All posts tagged: nature

Mindful Hiking

Practicing Mindfulness and Awareness in Nature

By Kay Peterson // A passing rainstorm doesn’t have to ruin a hike if we remember to bring a raincoat or don’t mind temporarily getting a little wet! The clouds are certain to pass and we may even be left feeling stronger and more rejuvenated than we expected. Our emotional landscape is much like the weather – we may not be able to control it, but we do have power over our reactions to it. As human beings, we have a tendency to gravitate toward pleasurable experiences and to avoid potentially painful ones. One could argue that some of that tendency is a by-product of important survival instincts. We need to be able to identify and act when we encounter potentially life-threatening situations. However, this “instinct” can also run amok – especially these days when we rarely find ourselves being chased by dinosaurs 😉 Sometimes that part of the brain that alerts us to potential danger has been trained to be reactive – to be especially sensitive – often due to some kind of trauma …

Your Virtual Guide to the Perimeter Trail

There is something undeniably magical about the land at Shambhala Mountain Center. Literally and figuratively, it is the heart and foundation of the experience here. The powerful energy of the land can be experienced by simply being; in meditation, yoga or contemplation — but walking and exploring this area is meaningful in its own way, offering a chance to shift gears and restore the precious connection to our wild, natural environment. A great opportunity to experience the land is via the Perimeter Trail (also known as the Shambhala Mountain Trail), a roughly 5-mile loop that circles around the 600-acre property of SMC. The trail is lovingly maintained by the Land Crew, and takes you through a diverse range of landscapes — from meadows, to marshes, forests, and rocky vistas. Along the way you can expect encounters with ancient rock formations, mysterious shrines, and the occasional moose. There is a largely untouched and highly diverse ecosystem to discover—home to countless wildflowers, pines, aspens, and juniper; coyotes, moose, deer, salamanders, and hummingbirds. After living here for over a year, I’ve finally completed the full Perimeter Trail …

A Weekend in Space

Last summer I had the pleasure of participating in SMC’s Contemplative Astronomy program: Big Sky, Big Mind, led by astronomer Andrea Schweitzer, Ph.d , and Jim Tolstrup, Executive Director of the High Plains Environmental Center and former SMC Land Steward. The program was an engaging variety of practical lessons about our universe, (ranging from night sky constellation viewing to kinesthetic astronomy, in which we examined the spatial relationships of our solar system and the earth’s rotation using inflatable planets), and spiritual explorations of our relationship to the stars, as individuals and as a culture — through nighttime meditation, discussions, and a presentation by Jim on ancient Lakota star knowledge. As a space nerd myself, proudly sporting my NASA t-shirt, I was ecstatic to be part of this program. It significantly expanded my understanding of the glorious night sky but also deepened my sense of connection to the magic of our existence on this planet, by exploring how the pull of the sun’s gravity on Earth affects our daily life and perception of seasons, time, and direction …

Wake up to the Wild… the Wildly Good!

By Kay Peterson ~~~ As this spring unfolds, I’m struck by the environmental and social changes happening world-wide.  It feels like each of us is being called to search deep inside and decide how we’re going to take better care of ourselves, each other, and the earth. The combination of mindfulness-awareness practice with time in nature is the proverbial one-two punch for our health and well-being as well as for our ability to live in harmony with each other and the planet.  Nature provides valuable lessons for how we can live our lives in healthy balance if we pay attention to them.  When we synchronize our bodies and mind in nature with mindfulness practices, we develop a deeper understanding of that balance.  We can train ourselves to continue to open to a bigger perspective and that state of openness, vitality, and potential that exists within all of us. We’re making technological advancements faster than we can imagine, yet getting through the day seems to be becoming more and more of a struggle.  As a culture, …

Watch: Chapman University at SMC

This January, a group of students from Chapman University, a liberal arts school in southern California, visited Shambhala Mountain Center for a course titled: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Madness: Mind, “Self”, and Society in Tibetan Buddhism. This collaboration between Chapman and SMC began in 1992, established by Michele Kiloran, which makes this most recent visit the 24th year. The majority of the course is held at Chapman’s campus, with the pinnacle being the ten-day retreat at SMC. Students have the opportunity to learn about traditional Tibetan Buddhism as well as the more secular teaching of Shambhala, with activities ranging from Ikebana, calligraphy, Kasung practice, yoga, Kyudo, and other aspects of Shambhala culture. There is also a fundamental emphasis on meditation and mindfulness practice. As a recent Chapman graduate myself, it was interesting to see this course in action and to experience the integration of these two worlds. Film student Jason Segal created the beautiful video montage above documenting the Chapman experience. You can visit his website here to see more of his work.    

Kay Peterson Discusses Mindful Hiking, Nature, and Meditation

Like trees in the forest or fish in the sea, we have an innate ability to live in greater harmony with our environment. While trying to navigate our busy, high-tech world, we can develop habits of mind that leave us feeling disconnected and unfulfilled. Delving deeply into the practice of mindfulness/awareness in nature, we turn our attention toward the subtle interplay of our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and sense perceptions and rediscover how we can open to our fundamental interconnection to all things. Rather than always needing to change where we work, live, or who we love, we can change our relationship to these aspects of our lives in a way that brings us greater happiness and contentment. This coming June, psychotherapist, wilderness guide, and Shambhala meditation instructor Kay Peterson will be leading a wonderfully nourishing retreat here in the powerful natural environment of Shambhala Mountain Center.  Check out the video below to hear Kay discuss the importance of tapping into the natural world, and how doing so can benefit our daily lives. Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Waking up to …

Wisdom Sky

By Anna Freundl ~~~ When I take a walk, there is a subtle shift in my consciousness, an opening. Yesterday, while walking to lunch, I looked up and saw a beautiful sight, a vast sight that couldn’t be contained to a description. Earth met Heaven. This tree had a stream of brilliance ascending from its crown. Surrounding clouds caressed the sky in this way I have never seen. There were long, patient brush strokes, and subtle shapes, as if the wind was nature’s breath painting a canvas before my eyes. My non-conceptual mind met my surroundings in this direct way, there was no question I was experiencing what Choygam Trungpa might refer to as “ordinary magic.” I believe that these are the brief moments we have that teach us enlightenment. To me, enlighten means to take off weight. When we meet nature, including our minds, for what it is in that moment, our thoughts settle simultaneous to our heart reaching out its arms as if it were coming home. When my mind began to activate …

Flora of SMC Goes Word Wide Web

Living here at Shambhala Mountain Center, I see thousands of new faces each year — people who are coming to live here, or are else visiting for the day or staying for a retreat. Although it may be impossible to form substantial relationships with all of these people, a good place to start is to exchange names. “Hello, I’m Travis.” In my experience, learning someone’s name is an acknowledgement of shared connection that rapidly opens up the possibility of greater familiarization and friendship. And so it is with the flora of the land, which is why we’re so thrilled with the recent online publishing of an ongoing research project that has been occurring here since 2014 in which Renee Galeano-Popp — a close neighbor of SMC — has been identifying and photographing the myriad plant specimens that live here on the land. Click here to check out SMC’s page on the Intermountain Region Herbarium Network website.   I learned that this is a bluebell (Campanula rotundifolia) by looking it up in the online guide. So …

An Unplanned Symphony: the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, Part 2

By Martin Ogle Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth with Martin Ogle, September 11-13, 2015 — click here to learn more This is the second of two installments which contemplate the “Rhythms of our Living Planet” and follow from an excerpt from the story “The Shear Pin.”  (CLICK HERE TO READ PART 1) In the brief, second installment of that excerpt (below), I lament the withdrawal from a spell of timelessness that had descended upon me at first, unwillingly and then like a magical meditation. But, in doing so, I realize our human minds naturally drift from being in the moment to leaving the moment through our abstract journey into the future or past. * The following is excerpted from In the Eye of the Hawk by Martin Ogle, 2012  I looked away, not wanting to break the spell. “It couldn’t be . . .,” I thought. But the thought itself broke the spell, and my gaze returned to the floor of the boat. It was, in fact, a shear-pin shimmering there …

An Unplanned Symphony: the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, Part 1

By Martin Ogle Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth with Martin Ogle, September 11-13, 2015 — click here to learn more To me, time is one of the most basic and profound ways we humans fit in with—and estrange ourselves from—the rest of Nature. Because of our intense awareness of the future and our ability to abstractly place ourselves there, we are blessed with unique abilities and also uniquely cursed with worry, the inability to enjoy the present, and a host of other related mental burdens. In a story called “The Shear Pin” (from my book In the Eye of the Hawk), I muse about our ability and need to inhabit two worlds of time: the “here and now” of the pre-human (and non-human) world as well as our abstracted, human worlds of past and future. The following excerpt from “The Shear Pin” finds me stranded in the wide waters of the Bush River and Chesapeake Bay during my duties as an eagle researcher. I am on a small boat …