All posts filed under: Nature

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 …

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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 …

The Nature and Purpose of Śamatha

// by B. Alan Wallace Buddhist inquiry into the natural world proceeds from a radically different point of departure than western science, and its methods differ correspondingly. Early pioneers of the scientific revolution, including Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, expressed an initial interest in the nature of physical objects most far removed from human subjectivity: such issues as the relative motions of the sun and earth, the surface of the moon, and the revolutions of the planets. And a central principle of scientific naturalism is the pure objectification of the natural world, free of any contamination of subjectivity. This principle of objectivism demands that science deals with empirical facts testable by empirical methods entailing testability by third-person means; and such facts must, therefore, be public rather than private, which is to say, they must be accessible to more than one observer. Another aspect of this principle is that scientific knowledge — paradigmatically knowledge of astronomy and physics — must be epistemically objective, which is to say, observer-independent. A profound limitation of this ideal is that it …

Bardo of Becoming

// by Andrew Holecek If you are well trained, your first after-death experience will be the luminous bardo of dharmata. If you’re unfamiliar with the subtle states of mind revealed in this bardo, it will flash by in an instant, or be completely missed. Those who have practiced the meditations that facilitate recognition will reap the rewards, and attain liberation at the level of the dharmakaya or sambhogakaya. Without this preparation, most of us will wake up in the karmic bardo of becoming. For nearly everyone, the first experience after regaining consciousness is a sense of being in their own body. Even though the mind is without a body at this point, the habit (karma) of being embodied is so strong that it continues. You feel like your old self, and don’t know you are dead. Since this bardo is ruled by the winds of karma, the experiences are particularly fickle. These “winds” are not literal winds, of course, but a metaphor for how we are blown around by the power of karma. Because we …

Partnering with the Land: SMC’s Conservation Forestry Project and the Cameron Peak Fire

By Travis Newbill // To the untrained eye, the ponderosa forests of Shambhala Mountain Center have never been anything less than pristine wonderlands. But to experts in the field of conservation forestry, these ecosystems have actually been unhealthy for many years. That’s according to SMC’s Master Planner Mac McGoldrick, who came onboard in 2017 with an eye not only for pretty landscapes, but truly healthy ecosystems — two values which can be in opposition sometimes. When Mac first laid out the plans for Phase 1 of the SMC Forestry Project back in 2018, he got a lot of pushback from people who didn’t want to see what they regarded as precious trees cut down. While that sentiment is certainly understandable, says Mac, it amounts to a classic case of missing the forest for the trees. “Our forests had become overgrown, homogenous, and crowded,” he says, “and what happens when those circumstances are present is that tree health suffers, understory growth suffers; we start to eliminate habitat for living beings, and we are possibly impacting watershed, …

SMC Receives Environmental Stewardship Award

Shambhala Mountain Center has received the 2019 Environmental Stewardship Award by the Larimer County Commissioners for our Healthy Forest Initiative. We are honored and grateful to all who have contributed to this project! The Healthy Forest Initiative was developed in response to over a century of fire suppression on the land. This condition ultimately created an overcrowded, monocultural forest across 125 acres of land. The aim of the Healthy Forest Initiative is to return this land to a more healthy and biodiverse state. To read more about the 2019 Environmental Stewardship Awards: https://northfortynews.com/larimer-county-presents-2019-environmental-stewardship-awards/

With Nature as Our Guide

By Kay Peterson // These days I’ve been contemplating how hard it can sometimes be for us to come together to meet the challenges of today’s world with wisdom, compassion, and skillful action. In the wake of dramatic events that stir fear and uncertainty, it can be so easy to get lost in the split of right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, or us vs. them. There’s a seductive illusion (or delusion) that choosing a side will bring safety and security, yet this actually narrows our view and a collective uneasiness remains. Somehow, I think we instinctively know that it’s not so simple, and being with nature reminds us of the delicate balance that is the web of life. There are so many causes and conditions that contribute to this life unfolding as it does. We may find ourselves often reacting to challenging situations with our habitual versions of fight, flight or freeze. While we can appreciate these coping strategies for how they may have helped protect us at one time, we also know that …

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. …

Offering

Hello world, I wrote this poem last fall as a rumination on death and life, impermanence and transition. Now as I prepare to leave SMC for new journeys, it seems fitting to share.   gathering up the courage to say goodbye to good friends gathering up the pink in the clouds as it swells into peach and then dusty blue gathering up the things i need for today in my old pack. pulling together the sound the wind makes through tall dry grasses golden ice of late october the dreams of morning hearing scratching in the wall or floor gathering up the swollen parts of my heart for you to hold the honey and peanut butter, avocados and incense smoke to coax you, tether you back into this world for a moment stuck on cobwebs in the rafters for just a sound, a smell of this Earth i gather up deer bones from the mountainside and trees and the dry, cold dirt i lay them next to mine, bound together, hinged to hold us for as long …

Your Virtual Guide to the Perimeter Trail

There is something undeniably magical about the land at Shambhala Mountain Center. Literally and figuratively, it is the heart and foundation of the experience here. The powerful energy of the land can be experienced by simply being; in meditation, yoga or contemplation — but walking and exploring this area is meaningful in its own way, offering a chance to shift gears and restore the precious connection to our wild, natural environment. A great opportunity to experience the land is via the Perimeter Trail (also known as the Shambhala Mountain Trail), a roughly 5-mile loop that circles around the 600-acre property of SMC. The trail is lovingly maintained by the Land Crew, and takes you through a diverse range of landscapes — from meadows, to marshes, forests, and rocky vistas. Along the way you can expect encounters with ancient rock formations, mysterious shrines, and the occasional moose. There is a largely untouched and highly diverse ecosystem to discover—home to countless wildflowers, pines, aspens, and juniper; coyotes, moose, deer, salamanders, and hummingbirds. After living here for over a year, I’ve finally completed the full Perimeter Trail …