Summer Dathun Participants Share Their Experience After 30 Days of Meditating

Senior teacher Samten Kobelt will be leading 2013-2014 Winter Dathun from December 13-January 10.

Noble Aspiration, Noble Effort, Beautiful Fruition

Dathun is not a magic pill or a makeover. Still, the before and after photos can be quite striking. And though the photos themselves speak volumes, the featured practitioners have words worth sharing as well. Below, 2013 Summer Dathun participants share their aspirations when entering Dathun, as well as their experience 30 days later.  Please stay tuned throughout the coming weeks as we offer further glimpses into the heart of Dathun. Next week, photographer Karen O’Hern describes the process used to capture these images.

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As was mentioned above,  in a blog post next week, Karen O’Hern will reveal the process in which these portraits come to be. For now, we’d like to leave you with a little snippet:

 “Prior to taking their portrait, I explained that this would not be what they were used to when having their picture taken. This was about capturing them in an authentic and genuine state of being, and recording their state at this point and time.”

The World Changing Work of Building Bridges

By Travis Newbill

 

BB 1If we’d like to see a shift towards greater friendliness and empathy–in our personal lives or on a global scale–we may start by cultivating our willingness and ability to converse with one another. For most of us, this is no small feat.

Dialog can be a tricky dance, even in familiar conditions. And, of course, the myriad difficulties of interpersonal communication are compounded tremendously in cases involving people from different cultures attempting to navigate intercultural ambiguity, diverse assumptions, and in some cases, deeply rooted animosity. In these scenarios, divisions can appear vast and the task of meeting in the middle daunting.

What is needed is a bridge.

Recently, Shambhala Mountain Center had the great honor of hosting the summer portion of Building Bridges’ 2013 MEUS (Middle East, U.S.) Program. This incredible, two week program–now in its twentieth year–provides brave, young women from Israel, Palestine, and the U.S. a safe space in which to explore their relationships to one another, to begin to work through obstacles hindering empathetic communication, and to develop broader perspectives and the leadership skills needed to effect beneficial changes in the world.

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 According to a recent blog post from Jen Sarché, the Deputy Executive Director of Building Bridges, the group’s experience at this summer’s program at SMC was both challenging and positive:

“We slowed down the conversation. We learned to listen before we spoke. We got frustrated by the shower schedule. We struggled with the issues of power and privilege that played out in everything we did…We explored what we each have to offer in a program like this. We wondered how the work we were doing matters, and how we’ll bring home what we learn. We built a safe space in which we were free to shift – ourselves, our thoughts, our ideas.”

For having had the opportunity to support and witness this important work, we at SMC are very grateful.

Best wishes to all those involved as they go onward, and may the shift continue.

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 Learn more about Building Bridges by visiting buildingbridgesshift.org

Rainy Days, Buoyant Hearts: “Overall Okayness”

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By Travis Newbill

It was Monday around noon when the rains began, and for the next several days there was barely a gap between chilly downpours long enough to close and reopen an umbrella. By the fourth day, it was no longer just rainy weather, or even an unusual streak. By the fourth day, and throughout the rest of the week, it was an adventure.

The deer were out of sight, as were the sun, moon, and stars. Beneath the heavy blanket of grey clouds, the people of SMC remained relatively cheerful in spite of the rather oppressive weight of the wetness.

While sludging through muddy terrain or huddled together in the shelter of the dining tent, folks exchanged comforting smiles and expressions of shared bewilderment. Meanwhile, as the rain was unrelenting, so has been the human exertion on the saturated ground–SMC staffers and volunteers have been working tirelessly to ensure the well-being of the community and the preservation of our land and facilities.

DSC_8893When asked about their experience of the rainy days and to describe the general atmosphere, peoples’ sentiments have ranged from “very down” to “fun,” with most falling into the median category of “overall okayness.”

“We are safe, and for the most part happy and somewhat dry. We have been taking care of each other on the land and making sure that everyone can find a dry place to sleep,” said one staffer.

Another appreciated the teaching quality inherent in the situation:

“I’m sure it was very different for different people. I myself had a lovely time, but I am very odd. I think it’s good to cope with a little adversity from time to time–you know, get your feet wet. I actually had a wonderful, dharmic experience.”

For yet another, the fragrance of the flooded bottom level of Rigden Lodge came to mind:

“A distinctive broccoli-esque aroma pervades the area, but we’ll have it cleared out soon.”

Despite the damage that SMC has sustained–both to our facilities and our finances, as we had to cancel last weekend’s programs–many people are primarily concerned for those in other nearby areas of Colorado, where the impact of the rain and resulting flooding has been calamitous to a tragic extent.

As one staffer put it:

“I actually feel somewhat disconnected from the real damage, which I’m hearing about from people in places like Boulder. My boots are wet, but we’ve been pretty much fine.”

Rainbow2As work to mend damaged roads, buildings, and belongings continues at SMC, our hearts remain with our friends nearby as they cope with severely challenging circumstances. And we remain grateful that we have made it through as intact as we have. Additionally, we are so very touched to have received the messages of concern from many of you regarding our well-being here.

If next summer brings a period of rain more lasting than this one has been, you are all invited to join us in the Stupa, two by two, to ride it out until rainbows grace the sky.