All posts tagged: dathun

5 Things To Know About Meditating for a Whole Week

By Ryan Stagg // At the end of a recent week-long meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center another participant remarked about how difficult it would be to explain her experience back home. “We sat a lot, walked in circles, and didn’t talk much,” she said with a laugh. And yet somehow after a week of performing this simple routine, often in complete silence, we all had smiles on our faces and a clear appreciation for the journey we had just completed. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what, but some transformation had undoubtedly occurred. The atmosphere in the room was simply lighter and more spacious. There is something very radical about choosing to go on a meditation retreat. In many ways it stands in contrast to the speediness and excitement of our everyday lives. It also creates a fundamental shift in our perspective—rather than seeking fulfillment externally, we resolve to sit and look inside, at our own bodies, hearts, and minds. The effects of embracing this contemplative perspective have long been promoted by practitioners and …

How a Meditation Retreat Can Change Everything

By Daniel Hessey // Acharya Bill McKeever and I led a dathün a few years ago, and at the beginning of the month–long retreat, he filled a glass of water and stirred some mud into it. It became murky and funky. You could not see through the glass, and you wouldn’t want to drink it. Even when the the water stopped swirling, the dirt remained suspended and the water opaque. Bill put the glass on the shrine, where it sat untouched for four weeks. The first week, it didn’t seem to change all that much, but on the second week you could see some sediment accumulating at the bottom—though the water was not clear. The third week, you could see through the water much better, though it was still a little brown. Then, in the fourth week, Bill picked up the glass and drank from the clear water above all the mud that had settled to the bottom. Daily meditation practice changes everything. We learn we can make friends with ourselves, our thoughts, our emotions, and …

The Science of Meditation: Recalling the Shamatha Project at SMC

In 2007 the most comprehensive longitudinal study of meditation occurred here at Shambhala Mountain Center. It was called the Shamatha Project. Researchers from UC Davis teamed up with B. Alan Wallace and 60 participants for two 3-month retreats in which the meditation practitioners participated in an intensive study to record and analyze the effects of meditation. B. Alan Wallace instructed the participants in three increasingly subtle forms of shamatha (calm-abiding meditation) as well as a complementary practice to cultivate compassion, loving-kindness, empathetic joy and equanimity called the brahmavihāras or Four Immeasurables. Through shamatha the participants developed concentration, mindfulness and introspection while the Four Immeasurables created an ethical motivation and context for practice. The study employed a variety of measurement techniques taken before, during and after the retreat, including interviews, computer-based experiments, physiological measures, behavioral measures, and questionnaires. This led to a tremendous amount of data that is still being analyzed 9 years later. But a number of conclusions have been made: meditation improves attention, one’s sense of well-being, emotional responses related to compassion, and even …

VIDEO: Winter Dathun with Shastri Samten Kobelt

  In this video, beloved senior teacher Samten Kobelt discusses the upcoming month-long meditation retreat that he will be leading at Shambhala Mountain Center from December 13, 2013 through January 10, 2014. To learn more about Winter Dathun, please click here. (Video filmed and edited by Travis Newbill) Winter Dathun with Shastri Samten Kobelt, December 13-January 10, 2014. To learn more, click here. 

The Story Behind the 2013 Summer Dathun Portraits

  Last week on this blog, we shared photographs of twelve Dathun participants taken before and after their month long meditation retreat. This week we’d like to share a bit about the gifted photographer who took these portraits and a bit about the unique process she used to do it. Karen O’Hern is a Colorado-based photographer who travels the globe with her large camera and enormous heart, capturing images that reveal the deep beauty of the world and humanity. She is a true “Humanitarian Photographer.” We encourage you to visit Karen’s webpage in order to learn more about this artist, her amazing journey, and to view a gallery of images that will break your heart wide open–we promise. We’re so grateful that Karen turned her love and lens towards these Dathun participants this past summer, and we’re glad to share with you here some words from her regarding the process.  From Karen:  The instructions I gave the participants: Prior to taking their portrait, I explained that this would not be what they were used to …

Summer Dathun Participants Share Their Experience After 30 Days of Meditating

Senior teacher Samten Kobelt will be leading 2013-2014 Winter Dathun from December 13-January 10. Noble Aspiration, Noble Effort, Beautiful Fruition Dathun is not a magic pill or a makeover. Still, the before and after photos can be quite striking. And though the photos themselves speak volumes, the featured practitioners have words worth sharing as well. Below, 2013 Summer Dathun participants share their aspirations when entering Dathun, as well as their experience 30 days later.  Please stay tuned throughout the coming weeks as we offer further glimpses into the heart of Dathun. Next week, photographer Karen O’Hern describes the process used to capture these images.   As was mentioned above,  in a blog post next week, Karen O’Hern will reveal the process in which these portraits come to be. For now, we’d like to leave you with a little snippet:  “Prior to taking their portrait, I explained that this would not be what they were used to when having their picture taken. This was about capturing them in an authentic and genuine state of being, and recording their …

More than Meditation: The Totality of Dathün

by Will Brown “We can become extremely wise and sensitive to all of humanity and the whole universe simply by knowing ourselves, just as we are.” – Pema Chödrön, teaching on day two of a dathün When someone mentions “meditation retreat”, you might get an image of “on the cushion at 4am until lights out at 9pm”. The Shambhala Buddhist practice of Dathün is not just thirty days on “the cushion” but a complete system, or spiritual technology, for developing familiarity and friendliness with one’s mind, body, emotions (and patterns) and one’s own inherent power of healing and wakefulness. At my first Dathün, I discovered that sitting meditation was just a fraction of the practice. The system of Dathün includes quite a few hours per day of sitting meditation but also walking meditation, dharma talks, contemplation, and chants. And just as integral to Dathün are the mindful “Oryoki” meals, the hours (or days) of silence, one’s interactions with other people, and the furniture, buildings, and land which support the practitioner. At Dathün, in the kitchen, …

Sit Still & Let Nature Play: An Interview With Acharya Allyn Lyon

By Brianna Socha I first met Acharya Allyn Lyon last fall in Los Angeles when she was the senior teacher at a weekthun. A weekthun is an intensive week of group meditation with almost 12 hours spent in silent practice each day. Her morning and evening talks were welcome guidance, grounding us with wisdom and compassion. Whenever the hot boredom set in and I would start to question why I chose to spend my coveted vacation time sitting quietly on a cushion, her example would remind me of the beauty of someone who has followed the path of meditation. Acharya Lyon has a long history with Shambhala Mountain Center, starting in the 70s as a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and then serving as staff in the 80s for dathuns (month-long meditation retreats). In 1995, she became the center’s director, a position she held for five years before being appointed an acharya, a senior most teacher in the Shambhala tradition, by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. It seemed only fitting to sit down and talk with her again …

Dathun: Before and After Photos

  Inspired by a piece from a few years back in the Shambhala Times, our fabulous marketing associate, Kaleigh Isaacs, and our equally fabulous development associate, Chris Seelie, put together this series of Before and After shots from participants in the winter Dathun. Really driving home the truth that “nothing is new” the photo collage below is our tribute to the truth of the theme of this past Dathun, that Feeling and Touching and Being (i.e. Shambhala Meditation) — taking time to sit with our hearts and minds for a month is better than a facial and a lot like falling in love. Scientifically rigorous, this is not; but regard the eyes. BEFORE AFTER     And lastly we have Tom the Dathün Coordinator, who would certainly call his experience transformative! We had a lot of fun putting these together and seeing people’s responses. Let us know what you think below in the comments! To learn more about Dathun click here.