All posts tagged: retreat

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 …

Walking into Quiet

By Tim Gallati // We may not know it, but we have a well-established history with environmental noise. From 6th century Buddhist scriptures lamenting “the ten noises in a great city” to a desperate plea for quiet scribbled on a wall in ancient Pompeii, environmental noise has troubled us for millennia.* Today, environmental noise is pervasive. High volume noise like the blare of car horns in city traffic, the roar of airplanes overhead, a neighbor’s loud music vibrating in the walls; lower volume noise like the pulsating tones of data centers, the high crackled buzzing of electric wires. Environmental noise takes a toll on our bodies. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 1 million years of healthy human life are lost each year from traffic noise in Europe. Long term exposure to noise increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cognitive impairment, anxiety, hearing loss and tinnitus, and sleep disturbances. Can we develop a healing relationship with sound in a noisy world? One can begin by seeking out a quiet place with less noise. Developing a relationship with quiet gives our bodies a break from processing environmental noise. We experience relief …

5 Things To Know About Meditating for a Whole Week

By Ryan Stagg // At the end of a recent week-long meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center another participant remarked about how difficult it would be to explain her experience back home. “We sat a lot, walked in circles, and didn’t talk much,” she said with a laugh. And yet somehow after a week of performing this simple routine, often in complete silence, we all had smiles on our faces and a clear appreciation for the journey we had just completed. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what, but some transformation had undoubtedly occurred. The atmosphere in the room was simply lighter and more spacious. There is something very radical about choosing to go on a meditation retreat. In many ways it stands in contrast to the speediness and excitement of our everyday lives. It also creates a fundamental shift in our perspective—rather than seeking fulfillment externally, we resolve to sit and look inside, at our own bodies, hearts, and minds. The effects of embracing this contemplative perspective have long been promoted by practitioners and …

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.    

Lodro Rinzler Discusses Daily Meditation and Retreat

If you are reading this, you are most likely not in a cave somewhere in the Himalayas, without distraction, and devoting all of your days and evenings to meditation practice. More likely, you are a person with a job, relationships, and various commitments and interests in addition to meditation. You are a modern day meditation practitioner. Practitioner. Why do we use that word? That question is at the heart of much of Lodro Rinzler’s teachings. As he puts it, what we are practicing for, when we are sitting on the cushion, is the rest of the hours of our waking day. We meditate so that we can show up more fully: in our work, families, social gatherings, and so on. Enjoy the video above, or click below to stream the audio. If you’d like to download the audio file, click here and find the “Download” button. The idea of continuity is important here. Being a meditation practitioner is not just about putting in our time on the cushion, and then calling it quits until tomorrow’s session. …

Connecting Tai Chi and Buddhism with Larry Welsh

By Travis Newbill Larry Welsh will be leading Flowing Like Water, Strong as a Mountain: Tai Chi Retreat, April 25-27 The ancient practice of Tai Chi Chuan has often been called the “supreme ultimate exercise.” When joined with mindfulness sitting meditation, these two forms bring forth a potent way to awaken health and restore well-being in body, mind, and spirit. Larry Welsh, MAc, MA, has trained in the Yang-style short form, listening hands and sword form of Tai Chi Ch’uan since 1977. Larry is Senior Adjunct Professor and Mindfulness-Meditation teacher in the Traditional Eastern Arts program at Naropa University. He practices Japanese Classical Acupuncture, herbal medicine and whole-food nutrition in Boulder, Colorado. Watch our interview with Larry Welsh below, or scroll down to stream/download the audio. If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below. Larry Welsh will be leading Flowing Like Water, Strong as a Mountain: Tai Chi Retreat, April 25-27. To learn more, please click here.

Taking Joy

 Photo by Greg Smith Author, teacher, and innovator in the mindful recovery movement, Kevin Griffin, shares an exclusive excerpt with us from his new book, a work in progress tentatively titled Happy, Joyous, and Free: A Buddhist Guide to Contentment in Recovery.  No matter how together our lives are, how good they look, how much stuff or success or fame we have, if we can’t take joy in it, we won’t be happy. Taking joy is the realm of mindfulness, practice at the center of all Buddhist teachings. Mindfulness is fundamentally about being present for our life, for each moment in a wholehearted, non-reactive, inquisitive, and intuitive way. While mindfulness is an inherent human capacity that we all have, it’s something most of us have never developed and need guidance and practice to establish. Mindfulness training is done formally in meditation. It is done informally in all activities, like walking, talking, eating, or exercising. Anything we can do, we can do mindfully and mindfulness enhances the experience of any activity. With mindfulness, we actually experience …

Healing and Transforming Consciousness Through Sacred Sound, Music and Dance

Internationally renowned World Music artist, composer, educator and peace activist Yuval Ron will be coming to Colorado for two very special engagements—a concert in Boulder on March 27 presented by SMC in the City and a weekend retreat from March 28-20 at Shambhala Mountain Center. Read more from Yuval below. This March I will be coming to Boulder, CO and to Shambahla Mountain Center, finally! Over the last 20 years I have met so many people, specifically people who graduated from Naropa who were compelled to comment on how much my work belongs in Boulder. The retreat that I will be leading is based on my work with master spiritual teachers of the East such as Pri Zia Inayat Khan, the head of the Sufi Order International, and neuroscientists of the West including brain researcher, Mark Robert Waldman, who wrote the bestseller, How God Changes Your Brain. During this program, I will be taking participants on an incredible journey into their inner world, providing them with a rare perspective into the worlds of Zen Buddhist …