All posts tagged: writing

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 …

relationship tips

5 Tips for Relationships in the Midst of Coronavirus Times

by:  Harville Hendrix Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt Ph.D As couples find themselves at home now more than ever before due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many relationships are feeling the strain. Work-related stress, childcare difficulties, interrupted routines and lack of social connections compound the difficulty of these uncertain times, leading overwhelmed partners to interacting from a place of frustration. Struggling for a way to make this time one of triumph rather than tragedy? You are not alone, and there is hope. Relationship experts Harville and Helen have shared their top tips for improving your interactions during this time: Honor your partner’s time by making an appointment. Ask, “Is now a good time to talk about…?” We are all facing life circumstances that fall outside of the “norm” right now. By choosing to make an appointment with your partner before engaging in conversation, you show them respect and care. While this system may feel formal, structure creates safety which in turn invites spontaneity. By honoring boundaries in this way, you prevent negative interactions with your partner. Allow for boundaries by …

Coming Home to Ourselves

A retreat experience at Shambhala 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. Shambhala 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 SMC 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 …

How To Stop Your Marriage From Falling Apart

by  Harville Hendrix Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt Ph.D. Four provocative truths every married couple needs to know Falling in love is amazing! The excitement of meeting someone new brings out the best in all of us; the journey ahead feels like an open road full of possibility … but, then something happens: Either the relationship starts to feel stale, or perhaps money issues, kids, or trying to figure out a comfortable work-life balance comes into play. Whatever the cause, the initial spark dims or goes out altogether, and the future of your relationship becomes a long and winding road, full of pit stops and flat tires. Well, don’t worry because this happens to everyone. All it means is that it’s time for a tune-up. You see, we spend a lot of time and energy finding our perfect mates. By the time we say “I do,” we assume (and fervently hope) that the work is over. The idea of having to spend time working on your marriage may seem strange or even depressing, but it’s …

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 …

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, …

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 …