All posts tagged: community

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 …

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?  …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Communication is the Key to Happiness

In this video, meditation master Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche, a meditation master in the Nyingma lineage of the Buddhist tradition, discusses how communication is a true foundation to happiness.  His humor, wisdom and brilliance shine as he suggests that we be reasonable, gentle and realistic in our attempts at creating happiness. Next month (in the virtual realm of online programming)  Shambhala Mountain Center warmly welcomes  Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche as he draws on teachings from The Precious Treasury of Pith Instructions by the great Dzogchen master Longchenpa to provide guidance on six strengths we can develop so that whether we have difficult conditions or good conditions, whether we live in a city or an isolated place, no matter what, we can live every day with dignity, strength, and fearlessness. We invite you to join Rinpoche for a FREE Friday Night Dharma Talk on June 4th, 2021 @ 6:00 p.m. MDT Of course, you may join from any time zone. Learn more and register:  ONLINE • Six Strengths for Living in a Challenging World About the Teacher: Orgyen Chowang …

Post Pandemic Possibilities for Educators 

by Rona Wilensky,  PassageWorks Institute // When our country shut down in March 2020 to limit the spread of COVID-19, probably no profession, excepting frontline health workers, experienced the challenge more than educators.  The overnight switch to virtual teaching was compounded by 14 months of continuous changes in how and when teaching would take place.  If this wasn’t enough, educators faced the additional dilemmas of teaching students in the face of multiple police killings of Black people, political discord, and increasing natural catastrophes arising from climate change.   The result is that, as this school year winds down, most educators are on their absolute last nerve.  Teaching has always been stressful.  Too much to do and too little time and support to do it.  Overwork and underpay.  Enormous responsibilities, but almost no authority.  And a political environment that expects educators to solve the myriad problems created by our country’s unwillingness to address social, economic and racial inequality.  But this last year has taken stress levels over the top and it has morphed into actual job burnout …