All posts tagged: Katharine Kaufman

Sadhana

by Katharine Kaufman First there is a landing. Then a letting go. Then curiosity about what happens next. You wake up. Somebody has made you breakfast. You go into the beautiful studio, and lie your mat down and you lie down on your mat. Maybe you need a chair. Maybe you’re exhausted. Maybe you’ve recovered from surgery or sickness this year and your balance is off. Or you have worked non-stop. Or you have lost your work. You yield. Life on retreat is simple on purpose, so you have space to discover and cultivate your practice as it shows up now, in your body. Everything here at the Shambhala Mountain Center supports this. The teachers, staff, meals, schedule, the room you stay in, the stupa. The way the retreat is designed, from the opening welcome to the closing appreciation, supports you. What I mean to say is you are held by the balance of these things pointing in the direction of your practice. “Sadhana,” has many meanings ranging from formal personal practice to daily life. …

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 …

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 …

Katharine Kaufman

The Good Vehicle

By Katharine Kaufman // My father taught me how to move with wind and water. He taught me to read the direction of the wind by turning my cheek, appreciate the lines of the sail and cleats and tiller. He said, watch out, you’re luffing. Luffing is when the sail is not taught; there is bagginess in the bottom triangle of the sail. If the wind was steady, and sea calm, and if it wasn’t too cold, and the current didn’t drag the boat; that was the best thing. Sometimes we’d sing about the drunken sailor as we bailed water with a cut out clorox bottle, watched out for buoys, looked ahead for reefs, shallow places, looked at the sails, horizon, water, my family’s barefeet. ~ When I first learned about Yoga and Mediation I thought when teachers said return to what is happening now, that it was their present moment I should have. That the present was more magical, fancy, mysterious then what my present had to offer. I wanted Richard Freeman’s present moment, …

Practicing Simplicity: Two Teachers on Zen

By Katharine Kaufman and Michael Wood // The beginner’s mind has many possibilities — Shunryu Suzuki The upcoming SMC retreat, “Practicing Simplicity,” is the result of an ongoing conversation between two friends and students of Zen. Katharine’s Zen practice is foundational to her work with Poetry and Contemplative Movement Arts. Michael revels in the paradoxical; learning from ontological and cultural engagements with Dharma Art and Zen philosophy. It is through our shared intuitive appreciation for the beauty of fragility and contingency of expression that we have come together to offer this weekend introduction to Zen retreat. Please join us in discovering the simplicity of Zen practice.  Michael says: In the Sôtô Zen tradition, the primary practice is shikantaza- or “just sitting.” While we do not sit as a means to an end, through the process of sitting, we find that as our thoughts settle and a  glimpse of the non-dual nature of reality reveals itself, awareness and the ability to concentrate on the precision of forms and transience of the present arises. In doing so, experience is once again …

Patience

By Katharine Kaufman // In 1965 I was 7. On certain nights my parents sat at the dining room table with their lists and three by five cards. “I am trying to be patient!” my mother says. Her voice has some authority, like she is the only one working at it. Patience itself is impatient. The act of trying is lonely and it split us from each other. Impatience turns to fear, anger. Why won’t this be like I want? My father’s patience transformed to face twitches, shoulder shrugs, and sighs. He tosses up his hands, walks from the room.                                                       ~ The man answering the phone says his name, Kaylin, with equal emphasis on the Kay and lin. The name means meadow, water, pool. Kaylin mumbles and stutters. Interesting choice, being the answer- the- calls- guy for the credit union, I think. After a first rush of irritation, I decide to like Kaylin.  His voice sounds like he has water in his mouth, plus the stutter. I ask him to repeat. I put more attention into …

The New Face of Yoga

By Katharine Kaufman //                                                         After great pain, a formal feeling comes – *                                                                                                  ~Emily Dickinson The shock of the announcement runs through my body. I wake at three or so on alternate nights and stay awake. The other nights the book falls out of my hands and words on the page mix with dream images. When I turn the light off I am narrow with shock and fear. I sing the song my mother sang—when you awake you will find all the pretty little horses. The lullaby goes on to describe the colors and types of the horses. Maybe it was about dreaming horses. All that happens in the song is the girl stops crying and sleeps and in the morning she will have horses. It carried me …

Katharine Kaufman

The Architecture of Love

By Katharine Kaufman // “Living things must disappear, everyone you meet inevitably splits.” — from the Butsu Yuikyôgyô (Jp.) or Buddha’s Last Admonitions Sutra* After Trungpa Rinpoche died Joshua Mulder was asked to care of Rinpoche’s relics. Joshua, along with many, designs and builds the Die Zauberflöte of Stupas. A stupa is a mound of rocks to serve as a home for bones, ashes; a cairn that tells me where to go next on the path I am walking on, especially if it’s foggy or for whatever reason I can’t see ahead. The stupa is a body— my body, the body of the Dharma. A place to practice, and in my case, a place to get warm. January. If the cover of my New Yorker magazine is any indication of what’s to come, it’s going to be a tough month. At Shambhala Mountain Center Joshua leads us up the path to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, pausing to remind us to open our senses to the phenomenal world. Damaris, my friend from Oregon, says every time …

The Suffering of Water

By Katharine Kaufman // When I lived on Old Stage road, on morning walks I picked up the heaviest rock I could carry. I took a few steps then dropped it. Pick it up. Hold. Let go. Repeat. Sage, an Australian Shepard mix, had his version of the same game. ~ In 1993 at Jikoji Zen Center I realized there was no end to my self-clinging. After two months I thought I should be done with new ways to suffer. My plan was to be enlightened by the end of my three-month stint. I had no idea what that was. I didn’t know that I was asking for my personal suffering to be exchanged with suffering for others. Four of us sit zazen in silent early mornings, work in the afternoon, and evenings make dinner for anyone who happens to drop by. Then we sit with our new friends. This scratches at my attachment to my darling practice like an old vinyl 45. Sure, I belong. Everyone who wanders in here belongs. In October the …