All posts tagged: Shambhala Mountain Center

Floral Notes and Bardo: Thanksgiving before Thanksgiving

By Travis Newbill Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a regular feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center. I am thankful for Shambhala Mountain Center because: It provides me with a home, and the means for exploring a good way to live in the world.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to live here, so closely with the natural world.  I know the deer and the way that the foliage, and all else, shifts with the seasons.  I’m grateful for the tremendous rock formations — they are characters, ever-present.  I’m grateful to live in this community.  The people are kind, beautiful, well-intentioned, tender, trying, transparent.  The people — we are doing this together.  We live 8,000 feet up in the mountains together.  We eat such good food here — three times a day.  My friends cook meals.  They put themselves into it.  They are delicious. I am grateful to have arrived here, in this …

From the SMC Kitchen: When Life Gives You Summer, Make Lemonade

by Avajra John Russell Well, summer is here. Thunderstorms are rolling through the mountains and when they’re not, the immense sky is a crystal clear blue with the ever-changing play of puffy clouds.  And, (finally!) it’s hot this week here at Shambhala Mountain. But let me take this opportunity to recommend making the most of your summer, wherever you are spending the season.  Although planning those big outings can make your summer memorable, I think it’s just as important to enjoy the small things—not grasping but taking full advantage of this spontaneous creative moment, ripe with possibilities. Try some summer fun swinging in the hammock with a tall one, make fresh lemonade, or spend some quality time hitting the ball around with the kids. Meet an old friend, or a new one, for a walk in the park.  Making the most of this summer is an art form unto itself and although it may take a bit of doing, the potential joys are rich and manyfold. Here’s an easy and refreshing recipe for mint lemonade: …

Summer Volunteering at SMC

Summer is a beautiful and exciting time at Shambala Mountain Center. Wildflowers are in bloom, the aspens are bursting with golden green leaves, and the land is thriving with a wide variety of programs.  It is also the season when people come from around world to volunteer their skills and enjoy the enriching experience of being in contemplative community. Living in furnished, canvas tents nestled in the mountainside, you are immersed in the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Each morning is a verdant walk among the fragrant pines to a hardy breakfast and then group meditation, where the community comes together to practice their commitment to mindfulness. From this nourishing foundation, the work day begins and volunteers assist in one of the SMC’s numerous departments—from marketing and programs, to cooking in the kitchen and working with the land—to name but a few. At noon, there is another opportunity to meditate before a delicious lunch and then again before dinner. Evenings can be spent enjoying a dharma talk, sitting around a campfire, or watching the sun …

Flowing Like Water, Strong as a Mountain

by Larry Welsh A personal message: I would like to invite you to join us at Shambhala Mountain Center for a special retreat, starting the evening of April 25 until 2 pm on April 27.  We live in a time when many people are lost in the pursuit of happiness purely through ideas, thoughts, and screens… like a dream.   Materialism rages in the ten directions and thus many resort to violence, thinking this to be a solution to their pain and suffering.  That violence can manifest in very subtle ways and in coarse ways causing harm to self and others.  The all-consuming drive to be productive at the expense of nourishing our deepest nature robs us of real fulfillment and true maturity.  Our spirit drifts, leaving us without a place to truly rest and our hearts have lost the understanding, the Tao of The Art of the Heart.  By learning how to flow like water and to be strong as a mountain through authentic relaxation, each of us can discover the Art of the Heart and …

Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Couple

by Keith Kachtick In Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke makes clear that a loving, romantic relationship is the practice for which all other mindfulness practices are the groundwork. “Love is high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become world for himself for another’s sake.” The ancient Tibetan tantric practice of Yab-Yum recognizes that romantic coupling is as an opportunity for profound spiritual awakening, a practice that invites us—deeply challenges us—to love our way to enlightenment. Traditionally, in Buddhist thangkas and sculptures depicting Yab-Yum, the confluence of “masculine” compassion and “feminine” wisdom is presented metaphorically in the sexual union of a male deity, seated in Padmasana (lotus pose), with his female consort facing him on his lap. The symbolism is two-fold: Yab-Yum (literally “father-mother” in Tibetan) implies a mystical union within our own individual nature—the two Dharma wings that lift each of us to buddhahood; united, the two awakened beings (regardless of gender) then give birth to a romantic communion embodying the blissful, non-dual state of enlightenment. Much easier said than done, …

More than Meditation: The Totality of Dathün

by Will Brown “We can become extremely wise and sensitive to all of humanity and the whole universe simply by knowing ourselves, just as we are.” – Pema Chödrön, teaching on day two of a dathün When someone mentions “meditation retreat”, you might get an image of “on the cushion at 4am until lights out at 9pm”. The Shambhala Buddhist practice of Dathün is not just thirty days on “the cushion” but a complete system, or spiritual technology, for developing familiarity and friendliness with one’s mind, body, emotions (and patterns) and one’s own inherent power of healing and wakefulness. At my first Dathün, I discovered that sitting meditation was just a fraction of the practice. The system of Dathün includes quite a few hours per day of sitting meditation but also walking meditation, dharma talks, contemplation, and chants. And just as integral to Dathün are the mindful “Oryoki” meals, the hours (or days) of silence, one’s interactions with other people, and the furniture, buildings, and land which support the practitioner. At Dathün, in the kitchen, …

The Generosity of a Samurai

by Christopher Seelie The snowfall began the night before, and by the time we arrived in a loose caravan of 4 cars Zenko-Iba was covered in white. Of the thirteen of us Shambhala Mountain Center staff who came to Boulder on this day to receive instruction in Kyudo—literally “the way of the bow”, a Japanese practice of meditation in action—only one had taken First Shot before. So we did not receive instruction in the snow. Instead we gathered in the free-standing garage, now converted to a shrine room and indoor practice space. The walls were decorated with photographs from Kanjuro Shibata Sensei’s life of practice, along with documents of merit and souvenirs. Three hay bales wrapped in plastic canvas were peppered with puncture holes. The distance was negligible but kyudo is not a sport like the western form of archery, where the distance between archer and target is a concern second only to where on the target one’s arrow enters. We sat on gomdens and waited as Shibata Sensei—a green 91 years young and recently …

Memories of Mexico, SMC, and Writing a First Novel

by Maria Espinosa A group of us walked along a narrow path to a deserted beach near Zihuatanejo, Mexico, which in 1971 was still a village of only several thousand inhabitants. The moon was brilliant and the ocean glistened with reflected light. Inspired by the moonlight, the waves and the soft sand under my bare feet, I began to dance. As I moved, I was working through problems that felt tangled. These were thoughts for which I could find no words, but which my body moved through as I danced. Many years after that night on the beach, I began to practice Tibetan Buddhist shamatha meditation and I experienced an enormous breakthrough. For years I had been struggling to complete my novel, Longing. I had written four drafts, but they were brittle. I could not get beneath the surface. After a few weeks—or perhaps months—of focused shamatha practice, I was able to get beneath that frozen surface. Heart and insight began to expand and soften. I threw out the first four drafts and the fifth …

The Shamatha Project, Part II: Collecting Data

By Sarah Sutherland Editors note: Thanks to a recent $2.3 million Templeton Prize Research Grant from the John Templeton Foundation, researchers are revisiting the results gleaned from Shamatha Project and further analyzing those results. In the first two posts of this four-part series we’re offering people unfamiliar with the project the chance to learn more about the project and its researchers. In our third post we will discuss the next stage of this project funded by the Templeton Prize Research Grant. And in our final post we’ll take a closer look at the lead researcher, Clifford Saron. Last Friday we introduced you to the Shamatha Project, a comprehensive meditation study done on the psychological, physical, and behavioral effects of intensive meditation. The study, done in two three-month retreats by Researcher Clifford Saron and others in 2007, revealed some astounding results. “The findings have taught us a lot about the benefits of meditation on our mental and physical health,” said Saron. So, how did researchers measure the results, and what did they discover? To measure the …