All posts filed under: Mind-Body

Self-Compassion ‘Is’ Self-Protection

By Ann Saffi Biasetti // The word self-protection may feel elusive and hard to wrap our mind around as it is not something we may think of often. Self-care, yes, but self-protection, not so much. However, whenever I teach about self-compassion I make sure to define self-compassion as self-protection because that is really what it is. Consider that with all the research done on self-compassion, the thing we know the most is that it helps to soften and soothe a self-critical moment. The question, “How would you treat a friend?” is the question used most often in the conceptual teaching of self-compassion. Understanding it through the door of being a friend to yourself and treating yourself in a kinder way is the first step. However, it is important to take the practice further and deepen our understanding of it. When we deepen our understanding of self-compassion, we come to understand that through treating ourselves with more kindness we are really practicing a critical form of safety and protection. When we soothe a self-critical moment, we …

B. Alan Wallace on Meditative Stability and Insight

By B. Alan Wallace // I have been drawn to the practice of shamatha from the time I was first introduced to it, in Dharamsala, India, in the early 1970s. I was immediately intrigued by the possibility of using the methods of shamatha (the word literally means “quiescence”) to explore the nature of the mind firsthand. Such practices lead to advanced stages of samadhi, or meditative concentration, where one is able to focus unwavering attention on a single object. This object may be as small as a single point or as vast as space, so it does not necessarily entail a narrowing of focus, only a coherence of focused attention. This is what Tibetan Buddhists refer to when speaking of “achieving shamatha” and “settling the mind in its natural state.” After studying and practicing Buddhism for ten years, I devoted myself for another four years to exploring solitary retreats in Asia and the United States, training first under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and later under the Sri Lankan monk and scholar …

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, …

Zen Calligraphy: A Path of Deepening Your Way of Life

By Kazuaki Tanahashi // The lines you draw may initially look unskilled or clumsy, but soon they will gain elegance and fluency. Each moment of practice is a moment of learning. Your eyes will see more acutely and your hand will draw more elegantly. The progress, however, may not be as immediate as you desire. That will allow you all the more opportunity to improve your brushwork and enjoy your experience endlessly! Calligraphy is not a goal-oriented task, but rather a path for deepening your way of life. Three of the general styles of calligraphy are exemplified below: the Zen Circle, Ideography, and One-Stroke. About the Author Kazuaki Tanahashi is a painter, calligrapher, writer and peace worker. Born and trained in Japan, he is known for creating a genre of one-stroke paintings and multi-colored Zen circles. A fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, his brushwork has been featured in many solo exhibitions. He teaches and performs worldwide. His publications include Brush Mind, The Heart Sutra: A comprehensive Guide, and Painting Peace: Art in a Time …

Follow the Threads — Mindful Awakening

By Michael W. Taft // Mille viae ducunt homines per saecula Romam When I started meditating in my teens, I believed in Enlightenment. I was going to get to the Big E, which involved having certain mind-blowing experiences. You’d see the Light, or God would open her kimono, or whatever, and after that you’d glow in the dark. I was super enthusiastic and worked really hard to do whatever I believed it took have those experiences. Months in caves in India. Pilgrimages to rivers, glaciers, and to the tops of mountains. Celibacy. Studying at the feet of masters wreathed in garlands of flowers. Mostly lots and lots of meditation. This setup for an article usually now transitions into saying that all that was a waste, and that Awakening is always available in every moment without any of that stuff. But that’s not at all how I would describe what I’ve found. Instead, I feel like, Yes, awakening is available in every moment, especially if you’ve done lots and lots of meditation. Even all those rituals, …

Andrew Holecek

The Benefits of Lucid Dreaming

By Andrew Holecek // One of the most common questions around lucid dreaming is, “Why bother?” Life is already so busy, what’s in it for me? After forty years of exploring these special dreams, the scope and depth of their potential continues to astound me. The benefits are almost too good to be true. But the vast literature supports these claims, thousands of students I’ve worked with continue to verify them, and my own experience confirms these remarkable gains. Not everybody will experience these benefits. It all depends on how deeply you engage in the practices, how firmly you believe in them, and how patient and determined you are. Many people will be thrilled to simply indulge their lucid dreams and leave it at that. The entertainment value is enough. At the other end of the spectrum are those who pursue lucid dreaming and dream yoga as a lifetime path. These are the dream yogis and yoginis who realize that these practices can lead to complete enlightenment. Most people are somewhere in the middle. They …

Lila Yoga

A Simple Visualization Meditation from Yogacharya Erica Kaufman

By Erica Kaufman // I developed this simple meditation to help people experience a state of yoga—where the mind is clean and clear. The feedback has been remarkable.  Visualizations like this tend to free us in a profound way and we actually experience limitless support as we sit. The tools of yoga are vast and highly useful. I grew up with yoga and am energized to support you in the many ways it feeds our soul and health. Imagine the divine sweet scent of the trees at Shambhala. Close your eyes and watch your breath. Regulate your pace and make the habitat for your breath spacious by sitting with a long spine and a broad chest. Comfortably slow and deepen your breath. Continue for a few minutes. Now take note of where your mind usually goes. Ask yourself: “what are the things that have been drawing my attention lately?” See them in your mind as a slide show. Just like cards, collect these slides and set them aside for now. Allow yourself to be in …

On Silent Group Meditation Retreats: 10 Things I’ve Learned Along the Way

By Janet Solyntjes // In 1987 I participated in my first silent group meditation retreat.  It was a month-long program held at what is now called Shambhala Mountain Center (SMC).  A few friends suggested that it was the next thing for me to do on my meditative journey. For me, going on retreat was an abstract concept, a box to check off on my way to something more important.  Perhaps I had fallen under the spell of spiritual materialism – seeking higher states, an idealized state of peace, and wanting some form of credential from engaging in what seemed like a very long time to spend doing nothing. Would a month of intensive practice make me a “better” spiritual person?   In the days before the retreat began, I sensed my fear and anxiety about participating in the rigors of long disciplined days over a four-week period. I wasn’t sure what triggered the fear, but didn’t worry much about it.  The arrival day came and I got into my car to head up the mountain …

Blake D. Bauer

How to Value Yourself & Stop Hurting Yourself (Part 1)

By Blake D. Bauer // It’s often not until we allow other people to treat us horribly and therefore feel worthless or valueless that we realize our approach to life truly needs to change. Unfortunately, things have to get seriously bad, painful or out of control for most of us before we realize how important it is to honor and value ourselves consistently in every moment, situation and relationship. For those of us who often feel inadequate, insecure, undeserving or unworthy of love, we will constantly abandon and betray ourselves for the love of others to the point where we repeatedly find ourselves in situations where we feel used, unappreciated, valueless or worthless to those around us as well as to ourselves. Underneath these painful situations, however, is the empowering truth that we’re not actually victims in any way. We’re actually the ones who’ve compromised ourselves for the conditional acceptance, approval, attention and support of other people and thus we can change this self-destructive pattern. We can make a different choice now. What most of …

Yuval Ron

Sacred Music: The Most Powerful Medicine We Have

By Yuval Ron // This spring 2019 I will be coming to Shambhala Mountain Center to explore the inner world of Nada Yoga—the Yoga of Sound—the use of sacred music and movement in Zen and Sufi traditions, and to experience the healing powers of sound meditations. Meditation has been found to be a powerful remedy for anxiety, fear, depression, high blood pressure, and other debilitating emotional disorders. Music is the most powerful tool for meditation. The sound resonates through our body and mind. Some studies that I mention in my book Divine Attunement: Music as a Path to Wisdom have shown that humans and animals synchronize their breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and physical movements to the rate of the musical pulse they are exposed to. In other words, when you play rapid music, breathing, movement, heart rate, etc. will become faster. If you play calming music, the heart rate drops and the process of relaxation begins. Thus, music can usher us into meditative state, even if we do not wish to go there! However, …