All posts tagged: yoga

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 …

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 …

Joining Meditation and Movement: East meets West on the Path to a Joyful Life

by Michael Sandrock // One day, somewhere around the start of the 5th Century B.C.,  a wandering forest ascetic named Siddhartha Gautama sat down beneath the Bodhi Tree, vowing not to leave his seat until he had achieved enlightenment. This he did. Meanwhile, at just about the same time, Darius the Great, the Persian King of Kings, vowed to crush the freedom-loving Greek city-states, especially Athens. His campaign of subjugation ended on the plains of Marathon, where the vastly outnumbered Athenians defeated the previously undefeated Persian army, gathered from throughout the empire, from Asia, to Egypt and Sudan and beyond. These two contemporary events, separated by about 3500 miles, and not many years, are, it can be said without hyperbole, two of the most important events in human history. One showed the way to freedom from suffering; the other, the way to freedom from tyranny. Now, during the Shambhala Mountain Center’s Labor Day weekend retreat, “Running with the Mind of Meditation & Yoga”, the two strains represented by Siddhartha beneath the Bodhi tree and the …

The Yoga of Slowing Down 

by Heather Lindemann // Our world is steeped with movement. Walking to the car, cooking dinner, hiking a mountain path, or playing with your children — the body is meant to move. Like all aspects of our practice, however, we need balance. Some might think that the opposite of movement is total stillness, like seated meditation or even sleep. However, there’s another way to slow down, find balance, and teach the body that there is grace in doing less.   Slow and gentle yoga practices like Yin or restorative yoga can embrace the midpoint between movement and stillness. Sometimes, moving slowly and tuning in to subtle sensations can feel more challenging than movement or total rest. Yet gentle yoga practices can offer the body, mind, and soul tremendous wisdom.   Teaching the Nervous System to Regulate  On a physical level, we know that slow movement practices allow the body to settle and regulate. When we slow down, the body and mind respond by turning on the relaxation response, which is part of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). While meditation, sleep, or even Yoga Nidra are direct pathways to …

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 …

Healing Sound

Freedom within the Dimensions of Silent Retreat Practice 

by Janet Solyntjes // Do you associate the practice of mindfulness meditation with freedom? How is freedom discovered within the form of a meditation retreat?  This article is intended to offer a framework in which to view silent retreat practice as a path to freedom.  The Gateway to Retreat: Motivation and Preparation  The gateway to retreat is acknowledging your personal motivation for retreat practice. Motivation is often based in a longing of the heart and a curiosity of the mind. The following questions might spark a knowing of your personal motivation: Are you seeking to bring a renewed inspiration into your life and relationships? Do you long for a deeper appreciation for your mindfulness meditation practice? Are you curious if hours of formal mindfulness and awareness practice will positively influence your sense of being human?   Having touched into the spark of personal motivation you will need to follow with some preparation.  The most important preparation involves cultivating an inner resolve to abandon any hope of fruition. Really.  Let go of hope regarding the outcomes of retreat.  Let go of fear, too. Simply attend to the three dimensions of retreat, as best you can.   The Outer Dimension of Retreat: Environment  Over thousands of years and across the globe, women and men have sought places of seclusion and quietude for engaging in deep contemplation and meditation.  What did their places of refuge look like? Picture Henry David Thoreau spending time along the shores of …

The Practice of Dropping: An Antidote for a Busy Life

By Brian Spielmann & De West // When we’re babies, the ability to grasp, which becomes fully developed around 9-12 months, is one of the most important developmental milestones. This core skill demonstrates planning, hand-eye coordination, muscular strength, and motor skills. As adult spiritual practitioners, we have the opposite issue: how do we stop grasping and let go? Our minds are constantly grasping and fixating, creating much suffering in our minds and tension in our bodies. As Mick Jagger says, “You can’t always get what you want.” And that grasping is where samsara begins. The Buddhist and Yogic traditions both offer clear, practical instructions on how to let go fully. When we integrate these traditions, working both with our body and our mental awareness, we have a powerful dual pathway to further relaxation and sense of peace. Take a Load Off The good news is that our thoughts and emotional baggage don’t actually exist. They come and they go, and we can let them arise with no judgment or need to push them away. We …

In the Company of Women: Precious Knowing

By Katharine Kaufman Home At Shambhala Mountain Center I have the good fortune to be at the Shambhala Mountain Center at this moment so I can tell you what it is like in the winter here — at least right now. Still & quiet. Today I walked up to the ridge — maybe to get nearer to the sun. There was some trudging through snow and also big patches with no snow. I rested on an outcropping of rocks. A group of deer were close to the Stupa. They looked up at me and leapt away as if gravity were no problem. Inside the Stupa I was struck by what feels like the thickness of many years of people practicing. The good humored gentleness and authentic way of the staff feels so warming. I am called back to this place. This is one of my homes. On Inspiration My idea for the women’s retreats began from my sense that it would be great to gather, and do practices on the coldest day of the winter …

Cyndi Lee

Radical Inclusivity and Just Showing Up

By Cyndi Lee // The other day a friend of mine texted to cancel our lunch date. The reason, she wrote, was that her body wasn’t feeling well and was telling her it needed to rest. After wishing her a delicious nap and a speedy recovery, I couldn’t help but wonder about this conversation between her and her body. I pondered how it could be that her body is not her and, if so, who is she that isn’t a body? Of course, this brings up age-old questions about the nature of consciousness, impermanence, and the definition of the true self. But what I’m really struck with is how we separate ourselves from ourselves. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word, yuj, which is typically translated as to yoke or bind, to join, unite or re-unite. In other words, yoga is relationship. Of course, we know that mind and body are part of each other. You cannot have a body without a mind or a mind without a body. But sometimes we forget. One …