All posts filed under: Creative Expression

planning a retreat

Plan to Retreat in 2022

by Dhi Good What’s the best thing you’ve ever given yourself? For me, the most precious and meaningful gift is time. Time away from the day-to-day fray of life, time to be with myself, time to move and be still and listen and just be. Time to eat mindfully, get plenty of rest and get away from those devices that buzz and beep for attention throughout the day. We all need time to reset, let go of habits that don’t serve us well, and get back to who we truly are deep down. We plan for holidays and trips to see the relatives, but when it comes to planning for our own health and wellbeing, our longing to reconnect with one’s self tends to fall to the bottom of the list. For 2022, why not try making your retreat(s) a priority? Whether you go for a yoga retreat or a silent meditation intensive, you will be taking a step toward wholeness and restoration. For me, I find that after several days on retreat I’m often …

work with senses

Working with our Senses and our State of Mind 

by Steve Vosper So, life can be challenging. We all know this. The question arises, what can we do about it? In my October SMC Newsletter posting, Challenges are the Path, I suggested that perhaps those challenges can be a way forward, rather than obstacles in our lives. In September I had also suggested that Mindfulness is the Key, and that’s where this particular rubber meets the road.  With our own basic mindfulness, we can work with our senses, work with our state of mind. We can begin to understand ourselves better, begin to transform ourselves for the better and begin to engage in our lives more fully.  That said, this doesn’t involve taking on some kind of dreadful project or big addition to our seemingly endless to-do lists. Nor does it require special skills and experience that only the select few can access or accomplish. It just involves a slight shift in attitude, a slight turning toward ourselves right now. It simply involves being with ourselves, being kind to ourselves in our present situation, …

how to be yourself

How to Be Yourself 

Excerpt from the international bestseller You Were Not Born To Suffer by Blake D. Bauer “Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.”     Hermann Hesse If you stop pretending to be something you are not, or to feel other than you do, then what? If you were to let your mask come off, and show the world all of who you really are, then who would we all get to meet? If you stopped trying to fit in or to please your parents, friends, partner or whomever else’s approval, praise or love you seek, then what would you say? Where would you go? And what would you do? If you allowed the world to see your darkness and your light, your vulnerability and your power, do you fear you’d end up alone? But wait, are you not alone already when you feel misunderstood or unable to express what you really think and feel?  It is ironic that we as human beings inevitably have to ask ourselves, ‘How …

silent retreat

The Gift of Silent Retreat 

by Jon Aaron  The silence amidst the noise the gem at the core of every experience is polished by simple attention into shining magnificence -Nirmala  “words do not come” I remember my very first experience on an 8-day retreat. I had no idea what to expect. I had been meditating for a year or so and decided it was time to try a retreat. The challenges in the first few days felt insurmountable. I wanted to jump out of my skin. By the end, I never wanted to leave! Each time I was ready to give up, something was said by one of the teachers which gave such encouragement and confidence that my thoughts of leaving vanished. This was helped by the support of everyone else as we practiced together in community. It’s hard to describe what happened. Suffice to say it changed my life forever. Retreat practice is such a unique opportunity, and these days in-person retreats are even more special. With vaccines, ease of testing and a communal commitment to keeping each other safe, we can …

Sadhana

by Katharine Kaufman First there is a landing. Then a letting go. Then curiosity about what happens next. You wake up. Somebody has made you breakfast. You go into the beautiful studio, and lie your mat down and you lie down on your mat. Maybe you need a chair. Maybe you’re exhausted. Maybe you’ve recovered from surgery or sickness this year and your balance is off. Or you have worked non-stop. Or you have lost your work. You yield. Life on retreat is simple on purpose, so you have space to discover and cultivate your practice as it shows up now, in your body. Everything here at the Shambhala Mountain Center supports this. The teachers, staff, meals, schedule, the room you stay in, the stupa. The way the retreat is designed, from the opening welcome to the closing appreciation, supports you. What I mean to say is you are held by the balance of these things pointing in the direction of your practice. “Sadhana,” has many meanings ranging from formal personal practice to daily life. …

Challenges are the Path

by Steven Vosper In my September SMC Newsletter posting, Mindfulness is the Key , I suggested that we could afford to relax and open to our world completely.  Then I posed the question, why not, what’s holding us back?  I think it’s a good question, a very personal question, and one that’s worth thinking about.  Maybe we’re afraid, maybe we’re too busy, maybe we’re too lazy, or maybe we don’t even want to relax and open to our world completely.  Whatever the case may be, if something is holding us back in our lives, then perhaps it’s worth exploring further.  Maybe we can see it more clearly, understand it more fully and discover something new.  Can we actually turn towards our lives, look more closely at the obstacles and the challenges in our lives and find a way through, a path forward?    Let’s give it a try. Let’s bring a deeper awareness to the patterns in our lives, the causes, conditions and habits that hold us back. Who knows what we might discover? Perhaps our …

Your Ego Is Not Your Enemy

Excerpt from the international bestseller, You Were Not Born To Suffer by: Blake D. Bauer Contrary to what most of us believe, our ego is not our enemy. In fact, if we make this part of our psyche wrong, we will stay trapped in suffering. I’ve found that we all create the cocoon of our ego as an act of unconditional self-love to protect us until we’re ready to fully embody our true nature. The primary function of our ego is to protect our heart and soul in the same way that the cocoon protects the caterpillar throughout its metamorphosis into a butterfly. Our ego acts as our guardian until we’re ready to break through our fears and live as a free and full expression of who we truly are each day. The development of our ego is a natural part of our growth and evolution. In the same way that the caterpillar must create a cocoon to protect itself throughout its transformation into a butterfly, we too must develop our ego to protect us …

Mindfulness is the Key 

by Stephen Vosper Mindfulness is the key to everything.  Being awake in the present moment is the gateway to everything.  Being awake and being mindful are completely inseparable.  Mindfulness is the natural ability of mind to be aware of something, aware of anything, aware of everything.  Through our sense perceptions; sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and from a traditional eastern point of view, thoughts, emotions and intuitions; we can be mindful and awake to the whole world in our own life.  This is actually our birthright.  By just being awake and mindful, in our natural state, we can begin to appreciate the miracle of our senses, our perceptions, our emotions, thoughts and intuitions as they arise, rather than turning away and distracting ourselves in daydreams and fantasies of all kinds.  We can actually be fully awake and alive completely in our lives, right now.  We have everything we need to experience our joy and sadness, our doubts and hesitations, our confidence and inspirations. We can afford to relax and open to our world completely. Why not, what’s holding us back? Let’s find out. Come join us, at …

Mind Blindness 

by John Rockwell A while back, I read an article about “plant blindness.” When shown a picture that shows a pair of elephants in a clearing and asked what they see, virtually everyone says, “Two elephants.” Even when the question is repeated, “What do you see?” people persist in saying “Elephants,” as if the questioner were stupid or blind. No one says that they see grass and trees, much less describes the type of plants. The biologists lament this lack of appreciation for the greenery that is our constant background. They point out that plants are just as important and in fact make up the base of the food chain that supports our existence. This lack of connection and community with the plant world can ultimately support a life style and work ethic that is destructive to our environment. What we don’t perceive, we have no feeling for. What we have no feeling for, we don’t care about. What we don’t care about, we can destroy and feel nothing amiss. Of course, by destroying the plant world, we are undermining our own existence.  When …