Mind, Body, Earth: We Are Part of A Living System (AUDIO)

 

Martin Ogle will be leading Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, March 21-23

In this interview, Naturalist Martin Ogle discusses Gaia Theory, which is the idea that Earth and everything on the surface of Earth–water, air, rock, and organisms–together form a living system. The minds and bodies of human beings, he says, are a powerful component.

For more from Martin Olge, check out his two part series on our blog: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth–part 1 and part 2

We hope that you enjoy this interview. If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the interview below.

Queer Dharma: The Truth of Being Queer

 

Acharya Eve Rosenthal

Acharya Eve Rosenthal

By Eve Rosenthal

Acharya Eve Rosenthal will be leading Shambhala Queer Dharma Retreat, along with Acharya Eric Spiegel, March 28-30

What is queer dharma? There are people who are queer and there is dharma, but what is queer dharma? First of all, a person who is queer identifies as someone with a sexual orientation outside culturally established norms. In our culture, it is someone who is not heterosexual — a person who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. It is someone who does not want to put a label to their sexuality, or someone who is questioning their sexual identity. Dharma in its broadest context means truth or what is, and can also mean the Buddhist teachings—which is saying the same thing. The Buddha experienced the truth of reality and then talked about it. These are the Buddhist teachings that have been written and passed down orally. The path of meditation is the way to gently make the journey from self-deception to truth.

So, queer dharma is the truth of being queer. Everyone who is queer realizes at some point in their life’s journey that they have feelings for others, or about themselves, that are outside what is easily accepted in our society. At best, it results in some serious soul searching to come to terms with who one really is, and at worst, imprisonment or death. There are probably not many queer folk planning to vacation in Uganda, Nigeria, or Russia any time soon. Even in relatively tame countries like Canada that have accepted same-sex marriage, there are still unthinkable hate crimes against sexual minorities. Even if we live in a relatively accepting world, there are privileges of heterosexuality that are taken for granted and not available to all. Here is a great web page about heterosexual privilege, homophobia and its impact, and things non-transgender people take for granted: http://www.csulb.edu/colleges/chhs/safe-zone/privilege/.

We are holding a “Shambhala Queer Dharma” retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center from March 28-30 which will add the “Shambhala” aspect to the picture. There are two key themes that define Shambhala — that the nature of all humans is basically good, and when people relate to others and the environment from their inherent goodness, a good human society manifests. There are countless examples of good human relationships between people and communities that value kindness above individual self-interest. Sadly, we often doubt our basic goodness and self-worth. This results in a constant attempt to find happiness outside of ourselves as demonstrated by the tyranny of materialism ruling our lives.

Putting it all together — what is the inspiration for having a Shambhala Queer Dharma retreat?

Community
Queer people have to come to grips with who they are because of the obstacles they face in society. Whether one has achieved peace with that or not, it is good to be with others who respect and recognize your journey. There is comfort and deep relaxation in just knowing that. However, there is something more to these retreats than just the comfort of being with sympathetic people.

Meditation
By virtue of being queer and outside the societal norm with regard to sexuality, we are required to explore the dharma of ourselves to cut through confusion about who we are and not be afraid of that—probably more than those who have heterosexual privilege. The path of meditation is a natural way to accomplish this exploration of “who we really are” and come to certainty regarding our self-worth.

Social Innovation
My experience of doing queer dharma retreats is that people are generally well along the journey of this exploration, whether they are experienced with or new to official “dharma” and meditation. That affords the Shambhala queer dharma community a unique opportunity — to go the next step beyond the individual journey and explore what it means to be a good human community based on kindness. The courage that inspired our non-negotiable self-reflection can extend into reflecting on our relationships with others, and to be genuine about what prejudices and habitual patterns are barriers to kindness.

The aspiration is that the queer community can be an example to the greater society as humans who treat other humans well. The Shambhala Queer Dharma retreat at SMC can help us deepen both as individuals and also as a community. Chögyam Trungpa said “you bring your whole self to meditation” and that in Shambhala, your whole queer self is welcome and celebrated. In fact, this retreat is an opportunity to explore how we might share the gift of our queerness with others. The gift being that we can come to know, through meditative reflection, that we are basically good and have much to contribute to the creation of an enlightened society. At the very least, we can enjoy practicing and discussing the dharma of life, each other, and the spectacular environment of SMC.

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Be sure to check out two upcoming live interactive sessions with video and audio from Eve and Eric. If you have a webcam and mic you will be able to come online with video and audio as well. If you don’t have a/v equipment, you will be able to interact using text.

The sessions will be taking place on the following dates:

Sunday, January 26, 2 pm Mountain; 4 pm Eastern.
Sunday, March 16, 2 pm Mountain; 4 pm Eastern.

Here is the link for the sessions – get on early if you want to test your equipment:
http://shambhalainternational.adobeconnect.com/queer/

Acharya Eve Rosenthal will be leading Shambhala Queer Dharma Retreat, along with Acharya Eric Spiegel, March 28-30. To learn more, please CLICK HERE

Paying Attention to One Detail: Listening

By Janet Solyntjes

Janet Solyntjes will be leading Introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, February 14-16

JanetSolyntjesListening in Meditation
How many times have you wondered what to do with the discursive mind in meditation? Before we “do” anything, it is important to listen. With what kind of ears do we listen to this internal voice – the monkey mind? Our listening is with the ears of non-identification. Listening without identifying with the words is not the same as blocking out thoughts or ignoring what is already present in the mind. To listen in this way takes tremendous gentleness and courage. Sometimes the thoughts are self-critical, sometimes they are gibberish, and sometimes they are emotionally charged. Just listen. Let them be. Can you do this for the next 10 minutes?

Step 1: Settling into your body, into being present with yourself.
Step 2: With curiosity, noticing the internal dialogue. Are the thoughts passing through your awareness few, many, quiet, or loud?
Step 3: Listening without identifying. Opening to present thoughts with an attitude of gentle observation.
Step 4: Letting go of the “exercise” and proceeding.

Listening to Others
Research has shown that where we typically place the onus of meaning in interpersonal communication – on the person speaking – is a misunderstanding of what actually occurs. It is the listening that creates meaning. How we listen to one another, rather than how well we deliver our message is the foundation from which meaning arises in conversation. Today, when you have an opportunity to speak with others, can you practice “suspension of certainty” and listen with a truly inquiring mind? Are you listening to both the words and the feeling behind the words?

Training in Paying Attention
While paying attention is something we do naturally, we all would benefit from training this capacity further. There is a rich collection of mindfulness tools one can engage and utilize in daily life. The Introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction retreat offers instruction and guidance in mindfulness and supports a “coming to our senses” which awakens and enlivens each moment.

I hope you will join me!

Janet Solyntjes will be leading Introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, February 14-16. To learn more, CLICK HERE

Engaging the Rhythms of our Living Earth Part 1

By Martin Ogle

Martin Ogle will be leading Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, March 21-23

Martin-Ogle-La-Plata-PeakIn essence, this upcoming retreat will explore how our human mind perceives and fits in with where it came from! If we accept that our physical bodies evolved from this planet, it is a short leap to understanding our minds as originating from the same source. We are the conscious awareness of Earth! In this, the first-of-two blog posts, I introduce the scientific idea of Earth as a living system, setting the foundation for a second installment that will more fully tie our human awareness to rhythms of our planet.

In the 1960s, NASA wanted to know if there was life on Mars, yet a Mars mission was still decades away. The agency hired James Lovelock, a British chemist, doctor and inventor to look into it. Lovelock decided on a simple test, one that could be done from Earth. Studying Mars with a spectrophotometer, he observed that it had an inert atmosphere (one in which “nothing was happening”), and concluded that Mars was lifeless.

Mulling over his research, however, Lovelock realized that the nature of his atmospheric test had more to say about a planet as a whole than about the presence or absence of living organisms. Although he found the Martian atmosphere to be inert, Lovelock knew Earth’s atmosphere was wildly active – alive! This suggested to Lovelock that Earth is not just a planet with life on it, but is a single, living system. He was soon joined by American microbiologist, Lynn Margulis who saw that early evolution of microorganisms – and all subsequent evolution – involved both natural selection and symbiosis that resulted in a living system.

Lovelock, Margulis and colleagues amassed research that showed organic and inorganic parts and processes of Earth were tightly coupled as a living system that has greatly moderated global temperature, atmospheric content, ocean salinity, and other factors. The maintenance of oxygen at around 20% of the atmosphere and ocean salinity at about 35 parts per thousand over millions of years are examples. To find out more about this science, visit GaiaTheory.org.

Although all signs point to our being part of a living planet, our modern cultural stories do not reflect this. Our language and actions suggest that we consider ourselves separate from the rest of nature, and that nature, itself, operates like a machine rather than a living being. The disparity between these underlying cultural stories and what our senses tell us creates great confusion. Our minds go off on tangents that are not reflective of or compatible with the way that life works. In the next installment, I will propose that Engaging the Rhythms of our Living Earth involves re-linking our intellectual and sensual perceptions of our living planet.

Be sure to listen our recent interview with Martin Ogle, available to stream and download HERE

Martin Ogle will be leading Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, March 21-23. To learn more, CLICK HERE

New Year’s Intention: Take a Leap!

By Jon Barbieri

Jon Barbieri leads Take a Leap into 2014: Establish Your Intention and Commitment, December 30, 2013-January 1, 2014

Jonathan Barbieri

Jonathan Barbieri

New Year’s resolutions have earned quite a reputation with their knack for creating lofty, unreachable, goals. And still, they can be genuinely helpful in opening space for reflection, creating an opportunity to set clear intentions for the year to come.

In making resolutions we often envision what we would like to change about our lives: what to add, remove, or improve to become “better people.” With this approach, the whole thing can get a bit intense and self-aggressive. “I am never going to eat cake again, and I will meditate 2 hours a day if it kills me.”

So, how does the ritual of New Year’s resolutions change, when instead of developing a wish list, we start with our basic human qualities?

We begin by acknowledging that we aspire to do good, to be kind, that we wish for happiness and that fundamentally, we have everything we need to realize these virtues.

Using contemplations, meditation, and discussion, we will touch on these qualities. We will also look at actions or habits we have that are not healthy for us to continue in a very simple and contemplative way. In doing so, we can resolve to pay greater attention to these actions so that over the next year we will acknowledge them and work with them. In addition, we will look at our aspirations for those qualities we wish to cultivate, and make a resolution to nurture and bring them forward.

In this way our approach is not a wish for the year as much as it is a way to look at our life as a journey, and 2014 as the next step along the path.

Join us for this special program and allow your aspirations for the New Year to become clear, confident, and committed through reflection and renewal. What better way to celebrate New Year’s Eve than with a delicious full-course dinner on the magical starry land of Shambhala Mountain Center?

I’m so happy that Jon is continuing  the “Take a Leap into the new year” series.  I participated in the first program “Take Leap into 2012″, and for me the experience was life changing.  Jon’s ability to bring a group together with his warmth, kindness and humor is a gift. This is a wonderful way to begin a new year! — Gayle Sykes

Jon Barbieri leads Take a Leap into 2014: Establish Your Intention and Commitment, December 30, 2013-January 1, 2014. To learn more, CLICK HERE

Q&A: The President of Shambhala on ‘Who is A Leader’ and ‘How to Lead’ (Note: You Are A Leader)

By Travis Newbill

President Richard Reoch leads The Six Ways of Ruling: Surviving, Transforming, and Working with Others, January 31-February 2.

Richard Reoch

Richard Reoch

Who are the “leaders,” anyway? Are the leaders “us” or “them”? Are we all leaders? The notion of leadership may arise in various contexts: we all strive to lead decent lives; when two people are dancing a tango, one person is leading (or else there will be extreme sloppiness, if not injury); some of us are in positions in which we lead groups of people in one way or another on a daily basis.

For leaders of any sort, there is profound guidance to be found within a set of teachings whose roots extend 2,600 years into human history. The Six Ways of Ruling stem from teachings on enlightened society given by the Buddha and were articulated in this age by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche–founder of the modern day Shambhala tradition–as a means to train his successor as Sakyong (“Earth Protector” or “King”). Only in the last decade have the teachings been made available to the public.

This coming January, Richard Reoch, the President of Shambhala, will present The Six Ways of Ruling in a weekend program at SMC. Recently, President Reoch generously made time in his schedule to have some discussion about what these teachings are all about, and who may benefit from engaging with them.

Can you describe the history of these teachings and who they may be applicable to?

President Reoch: When Trungpa Rinpoche first presented these teachings, he presented them as the training of the new Sakyong: When the prince first sees how much chaos and drama there is in the world, of all sorts, and how much needs to be accomplished during his reign, he might lose heart. So, Trungpa Rinpoche says, in order to accomplish his purpose while he’s the Sakyong, he needs to be thoroughly accomplished in the Six Ways of Ruling.

I see.

And from that perspective, these teachings are a recipe, or an orientation, for that kind of leadership. At the same time, of course, the notion of Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo [the female counterpart] is meant to be an indicator and an inspiration for how we lead our own lives.

So, we are all leaders–kings and queens–in a sense?

There is a quality in which you need to attend to your own life. You have relationships with others–whether you like them or not. Most people have to work–whether they like it or not. Most people end up in teams of some sort, and then there’s the larger notion of community and society.

And these teachings are helpful in working with that stuff?

These teachings are completely and utterly applicable whether you’re just figuring out how to lead your own life or whether you’re pondering becoming the next Secretary General of the United Nations. So, no limitations there in terms of leadership.

So, how can we be good leaders?

I think the first thing is to use your own insights about yourself in order to understand the other people that you’re working with. Fundamentally, I believe that most of the leadership work that we do, at most levels in Shambhala, is entirely about working with others, and working with others’ states of mind.

So, the first thing is not to reference a to-do list?

If we approach leadership from the point of view of task first, generally speaking, we find we’re not capable of accomplishing the task.

Interesting.

Because the states of minds, attitudes, aspirations, and insights of others are the raw material that we work with all the time, the first thing really is taking the time and having the insight and the kindness to have a real sense of who the other members of the team are.

Doesn’t that take time away from the “actual work”?

Well, this doesn’t mean we never get any work done, but there’s got to be a sense of “How are we today?” and “Where are we at?” and “Where are we going?” It’s extremely important to lay that sort of ground in order to work for the best interests and the benefit of the whole group.

It seems that, conventionally, people equate speed and agenda-obsession with accomplishment.

That sort of approach produces a certain kind of accomplishment, but usually that kind of accomplishment runs into the sand pretty fast. The alternative is to be a person who kind of understands what the mood of the group is, and where we’re at today, that kind of thing.

Sounds like how to not be a dreaded “boss.”

It’s really a question of being open minded and attentive to people and realizing that there’s wisdom and intelligence in the group. A quality of open heartedness, open mindedness, and intelligence of that sort creates a common spree decor.

And that sort of situation produces tangible results?

I would say that it is capable of accomplishing much more, having much greater stamina, and creating more mutual support than any amount of–no matter how well informed it is, or how well intentioned–directive leadership. That, by the way, is what it says in the Six Ways of Ruling.

How does the notion of renunciation relate to leadership?

In his book Ruling Your World, the Sakyong says–and I am paraphrasing–if you have the feeling that you can do something without working with others, that is a clear sign that you have not conquered self-absorption.

I think this is the key point here: You could say that in some forms of what are regarded as conventional leadership, people are seen as having large egos or being in it for themselves. And then you have extreme forms which we see in the world around us as abuse of power, corruption in high places, self-promotion, and all that sort of thing.

And this occurs on the smaller levels as well…

On the smaller level the person who is leading from the point of view of ‘what’s best for them personally’. Or, they need to accomplish their agenda. Or, they have a kind of narrow minded approach to things, you could say. That is what needs to be renounced. So, in place of what is being renounced, what is being adopted is a more open-minded attitude, a more open-hearted attitude, a concern for the welfare of others, and trying to lead for the benefit of the overall vision or the overall benefit of the group or the people that you’re leading.

It seems that there’s a quality or service.

I’m sure you might be familiar with the phrase “servant leadership.” There’s a sense that you’re serving. So the interesting thing there is that often people hear the word “serving” and they tend to think of it as “low in the hierarchy” or somehow associated with “servile” or has some kind of quality of denigrating oneself: “I’m only here for others,” that kind of thing. And I think the flip in the Shambhala approach is that actually the highest position–or the king’s view, or the greatest manifestation of leadership–is leadership which is totally devoted to the welfare of the entire society, and is ultimately the practice of egolessness.

There’s a line in a Grateful Dead song: “You who choose to lead must follow.” Is that what you’re talking about?

So, there’s a fine line there. Leading for the benefit of all might not be the same as following. Not to take issue with the Grateful Dead, but that’s part of the skill and discernment involved here. Asking “what does ‘serving others’ mean?” “Serving” is definitely not used in the Shambhala teachings as being popular. And at the same time, you have to have enough people like you so that you can be in your position. So there’s a real dance of discernment–of working with others, open-heartedness, dignity and integrity and that sort of thing, and one might be leading in a direction that is counter to what people habitually might want to do. Interesting, huh?

Yes, indeed. Thank you for your time.

It’s been a delight.

President Richard Reoch leads The Six Ways of Ruling: Surviving, Transforming, and Working with Others, January 31-February 2.

The Virtue of Variety: A Practitioner’s Toolbox

By Troy Rapp

troy rapp prajna yogaEarly in my meditation life, I found myself drawn to explore different styles of practice. I was in the midst of my first fall training period at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center after having spent two years practicing meditation in the Soto Zen tradition, when I found myself drawn to study Korean Zen that winter. A group of monks from this tradition had come to visit and brought with them an English translation of their teachings. I discussed this with the teacher under whom I had begun to practice Zen, and was strongly advised against it. The basis of this instruction was a belief that it was not possible to deepen a spiritual life without unwavering devotion to one style of practice. This type of admonition is not uncommon in the world of spiritual practice. I’ve encountered it from many teachers in a variety of traditions over the years. “If you’re digging a well, you won’t hit water by starting a new hole” goes the metaphor commonly used to support this perspective. I recognize its merit. There is a danger that students can dabble in many different methods, and use it as a distraction from making a sustained commitment to deepening their practice. In addition, the contradictions between different teaching styles can be confusing, and this can weaken the resolve of the practitioner. It is also important to recognize that different students have different affinities. Some students have a strong affinity for a particular tradition and will be well served by one-pointed devotion to that tradition. However, I would like to offer another perspective on the merit of exploring different traditions and integrating a variety of practice methods.

While devotion to a particular style of practice can prove valuable, it is also possible to integrate a variety of methods so that various practices support and enrich one another. In Buddhism, this is known as upaya, which is commonly translated as “skillful means.” In this approach, different methods of practice are cultivated in response to various difficulties. For example, if a particularly strong experience of fear, anger or hatred is arising, and the intensity is such that equanimity cannot be established, it can be helpful to cultivate loving-kindness (metta) as an antidote. This method of practice can be used to take the edge off the experience. When the intensity has dissipated enough that equanimity can be established, then it becomes possible to engage in other methods, exploring the nature of the aversion more directly. Similarly, if one is overcome by drowsiness or lethargy in meditation practice, it can be helpful to engage in practices which build energy such as opening the eyes wide, taking a standing posture rather than a seated posture, or engaging in more vigorous physical activity.

In my own practice, the primary meditation object I have used consistently has been the breath. It’s what I started with. It works for me, so I’ve continued with it. However, in addition to this method, over the years I’ve explored many other methods, and have integrated some of them into my own practice in supporting roles. These include the practice of metta meditation, counting the breath, mental noting of where the attention is drawn, reciting the name of a Buddha or Bodhisattva, contemplating death, yoga asana, pranayama, exploring the mental and emotional landscape through dialogue, and the study of sacred texts from a variety of contemplative traditions.

diggingEach of these has proven valuable and supported the deepening of my practice in some way. I’ve come to recognize the possibility of a perspective which sees the integration of various practice methods as akin to having a toolbox stocked with a variety of tools for working with different types of challenges.

I’m also proposing a different perspective on the metaphor of digging a well. Rather than viewing the adoption of another style of practice as digging a new hole, I’m proposing that a variety of techniques can work together to support the deepening of the well. Just as one might use a shovel, a pickaxe, a rock hammer, or a pry-bar to good effect when encountering different layers of material in the course of digging a well, so might one employ different practices to deepen their awakening.

Troy Rapp will be teaching “Prajna Yoga: Full Spectrum Practice” with Theresa Murphy at Shambhala Mountain Center on October 25–27, 2013. Click here to learn more.

Wise Living Heals You

by Charley Cropley, N.D.

Charley Cropley, ND, is a Naturopathic physician who after 35 years of practice, uses no medicines. He teaches his clients that they are endowed with self-healing capacities exactly equal to their condition. He will be leading a Self Healing Retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center this October 4–6, 2013. 

alfalfaslide

Over my career, I have gradually abandoned all types of therapy such as herbal medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, etc. Today my entire healing work is teaching my clients how to heal their health problems by performing their ordinary, daily activities with kindness and intelligence.

By “ordinary activities,” I mean the four activities that all human beings can and must perform for themselves alone: eating, moving, thinking and relating. These four life-sustaining actions are the most powerful, reliable and rapid of any forms of healing. We find extraordinary healing hidden in our most ordinary actions; miraculous benefit unrecognized in the mundane activities of our lives. The health that results from the skillful performance of the ordinary activities of living is truly extraordinary and miraculous. You can prove this for yourself in your own body.

To illustrate, imagine that you could purchase the following as medicines: First, picture a medicine that gave you the power to eat impeccably, exactly in accord with the wisdom of your mind and body. The results of this medicine would be a beautiful, youthful body free from every illness. Next, imagine a medicine that gave you the motivation and skill to perform a daily 90-minute balanced workout resulting in strength, flexibility and endurance? Finally, would you like a medicine that enabled you to direct your internal dialogue as an unbroken stream of positive, life affirming, self esteeming thoughts; one that freed you from collapsing into negative emotions and governed your mental/emotional body with unshakeable faith, hope and love? The medicine of loving kindness and compassion would heal your relationships of arguments, misunderstandings, conflicts and violence.

In the real world there has never been and never will be such medications. Why? The medicine already exists.

There is NO option to not perform these actions. We are already and always engaged in them. Our only choice is whether our actions will be expressions of our wisdom and love or expressions of our ignorance and indifference. The stakes could not be higher–our health, beauty, vitality, youth, happiness, marriage, career–all these depend entirely on our ability to govern our most basic actions.

Our bodies, minds and relationships faithfully reflect back to us the caring and thoughtfulness behind our actions. Our every act obeys the one universal law: “As you give so shall you receive.” If you want quality from your body, mind, or spouse–give it. There is no other way.

Through right action we cease to harm ourselves and others and therefore our mind becomes less anxious about the inescapable consequences that wrong actions incur. We are then able to relax and concentrate our attention in prayer and meditation enabling us to further discover and express in our mundane activities the divinity that we are. This is my medicine.

Join Charley Cropley, ND for the Self Healing Retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center this October 4–6. In this retreat you will learn to wisely use your power to eat, move, think and relate. For two days you will practice deliberately imbuing these most ordinary daily activities with intelligence and caring. Click here for more information.

Wholeness and Mindfulness

By Janet Solyntjes

JanetSolyntjesNearly everywhere one turns these days the language of “mindfulness” is to be found. Its ubiquitous influence is flavoring American culture. Because my professional life is part of the mindfulness movement, I have sensitivity towards noticing the numerous references to mindfulness that are popping up in the media. What I personally find inspiring is not the “Zen” or “mindful” references dotting our media world. What is heartening is the clear shift that happens in an individual and culture each time a person opens to unconditional goodness, wholeness, and worthiness. Can you feel something shifting? Are you curious about the transformative power of the increased number of people practicing mindfulness in America?

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the progenitor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, speaks of the healing power of the view and practice of entering wholeness:

When we glimpse our own completeness in the stillness of any moment, when we directly experience ourself as whole in that moment and also a part of a larger whole, a new and profound coming to terms with our problems and suffering begins to take place. We begin to see both ourselves and our problems differently, namely from a perspective of wholeness.

In this time of the spreading of mindfulness, where people in all areas and walks of life, crossing economic and cultural boundaries, are gravitating towards the beauty, power, and genuineness of living life one moment at a time, the need to cultivate a view of wholeness and completeness is paramount to individual and societal transformation. This leads me to my main point: Cultivating an unshakeable view of wholeness, worthiness, and goodness in our own heart requires periods of deep reflection and meditation to uproot wrong views and nourish faith in innate wholeness. It doesn’t happen automatically in our busy lives. It requires intention.

DSCN0186A penetrating question that poet Antonio Machado asks his readers in The Wind, One Brilliant Day has been haunting me for years: “What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?” When these words and associated images arise in my mind, I feel a deep longing for retreat practice. Utilizing the gardening metaphor, Maria Rodale offers comparisons between gardens and a human life:

You have to have a vision and Big Dreams.
You have to have patience.
You have to learn how to deal with things that are totally out of your control.
It’s hard to do it alone.
It’s good to be thankful.
Sometimes you have to let things go.
It’s all about love.

This November, Jim Colosi and I will be co-leading a 7-day Mindfulness Meditation Retreat at SMC. Our inspiration is to help teachers and aspiring teachers of MBSR and other mindfulness programs to refine the tools of “gardening” and to support the view of wholeness. Tending to one’s interior garden is the essential work of a group meditation retreat.

Support for the retreat from Saki Santorelli:

“The Mindfulness Meditation Retreat is designed to mirror and express the essential and universal approach of MBSR by fostering a rigorous retreat experience that is independent of any religious viewpoint. And because the themes, practice instructions, and outlook of the retreat are all rooted in the MBSR experience, there will be a natural continuity with our Oasis Institute MBSR teacher training curriculum and criteria. For this reason, and because of the longtime MBSR teaching experience of Jim and Janet, we at the Center for Mindfulness are happy to co-sponsor and endorse this retreat.”

We hope you join us!

Janet Solyntjes

 

A Rare Pairing, Awareness Through Moving & Stillness

by Katharine Kaufman and Kim Hansen

Katharine Kaufman  and Kim Hansen will be teaching: Awareness Through Moving and Stillness: Feldenkrais and Meditation September 6–8, 2013 at Shambhala Mountain Center.

miss kaufman adjustsParticipating in an Awareness Through Movement lesson is like wearing clothes that fit well. Imagine you have an exceptional suit, and it doesn’t fit.  It’s a little too big around the shoulders; so you go to the tailor to take that in. It is a bit too long in the legs, too snug in the waist…By the time the tailor is finished with your suit, it is no longer baggy in some places and tight in others. It fits freely so you can move unencumbered, and naturally.  You could wear the special suit with ease all day and through the night.

In this retreat rather than one size fits all, participants are guided continually to create choices based on their internal experiences such as comfort, intuition, sensation, feelings, vitality, and thoughts.  Movements can be soft, subtle, influenced by the breath– or large, moving through space. The mind/body connection is investigated as well so we begin to trust the situation, and can begin to move and find stillness in integrated, holistic, and organic ways.

Awareness Through Movement practice is offered in thematic lessons, through verbal cues, like little movement puzzles. The practice helps sort out habits and internalized patterns from the inside out. The most simple movements become fascinating.

Then we take a break and have some tea, or stroll about, or talk with each other, and allow the lesson to integrate.

We can let things be as they are, without adding additional stories or judgments to confuse direct somatic experiences. One may find more possibilities, fewer subconscious chains dragging down behavior and creativity. One may actually feel new connections coming alive. During this retreat in the early days of September there will be plenty of opportunity to wander, roam and pause through the magnificent land at Shambhala Mountain Center, with our new found freedom of awareness, movement and stillness.

When this type of exploration is combined with the art of sitting, standing, lying and walking meditation, the meditator becomes uniquely and deeply aware of the whole experience as an integrated one. When we look and feel our breath and allow small micro-movements then the stillness of meditation is not so still after all. When the emphasis strays from holding a posture and instead transforms to experiencing a posture then meditation becomes quite alive, and fresh. We have the possibility of recognizing our choices even during seemingly still meditation postures. One is able to rest with awareness in the process of meditation.

Combining Awareness Through Movement lessons with meditation practices we can discover ourselves as new as a brilliantly fitting suit, in the way we turn toward our unavowed dreams, human dignity, and relationships.

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Katharine Kaufman and Kim Hansen will be teaching: Awareness Through Moving and Stillness: Feldenkrais and Meditation September 6–8, 2013 at Shambhala Mountain Center.