All posts filed under: Mindful Living

How to live my life after cancer? 

by:  Natalie Pascale Boisseau  The question is similar for everyone, no matter which cancer one is diagnosed with, no matter the stage of the cancer, no matter the treatments or the side effects afterwards.  The question is the same, how do I live my life after a cancer diagnosis, after a deep brush with a life threatening disease?  Ten years ago, I experienced this first hand when I was given the shocking news that a large tumor, a rare cancer, was growing, invading my belly.  The next Friday that week, my primary care doctor called me after hours.  She told me, “Natalie, no matter what will happen to you in the next weeks and months, no matter what challenging treatments you will go through, please know that you are not to identify yourself with the illness.   You are not the disease.”   In the middle of it, though, or even after a series of treatments and surgeries, cancer is the center of your life.  So the question arises: who are you?  Where are you at? What is next?  …

What does Meditation have to do with Running?

by:  Michael Sandrock One of the special spots in Colorado — and there are many! — is the Shambhala Mountain Center northwest of Fort Collins, near Red Feather Lakes.  It is 600 acres of aspen and pine-laden hillsides nestled next to national forest land.  There are endless trails and dirt roads to run nearby, as well as a variety of retreats to attend, including Labor Day weekend’s “Running with the Mind of Meditation and Yoga,” which I first went to 15 years ago. That first exposure to meditation and mindfulness was transformational, and so, like many others, I watched updates last year when the Cameron Peak Fire swept through the area, burning more than a dozen buildings on the center’s land on its way to becoming the first Colorado wildfire to burn over 200,000 acres.  Saved from destruction was the iconic Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Which Liberates Upon Seeing, a must-see Colorado visit, and which can indeed, for the person who is ready, spur liberation. (As the Zen master Shunryu Suzuki said, enlightenment can come …

Giving ourselves grace, Part 2: Remembering possibility

by:  Marissa C. Knox Uncertainty and impermanence are two of the deepest, most fundamental truths of being human. If we know nothing else, we know intimately the experience of change and of not knowing what is to come. Change can bring loss and destruction, and it can also bring creativity and growth. And if we are honest with ourselves, we do not know exactly what change may bring. There is a sense of mystery to each day and to each moment when we recognize the presence of possibility that is inherent in our human experience. It is an act of profound kindness and generosity to remember that who we are is changing and changeable, that our lives are not set in stone, that our minds and hearts can open and transform.  Remembering the truth of possibility may be one of the most powerful ways we can give ourselves grace.  Giving myself grace has become a way of life that has buoyed me through seasons of doubt, scarcity, grief, anxiety, and all of my pained responses …

How to Prepare for Autumn’s Arrival

by:  Sara Avant Stover Autumn is my favorite time of the year, perhaps because I grew up in Connecticut surrounded by the splendor of changing leaves. The season’s crisp winds, golden light, and first days of school instill a fresh, buzzing, alive feeling inside. I feel inspired to complete unfinished projects before the holidays, and I love bringing out cuddly winter sweaters, woolly scarves, and cozy tights. Long walks through crinkly leaves remind me of romping in leaf piles on my way home from school as a young girl. The magic of the season extends deeper than our wardrobes, though, for during these crucial months, nature prepares for her long winter’s rest and teaches us to do the same. It is time to gather, store, organize, and wind down from summer’s high tempo and the relentless forward momentum that modern living usually demands. When the crisp winds of autumn start to blow, we need to tune in to the signal that it’s time to start slowing down. As leaves fall to the ground, they decay …

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 …

Giving ourselves grace, Part 1

Marissa C. Knox When life is painful or difficult, we are often told to “give ourselves grace.” But what does this really mean? How do we give ourselves the thing that is already and always here? Perhaps it means to be self-compassionate, or to allow ourselves to be human. Or maybe it is about prayer, asking for help, seeking guidance. Some might give themselves grace simply by giving themselves space – space to feel, space to rest, space to breathe, space to be. It may be the act of listening to a song, a bird, a river. It may be a delicious nap. Yes, and there is no one right way to give ourselves grace. For me, giving myself grace is a life practice. It is a way of being that guides my days and provides an anchor, a compass, and a map for how I want to be in each moment.  Trusting in the presence of grace is how I begin and end each day of my life. Though, this is not something that …

Standing in Your Power

How do we use our power wisely and well?   What is the difference between up power roles and down power roles?  How do our early experiences affect our relationship to and ability to use our personal and role powers? It is up to all of us to do our research and support one another as we learn into our power dynamics.  It’s a bumpy road, but one we all can benefit from travelling.  We invite you to enjoy this informative and inspiring video interview with Dr. Cedar Barstow, author, founder, and director of Right Use of Power Institute. Join Dr. Cedar Bastow at SMC to Learn More   About the Author: Dr. Cedar Barstow is passionate about saying yes to power and using it wisely and well.  She is the author, founder, and director of Right Use of Power Institute, a consultant and teacher in practical and embodied ethics, a Hakomi psychotherapist, and a 30-year member of the faculty of the Hakomi Institute.  She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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 …