Relationship as Spiritual Path: Couples Retreat Master Ben Cohen


Intimate relationships are both an opportunity and a challenge to our capacity for love and vulnerability.  Once we get past the romantic love stage, we often find ourselves surprised by these challenges.  Drawing from the work of Harville Hendrix, PhD, (Imago) Ben Cohen works with couples in exploring the essential principles and practices of conscious relationships — both in his private practice and as a leader of couples’ retreats.

Click here to learn about our upcoming weekend retreat: Relationship as a Spiritual Path: Getting the Love You Want (A Couples Workshop), April 24-26

Watch our interview below, or scroll down to stream/download the audio.

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


Ben-CohenBen Cohen, PhD, is a psychologist in private practice in Boulder and Denver specializing in relationship counseling. He has also had an active meditation practice for over 25 years and integrates Eastern and Western traditions in his teaching and practice.

Floral notes and Bardo: Cinder Block or Skies

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a regular feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Exploring galaxies of psychological formations, residing and flirting with potent emotion, knowing each other more fully.  Learning the joy and liberation of knowing, wondering, knowing.  In the space of dialogue — the safe space which is dependent on mutual respect, care, and willingness — deep human poetry blossoms like music.  The only way to go further is through YES.  And YES is only YES when it’s genuine.  One way of exploring ourselves is through intimate partnership — YES is intimacy.

YES is peaceful, patient, and playful.


Heather and I spent the weekend in a couple’s retreat in which we learned Imago theory and worked with communication exercises that allowed us to explore and learn lots about ourselves and each other.  The structured dialogues are designed to be tools for exploration and progression.  Meant to help us navigate the uncertain oceans of long-term committed relationship.  I’m glad to have the tools.  And I’m glad to be with a partner who is equally inspired to work with the tools, and more generally, to open, expand, go further.


Having experienced, felt, the workability of differences, and what looking into obstacles can reveal, I feel confident about the potential for long-term intimate partnership to be a joyful experience, a genuine experience, liberating… Liberating!  The culture I was brought up in often frames marriage as some kind of prison.  I think that any situation can be confining if you choose to maintain walls — choosing the comfortable, familiar sight of cinder block — cinder block solitude, television, treadmill, thangka, hometown, saloon, drug-buddy, dog, blog, band, wife, or whatever.  I will never KNOW her, and she will never know me.  We will be new each moment for all eternity, and our curiosity and willingness to explore will determine our view: cinder block or skies.

It’s a blessing to be encountering these tools and ideas, taking these programs, while we’re young.  Seems like we’re set up well to go forward.  I feel that way about living here generally.  I’m learning all sorts of stuff that is going to be helpful for living the rest of my life.  The stuff that is not taught in K-12 or even college.  Real life stuff with great teachers.  People pay lots of money to come here for a few days and get a taste.  I am able to live here full time and immerse.  Moving here has probably been the best decision that I have made.


— November 9, 2014


PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Loving Your Way to Enlightenment: Discussing Relationships and Spirituality with Camilla Figueroa

Camilla Figueroa co-leads, along with Keith Kachtick, Loving Your Way to Enlightenment: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Couple, September 12–14

There’s a Buddhist belief that a genuinely loving relationship is the practice for which all other practices are preparation.  In this conversation, we explore romantic partnership as an opportunity for spiritual awakening and cultivating unconditional love as a path to enlightenment.

Camilla Figueroa, MSW and founder of Dharma Yoga Therapy recently took the time to have some discussion with us on this ever-relevant topic.  Please click below to her our conversation.  And, if you’d like to download the audio, click here and find the “Download” button.

Also, be sure to check out Keith Kachtick’s recent post Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Couple: The Metaphor of Ya​b-Yum.


Camilla-FigueroaCamilla Figueroa, MSW, is founder of Dharma Yoga Therapy and is certified in Thai Yoga Massage, Dharma Yoga and Phoenix Rising Therapy.

Floral Notes and Bardo: Mango on a Mountain

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Arriving home last week… Home is here, Shambhala Mountain Center — where I’m greeted so warmly by my friends, where Dorian wanted to hear about how my Florida trip went, then said “you’re family” and we hugged.  The elders, hugs.  Lunch together, delicious, prepared by my friends.

And, here I am with a companion — Heather, who I met, really met, in the enchanted aspen grove, one of my favorite spots on the planet.


Photo by John Russell

And nearby the Stupa and the clear presence of lineage everywhere.  Everywhere… here, and how about everywhere else?  How about Florida?  I don’t feel so good or at home there, but there is lots more world.  To be here is safe.  There is a background attitude of :

“Okay universe, I’ve come to live and serve at the place where the Stupa is.  I’m doing my part.”

Somehow, it seems a bit too simple.  To just stay here forever.

Joshua told me:

“Logic is safe.  Maybe you should go have kids. Trungpa Rinpoche said that every child you have is a nail in the coffin.  You really want to practice tonglen?  Try that.”

I get it.

It’s easy here.  My meals are prepared for me.  Spiritually, “I’m doing my part.”

Anyway… This is a precious opportunity, and it is fleeting.

Last weekend, Heather and I did a program with Bruce Tift, who is a longtime student of Trungpa Rinpoche, former Naropa professor, and a psychotherapist with decades of experience.  Some key nuggets:

Relationship is legitimately path.  Appreciation for the relationship I am in.  And the possibility that my path will lead me to live outside of Shambhala Mountain Center someday…

I knew that.  But, something about talking about the future with Heather made it real.

My heart broke open a lot this past weekend.

This morning, in Colorado, my love and I sat naked and ate a mango from Florida.  True story.

— May 19, 2014


PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 


Shambhala Mountain Center in the City


As part of our mission to make ancient wisdom tradition teachings and body awareness practices as accessible as possible, this spring, Shambhala Mountain Center is offering a diverse array of classes in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins.

These “SMC in the City” programs enable city-dwelling participants to engage in a short retreat experience, stretching mind and body.  Programs will range from daytime and evening talks to one-day and weekend programs.  These city programs stand alone and are also  ideal preparations for Shambhala Mountain Center’s more in depth retreat atmosphere.

Bruce Tift, MA, LMFT, and a teacher at Naropa University, gave an SMC in the City evening talk earlier this month in Boulder on Relationship as a Path to Awakening. Over 100 people attended the talk held at the Boulder Shambhala Center.

In regards to the Boulder talk, Bruce Tift wrote, it “was an overview of one way to understand and work with the very difficult and provocative experience of intimate relationships.” He hopes that people came away with new ideas about how to take better care of themselves and how to help keep their hearts open to their partners.

Tift will also be teaching a longer “Relationship as a Path to Awakening” retreat this weekend, April 26-28 at Shambhala Mountain. “The April weekend will go into much more depth on the same subject,” Tift explained, “and will hopefully be more personal.” There will be a mix of theory with experiential understanding.

There is still space available, so visit our programs page to learn more about the class and sign up today.

And join us for another juicy talk with David Loy on the Karma of Money, Fame, and Sex in Denver, May 18th, 7pm at the Denver Shambhala Center.

For more upcoming SMC in the City programs click the links below:

SMC in the City: Boulder

SMC in the City: Denver