All posts tagged: retreat

Mindfulness is the Key 

by Stephen Vosper Mindfulness is the key to everything.  Being awake in the present moment is the gateway to everything.  Being awake and being mindful are completely inseparable.  Mindfulness is the natural ability of mind to be aware of something, aware of anything, aware of everything.  Through our sense perceptions; sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and from a traditional eastern point of view, thoughts, emotions and intuitions; we can be mindful and awake to the whole world in our own life.  This is actually our birthright.  By just being awake and mindful, in our natural state, we can begin to appreciate the miracle of our senses, our perceptions, our emotions, thoughts and intuitions as they arise, rather than turning away and distracting ourselves in daydreams and fantasies of all kinds.  We can actually be fully awake and alive completely in our lives, right now.  We have everything we need to experience our joy and sadness, our doubts and hesitations, our confidence and inspirations. We can afford to relax and open to our world completely. Why not, what’s holding us back? Let’s find out. Come join us, at …

How to live my life after cancer? 

by:  Natalie Pascale Boisseau  The question is similar for everyone, no matter which cancer one is diagnosed with, no matter the stage of the cancer, no matter the treatments or the side effects afterwards.  The question is the same, how do I live my life after a cancer diagnosis, after a deep brush with a life threatening disease?  Ten years ago, I experienced this first hand when I was given the shocking news that a large tumor, a rare cancer, was growing, invading my belly.  The next Friday that week, my primary care doctor called me after hours.  She told me, “Natalie, no matter what will happen to you in the next weeks and months, no matter what challenging treatments you will go through, please know that you are not to identify yourself with the illness.   You are not the disease.”   In the middle of it, though, or even after a series of treatments and surgeries, cancer is the center of your life.  So the question arises: who are you?  Where are you at? What is next?  …

Giving ourselves grace, Part 2: Remembering possibility

by:  Marissa C. Knox Uncertainty and impermanence are two of the deepest, most fundamental truths of being human. If we know nothing else, we know intimately the experience of change and of not knowing what is to come. Change can bring loss and destruction, and it can also bring creativity and growth. And if we are honest with ourselves, we do not know exactly what change may bring. There is a sense of mystery to each day and to each moment when we recognize the presence of possibility that is inherent in our human experience. It is an act of profound kindness and generosity to remember that who we are is changing and changeable, that our lives are not set in stone, that our minds and hearts can open and transform.  Remembering the truth of possibility may be one of the most powerful ways we can give ourselves grace.  Giving myself grace has become a way of life that has buoyed me through seasons of doubt, scarcity, grief, anxiety, and all of my pained responses …

How to Prepare for Autumn’s Arrival

by:  Sara Avant Stover Autumn is my favorite time of the year, perhaps because I grew up in Connecticut surrounded by the splendor of changing leaves. The season’s crisp winds, golden light, and first days of school instill a fresh, buzzing, alive feeling inside. I feel inspired to complete unfinished projects before the holidays, and I love bringing out cuddly winter sweaters, woolly scarves, and cozy tights. Long walks through crinkly leaves remind me of romping in leaf piles on my way home from school as a young girl. The magic of the season extends deeper than our wardrobes, though, for during these crucial months, nature prepares for her long winter’s rest and teaches us to do the same. It is time to gather, store, organize, and wind down from summer’s high tempo and the relentless forward momentum that modern living usually demands. When the crisp winds of autumn start to blow, we need to tune in to the signal that it’s time to start slowing down. As leaves fall to the ground, they decay …

Emotional Resilience: Learning from the Buddha’s Life Story

by:  Lama Elizabeth Monson, PhD The life story of the buddha is one of the most powerful examples in religious literary history of how it is possible to transform our relationship to difficult emotions from one of suffering and avoidance to one which allows us to live lives sourced in kindness, ease, wisdom and love. We could say that the life story of the buddha presents us with a paradigm for exploring how to be in relationship with the reactive emotional energies, both internal and external, that keep us from accessing and responding to the world from our innate place of refuge – our Buddhanature – a way of being that is naturally compassionately responsive and which is unconditioned by reactivity. Even for those who do not identify as “Buddhist,” the Buddha’s life story offers a powerful template within which to explore one’s personal spiritual journey and relationship with emotional reactivity. When we read carefully, we see that the Buddha’s life story is our own story writ large and as we explore the Buddha’s life …

Giving ourselves grace, Part 1

Marissa C. Knox When life is painful or difficult, we are often told to “give ourselves grace.” But what does this really mean? How do we give ourselves the thing that is already and always here? Perhaps it means to be self-compassionate, or to allow ourselves to be human. Or maybe it is about prayer, asking for help, seeking guidance. Some might give themselves grace simply by giving themselves space – space to feel, space to rest, space to breathe, space to be. It may be the act of listening to a song, a bird, a river. It may be a delicious nap. Yes, and there is no one right way to give ourselves grace. For me, giving myself grace is a life practice. It is a way of being that guides my days and provides an anchor, a compass, and a map for how I want to be in each moment.  Trusting in the presence of grace is how I begin and end each day of my life. Though, this is not something that …

Befriending Your Inner Critic

The Inner Critic relationship is pivotal as we “do our work”.  These parts of our inner world can offer such rich feedback as to how we care for ourselves, what we perceive as threats and how to move beyond a fraught relationship into one that can be healed and ultimately so very supportive in our journeys. Best selling author Sara Avant Stover speaks to us on how being an Internal Family Systems (IFS) practitioner can provide guidance on cultivating our relationship with the Inner Critic through different modalities as we work to heal old wounds.  SMC is delighted to host Sara’s upcoming Online retreat offering: Befriending Your Inner Critic.   Join Sara for Befriending Your Inner Critic   About the Author Sara Avant Stover is a bestselling author and teacher of feminine spirituality. After a cancer scare in her early twenties, Sara moved to Thailand, embarked on a decade-long healing and spiritual odyssey throughout Asia, and has since gone on to uplift tens of thousands of women worldwide. The founder of the world’s first Women’s Yoga …

Joining Meditation and Movement: East meets West on the Path to a Joyful Life

by Michael Sandrock // One day, somewhere around the start of the 5th Century B.C.,  a wandering forest ascetic named Siddhartha Gautama sat down beneath the Bodhi Tree, vowing not to leave his seat until he had achieved enlightenment. This he did. Meanwhile, at just about the same time, Darius the Great, the Persian King of Kings, vowed to crush the freedom-loving Greek city-states, especially Athens. His campaign of subjugation ended on the plains of Marathon, where the vastly outnumbered Athenians defeated the previously undefeated Persian army, gathered from throughout the empire, from Asia, to Egypt and Sudan and beyond. These two contemporary events, separated by about 3500 miles, and not many years, are, it can be said without hyperbole, two of the most important events in human history. One showed the way to freedom from suffering; the other, the way to freedom from tyranny. Now, during the Shambhala Mountain Center’s Labor Day weekend retreat, “Running with the Mind of Meditation & Yoga”, the two strains represented by Siddhartha beneath the Bodhi tree and the …