All posts tagged: mindfulness

What is Awakening?

Shambhala Mountain Center is delighted to welcome Tina Rasmussen back to the Land this fall.  We invite you to get to know Tina a bit as she provides an overview of her upcoming September 2021 program, What is Awakening – Four Practices rooted in Tradition, Confirmed by Neuroscience. Tina Rasmussen, Ph.D., began meditating at age 13, and has practiced in the Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist traditions for 30+ years. In 2003, she completed a year-long solo retreat, and was later ordained as a Buddhist nun and authorized to teach by Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw. Tina has been studied by Yale Neuroscience Lab, and is the co-author of Practicing the Jhanas, as well as several other books on human potential. Tina works with students worldwide. Tina will be leading What is Awakening – Four Practices rooted in Tradition, Confirmed by Neuroscience at Shambhala Mountain Center, September 2–7, 2021. An overview of how awakening is understood across wisdom traditions is provided, misconceptions are clarified, and participants tune into their own “flame for awakening.” The program includes individual and group interviews with the …

The Nature and Purpose of Śamatha

// by B. Alan Wallace Buddhist inquiry into the natural world proceeds from a radically different point of departure than western science, and its methods differ correspondingly. Early pioneers of the scientific revolution, including Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, expressed an initial interest in the nature of physical objects most far removed from human subjectivity: such issues as the relative motions of the sun and earth, the surface of the moon, and the revolutions of the planets. And a central principle of scientific naturalism is the pure objectification of the natural world, free of any contamination of subjectivity. This principle of objectivism demands that science deals with empirical facts testable by empirical methods entailing testability by third-person means; and such facts must, therefore, be public rather than private, which is to say, they must be accessible to more than one observer. Another aspect of this principle is that scientific knowledge — paradigmatically knowledge of astronomy and physics — must be epistemically objective, which is to say, observer-independent. A profound limitation of this ideal is that it …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Healing Sound

Freedom within the Dimensions of Silent Retreat Practice 

by Janet Solyntjes // Do you associate the practice of mindfulness meditation with freedom? How is freedom discovered within the form of a meditation retreat?  This article is intended to offer a framework in which to view silent retreat practice as a path to freedom.  The Gateway to Retreat: Motivation and Preparation  The gateway to retreat is acknowledging your personal motivation for retreat practice. Motivation is often based in a longing of the heart and a curiosity of the mind. The following questions might spark a knowing of your personal motivation: Are you seeking to bring a renewed inspiration into your life and relationships? Do you long for a deeper appreciation for your mindfulness meditation practice? Are you curious if hours of formal mindfulness and awareness practice will positively influence your sense of being human?   Having touched into the spark of personal motivation you will need to follow with some preparation.  The most important preparation involves cultivating an inner resolve to abandon any hope of fruition. Really.  Let go of hope regarding the outcomes of retreat.  Let go of fear, too. Simply attend to the three dimensions of retreat, as best you can.   The Outer Dimension of Retreat: Environment  Over thousands of years and across the globe, women and men have sought places of seclusion and quietude for engaging in deep contemplation and meditation.  What did their places of refuge look like? Picture Henry David Thoreau spending time along the shores of …

In Challenging Times, Your Body Knows What’s Needed

We invite you to listen to Hope as she’s interviewed by Jonathan Bastian on KCRW about Embodied Listening.  The show aired on April 10th.   Hope’s engaging interview begins at 21:53 into the podcast. // by Hope Martin //   There’s a lot of uncertainty and groundlessness right now. Many of us have strong feelings of anxiety, fear or worry; a sense that we don’t know what’s coming, that our world has irrevocably changed. It might be hard to know how to handle our feelings, or what to do with them. Maybe we’ve been ill or know people who are ill or who have died.   Perhaps we’ve lost our business or our job or have other concerns or challenges.  Or maybe we’re doing very well with our own particular situation – may it be so! nevertheless, the world is reeling.   Embodied Listening, comprised of Mindfulness Meditation, the Alexander Technique and Focusing, teaches a different and life-enhancing way to be in relationship with what is happening for us. We learn to experience it and explore it in a bodily way.   When strong emotions or anxiety arise, dropping into the body gives us resources that …

MBSR

[Watch] Janet Solyntjes on How Mindfulness Helps Reveal Our Personal Truth

In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the uprising for social justice in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, it seems fair to assume that many people are experiencing intense emotions right now and uncertainty about how to navigate… all of this.  In a few weeks, SMC will be hosting an online Mindfulness Meditation Intensive, and recently we asked Janet Solyntjes—a longtime MBSR teacher, and co-leader of the retreat—to share her thoughts.    While Janet didn’t claim to have all the answers, she offered that mindfulness practice—especially in an intensive retreat context—is a way to “feel into, and relax into, the truth of what you don’t know—and perhaps little threads of what you do know. It’s an invitation to do the personal inquiry that we all need to do in one way or another. And, in retreat, it’s a way to do that in community, and to feel the interconnectedness.”  For those seeking some guidance for their practice and/or considering the benefits of carving out some retreat time, I encourage you …

Follow the Threads — Mindful Awakening

By Michael W. Taft // Mille viae ducunt homines per saecula Romam When I started meditating in my teens, I believed in Enlightenment. I was going to get to the Big E, which involved having certain mind-blowing experiences. You’d see the Light, or God would open her kimono, or whatever, and after that you’d glow in the dark. I was super enthusiastic and worked really hard to do whatever I believed it took have those experiences. Months in caves in India. Pilgrimages to rivers, glaciers, and to the tops of mountains. Celibacy. Studying at the feet of masters wreathed in garlands of flowers. Mostly lots and lots of meditation. This setup for an article usually now transitions into saying that all that was a waste, and that Awakening is always available in every moment without any of that stuff. But that’s not at all how I would describe what I’ve found. Instead, I feel like, Yes, awakening is available in every moment, especially if you’ve done lots and lots of meditation. Even all those rituals, …