All posts filed under: Mind-Body

an invitation

An Invitation

by:  Katharine Kaufman A retreat has a beginning, middle, and end to it and certain things are bound to happen during these phases.  I listen to a chef on the radio. First thing to teach novice chefs is: mise-en-place. This means to gather and put all the ingredients and tools you’ll need for the recipe in one place and also to prepare them. Chop, grate, stir. This is the beginning. She said the new chefs want to rush to make the recipe without preparing.  I have packed and traveled and checked in, removed my shoes, and lined them up with the others and am standing outside the meditation hall. There is one thing left I need to do to begin. My meditation cushion. I need to find a place to sit down and wait. “Stay in the middle of the event and listen for messages there,” Barbara Dilley, my friend, and a contemplative dance mentor said to a group of us. I wrote it down and pasted the instructions on the inside cover of my …

Coming Home to Ourselves

A retreat experience at Shambhala Mountain Center by:  Tricia Cominsky The magic of being in retreat is ineffable.  Knowing this to be true, I’m still inspired to attempt to capture the feeling and experience with the written word. Perhaps it’s the mystery of what possible causes and conditions create the circumstances for twenty-eight strangers to show up on the same day, at the same time in a mountain retreat setting at 8,000 feet, the week before Christmas.  That alone strikes me as curiously miraculous. Shambhala Mountain Center is an hour’s drive from Fort Collins, Colorado; two hours from the Denver International Airport.  It’s not easy to find, especially during winter when daylight leaves us at four-thirty in the afternoon.  Yet we all made the trek.  We arrived from Manhattan, Chicago, Boulder, Santa Fe, Cleveland, and elsewhere.  Those who live and work at SMC and chose to participate in The Art of Meditation retreat had only to walk from their cabins or lodge rooms to the Ridgen Shrine Room, where we all gathered on December 19th …

Functional Sanity 

Excerpt from the international bestselling book, You Were Not Born To Suffer, by Blake D. Bauer. It’s helpful to know that we are all a bit crazy, in the sense that once we’re honest with ourselves we cannot deny the various voices in our head or the countless thoughts that circulate in our mind. I have come to perceive mental and emotional health in terms of practical functional sanity. In other words: can we take responsibility for our lives in a way that we do not harm ourselves, other people or the Earth while we do our best each day to be well, happy and kind?  In my experience, which I am sure is similar to your own, there is no such thing as ‘normal’. Although it is so common to think ‘he or she is normal but I am not’ or ‘their family is normal’ or ‘why can’t I just be normal?’ deep down we all know real life is stranger than fiction. Maybe the reason we can never get to ‘normal’ is because it …

The Four Immeasurables Practice in Global Pandemic 

By Dr Nashalla Gwyn Nyinda, Menpa TMD Living in highly unusual circumstances, we have been facing unknowns, fears surrounding vulnerable friends, family and indeed ourselves in a global pandemic. When we realize, as a global community, we are all suffering together, this helps us understand our sameness as human beings. The Four Immeasurables practice in Buddhism helps turn the mind towards realities of experiencing the nature of our samsaric world. The interdependence and how we perceive “self” in relation to others is the basis of any practice of radiating light, healing, love and compassion to all who are suffering. By cultivating these four aspects, we achieve happiness for ourselves and others, even amid enormous uncertainty and fear. The Four Immeasurables Loving-Kindness Compassion Joy/Appreciation Equanimity Loving-kindness  Loving-kindness contains an ardent wish that all sentient beings, without exception, be happy. The attitude of loving-kindness is akin to feelings a parent has for their offspring. Parents want their children to enjoy good health and success in life, without hardships. We expand this same feeling by meditating and wishing …

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 …

embodied listening

Embodied Listening: An Interview with Hope Martin

Hope Martin has taught the Alexander Technique for 33 years, trained Alexander teachers for two decades at the American Center for the Alexander Technique, and operates Hope Martin Studio in New York City. She is a Meditation Instructor, Focusing trainer, and a close student of Pema Chödron. Her particular passion is in helping her students discover how easeful, upright posture is an expression of their human dignity, confidence, and innate wakefulness. We recently had the good fortune of chatting with Hope about her upcoming November Online retreat: Embodied Listening®: Trusting the Wisdom of Direct Experience and learning a bit more about what can be expected during the weekend retreat. Watching and listening to this rich conversation between Hope and Dhi, brings the following guidance to mind: “Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are.”                        –Pema Chödron Hope’s wisdom and grace suggest that as we learn to build a friendly relationship with ourselves, we …

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. …