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Autumn and Cultivating Equanimity

As Mother Nature changes with the seasons, human beings also experience transition. Everything from the activities we participate in, the foods we eat, and the time we go to bed, to our external/internal reflections change. With Fall right around the corner, we thought it was a good time to share Sara Avant Stover’s podcast “Reflection for the Autumn Equinox” to understand how Autumn asks us to change. Celebrate Autumn with Sara and Drala Mountain Center by Filling Your Well

Yoga Heart Opening Work

Most people are aware that yoga improves heart health by increasing circulation and blood flow. Research shows that practicing yoga can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels, as well as the heart rate. All these benefits can add up to a lower risk of hypertension, stroke, and heart disease. In this practice video, De West shares another benefit of Yoga for your heart. The heart open practice is noticing what is happening and then being very kind to it. You’ll use your body to help you be more in touch with what you feel. About the Author De West, Certified Yoga Therapist and a Trauma-Informed Yoga Teacher is a leader in the Boulder, Colorado yoga community with over 29 years of teaching therapeutic yoga. She has developed a movement practice that allows people of all ages and abilities to experience a positive, relaxed, and transforming experience in both body and mind. Observation, listening, and respect of one’s unique anatomy contribute to her passion for helping students create more peace and freedom. De …

Heart of Mindfulness Retreat

Janet Solyntjes and Jon Aaron are two leading teachers in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) world.  Drala Mountain Center is delighted to welcome both Janet and Jon to the Land in June for The Heart of Mindfulness 7-Day Silent Meditation Retreat. The Heart of Mindfulness Retreat is a 7-day silent meditation retreat that emphasizes the deep understanding and practice of mindfulness in its most universal expression while respecting and acknowledging its contemplative and spiritual roots. The retreat is open to all experienced meditators who are looking for an enriching silent retreat experience. It is suitable for mindfulness teachers or aspiring teachers, and fulfills the retreat prerequisite for attending MBSR and most other teacher training programs. In the video below, Janet Solyntjes and Jon Aaron invite you to their upcoming week-long retreat, and give you and idea of what you can expect. We also invite you learn more about Janet and Jon’s experience in retreat from their recent creative offerings: The Gift of Silent Retreat – Jon Aaron On Silent Group Meditation Retreats:  10 Things I’ve …

Feeding your Demons: Revealing the Hidden Treasure Within Difficulty

by Charlotte Z. Rotterdam I was first drawn to the Feeding your Demons process and the teachings of Machig Labdrön – the great 11th century Tibetan yogini from whose teachings the process was developed – for the radical invitation to turn towards that which we find most repulsive or frightening. This view seemed so counter-intuitive, so clearly different from the human default response of avoiding or rejecting the ugly and threatening aspects of life. Perhaps it reminded me of my early childhood, when I spent time in the autopsy lab with my mother, a pathologist. There was an odd peacefulness in the autopsy room where the intensely eerie became quite ordinary and sometimes even sacred.  Beyond transforming the morbid into the mundane, however, lies a profound teaching on compassion. Ultimately, these teachings suggest that it is only by meeting and even nurturing whatever we consider threatening or “other” that we can live a fully integrated life, radiant with our own wisdom. Holding our inner and outer demons at bay draws us into a never-ending cycle …

silent retreat

The Gift of Silent Retreat 

by Jon Aaron  The silence amidst the noise the gem at the core of every experience is polished by simple attention into shining magnificence -Nirmala  “words do not come” I remember my very first experience on an 8-day retreat. I had no idea what to expect. I had been meditating for a year or so and decided it was time to try a retreat. The challenges in the first few days felt insurmountable. I wanted to jump out of my skin. By the end, I never wanted to leave! Each time I was ready to give up, something was said by one of the teachers which gave such encouragement and confidence that my thoughts of leaving vanished. This was helped by the support of everyone else as we practiced together in community. It’s hard to describe what happened. Suffice to say it changed my life forever. Retreat practice is such a unique opportunity, and these days in-person retreats are even more special. With vaccines, ease of testing and a communal commitment to keeping each other safe, we can …

Suffering Effectively: Reflections on the First Noble Truth

/// By David Chernikoff  I first heard the phrase effective suffering from meditation teacher Shinzen Young, who used it in a story he told about the renowned Christian contemplative Thomas Merton. 1  Merton lived quite a bohemian life before he converted to Catholicism and then entered one of the church’s strictest and most ascetic monastic orders. When he was asked about his decision and the suffering that such a lifestyle involves, Merton said that he didn’t become a Trappist monk so that he would suffer more than other people but that he wanted to learn to suffer more effectively.  I found the idea of effective suffering quite off-putting at first. “Who in the world wants to suffer?” I asked myself. “Let alone effectively, whatever that means.” When I looked deeply at the phrase and spent time reflecting upon it, however, I recalled a number of similar teachings I’d heard from other teachers I greatly respect. Ajahn Chah, the great Thai forest master, said “There are two kinds of suffering: the suffering that leads to more …

Peace

By Katharine Kaufman // This morning, right after the sun, I scraped ice off windshield and drove East, past black cows, brown horses, corn and oil fields, into the small town of Mead. A huge decoration says, Peace on Earth. Deflated plastic Santa and reindeer lie on the ground. We lie on the floor, rest our arms over heads and breathe. After class students give me cards and thin-lined journals, a candle, and a small home-sewn bag of lavender. ~ Last night I watched the black and white film, Roma, directed by Alfonso Cuarón.  After credits roll down the page (like tears) in the bottom right corner of the screen, are the words, Shanti, shanti, shanti. ~ When Acharya signed his book and handed it back to me I asked for the translation. The first shanti is to the unseen forces, the second to one’s neighbors and village, and the last, the softest, is to oneself. ~ Compassion is complicated. It takes doing something. Being empathetic breaks my heart. Peace is simple. I put down my …

[WATCH] Susan Piver on Writing as a Liberatory Practice

If meditation is about releasing attachment to thoughts, why would anyone want to put them in ink? If this age-old question ever gets in the way of your ability to sit down and write, you may find relief in this reminder from Susan Piver that there is a way you can tell your story that can liberate you from that story. Watch the two minute clip below: We hope this helps you along towards the writer’s desk this winter. And if you’d like a bit more encouragement — and blocked off time to actually write — check out our upcoming online program with Susan on writing & meditation: About Susan Piver Susan Piver is a Buddhist teacher and award-winning New York Times bestselling author of many books, including The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation and her latest, The Four Noble Truths of Love: Buddhist Wisdom for Modern Relationships. Known for her insight, clarity, and humor, Susan has an international reputation for being …

Feeding your Demons: Revealing the Hidden Treasure Within Difficulty

By Charlotte Rotterdam // I was first drawn to the Feeding your Demons process and the teachings of Machig Labdrön – the great 11th century Tibetan yogini from whose teachings the process was developed – for the radical invitation to turn towards that which we find most repulsive or frightening. This view seemed so counter-intuitive, so clearly different from the human default response of avoiding or rejecting the ugly and threatening aspects of life. Perhaps it reminded me of my early childhood, when I spent time in the autopsy lab with my mother, a pathologist. There was an odd peacefulness in the autopsy room where the intensely eerie became quite ordinary and sometimes even sacred.  Beyond transforming the morbid into the mundane, however, lies a profound teaching on compassion. Ultimately, these teachings suggest that it is only by meeting and even nurturing whatever we consider threatening or “other” that we can live a fully integrated life, radiant with our own wisdom. Holding our inner and outer demons at bay draws us into a never-ending cycle …

White-Knuckling and Self-Compassion

By Megan Prager // I am a recovering white-knuckler. I share this with you, because I know I am not alone. There are plenty of us “knucklers” out there that stay with pain, sometimes quite literally, until our knuckles become white. Pushing past our limits, fighting through difficulty, sometimes consciously and sometimes not. I remember several years ago being in a yoga class, and holding a pose that was both too hard and long for my body. I stayed, gritting my teeth, feeling the pain, until the teacher told us to release. Nevermind that I had to limp to my car that day, or that it took my knee several months to feel “normal” again. For this white-knuckler what mattered is that I stayed in that pose for as long as the teacher was holding me in it; staying with the difficulty, no matter the pain, in my mind equalled “success”.  Here’s the challenge with white-knuckling: it’s not black and white. Sometimes we may find that white-knuckling leads to developing strengths, discovering insights, and/or making …