All posts tagged: death

Graceful Entry: The Bardo of Becoming with Andrew Holecek

The silence and majesty of the Colorado Rockies provides the ideal backdrop for exploring the Buddhist approach to the end of life. This seven-day program is the second in a series of three retreats designed to give you a complete preparation for death by understanding the three death bardos or “transitional processes.” Each retreat is a stand-alone program. This means you can enter the series at any time. This program will examine the karmic bardo of becoming, which constitutes the majority of our after-death experience. It’s a fluid and volatile time, when the winds of habit blow us involuntarily into our next birth. With preparation, it transforms into the bardo of opportunity, where we can become anything we want by waking up to the experience and taking control. This Eastern body of wisdom will be augmented with Western medical, legal, and logistical approaches to the end of life. The uniqueness of the retreats is their comprehensive nature – no stone is left unturned. Learn what to do before, during, and after death – for yourself and for others – from …

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 …

Is Today a Good Day to Die? How Meditation and Yoga Can Liberate You From Fear

  I hope, as you read this, that you are well and free from any indications that your life will be cut short.  At the same time, I invite you to take a moment today to contemplate death. Personally, I tend to skate by much of the time without reflecting too deeply on this inevitable aspect of life.  When I do contemplate impermanence though, the beauty and preciousness of my experience of living becomes illuminated.  So, it seems to me like something worth doing, perhaps more regularly.  Maybe you feel the same way. In this video, Elysabeth Williamson offers some guidance for living in moment-to-moment, day-to-day relationship with our own death.  As she goes on to say later in the interview, the result can be incredibly liberating and joyful. Watch the three minute clip below. Click here to learn about our upcoming weekend retreat: Savasana: Exploring Our Death to Liberate Our Lives, March 13-15 If you feel inspired to deepen into this practice of contemplating impermanence and the preciousness of life, please click here to learn about the upcoming retreat …

Facing Death, Finding Joy: A Conversation with Elysabeth Williamson

By Travis Newbill Elysabeth Williamson will be leading Savasana: Exploring our Death to Liberate our Lives, along with Margery McSweeney, March 13-15, 2015 Elysabeth Williamson says: “To live in moment to moment, day to day relationship with our death is maybe the most powerful practice we can do. Most people don’t want to think or talk about death and dying. And yet, just the willingness to do so, to openly face into it…the result is joy. Isn’t that kind of wild?” Hear more of what Elysabesth has to say by checking out our recent conversation with her below. Watch the video or scroll down to stream/download the audio. If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below. ~~~ Elysabeth Williamson, ERYT-500, is the foremost authority on Principle-Based Partner Yoga, a style she founded and has developed since 1991. She is known for articulating and transmitting esoteric teachings in ways that are accessible and practical for everyone. She is the author of ‘The Pleasures and Principles of Partner …

Befriending Small Deaths-Big Deaths: A Conversation with Dominie Cappadonna

.By Travis Newbill Dominie Cappadonna will be leading  Befriending Small Deaths – Big Deaths, along with Joshua Mulder, May 9-11 There may be no more sure-fire way of waking up to the preciousness of life than facing the reality of death. But, how can we do that? Sometimes it happens in an unavoidable way–we have a near death experience, or we see someone die. Every once in a while, a big death moment happens. Also though, as we know, impermanence marks every passing moment. It is the ever-present truth, which we seem to be quite in the habit of ignoring. Every breath is a death. Every meal, relationship, day and night, have their ends. Perhaps if we could wake up to impermanence in a more consistent and profound way, we could live and appreciate our lives more fully and go through our end-of-life “big” deaths more gracefully. Dominie Cappadonna is a wonderful teacher who focuses on helping us do just that. In May, she’ll be leading a weekend program here at Shambhala Mountain Center called: …

Befriending Small Deaths-Big Deaths: A Conversation with Dominie Cappadonna

  Dominie Cappadonna will be leading Befriending Small Deaths-Big Deaths along with Joshua Mulder, May 9-11 Approaching death with curiosity, courage, and spiritual skills allows for fearlessness in facing the unknown. The small deaths of broken-heartedness, sickness, aging, loss of work and more, offer us practice moments for the big death at the end of life. By relating in a profound way with our small deaths, we build resilience and positive qualities to strengthen our encounter with dying moments as they arise. If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.

Traveling Light

by Andrew Holecek One of the biggest problems in death, as in life, is looking back, or being held back by unhealthy attachments. By cutting our attachments and lightening our load now (by writing wills and other advance directives), we can free ourselves to move forward. Dealing with all the emotional, medical, legal, and endless practical details that surround death is overwhelming at the time of death, so it behooves us to prepare in advance. The single best thing you can do to have a good death is to relax, and the best way to relax is to have all your affairs in order. These practical preparations have spiritual implications. When we die, we want to travel light into the after-life, what the Tibetans call “bardo” or “gap, transitional process.”  Traveling light allows our consciousness to move forward to our next destination. This is actually a form of “phowa,” which means “transference, or ejection,” and refers to the movement of consciousness after death.  There are esoteric and exoteric forms of phowa, and getting all our affairs in order …

Rest in Peace, Tiger

  Tiger was a feral tom cat when he first appeared at Shambhala Mountain Center. For the first several years, he allowed himself to be fed but not touched. Then one day Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche saw him lurking about Sacred Studies Hall and told him to “trust the humans here, they will take care of you.” Gradually, his feral ways were (for the most part) pacified and he came to embody qualities that many a guest to SMC remembers to this day. Melissa Martin Powell called Tiger, “the epitome of the present moment.” Molly McCowan says, “I so enjoyed sitting with him on my visits. He had such serene energy, and was always willing to share his food with the magpies.” Jeff Stone remembers a more unusual and light-hearted inspiration that Tiger contributed to the practice container at SMC. “At my seminary we were goofing around and came up with a chant called ‘four-pawed mahakitty’ which sang the praises of our wrathful tabby protector. Great cat. He will be missed.” But Tiger was still a cat …