All posts filed under: Mind-Body

Susan PIver

Susan Piver on Meditation

By Susan Piver // When you can honestly say I am comfortable in myself, the world opens up in a way you could not imagine.  You take care of your home as a gesture of self-respect. You love your body and feed it with joy and ease. Good relationships grow stronger and difficult relationships become more workable. You trust your instincts. You laugh more. You also cry more. The world of emotion is revealed as a source of richness. You go out into the world to do your work, your service, your part with confidence and resilience.  You become a source of strength for others. The path to an open-hearted life begins with the practice of meditation. In the Open Heart Project, meditation is not a life-hack. It is not practiced for self-help  or self-improvement. It is the practice of self-kindness, the very foundation of compassion, wisdom, and power.  Though there are many places you can go to learn meditation, most of them present the practice as a scientifically proven method for achieving excellence. That is great because it …

Blake D. Bauer

The Purpose of Suffering, Depression and Disease

By Blake D. Bauer // The body’s suffering is a mask the mind holds up to hide what really suffers.  — A Course in Miracles As a culture and as individuals we need to swing the pendulum of attention towards transforming our dysfunctional mental and emotional life if we want our body and outer world to reflect a healthy internal environment. But before we can take these steps we have to find the humility to open our mind, especially if our current approach is not getting us the results we want. We have to admit that we didn’t know better and acknowledge that maybe our views have been limiting or not very healthy for us. This is not about making ourselves wrong, thinking we are flawed or blaming ourselves. Rather it’s about recognizing the fact that we inherited some very self- destructive habits and beliefs from people who were doing their best, with what they knew, at the time. And now, our body, life and world is screaming out for us to finally heal our …

Expansive Nature of Love: Beyond “My little corner of the world”

By Allison C Zangmo & Anyen Rinpoche // Cultivating the expansive nature of love is the essence of the dharma.  What does that actually mean? As human beings, we are limited in so many ways.  Our physical nature is limited; when we feel physical pain or illness or the suffering of aging, our ability to love ourselves and others is also limited.  Our emotional nature is limited; when we feel personal pain and suffering, when our minds are focused on our own experience and cannot relate to the experience of others, or when we think the intensity of our suffering is unique, our ability to love ourselves and others is limited.  The nature of our breath is limited; when our breathing takes on the characteristics of our emotions, when it becomes hot, heavy, or fast-paced, our ability to love ourselves and others is limited. The nature of the everyday mind is limited; when we are too focused on the things that we think we want and need to feel comfortable and safe, our ability to love …

Practicing Simplicity: Two Teachers on Zen

By Katharine Kaufman and Michael Wood // The beginner’s mind has many possibilities — Shunryu Suzuki The upcoming SMC retreat, “Practicing Simplicity,” is the result of an ongoing conversation between two friends and students of Zen. Katharine’s Zen practice is foundational to her work with Poetry and Contemplative Movement Arts. Michael revels in the paradoxical; learning from ontological and cultural engagements with Dharma Art and Zen philosophy. It is through our shared intuitive appreciation for the beauty of fragility and contingency of expression that we have come together to offer this weekend introduction to Zen retreat. Please join us in discovering the simplicity of Zen practice.  Michael says: In the Sôtô Zen tradition, the primary practice is shikantaza- or “just sitting.” While we do not sit as a means to an end, through the process of sitting, we find that as our thoughts settle and a  glimpse of the non-dual nature of reality reveals itself, awareness and the ability to concentrate on the precision of forms and transience of the present arises. In doing so, experience is once again …

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 …

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, …

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 …