All posts tagged: writing

Mind Blindness 

by John Rockwell A while back, I read an article about “plant blindness.” When shown a picture that shows a pair of elephants in a clearing and asked what they see, virtually everyone says, “Two elephants.” Even when the question is repeated, “What do you see?” people persist in saying “Elephants,” as if the questioner were stupid or blind. No one says that they see grass and trees, much less describes the type of plants. The biologists lament this lack of appreciation for the greenery that is our constant background. They point out that plants are just as important and in fact make up the base of the food chain that supports our existence. This lack of connection and community with the plant world can ultimately support a life style and work ethic that is destructive to our environment. What we don’t perceive, we have no feeling for. What we have no feeling for, we don’t care about. What we don’t care about, we can destroy and feel nothing amiss. Of course, by destroying the plant world, we are undermining our own existence.  When …

What does Meditation have to do with Running?

by:  Michael Sandrock One of the special spots in Colorado — and there are many! — is the Shambhala Mountain Center northwest of Fort Collins, near Red Feather Lakes.  It is 600 acres of aspen and pine-laden hillsides nestled next to national forest land.  There are endless trails and dirt roads to run nearby, as well as a variety of retreats to attend, including Labor Day weekend’s “Running with the Mind of Meditation and Yoga,” which I first went to 15 years ago. That first exposure to meditation and mindfulness was transformational, and so, like many others, I watched updates last year when the Cameron Peak Fire swept through the area, burning more than a dozen buildings on the center’s land on its way to becoming the first Colorado wildfire to burn over 200,000 acres.  Saved from destruction was the iconic Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Which Liberates Upon Seeing, a must-see Colorado visit, and which can indeed, for the person who is ready, spur liberation. (As the Zen master Shunryu Suzuki said, enlightenment can come …

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 …

Writing as a Path to Awakening & Healing

by:  Albert Flynn DeSilver * One morning when I was twenty-two years old, I woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed with no idea how I got there. And I was under arrest. It was the seven words of the District Attorney, uttered with searing conviction, that saved my life. “You will not get a second chance.” I didn’t tell her that this was my second chance. Two years prior I was at a rowdy party drinking myself to oblivion in order to numb-out a recent break up, when I wound up stumbling around outside then passing out face-down in the driveway. A couple hours later my best friend jumped in his car, cranked up the tunes, and with no idea I was there, drove right over me. Another story. I took my first verbal standardized test when I was twelve scoring in the lower tenth percentile. In the parent/teacher conference that followed I heard the phrases “he has trouble expressing himself verbally” (Yeah, no shit) and “he’s showing signs of dyslexia.” Dyswhatsia? I had no idea …

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 …

Coming to Our Senses:  Practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness   

by  Gaylon Ferguson // The gentle practice of mindfulness-awareness meditation allows our senses to awaken. First, we enter into meditation by sensing the body. The basis of our entire meditation journey is mindfulness of body, directly connecting with this earthy, elemental aspect of being human. We begin by attending to our sitting posture, listening to our own bodies and settling into physical sensation as a good working basis. Gradually synchronizing body and mind, we feel more grounded. We are cultivating a sense of being fully present with our bodies, moment after moment after moment. This experience of groundedness allows us to open out, welcoming all our experience with less judgment, more friendliness.  Next is sensing our feelings. Sometimes our meditation sessions present dramatic and vivid displays of emotions. Sometimes there is boredom. The overall approach is to include our inner emotional weather as part of the sitting practice of meditation. Sunny or cloudy, cool winds or thundershowers, all are welcome. This approach is called “touch and go.” We gently touch an emotion, rather than avoiding or ignoring it. If it moves on—as emotions sometimes do, we let it go. If it stays, we allow …

Summer Women 

by Katharine Kaufman //  We walk from the dining hall up the path, through aspens, and field. We walk alone or in groups of two or three. And onto the road, up into the pines and the indoor/outdoor pavilion. If it’s raining and cool, we walk beyond the pavilion to the lodge. We find our place, lay our mat there and sit or lie down. We are with other actual bodies. This year has been inside and online and not getting to see who we need to see. The grief may feel distant or near. We’ve been too busy, or we haven’t had enough to do. We’ve been worried or we’re not thinking of the past at all. We’re wired and underneath, exhausted. We’re learning to hold our seat. Something is forming about what we can or will not tolerate. We’re thinking of the year ahead. We feel lucky in some ways. We’re here to pause between worlds, seasons, dream a little, write something down on paper, prepare.   We sit and breathe. We notice sensations that have been waiting for us to listen. It’s a relief and it’s not as hard as we thought, and we listen to the other women and find something in common. The days are simple. We begin each day in silence. We sit and then walk and wander. We practice yoga on our mats. Somebody says …

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Innate Beauty 

by Janet Solyntjes // Have you noticed how human beings can express themselves in such a variety of ways? We can be fantastic, imaginative, inexplicably wise, and quirky.  We can be kind, generous, patient and courageous in the face of challenges.  We can also be stingy, grumpy, angry and confused. When we make the choice to inhabit our being––fully present and aware––we can then learn to embrace all parts of our experience, uncovering the wholeness and goodness that is the basis of all life.    I love the following poem by poet Mary Oliver for its ability to communicate the rich complexity of our human experience and of our relationship to nature:   The sea can do craziness, it can do smooth, it can lie down like silk breathing or toss havoc shoreward; it can give   gifts or withhold all; it can rise, ebb, froth like an incoming frenzy of fountains, or it can sweet-talk entirely.  As I can too,   and so, no doubt, can you, and you. Often we experience our “crazy-froth-frenzy” as unwanted and unwelcome, judging these experiences and comparing them with “smooth-giving-sweetness.” The practice of meditation is one way, perhaps the most direct pathway, to dropping the critical mind and softening into what is present, into the ups …