All posts filed under: Nature

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. …

Mind Blindness 

by John Rockwell A while back, I read an article about “plant blindness.” When shown a picture that shows a pair of elephants in a clearing and asked what they see, virtually everyone says, “Two elephants.” Even when the question is repeated, “What do you see?” people persist in saying “Elephants,” as if the questioner were stupid or blind. No one says that they see grass and trees, much less describes the type of plants. The biologists lament this lack of appreciation for the greenery that is our constant background. They point out that plants are just as important and in fact make up the base of the food chain that supports our existence. This lack of connection and community with the plant world can ultimately support a life style and work ethic that is destructive to our environment. What we don’t perceive, we have no feeling for. What we have no feeling for, we don’t care about. What we don’t care about, we can destroy and feel nothing amiss. Of course, by destroying the plant world, we are undermining our own existence.  When …

Catch a falling star

by:  Andrea Schweitzer                                   Night sky photo credit:  NASA Bill Ingalls “People underestimate the stars and the connectedness they bring between spirit and matter. More often than not, when lost, we seek solitude in staring into the darkness hoping something speaks back to us, usually through a feeling, a thought or a rare occurrence of a shooting star.” -Nikki Rowe This week is the peak of the summer Perseid meteor shower.  Falling stars are likely to be visible in a dark sky all week, and especially on the night of August 12-13. If you can find a dark location, away from city lights (or at least away from street lights and porch lights), linger outside and look up.  Take in the beauty of the stars and enjoy a quiet moment with the universe. The Moon is in its crescent phase, setting to the west in the evening. This allows pleasant dark conditions ideal for star gazing and hopefully catching a …

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 …

Joining Meditation and Movement: East meets West on the Path to a Joyful Life

by Michael Sandrock // One day, somewhere around the start of the 5th Century B.C.,  a wandering forest ascetic named Siddhartha Gautama sat down beneath the Bodhi Tree, vowing not to leave his seat until he had achieved enlightenment. This he did. Meanwhile, at just about the same time, Darius the Great, the Persian King of Kings, vowed to crush the freedom-loving Greek city-states, especially Athens. His campaign of subjugation ended on the plains of Marathon, where the vastly outnumbered Athenians defeated the previously undefeated Persian army, gathered from throughout the empire, from Asia, to Egypt and Sudan and beyond. These two contemporary events, separated by about 3500 miles, and not many years, are, it can be said without hyperbole, two of the most important events in human history. One showed the way to freedom from suffering; the other, the way to freedom from tyranny. Now, during the Shambhala Mountain Center’s Labor Day weekend retreat, “Running with the Mind of Meditation & Yoga”, the two strains represented by Siddhartha beneath the Bodhi tree and the …

New Weather Patterns

by Kay Peterson // As citizens of the earth, events of the past year have certainly illuminated the preciousness of this human life and offered us an opportunity to reflect on how we’ve been living it. Now, as we find ourselves collectively navigating yet another palpable transition or “change in weather,” we have a choice: to be lulled back into comfortable, familiar patterns, or to meet each new moment with greater awareness and intention together. You probably noticed that while we were trying to adjust to quarantine in our homes through the storm of a pandemic, nature continued to offer us examples for how to adapt, to strive toward better balance no matter what the obstacle, and in many situations, to even thrive in the space less encumbered with human confusion. With far fewer people traveling and emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, air and water quality significantly improved in many areas and a variety of species seized the opportunity to thrive in the places we’d vacated. Though this simple observation is not a panacea …

Coming to Our Senses:  Practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness   

by  Gaylon Ferguson // The gentle practice of mindfulness-awareness meditation allows our senses to awaken. First, we enter into meditation by sensing the body. The basis of our entire meditation journey is mindfulness of body, directly connecting with this earthy, elemental aspect of being human. We begin by attending to our sitting posture, listening to our own bodies and settling into physical sensation as a good working basis. Gradually synchronizing body and mind, we feel more grounded. We are cultivating a sense of being fully present with our bodies, moment after moment after moment. This experience of groundedness allows us to open out, welcoming all our experience with less judgment, more friendliness.  Next is sensing our feelings. Sometimes our meditation sessions present dramatic and vivid displays of emotions. Sometimes there is boredom. The overall approach is to include our inner emotional weather as part of the sitting practice of meditation. Sunny or cloudy, cool winds or thundershowers, all are welcome. This approach is called “touch and go.” We gently touch an emotion, rather than avoiding or ignoring it. If it moves on—as emotions sometimes do, we let it go. If it stays, we allow …

Summer Women 

by Katharine Kaufman //  We walk from the dining hall up the path, through aspens, and field. We walk alone or in groups of two or three. And onto the road, up into the pines and the indoor/outdoor pavilion. If it’s raining and cool, we walk beyond the pavilion to the lodge. We find our place, lay our mat there and sit or lie down. We are with other actual bodies. This year has been inside and online and not getting to see who we need to see. The grief may feel distant or near. We’ve been too busy, or we haven’t had enough to do. We’ve been worried or we’re not thinking of the past at all. We’re wired and underneath, exhausted. We’re learning to hold our seat. Something is forming about what we can or will not tolerate. We’re thinking of the year ahead. We feel lucky in some ways. We’re here to pause between worlds, seasons, dream a little, write something down on paper, prepare.   We sit and breathe. We notice sensations that have been waiting for us to listen. It’s a relief and it’s not as hard as we thought, and we listen to the other women and find something in common. The days are simple. We begin each day in silence. We sit and then walk and wander. We practice yoga on our mats. Somebody says …

waves - JS blog 062921

Innate Beauty 

by Janet Solyntjes // Have you noticed how human beings can express themselves in such a variety of ways? We can be fantastic, imaginative, inexplicably wise, and quirky.  We can be kind, generous, patient and courageous in the face of challenges.  We can also be stingy, grumpy, angry and confused. When we make the choice to inhabit our being––fully present and aware––we can then learn to embrace all parts of our experience, uncovering the wholeness and goodness that is the basis of all life.    I love the following poem by poet Mary Oliver for its ability to communicate the rich complexity of our human experience and of our relationship to nature:   The sea can do craziness, it can do smooth, it can lie down like silk breathing or toss havoc shoreward; it can give   gifts or withhold all; it can rise, ebb, froth like an incoming frenzy of fountains, or it can sweet-talk entirely.  As I can too,   and so, no doubt, can you, and you. Often we experience our “crazy-froth-frenzy” as unwanted and unwelcome, judging these experiences and comparing them with “smooth-giving-sweetness.” The practice of meditation is one way, perhaps the most direct pathway, to dropping the critical mind and softening into what is present, into the ups …