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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 …

SMC Response to Recent Denver Post Article

Dear Friends, An article in the Denver Post and Boulder Daily Camera published on Sunday, July 7th provided examples of misconduct and mishandling of reports of abuse at Shambhala Mountain Center between the late 1990s and 2008. The article is linked here: https://www.denverpost.com/2019/07/07/shambhala-sexual-abuse/ SMC’s Governing Council and I want to acknowledge and apologize for the reported incidents and the pain caused by the failure to address them appropriately. In one, a former SMC staff member recalled being treated as the problem when she alerted SMC leaders in the late 1990s to what she and others believed to be a sexual relationship between a middle-aged staff member and an underage girl. In the other, a former staff member reported that in 2008 SMC leadership failed to intervene and instead blamed her when she sought help freeing herself from an abusive relationship with another SMC community member. That these incidents occurred in past decades does not absolve current SMC leadership of our moral responsibility. We commit to learning from our past shortcomings and improving our ability to …

Shared Principles of Governance: Ensure Your Relationship’s Longevity

By Stan Tatkin // If you’re in a long-term relationship or want to be in one, I can give you straight-up advice on what to do right now to safeguard your relationship from avoidable trouble. First, let me explain why you should listen. As social animals, we depend on each other for survival on many levels: physically, psychologically, emotionally. In the wild, primates procreate and pair bond, on average, for four years: sufficient time to raise one child and protect it from the hostile environment. Nature cares not about long-term relationships. Most of us modern humans, however, do care because we are part of a society that values, even requires, cooperation, collaboration, and social fidelity to agreed-upon principles of governance. We also live a lot longer than either non-human primates or our recent ancestors. All this suggests the value of taking active steps to ensure the longevity of our relationships. Now, that’s not always easy. Romantic love waxes and wanes over time. Mutual physical attraction can dim as our bodies undergo slow but inevitable changes …

Blake D. Bauer

The Search for Love, Part 2

The funny thing about most of us is that even though love is the one thing we all want more than anything in life, it’s also the one thing that scares us more than anything else. Love scares us to our core because it requires our heart to be open and vulnerable to ourselves, to other people and to the world. We fear this love we desire so strongly because it opens our heart, and when our heart is truly naked we feel ourselves, we feel others, we feel our world, and we feel the love and the pain we’ve held in, closed our eyes to and disconnected from for so long. Rather than fully feel the intensity of life, we unintentionally close our heart and cut ourselves off from the pulsating truth of what we feel because we’re scared of experiencing uncomfortable emotions like rejection or insecurity that are inherent to human existence. Of course, we’re not aware of this, but in doing so we actually reject our true self, which is the source …

Mindful Business

Going Back to the Breath: Integrating Meditation and Mindfulness With Business Leadership

By Rob Dube // It’s an interesting dynamic to find a deep connection while sitting in complete silence with a complete stranger, but that’s exactly how my relationship with this week’s donothing® podcast guest, Janet Solyntjes, began. While attending my first extended silent retreat as a student, few—if any—words were actually exchanged between Janet and myself. Despite that communication hurdle, I instantly knew my mindset as a business owner would be altered after a week with her. Possessing unmatched insight, serious wit, and a compassionate spirit, Janet has the innate ability to click with anyone from dedicated health professionals to skeptical CEOs. More than a mindfulness virtuoso, Janet fully understands today’s complex society in ways few others do. Unpretentious and fully grounded in reality, her wisdom is perfect for business leaders seeking a stronger connection to themselves and their employees. During our most stressful moments, if we can’t snap our fingers and transport ourselves to a tranquil safe space, how do we instead find it mentally? Since that first introduction, I’m happy to say Janet …