All posts filed under: Mindful Living

[Video] Winter Dathün: What Is It Like to Retreat for a Month?

In this short video, Acharya Daniel Hessey and past retreat participants share their thoughts on what it’s like to spend a month on retreat in the winter at Shambhala Mountain Center. Meditate for 7-14 days or the full month of dathün with Acharya Daniel Hessey at Shambhala Mountain Center (Dec. 16, 2017 – Jan. 14, 2018) – click here to learn more   Join Acharya Daniel Hessey and other meditators for Winter Dathun: Creating Enlightened Society (Dec. 16, 2017 – Jan. 14, 2018) – click here to learn more

How to Communicate Well in the Heat of the Moment

By Janet Mueller // I am always looking for good analogies to help people grow in their capacity to communicate with strength and compassion, especially it if can help us get a better sense of why communication can be so challenging sometimes. There is one I’ve been using recently that captures the contradictions we experience so many times with communication: While it is easy to pass the written test, we often fail the practical exam. Most of us, most of the time are pretty good at communicating. We go through life, talking with others and figuring out what we need to. But when we are in a difficult communication, when we are in the heat of the moment, all the skills and talents we usually have seem to disappear. When it comes to dealing with conflict, this seems to be the case across the board. When I ask any group – young people, professionals, parents – they all have a great list of things they could do when faced with conflict. This list includes things …

Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating: Why Bother?

By Marcella Friel // It’s so easy to believe that our struggles with food are our fault. It’s so seductive to blame and punish ourselves for our failed attempts to curb our less-than-mindful eating habits. However … Not only is such self-condemnation counterproductive (as in, “the beatings will continue until morale improves”), it also blinds us to the social realities that got us into this predicament to begin with. Food is the most fundamental expression of human culture. According to Zen chef Edward Espe Brown, “In cultures where eating rituals were widespread, people experienced few eating disorders. Conversely, we see that ours is a culture with few eating rituals and numerous disorders.” In our industrialized, setting-sun world, our eating rituals consist of opening take-out cartons, eating at our desks, grazing mindlessly, or chowing down microwaved meals while checking Facebook. If the purpose of food is strictly to provide nutrition for our bodies, why should we care about how we actually eat? In this video I invite you to explore the social and cultural forces that …

Advice for Setting New Year Intentions (Rather than Resolutions)

For the past several years, Shastri Jon Barbierri has come up to Shambhala Mountain Center to lead a group retreat designed to help people enter the new year with strength, intention, and joy.  In this short interview, Jon shares some wisdom related to this process of setting intentions rather than resolutions, as well as what he’s learned from leading this retreat year after year. Enjoy the video below, or scroll down to stream/download the audio. Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Take a Leap into 2018: Establish Your Intention and Commitment with Shastri Jon Barbieri, December 29, 2017–January 1, 2018 — click here to learn more Audio may be streamed below.  To download, follow this link, click “More,” click “Download.” Featured image by Corey Ruffner About the Authors Shastri Jonathan Barbieri is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Lineage who has taught Buddhist and Shambhala trainings extensively throughout North America for over 30 years. Jon has been engaged in several livelihood pursuits including consulting with cities and counties on workforce development, creating contemplative co-housing communities, and, most …

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 …

A Contemplative Approach to Viewing the Eclipse

By Andrea Schweitzer, Ph.D. in astronomy // There has been a lot of news about the upcoming “Great American Solar Eclipse” on August 21, 2017.  If you are able to get to a location for totality of the eclipse, it will be an incredible experience to remember.  Or, if you’re only able to see the partial eclipse, that is enjoyable and worthwhile, too! There is a lot of detailed information being published about the eclipse *(see resources below). I would like to suggest that it is also important to contemplate how you might like to feel as you witness this celestial event. Hopefully this will be a memory to last a lifetime, and that is worth considering in advance. Quiet and Reflective Observe the eclipse from under a tree, and be surrounded by a myriad of crescent suns. Play with your fingers and enjoy the “pinhole projection”  effect. Celebratory Invite others to join you, and plan an eclipse party.  There are many educational activities  for kids and adults that you can do before and during the eclipse. …

Mindful Hiking

Practicing Mindfulness and Awareness in Nature

By Kay Peterson // A passing rainstorm doesn’t have to ruin a hike if we remember to bring a raincoat or don’t mind temporarily getting a little wet! The clouds are certain to pass and we may even be left feeling stronger and more rejuvenated than we expected. Our emotional landscape is much like the weather – we may not be able to control it, but we do have power over our reactions to it. As human beings, we have a tendency to gravitate toward pleasurable experiences and to avoid potentially painful ones. One could argue that some of that tendency is a by-product of important survival instincts. We need to be able to identify and act when we encounter potentially life-threatening situations. However, this “instinct” can also run amok – especially these days when we rarely find ourselves being chased by dinosaurs 😉 Sometimes that part of the brain that alerts us to potential danger has been trained to be reactive – to be especially sensitive – often due to some kind of trauma …

Insight Meditation

Living Fully, Loving Well—Reflections on the Awakened Heart

By David Chernikoff I first became interested in death and dying in my early teens. It wasn’t a choice as much as a necessity. Because of numerous early losses, most of them sudden and unexpected, I felt deeply drawn to understand the essence of living and dying at a time when most of my peers were preoccupied with very different concerns. At the time, I had the sense that I’d been singled out, bullied by an uncaring universe or an incomprehensible God. Looking back, I can see the blessings that were wrapped in the painful packages of grief and trauma that touched my life so many years ago. Those events shaped the unfolding of my journey in a way that is clearly evident in retrospect. It’s not surprising that I chose to study psychology, religion, and theology in the years that followed. I was passionately interested in the way we heal our hearts, bodies, and minds as well as “big picture” questions related to why things happen the way they do. In my late twenties …

Compassionate Acceptance as a Path of Healing

By Thomas Roberts // How often do we embark on our spiritual growth journeys with the well-meaning intention of improving, changing, quieting, calming, or otherwise modifying ourselves? Thinking that if we just get it right, then our demons will finally leave us alone! I know I did. With that approach, the harder we work at it, the more conflicted, frustrated, anxious, self-berating, and distant it seems we become from that goal we so want to achieve. A long time ago, I was talking with a fellow journeyer about this whole conundrum. She said: “You know it’s kind of like training a dog by locking it in the basement and hoping it will eventually become a nice dog. Hmmm… In truth, we simply cannot silence—or otherwise lock away—those parts of ourselves that are wounded, messy, difficult and scary. They need to be recognized, accepted, and held with great love and compassion. And this brings us to the notion of compassionate acceptance. After all, the guts of our spiritual/healing journey is not about silencing, changing, or becoming …

The Search for Comfort Zones

By Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche With every blink of the eye, with every breath, we are trying to find comfort—some kind of relief from the underlying agitation and unsettledness of our ordinary mind. We look to family or friends, to some source of stimulation, or to an infinite number of other external conditions that we hope will help us. When we listen to music, watch movies, or engage in any other form of entertainment, in one way we are enjoying it, but in another way it is also an example of using our ordinary mind to find comfort. Our search for this comfort arises from the primordial fear within our ordinary mind. We are all trying to find a comfort zone, and when our circumstances inevitably change and we are no longer in a comfort zone, our secure and hopeful world is gone. Even when we are getting what we want, we worry that we may lose our comfort zones. We worry about losing our job, our family, our relationship, our health, and anything else that …