All posts filed under: Mind-Body

Emotional Resilience: Learning from the Buddha’s Life Story

by:  Lama Elizabeth Monson, PhD The life story of the buddha is one of the most powerful examples in religious literary history of how it is possible to transform our relationship to difficult emotions from one of suffering and avoidance to one which allows us to live lives sourced in kindness, ease, wisdom and love. We could say that the life story of the buddha presents us with a paradigm for exploring how to be in relationship with the reactive emotional energies, both internal and external, that keep us from accessing and responding to the world from our innate place of refuge – our Buddhanature – a way of being that is naturally compassionately responsive and which is unconditioned by reactivity. Even for those who do not identify as “Buddhist,” the Buddha’s life story offers a powerful template within which to explore one’s personal spiritual journey and relationship with emotional reactivity. When we read carefully, we see that the Buddha’s life story is our own story writ large and as we explore the Buddha’s life …

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, his tears fell creating a vast lake. From …

Befriending Your Inner Critic

The Inner Critic relationship is pivotal as we “do our work”.  These parts of our inner world can offer such rich feedback as to how we care for ourselves, what we perceive as threats and how to move beyond a fraught relationship into one that can be healed and ultimately so very supportive in our journeys. Best selling author Sara Avant Stover speaks to us on how being an Internal Family Systems (IFS) practitioner can provide guidance on cultivating our relationship with the Inner Critic through different modalities as we work to heal old wounds.  SMC is delighted to host Sara’s upcoming Online retreat offering: Befriending Your Inner Critic.   Join Sara for Befriending Your Inner Critic   About the Author Sara Avant Stover is a bestselling author and teacher of feminine spirituality. After a cancer scare in her early twenties, Sara moved to Thailand, embarked on a decade-long healing and spiritual odyssey throughout Asia, and has since gone on to uplift tens of thousands of women worldwide. The founder of the world’s first Women’s Yoga …

Joining Meditation and Movement: East meets West on the Path to a Joyful Life

by Michael Sandrock // One day, somewhere around the start of the 5th Century B.C.,  a wandering forest ascetic named Siddhartha Gautama sat down beneath the Bodhi Tree, vowing not to leave his seat until he had achieved enlightenment. This he did. Meanwhile, at just about the same time, Darius the Great, the Persian King of Kings, vowed to crush the freedom-loving Greek city-states, especially Athens. His campaign of subjugation ended on the plains of Marathon, where the vastly outnumbered Athenians defeated the previously undefeated Persian army, gathered from throughout the empire, from Asia, to Egypt and Sudan and beyond. These two contemporary events, separated by about 3500 miles, and not many years, are, it can be said without hyperbole, two of the most important events in human history. One showed the way to freedom from suffering; the other, the way to freedom from tyranny. Now, during the Shambhala Mountain Center’s Labor Day weekend retreat, “Running with the Mind of Meditation & Yoga”, the two strains represented by Siddhartha beneath the Bodhi tree and the …

New Weather Patterns

by Kay Peterson // As citizens of the earth, events of the past year have certainly illuminated the preciousness of this human life and offered us an opportunity to reflect on how we’ve been living it. Now, as we find ourselves collectively navigating yet another palpable transition or “change in weather,” we have a choice: to be lulled back into comfortable, familiar patterns, or to meet each new moment with greater awareness and intention together. You probably noticed that while we were trying to adjust to quarantine in our homes through the storm of a pandemic, nature continued to offer us examples for how to adapt, to strive toward better balance no matter what the obstacle, and in many situations, to even thrive in the space less encumbered with human confusion. With far fewer people traveling and emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, air and water quality significantly improved in many areas and a variety of species seized the opportunity to thrive in the places we’d vacated. Though this simple observation is not a panacea …

The Yoga of Slowing Down 

by Heather Lindemann // Our world is steeped with movement. Walking to the car, cooking dinner, hiking a mountain path, or playing with your children — the body is meant to move. Like all aspects of our practice, however, we need balance. Some might think that the opposite of movement is total stillness, like seated meditation or even sleep. However, there’s another way to slow down, find balance, and teach the body that there is grace in doing less.   Slow and gentle yoga practices like Yin or restorative yoga can embrace the midpoint between movement and stillness. Sometimes, moving slowly and tuning in to subtle sensations can feel more challenging than movement or total rest. Yet gentle yoga practices can offer the body, mind, and soul tremendous wisdom.   Teaching the Nervous System to Regulate  On a physical level, we know that slow movement practices allow the body to settle and regulate. When we slow down, the body and mind respond by turning on the relaxation response, which is part of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). While meditation, sleep, or even Yoga Nidra are direct pathways to …

Graceful Entry: The Bardo of Becoming with Andrew Holecek

The silence and majesty of the Colorado Rockies provides the ideal backdrop for exploring the Buddhist approach to the end of life. This seven-day program is the second in a series of three retreats designed to give you a complete preparation for death by understanding the three death bardos or “transitional processes.” Each retreat is a stand-alone program. This means you can enter the series at any time. This program will examine the karmic bardo of becoming, which constitutes the majority of our after-death experience. It’s a fluid and volatile time, when the winds of habit blow us involuntarily into our next birth. With preparation, it transforms into the bardo of opportunity, where we can become anything we want by waking up to the experience and taking control. This Eastern body of wisdom will be augmented with Western medical, legal, and logistical approaches to the end of life. The uniqueness of the retreats is their comprehensive nature – no stone is left unturned. Learn what to do before, during, and after death – for yourself and for others – from …

Coming to Our Senses:  Practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness   

by  Gaylon Ferguson // The gentle practice of mindfulness-awareness meditation allows our senses to awaken. First, we enter into meditation by sensing the body. The basis of our entire meditation journey is mindfulness of body, directly connecting with this earthy, elemental aspect of being human. We begin by attending to our sitting posture, listening to our own bodies and settling into physical sensation as a good working basis. Gradually synchronizing body and mind, we feel more grounded. We are cultivating a sense of being fully present with our bodies, moment after moment after moment. This experience of groundedness allows us to open out, welcoming all our experience with less judgment, more friendliness.  Next is sensing our feelings. Sometimes our meditation sessions present dramatic and vivid displays of emotions. Sometimes there is boredom. The overall approach is to include our inner emotional weather as part of the sitting practice of meditation. Sunny or cloudy, cool winds or thundershowers, all are welcome. This approach is called “touch and go.” We gently touch an emotion, rather than avoiding or ignoring it. If it moves on—as emotions sometimes do, we let it go. If it stays, we allow …

Summer Women 

by Katharine Kaufman //  We walk from the dining hall up the path, through aspens, and field. We walk alone or in groups of two or three. And onto the road, up into the pines and the indoor/outdoor pavilion. If it’s raining and cool, we walk beyond the pavilion to the lodge. We find our place, lay our mat there and sit or lie down. We are with other actual bodies. This year has been inside and online and not getting to see who we need to see. The grief may feel distant or near. We’ve been too busy, or we haven’t had enough to do. We’ve been worried or we’re not thinking of the past at all. We’re wired and underneath, exhausted. We’re learning to hold our seat. Something is forming about what we can or will not tolerate. We’re thinking of the year ahead. We feel lucky in some ways. We’re here to pause between worlds, seasons, dream a little, write something down on paper, prepare.   We sit and breathe. We notice sensations that have been waiting for us to listen. It’s a relief and it’s not as hard as we thought, and we listen to the other women and find something in common. The days are simple. We begin each day in silence. We sit and then walk and wander. We practice yoga on our mats. Somebody says …