All posts tagged: meditation

The Practice of Dropping: An Antidote for a Busy Life

By Brian Spielmann & De West // When we’re babies, the ability to grasp, which becomes fully developed around 9-12 months, is one of the most important developmental milestones. This core skill demonstrates planning, hand-eye coordination, muscular strength, and motor skills. As adult spiritual practitioners, we have the opposite issue: how do we stop grasping and let go? Our minds are constantly grasping and fixating, creating much suffering in our minds and tension in our bodies. As Mick Jagger says, “You can’t always get what you want.” And that grasping is where samsara begins. The Buddhist and Yogic traditions both offer clear, practical instructions on how to let go fully. When we integrate these traditions, working both with our body and our mental awareness, we have a powerful dual pathway to further relaxation and sense of peace. Take a Load Off The good news is that our thoughts and emotional baggage don’t actually exist. They come and they go, and we can let them arise with no judgment or need to push them away. We …

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 …

Susan Piver

Susan Piver on the Benefits of Meditation

By Susan Piver // A comprehensive list of all the benefits of meditation would be very long indeed. My friend and fellow meditation teacher Jonathan Foust has said that if it were a medication, meditation would be heralded as the miracle drug of the century! Some of the benefits that have been demonstrated recently through modern scientific inquiry include the following: It relieves stress (by lowering the stress hormone, cortisol). It improves focus and memory (by raising the level of gamma waves). It prevents relapse into depression by 50 percent (according to studies by Jon Kabat-Zinn, MD, and Zindel Segal, PhD). It boosts immunity (in one study, meditators demonstrated higher levels of antibodies than nonmeditators in reaction to a vaccination). It actually makes you demonstrably happier (by reducing activation in the amygdala and increasing it in the prefrontal cortex). The health benefits don’t stop there. In addition, it has been demonstrated that meditation can help with the following: lowering blood pressure decreasing symptoms in illnesses with a stress-related component (ulcers, for example) decreasing serum cholesterol …

[Video] Susan Piver Discusses Meditation and Writing

If someone were able to take a snapshot of your mind right now, what would it look like? If you were able to choose when this image would be taken, when would that be? What would you do to prepare? Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche says that as we practice meditation, our thoughts become more elegant — and likewise our spoken and written words, and the myriad other expressions (or snapshots) of mind. From that point of view, the link between meditation and writing seems to be quite clear: sit, settle, allow for some clarity, and then express. Meditation can also be helpful in navigating the obstacles that come up during the writing process, such as doubt, and can help us to fine-tune our relationship to our mind and world, so that what we express in writing is perhaps more luminous than it would be otherwise. The relationship between meditation and writing is a huge topic, and there are several avenues for exploration, including practical questions like “How can one find time for both writing and meditation?” …

Compassionate Acceptance as a Path of Healing

By Thomas Roberts // How often do we embark on our spiritual growth journeys with the well-meaning intention of improving, changing, quieting, calming, or otherwise modifying ourselves? Thinking that if we just get it right, then our demons will finally leave us alone! I know I did. With that approach, the harder we work at it, the more conflicted, frustrated, anxious, self-berating, and distant it seems we become from that goal we so want to achieve. A long time ago, I was talking with a fellow journeyer about this whole conundrum. She said: “You know it’s kind of like training a dog by locking it in the basement and hoping it will eventually become a nice dog. Hmmm… In truth, we simply cannot silence—or otherwise lock away—those parts of ourselves that are wounded, messy, difficult and scary. They need to be recognized, accepted, and held with great love and compassion. And this brings us to the notion of compassionate acceptance. After all, the guts of our spiritual/healing journey is not about silencing, changing, or becoming …

dream yoga retreat

What is Dream Yoga? Andrew Holecek Explains

By Andrew Holecek // Most people have no idea about the extent of possibilities that exist with the nocturnal meditations, an adventure in consciousness that awaits us in the darkness of the night. We begin our journey with lucid dreaming. “Lucid dreaming” is when you realize you’re dreaming, but without waking up from the dream. You’re fully conscious within the dream and can do almost anything you want within it. Lucid dreaming is the ultimate in home entertainment. Your mind becomes the theater, and you are the producer, director, writer, and main actor. You can script the perfect love story or the craziest adventure. Lucid dreaming can also be used to solve problems, rehearse situations, and work through psychological issues. From the trivial to the transcendent, lucid dreaming is a spectrum of experience mostly concerned with worldly matters and self-fulfillment. Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Lucid Dream Yoga with Andrew Holecek, May 17–21, 2017 — click here to learn more Going deeper, lucid dreaming can develop into dream yoga, and become a spiritual practice. This is …

Food Coach Marcella Friel on Buddhism, Body Image, and Forgiveness

Careful reflection or speaking with a contemplative eating coach can easily lead to the insight that our relationship with food is intimately woven into every aspect of our lives. From the gut to global society, consciousness to consumerism—what and how we eat shapes not only our bodies but our whole experience of the world. In some cases, it may be more pronounced: binging, purging, and obsessing. On other levels it may be slower, or more subtle. But every action has endless results, and the food we buy, chew, and swallow is most definitely not exempt from this truth known as karma. As a longtime buddhist practitioner and food coach, Marcella Friel has a lot to say about all of this. Far from simply designing weight–loss plans, her work of guiding people in their journeys with food involves supporting them as they confront the deepest levels of their self–identity as well as coaching them in bringing forgiveness to wounded areas of their beings.   Intense as it is, the fruition of this work seems to be well worth it, as …

Wisdom & Compassion

By Katharine Kaufman // It was Kobun Chino’s birthday a few days ago. If he was still alive Fran would give him some birthday money and he’d spend it all at the Pacific Mercantile. Lesley would make him sushi. I would be his assistant, along with others. He’d show up late and drive the president crazy. Zen would be very popular at Naropa. Certain Zen Centers would disapprove of the wild lineage…but they would love Kobun. ~ But he’s not here and we are. I am. ~ In 1994 at the beginning of a three month practice period in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Michael Newhall put his two hands on my back and pushed me up the hill to try to catch Kobun Chino, who was about to drive away. ~ When you want to be on this Soto path you sew a rakasu (the bib like fabric that maybe you’ve seen, sort of short hand for a full robe). I am told in Shakyamuni Buddha’s time people used fabric from piles of discarded cloth. …