All posts filed under: Mindful Living

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 …

relationship tips

5 Tips for Relationships in the Midst of Coronavirus Times

by:  Harville Hendrix Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt Ph.D As couples find themselves at home now more than ever before due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many relationships are feeling the strain. Work-related stress, childcare difficulties, interrupted routines and lack of social connections compound the difficulty of these uncertain times, leading overwhelmed partners to interacting from a place of frustration. Struggling for a way to make this time one of triumph rather than tragedy? You are not alone, and there is hope. Relationship experts Harville and Helen have shared their top tips for improving your interactions during this time: Honor your partner’s time by making an appointment. Ask, “Is now a good time to talk about…?” We are all facing life circumstances that fall outside of the “norm” right now. By choosing to make an appointment with your partner before engaging in conversation, you show them respect and care. While this system may feel formal, structure creates safety which in turn invites spontaneity. By honoring boundaries in this way, you prevent negative interactions with your partner. Allow for boundaries by …

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 …

Thoughts on Mahamudra Retreats

by:  Acharya Richard John My first experience of a mahamudra retreat was in the first session of the three-year retreat at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, over 30 years ago. It was the classic Kagyu version, using the text by the ninth Karmapa, Pointing Out the Dharmakaya. Following tradition, the retreat began with three months of guru yoga practice. When we got to the actual mahamudra section, (another three months), we were fully primed for this pinnacle of Buddhist dharma practice, eight men and eight women, in our separate shrine rooms, all facing forward and doing shamatha and vipashyana practice. The obvious question for me was, what exactly made this mahamudra practice? It seemed like a very big deal, but it looked just like any other small dathun. My first insight into that, which sounds amusing now but seemed quite profound at the time, was “Oh, now we are actually going to follow the instructions!” That led to the recognition that we were practicing shamatha and vipashyana with a spirit of continuously roused windhorse, and ultimately to the …

How To Stop Your Marriage From Falling Apart

by  Harville Hendrix Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt Ph.D. Four provocative truths every married couple needs to know Falling in love is amazing! The excitement of meeting someone new brings out the best in all of us; the journey ahead feels like an open road full of possibility … but, then something happens: Either the relationship starts to feel stale, or perhaps money issues, kids, or trying to figure out a comfortable work-life balance comes into play. Whatever the cause, the initial spark dims or goes out altogether, and the future of your relationship becomes a long and winding road, full of pit stops and flat tires. Well, don’t worry because this happens to everyone. All it means is that it’s time for a tune-up. You see, we spend a lot of time and energy finding our perfect mates. By the time we say “I do,” we assume (and fervently hope) that the work is over. The idea of having to spend time working on your marriage may seem strange or even depressing, but it’s …

SMC’s Award-Winning Eco-Forestry Work

by;  Dhi Good & Mac McGoldrick     ///     photo:  Miles Greenlee Stewardship of the land is an important priority for Shambhala Mountain Center. Under the direction of our Built and Natural Environments Director, Mac McGoldrick, SMC conducts conservation forestry projects and collaborates with regional partners to sustain healthy and resilient eco-systems across our 600 acres and beyond. In the video below, Mac McGoldrick describes the eco-forestry and conservation work at SMC in partnership with regional conservation agencies. Thank you Fort Collins Conservation District for this beautiful video! The 600-acre SMC property provided an excellent example of the positive outcomes strategic forest treatments can produce. Because of the 165-acre fuels reduction treatment completed on the property in 2018, as well as several years of adjacent treatments continuing along Elkhorn Creek to the east, firefighters working on the Cameron Peak Fire of 2020 were safer, the forest burned less intensely in this area, and post-fire outcomes were less severe.  Northern Colorado Fireshed Collaborative, Nov. 12, 2021     Above:  Fireshed partners and community members gather at Shambhala Mountain Center to learn …

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 …

canoe couple

Stay In The Canoe And Paddle

by Harville Hendrix Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt Ph.D The question we are asked most often is: “what do you do if your partner doesn’t…..(do any imaginable thing!) or “what if you are married to someone who is…..(any imaginable bad trait or behavior).” In the past we have responded to these questions with answers addressed to the specifics. As we have listened to my answers, we found that whatever specifics we responded to, the pattern was always the same. The answer was “stay in the process.” So what is the process? It is IMAGO DIALOGUE. There are no enlightened answers to any question or clever solutions to any problem. Questions and problems are all functions of “process breakdown.” Partners stop listening and become defensive. Polarization occurs and the impasse is strengthened. The only way out of this quagmire is the Imago Dialogue process with its three parts: mirroring, validating and empathy. The process of Imago Dialogue is something like a canoe on a lake. Two people are paddling, one in the back and one in the front. …

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 …