest within, her life experiences.  It’s helpful to hear that someone who I regard as being a serious practitioner still experiences things like claustrophobia on an airplane, or disappointment in relationships.  And, it’s also helpful to hear how these everyday bits of suffering can transform us into more gentle & delighted people if met by the touch of a practitioner.  In our recent interview, Susan discusses her personal approach to teaching and living the path, and also the importance of retreat.             ABOUT SUSAN PIVER Susan Piver is a Buddhist teacher and the New York Times bestselling author of nine books, including The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, and Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation. Her latest book is The Four Noble Truths of Love: Buddhist …

Hands of Hope: The Possibility of Bodily Ease in Sitting Meditation

A few years ago, my experience of sitting on my meditation cushion was changed in a dramatic, simple, and sustained way, when Hope Martin placed her hands on my spine for just a few minutes. Over the past three decades, countless students have had similar experiences, as she has gained a reputation for being a profoundly sensitive, intuitive body-worker as well as a gentle and brilliant meditation teacher. As she says, what she offers is highly experiential. In that space with her, a shift occurred: emotionally, in the body, in the mind. It was profound. I flash on that experience just about every time I sit to meditate, and the body, remembering Hope’s hands, relaxes into a dignified posture. The experience is elusive, and better to be experienced personally than described. But, hearing Hope speak about her work, along with some clips of a recent session I had with her (lucky me!), may bring it to life a bit more. Please enjoy this short video, and may the hands of Hope be with you. Shambhala …