All posts tagged: Shambhala Mountain Center

Meditate to Cultivate Healthy Habits of Mind

By: Dhi Good The meditation journey is all about getting to know one’s mind – learning how it works and observing the tendencies we have. Most people know and accept that we have behavioral habits, but fewer consider that we also have habits of mind that are worthy of our benevolent attention. More about benevolent attention in a bit, but first, habits. Habits are not necessarily bad. In many cases they serve us well. Thank goodness we don’t have to sort out how to ride a bike every time we jump on a 2-wheeler. We just get on and start pedaling. Adopting habits saves us time and the wear and tear of considering each and every decision about what we’re going to do next. It can be helpful to have a pattern so we don’t get stuck deciding what to do next. And when circumstances force us out of habitual patterns, we tend to get cranky if not outright upset. Similarly, we have certain go-to patterns of handling the ever-changing circumstances of life. They govern …

How to Meditate

by:  Loden Nyima, Resident Teacher at DMC Meditation is a process of trusting ourselves and coming home.  We often come to meditation for relief from stress, turmoil, or from inspiration for meaning and truth.  It’s that very part of ourselves seeking such things that already has them.  It’s like longing for like.  It’s our innate wisdom, compassion, and freedom shining through.  We’re learning to trust that intuitive part of ourselves, to come home, and let it expand.   Shamatha is a Sanskrit word that means “peaceful abiding”.  It describes an ancient form of mediation that pre-dates Buddhism by a long shot and has been practiced by people of all or no spiritual or religious tradition for thousands of years.  Many of the teachings we know today in the popular mindfulness movement were derived from these and related teachings, either in Buddhism, Yoga, or more.   Anyone can practice shamatha, we don’t need to have any interest in Buddhism or in any spiritual tradition..  And if we do have an interest in Buddhism, shamatha is quite foundational to …

an invitation

An Invitation

by:  Katharine Kaufman A retreat has a beginning, middle, and end to it and certain things are bound to happen during these phases.  I listen to a chef on the radio. First thing to teach novice chefs is: mise-en-place. This means to gather and put all the ingredients and tools you’ll need for the recipe in one place and also to prepare them. Chop, grate, stir. This is the beginning. She said the new chefs want to rush to make the recipe without preparing.  I have packed and traveled and checked in, removed my shoes, and lined them up with the others and am standing outside the meditation hall. There is one thing left I need to do to begin. My meditation cushion. I need to find a place to sit down and wait. “Stay in the middle of the event and listen for messages there,” Barbara Dilley, my friend, and a contemplative dance mentor said to a group of us. I wrote it down and pasted the instructions on the inside cover of my …

Coming Home to Ourselves

A retreat experience at Drala Mountain Center by:  Tricia Cominsky The magic of being in retreat is ineffable.  Knowing this to be true, I’m still inspired to attempt to capture the feeling and experience with the written word. Perhaps it’s the mystery of what possible causes and conditions create the circumstances for twenty-eight strangers to show up on the same day, at the same time in a mountain retreat setting at 8,000 feet, the week before Christmas.  That alone strikes me as curiously miraculous. Drala Mountain Center is an hour’s drive from Fort Collins, Colorado; two hours from the Denver International Airport.  It’s not easy to find, especially during winter when daylight leaves us at four-thirty in the afternoon.  Yet we all made the trek.  We arrived from Manhattan, Chicago, Boulder, Santa Fe, Cleveland, and elsewhere.  Those who live and work at DMC and chose to participate in The Art of Meditation retreat had only to walk from their cabins or lodge rooms to the Ridgen Shrine Room, where we all gathered on December 19th …

Thoughts on Mahamudra Retreats

by:  Acharya Richard John My first experience of a mahamudra retreat was in the first session of the three-year retreat at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, over 30 years ago. It was the classic Kagyu version, using the text by the ninth Karmapa, Pointing Out the Dharmakaya. Following tradition, the retreat began with three months of guru yoga practice. When we got to the actual mahamudra section, (another three months), we were fully primed for this pinnacle of Buddhist dharma practice, eight men and eight women, in our separate shrine rooms, all facing forward and doing shamatha and vipashyana practice. The obvious question for me was, what exactly made this mahamudra practice? It seemed like a very big deal, but it looked just like any other small dathun. My first insight into that, which sounds amusing now but seemed quite profound at the time, was “Oh, now we are actually going to follow the instructions!” That led to the recognition that we were practicing shamatha and vipashyana with a spirit of continuously roused windhorse, and ultimately to the …

SMC’s Award-Winning Eco-Forestry Work

by;  Dhi Good & Mac McGoldrick     ///     photo:  Miles Greenlee Stewardship of the land is an important priority for Shambhala Mountain Center. Under the direction of our Built and Natural Environments Director, Mac McGoldrick, SMC conducts conservation forestry projects and collaborates with regional partners to sustain healthy and resilient eco-systems across our 600 acres and beyond. In the video below, Mac McGoldrick describes the eco-forestry and conservation work at SMC in partnership with regional conservation agencies. Thank you Fort Collins Conservation District for this beautiful video! The 600-acre SMC property provided an excellent example of the positive outcomes strategic forest treatments can produce. Because of the 165-acre fuels reduction treatment completed on the property in 2018, as well as several years of adjacent treatments continuing along Elkhorn Creek to the east, firefighters working on the Cameron Peak Fire of 2020 were safer, the forest burned less intensely in this area, and post-fire outcomes were less severe.  Northern Colorado Fireshed Collaborative, Nov. 12, 2021     Above:  Fireshed partners and community members gather at Shambhala Mountain Center to learn …

Functional Sanity 

Excerpt from the international bestselling book, You Were Not Born To Suffer, by Blake D. Bauer. It’s helpful to know that we are all a bit crazy, in the sense that once we’re honest with ourselves we cannot deny the various voices in our head or the countless thoughts that circulate in our mind. I have come to perceive mental and emotional health in terms of practical functional sanity. In other words: can we take responsibility for our lives in a way that we do not harm ourselves, other people or the Earth while we do our best each day to be well, happy and kind?  In my experience, which I am sure is similar to your own, there is no such thing as ‘normal’. Although it is so common to think ‘he or she is normal but I am not’ or ‘their family is normal’ or ‘why can’t I just be normal?’ deep down we all know real life is stranger than fiction. Maybe the reason we can never get to ‘normal’ is because it …

planning a retreat

Plan to Retreat in 2022

by Dhi Good What’s the best thing you’ve ever given yourself? For me, the most precious and meaningful gift is time. Time away from the day-to-day fray of life, time to be with myself, time to move and be still and listen and just be. Time to eat mindfully, get plenty of rest and get away from those devices that buzz and beep for attention throughout the day. We all need time to reset, let go of habits that don’t serve us well, and get back to who we truly are deep down. We plan for holidays and trips to see the relatives, but when it comes to planning for our own health and wellbeing, our longing to reconnect with one’s self tends to fall to the bottom of the list. For 2022, why not try making your retreat(s) a priority? Whether you go for a yoga retreat or a silent meditation intensive, you will be taking a step toward wholeness and restoration. For me, I find that after several days on retreat I’m often …

work with senses

Working with our Senses and our State of Mind 

by Steve Vosper So, life can be challenging. We all know this. The question arises, what can we do about it? In my October SMC Newsletter posting, Challenges are the Path, I suggested that perhaps those challenges can be a way forward, rather than obstacles in our lives. In September I had also suggested that Mindfulness is the Key, and that’s where this particular rubber meets the road.  With our own basic mindfulness, we can work with our senses, work with our state of mind. We can begin to understand ourselves better, begin to transform ourselves for the better and begin to engage in our lives more fully.  That said, this doesn’t involve taking on some kind of dreadful project or big addition to our seemingly endless to-do lists. Nor does it require special skills and experience that only the select few can access or accomplish. It just involves a slight shift in attitude, a slight turning toward ourselves right now. It simply involves being with ourselves, being kind to ourselves in our present situation, …