All posts filed under: Mind-Body

MBSR Vacation

The Paradox of Pleasure

There’s a natural sacredness in the world – in the blue sky, muddy earth, the sound of leaves fluttering, faces of children at play, the feeling of muscles exerting, the change of season. We need not pursue pleasure, it’s present when were willing to experience the world directly. It’s as if our eyes have grown scales making it hard to see. When we relax the scales fall away.

Can You Make Friends with Entropy?

By Michael W. Taft // One time as a little kid, I burned my hand on a hot stove. My mom gave me a towel with ice cubes in it to hold. Tears poured down my cheeks as I sobbed. I remember looking at my palm, which was extremely painful, and thinking, “Why me?” Suffering is an integral part of being alive. Nobody likes it. We’d all want to get completely rid of it if we could. As I said, suffering is just the way it is. But why? Why is suffering such a central aspect of our lived experience? In short: entropy. The universe is entropic, meaning that all things fall into disorder and decay eventually. Life in the universe does just the opposite, however. The physicist Erwin Schrödinger famously described life as an anti-entropic system—that is it creates order within itself. But eventually, each life, too, must succumb to the travails of entropy. We age and grow old, and this is the result of entropy. We die and our bodies decay, which is also …

In the Company of Women: Precious Knowing

By Katharine Kaufman Home At Shambhala Mountain Center I have the good fortune to be at the Shambhala Mountain Center at this moment so I can tell you what it is like in the winter here — at least right now. Still & quiet. Today I walked up to the ridge — maybe to get nearer to the sun. There was some trudging through snow and also big patches with no snow. I rested on an outcropping of rocks. A group of deer were close to the Stupa. They looked up at me and leapt away as if gravity were no problem. Inside the Stupa I was struck by what feels like the thickness of many years of people practicing. The good humored gentleness and authentic way of the staff feels so warming. I am called back to this place. This is one of my homes. On Inspiration My idea for the women’s retreats began from my sense that it would be great to gather, and do practices on the coldest day of the winter …

Blake D. Bauer

Blake D. Bauer on the Search for Love

By Blake D. Bauer // “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” — Jalaluddin Rumi Our search for love and connection is the one true driving force behind everything we do and everything we desire in life. Once our striving for approval, recognition, security or success loses its momentum, we finally realize we’ve simply been looking for love in all its manifestations, because when it comes down to it, what else really matters? In many cases, even before our physical survival needs for food, water or shelter have been met, our need for love surfaces as the primary motivating factor in life, because love is what makes life truly worth living. Love, and the genuine meaningful connections that arise with it, is the true medicine that heals, inspires and fulfills, and this is why, whether we’re willing to admit it or not, we are either directly or indirectly in the pursuit of love right now. This universal …

Working with Courage: A Three Minute Practice

By Janet Solyntjes // In my early years of meditation training I was unable to sit still for long, maybe five minutes, before I would shift my body with hopes of improving my practice. My body hurt, my mind was impossible, and I was crawling out of my skin much of the time. My practice revealed glimpses of “calm abiding” and “dignity,” but it was tough going! My teachers reminded me that practice was a breeding ground for courage. Courage, I was told, becomes the seedbed for nurturing our deepest aspiration for a meaningful life and for a sane society. It takes courage to be present to the unknown, to touch what is frightening, to let go of what is familiar, and, once again, open. Now I remember to bring my heart to the cushion ~ how else will I cultivate bravery? Three Minute Practice: The Courage of this Moment Ask yourself this: What would it take for me to fully inhabit the experience of being human right now? Can I feel the sensations of …

MBSR

Wholeness and Mindfulness

By Janet Solyntjes // Nearly everywhere one turns these days the language of “mindfulness” is to be found. Its ubiquitous influence is flavoring American culture. Because my professional life is part of the mindfulness movement, I have sensitivity towards noticing the numerous references to mindfulness that are popping up in the media. What I personally find inspiring is not the “Zen” or “mindful” references dotting our media world. What is heartening is the clear shift that happens in an individual and culture each time a person opens to unconditional goodness, wholeness, and worthiness. Can you feel something shifting? Are you curious about the transformative power of the increased number of people practicing mindfulness in America? Jon Kabat-Zinn, the progenitor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, speaks of the healing power of the view and practice of entering wholeness: When we glimpse our own completeness in the stillness of any moment, when we directly experience ourself as whole in that moment and also a part of a larger whole, a new and profound coming to terms with our problems …

The Practice of Dropping: An Antidote for a Busy Life

By Brian Spielmann & De West // When we’re babies, the ability to grasp, which becomes fully developed around 9-12 months, is one of the most important developmental milestones. This core skill demonstrates planning, hand-eye coordination, muscular strength, and motor skills. As adult spiritual practitioners, we have the opposite issue: how do we stop grasping and let go? Our minds are constantly grasping and fixating, creating much suffering in our minds and tension in our bodies. As Mick Jagger says, “You can’t always get what you want.” And that grasping is where samsara begins. The Buddhist and Yogic traditions both offer clear, practical instructions on how to let go fully. When we integrate these traditions, working both with our body and our mental awareness, we have a powerful dual pathway to further relaxation and sense of peace. Take a Load Off The good news is that our thoughts and emotional baggage don’t actually exist. They come and they go, and we can let them arise with no judgment or need to push them away. We …

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 …

Cyndi Lee

Radical Inclusivity and Just Showing Up

By Cyndi Lee // The other day a friend of mine texted to cancel our lunch date. The reason, she wrote, was that her body wasn’t feeling well and was telling her it needed to rest. After wishing her a delicious nap and a speedy recovery, I couldn’t help but wonder about this conversation between her and her body. I pondered how it could be that her body is not her and, if so, who is she that isn’t a body? Of course, this brings up age-old questions about the nature of consciousness, impermanence, and the definition of the true self. But what I’m really struck with is how we separate ourselves from ourselves. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word, yuj, which is typically translated as to yoke or bind, to join, unite or re-unite. In other words, yoga is relationship. Of course, we know that mind and body are part of each other. You cannot have a body without a mind or a mind without a body. But sometimes we forget. One …

[VIDEO] Zen Path of the Heart

By Gerry Shishin Wick, Roshi and Ilia Shinko Perez, Roshi // Many spiritual practitioners are confused about what to do when feelings and emotions arise during meditation. Some traditions teach to treat the emotions like thoughts and let them go, returning to the breath. In Zen Path of the Heart, feeling sensations and emotions are welcomed and seen as necessary aspects of progress in the path of awakening. The sensations of emotions, when present, become the focal point of the concentrated mind and are held with nonjudgmental awareness. This gentle and kind acceptance of our present state allows feelings to come, run their course, and dissolve and transform. Allowing these emotional processes to unfold as they naturally need to heals the emotional wounds developed throughout one’s life, and thereby dissolving karmic habit patterns. Ongoing meditation develops the expansive container that can hold these emotional states without needing to eject into mental stories or repress the emotion through avoidance. The path to the recognition of our True Being must include everything: our feelings, our personality and our humanity. …