Lama Tsultrim Allione Discusses the “Sacred Feminine” (VIDEO/AUDIO)


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Wisdom Rising: An Exploration of the Divine Feminism in Buddhism, September 25-29, 2015 — click here to learn more

It is a widely-shared sentiment in this day and age that the world is somehow out of balance. In particular, many point to the inequality among genders — that those of the male variety seem to be more often in positions of power, and even treated better than those of other genders who occupy similar positions. All of this seems to be observably true. And yet, there may also a more subtle imbalance in regard to maculine and feminine influence in our modern world that is of equal, if not greater, importance.

Buddhist master Lama Tsultrim Allione devotes much energy to reawakening the “sacred feminine.” When asked to define this phrase though, Lama often experiences a vast gap in conceptual mind, and a verbal answer doesn’t always emerge quickly — which is part of the point. The sacred feminine is mysterious, vast, empty, and yet cognizant. It is related to nature, poetry, and sacred sexuality. It is embodied, rather than somewhere “up and out there” And, according to Lama Tsultrim, it’s influence is painfully lacking in our world today.

To help to remedy this, Lama Tsultrim Allione and a powerful crew of female Buddhist teachers will be leading Wisdom Rising — a five day conference at Shambhala Mountain Center — from September 25-29.

As we are turning our minds, hearts, and intentions towards Wisdom Rising, and this crucial movement to reawaken the sacred feminine, we had the honor of sitting down with Lama Tsultrim for some discussion related to this topic. She has much to offer in this video, including a powerful Green Tara meditation.

We hope you find this to be as inspiring and helpful as we have.

Watch our interview with Lama Tsultrim 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.

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Wisdom Rising: An Exploration of the Divine Feminism in Buddhism, with Lama Tsultrim and many others, September 25-29, 2015 — click here to learn more

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Lama Tsultrim Allione

Lama Tsultrim Allione is a former nun in the Tibetan tradition and one of the first Western Buddhist teachers. Known as a profound and lucid teacher who skillfully combines both psychological and spiritual insights, she has taught internationally since 1982. She is founder of Tara Mandala, an international Vajrayana Buddhist community based in Pagosa Springs, Colorado and the author of Women of Wisdom and Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict. In 2007, Lama Tsultrim was recognized as an emanation of Machig Labdrön at Machig’s monastery in Tibet. In 2009, she was selected as an “Outstanding Woman in Buddhism” by the Outstanding Women in Buddhism Committee’s panel of distinguished Buddhist scholars and practitioners.

PortraitTravis Newbill is a writer, musician, and aspirant on the path of meditation.  He currently resides at Shambhala Mountain Center, where he serves in the roles of Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

To Make Your Mind Comfortable, You Just Need to Discover These Two Things

By Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Finding Happiness Within: Reconnecting with Your Natural State of Mind through Meditation with Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche September 4–6, 2015 — click here to learn more

Knowing how to work with your mind and how to make your mind comfortable are the most important things you can do for yourself and others. To make your mind comfortable, you just need to discover two things—that your mind is innately pristine and healthy, and that thoughts and emotions are not who you are, but just mental events. That’s all you really need to know.

Once you understand that your mind is innately pristine, and that thoughts and emotions are merely mental events, it completely changes the picture of how you relate to your mind and how you experience life. This is the real solution. This is the source of happiness and enlightenment. With this knowledge you can solve any challenges you face.

Once you recognize that your mind is innately pristine, then with meditation you can maintain that awareness more and more. As you do so, your thoughts, emotions, and other mental events gradually become less powerful and your mind becomes more comfortable. I refer to this natural state of mind as Pristine Mind. As this experience of Pristine Mind grows and expands in your awareness, then regardless of your external circumstances, your experience is equally pleasant. Over time this evenness grows to greater and greater degrees.

IMG_6881Photo by Jamie Woodworth

When you truly experience your mind as pristine and flawless, when you know your pure awareness, your true consciousness, when you recognize and remain within that, then deep down, you are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fulfilled. You are intimately connected with who you really are and with the world.

Meditating in Pristine Mind, you experience no gaps or discomfort. As your meditation progresses, your own thoughts, emotions, and mental chatter slowly dissolve giving you contentment and satisfaction. All relationships you have with others are enhanced, and when those relationships disappear, you remain fulfilled because you are not entirely dependent on circumstances. You are not merely numbing yourself temporarily to feel content; that contentment is springing forth naturally.

Then any relationships you have, any trips you take, any parties you attend, any sensory experiences you enjoy are enhanced by this underlying contentment. You are more grounded no matter what you do. Those forms of entertainment are no longer distractions; they merge with your experience of true happiness. If your mind is pristine, then external conditions actually arise as forms of happiness, not distraction.

Click here to learn more about Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche’s upcoming retreat at SMC.

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Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche_1214Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche is a meditation master in the Nyingma lineage of the Buddhist tradition. He studied for ten years at Larung Gar in Serta, eastern Tibet, with his teacher, Jigmed Phuntsok Rinpoche, who is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest Dzogchen meditation masters of the twentieth century. Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the founder and spiritual director of Pristine Mind Foundation (www.pristinemind.org). He travels throughout the United States and around the world teaching a broad range of audiences, including those at universities, tech companies and yoga studios, how they can improve their lives through meditation. Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche is the author of Our Pristine Mind: A Practical Guide to Unconditional Happiness — forthcoming from Shambhala Publications Spring 2016.

Reclaiming Prajna

By Jamie Woodworth

It’s a widely agreed upon sentiment, among both newcomers and veteran Shambhalians, that this mountain valley has a quality of spaciousness beyond its physical boundaries. It opens up and unfolds more and more as you walk upon it. The feeling is palpable in the wind, and the life—always at play—gregariously engaging. The place has “juice.”

You can feel that presence when you first enter. It’s the drala. It converses with you in the moments you experience in-between yourself and the world. It’s awakened by the people who live here, over many cycles of leadership and life. And, if you follow your intuition, your felt sense of this place, you may be guided towards the place we call Prajna.

Early photograph of Prajna before remodels done by the Vajra Regent and Sakyong Mipham — provided by Greg Smith.

Prajna translates roughly as “transcendental wisdom.” The spirit of that word abides in the history of this site. Prajna was the home of the founder of Shambhala, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche until 1986, then home of the Vajra Regent, and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche thereafter, until a fire razed it in 2009. The causes of the fire remain somewhat nebulous. It has been described as a reminder of “the potent truth of impermanence.”

burned1_900Photo of Prajna after the fire — provided by Denise Weunsch

Prajna, in its youth, in wreckage, and in emptiness, has enduringly served as a container for authentic encounters. Community members have reflected on the love and guardianship that Trungpa Rinpoche instilled in the heart of Prajna, from its initial settlement up until today. It was a stage to many stories—our teacher’s presence magnetized a vast array of situations. The deck was where he wrote books and chants, held council with his cabinet, and sat down for drinks with his friends and visitors. Prajna’s deck was the window through which he viewed the world, and where the world came to greet him. During his stay, that house received and held the hearts of people who came to share moments of delicate vulnerability. That energy still irrigates relationships unfolding here at SMC. Acharya Noel McLellan reflects,

“Many things happened there that were of personal significance to individuals. Tiny as it was, it was a place where many people met the Sakyong. It always seemed to me to be a part of the tent culture—the walls weren’t solid barriers in a sense. The energy inside the house permeated the whole area.”

Michael Gayner, Executive Director of Shambhala Mountain Center recollects his experience in Prajna at the Seminary he attended in 1994, “that was really where I understood the role of service to the community, and from that, service to all sentient beings, and infinite commitment to being of benefit to the world” (M. Gayner, 2015).

Prajna had a way of defining a path for those who came to both visit and live on the land. The leadership here at SMC has a conviction to keep paths running to and from it, even though its former substance has moved on. We had been discussing a way to reinvent the empty space into something accessible, and ensuring it too can still benefit the world.

Thus began our pavilion project, an endeavor made possible by the generosity of the Shambhala Trust.

IMG_6138Construction site, 2015 — photo by Jamie Woodworth

The Shambhala Trust fundraises and grants money to causes that further the vision of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Their largesse helps to disseminate the ideal of an ‘enlightened society,’ by uplifting many projects inside and outside the Shambhala Buddhist community. Some projects include: The Prison Mindfulness Institute, and the Reciprocity Foundation. John Sennhauser, an original member of the Trust, evoked a special kind of enthusiasm for the Prajna reclamation project in particular, “the current Shambhala Trust was founded in 1995, you know—and, it happened at a meeting in Prajna. I was thinking about this to myself the other day. Things really came full circle—it’s great.” More than that, it’s a homecoming for many trust members, who themselves lived in tents at the Prajna site. There’s a certain air of poignancy coming back 20 years later to the memory of their old lives, and old times with the Sakyong. Funding this project, beyond spreading the Shambhala vision, is a way of dusting off that piece of their hearts, two decades later. Moreover, it’s a service to all the current volunteers, staff, and visitors fresh on the land, who can now enjoy Prajna in a whole new way.

There was a lot of intentionality behind the choice of the pavilion. When Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche visited the crumbling remains of his old house with John in 2009, he voiced how great it would be to let this land return to nature, and reclaim it as a place where people could sit, contemplate, and rest. He laid the groundwork for the grant proposal to the Trust, and the vision our leadership outlined in it. Michael Gayner described the pavilion as a potential “pilgrimage site” where people could reconnect with the Drala that flowed through Trungpa Rinpoche’s court. Placing a pavilion in this spot is a way of re-energizing Prajna, and making the Dralas available once again. Attracting people to this spot will accomplish the broader goal of reawakening the naturally present magic that Trungpa Rinpoche illuminated so many years ago. The Prajna project will be ultimately completed with the construction of a Stupa some years in the future, once the overall energetics of the land “are proper.”

With this in mind, a lot of consideration went into construction and design. Eva Wong, our Feng Shui consultant, provided guidelines on how to orient the pavilion, and how to stylize it. Danny Boyce, our project coordinator, described how she encouraged the use of certain design elements to make sure it seamlessly conducted the flow of energy. The materials were also all locally sourced from the land, and from an additional parcel of private property about 25 miles away from the SMC property line. The pavilion contains a total of 35 timbers, which were meticulously chosen by our leadership team, Peter Haney, Jared Leveille, Sophie DeMaio, and Josh Halper. Four rocks from the land were also collected to be “scribed” onto the bottom of the posts, to provide an organic transition from the wooden posts down into the earth.

The thoughtfulness of the construction is a manifestation of SMC’s commitment to not only accomplish a job, but do profoundly good work, Michael commented. Danny outlined how the whole structure was masterfully engineered—the pavilion is equipped to hold at least “three feet of snow and twenty people on it.” It will even have a handicap ramp. It’s definitely an edifice that will withstand the test of time, and be enjoyed by many people.

IMG_6284
SMC staff constructing the pavilion, 2015 — photo by Jamie Woodworth

The moment when the frames of the pavilion were raised was itself a demonstration of the love and energy that’s still present at Prajna. Lifting the sides together required the participation of many members of the community, and more people actually showed up than needed. For two hours, a sizable group of staff rallied and pieced together a collective vision. Everybody was pretty proud to have their hands in it.

Michael, reflecting upon that teamwork, said with a smile, “our workers brought in a tremendous amount of heart and skill to Prajna.”

Really, the whole endeavor speaks to not only the continuing spirit of the land there, but also the strength of the community that sustains the beauty of Shambhala Mountain Center, in both material and non-material ways.

Our teachers nurtured a powerful heritage for Prajna. That cadence of life present during their residence is a thread we’re weaving through this present moment, this community, and into the fabric of what Shambhala has yet to become. One Summer evening, about 16 years ago, the Sakyong was standing on the deck of his old house, writing this poem, reflecting on the perfection of being in this place:

A drink from mountain stream—
Lost water comes to haunt me.
Surrounding loneliness,
Mind peers into vast blue sky.
A distant yogin’s love song plays upon my ears.
The silence of this valley
Sings the cry of liberation

Mind paces like a caged tiger.
Heart drowns in inexpressible chasm.
Let us bring it all to the path of bodhi.
Let us climb this mountain of uncertainty.
Look!
Look again!
The sun is rising.
Its golden-orange hue commands us to exhale.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
26 July, 1999

As our lives collide and mesh, we’re looking forward to the poetry of our future—and some new memories housed in this sanctuary, built by the hands of our friends.

IMG_6417 copyThe Shambhala Trust at Prajna, 2015 — photo by Jamie Woodworth

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headshotJamie Woodworth earned her Bachelors of Arts in Environmental Studies and Women and Gender Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Currently, she is a Masters student in Human Ecology at Lund University in Sweden. Her ethnographic research in Iceland couples ecological thinking with feminist theory. Understanding sustainability from a solutionary point of view is the pivoting point for her studies. In the past, Jamie has worked as an outreach coordinator for CU’s Environmental Center, a manager for Colorado Public Interest Research Group, and interned for the Chasing Ice film crew.

Andrew Holecek Discusses Dream Yoga (VIDEO/AUDIO)


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Awaken in Your Dreams: Lucid Dream Yoga, East and West with Stephen LaBerge and Andrew Holecek August 20–25, 2015 — click here to learn more

When was the last time you blacked out? Last night? Is this a regular thing for you? Do you aspire to change? Are you comfortable with missing out on 1/3 of your life? If you are disturbed by the idea of regularly blacking out — some may call it “sleep” — when you could instead be enjoying vivid perception, and even progressing spiritually, you may be interested in hearing about the practices of lucid dreaming and dream yoga.

Andrew Holecek has been exploring and teaching these practices for decades. Beholding his vibrant enthusiasm for the possibilities of what he calls “nocturnal meditations” is enough to shake one from the sleepy opinion that the dark hours in bed constitute “off time,” and that real life happens only when the eyelids are raised.

The teachings of dream yoga challenge our conventional views of both dreams and “waking life.” Our daily experience is not as solid as we may like to think it is, and our dream life does not have to be a fuzzy and random soup of memory. This shift in perspective, and experience, has great implications for how we live… and how we die.

Learning to wake up in our dreams, and to apply spiritual practices to overcome limiting habits of thought and behavior, is incredibly powerful training for living every minute of our lives more wakefully, and for moving through the transition of death in a positive way.

Recently, I had the great honor of discussing the huge topic of dream yoga with Andrew Holecek. What came of the discussion is a wonderful glimpse, taste, introduction, to what may become a “game-changing” practice for some of you.

Watch our interview with Andrew Holecek 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.

Click here to learn more about Andrew Holecek and Stephen LaBerge’s upcoming retreat at SMC — Awaken in Your Dreams: Lucid Dream Yoga, East and West 

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Andrew HolecekAndrew Holecek offers seminars internationally on meditation, dream yoga, and death. He is the author of many books, including Preparing to Die: Practical Advice and Spiritual Wisdom from the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition, and the audio learning course, “Dream Yoga: The Tibetan Path of Awakening Through Lucid Dreaming.” His forthcoming book, “Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life Through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep” will be released in 2015. His work has appeared in the Shambhala Sun, Parobla, Tricycle, Light of Consciousness, Utne Reader, and other periodicals.

 

PortraitTravis Newbill is a writer, musician, and aspirant on the path of meditation.  He currently resides at Shambhala Mountain Center, where he serves in the roles of Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Flora of SMC Goes Word Wide Web

 

Living here at Shambhala Mountain Center, I see thousands of new faces each year — people who are coming to live here, or are else visiting for the day or staying for a retreat. Although it may be impossible to form substantial relationships with all of these people, a good place to start is to exchange names.

“Hello, I’m Travis.”

In my experience, learning someone’s name is an acknowledgement of shared connection that rapidly opens up the possibility of greater familiarization and friendship.

And so it is with the flora of the land, which is why we’re so thrilled with the recent online publishing of an ongoing research project that has been occurring here since 2014 in which Renee Galeano-Popp — a close neighbor of SMC — has been identifying and photographing the myriad plant specimens that live here on the land.

Click here to check out SMC’s page on the Intermountain Region Herbarium Network website.

 

I learned that this is a bluebell (Campanula rotundifolia) by looking it up in the online guide.

So far, Galeano-Popp has documented 305 species from 62 different plant families. For people who have spent some time here, some entries may be more familiar than others. In the online handbook you’ll find summertime floral favorites like the Rocky Mountain iris and spreadfruit goldenbanner, big friends like the douglas fir, as well as some more obscure (and oddly named) specimens like the starry false lily of the valley, the beautiful fleabane, and… scrambled eggs!

Of course, the binomial name is listed alongside the common name (when available) for each entry, as well as alternate names, photos, and a wealth of additional information.

We hope that SMC regulars as well as those who plan to visit the land someday will find this guide to be useful, and that it may allow you to make lots of friends while you’re here — whether you encounter other humans or not.

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a writer, musician, and aspirant on the path of meditation.  He currently resides at Shambhala Mountain Center, where he serves in the roles of Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World (VIDEO)

 

We’ve recently become aware of a journalist named Megan Feldman who embarked on an brave journey across the globe seeking a deeper understanding of the act of forgiveness. The two year adventure took her as far as Rwanda, and, we’re delighted to say, to Shambhala Mountain Center as well. She encountered heart-breaking, heart-opening people and their precious stories. And, now Megan has stories to share as well. Stories that are applicable to all of us, as we ourselves perpetuate wars — on great and subtle levels — with ourselves, our families, and people of the world who we consider to be threats in one way or another.

Megan learned that forgiveness — the key to ending all wars — is not about the past, but about the future.  So in the spirit of moving into the future in a good way — today — we invite you to hear Megan’s wisdom.

Please open your ears and heart to Megan in the TEDx video below, and also check out a soon to be released book titled Triumph of the Heart: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World, which chronicles her journey, and shares the wisdom that has arisen out of it. We’re especially excited to see the chapter dedicated to her experience at SMC!

Triumph of the Heart: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World is scheduled to be released by Avery at Penguin on August 11, and you can learn more by clicking here.

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a writer, musician, and aspirant on the path of meditation.  He currently resides at Shambhala Mountain Center, where he serves in the roles of Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

An Unplanned Symphony: the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, Part 2

By Martin Ogle

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth with Martin Ogle, September 11-13, 2015 — click here to learn more

This is the second of two installments which contemplate the “Rhythms of our Living Planet” and follow from an excerpt from the story “The Shear Pin.”  (CLICK HERE TO READ PART 1) In the brief, second installment of that excerpt (below), I lament the withdrawal from a spell of timelessness that had descended upon me at first, unwillingly and then like a magical meditation. But, in doing so, I realize our human minds naturally drift from being in the moment to leaving the moment through our abstract journey into the future or past.

* The following is excerpted from In the Eye of the Hawk by Martin Ogle, 2012 

I looked away, not wanting to break the spell. “It couldn’t be . . .,” I thought. But the thought itself broke the spell, and my gaze returned to the floor of the boat. It was, in fact, a shear-pin shimmering there in the sunlight. Just as it would allow the propeller to spin once more when placed in its groove, the pin entered my consciousness and set my thoughts spinning. The peace that I had settled into while adrift on the river was shattered by a simple awareness. I was now aware that there was a shear-pin in the boat and I could not wish it away. I could not just jump back into the river of timelessness and feel at my core the Life of the world around me. At least not at that moment. I considered tossing the pin into the murky Bush River, but knew that that would accomplish nothing. The awareness of that act itself would prevent my being able to re-enter the spell.

10463641_10152132452542026_3756876367164228233_oPhoto by Richard Swaback

Tension and release. For the Human Being, this law of Nature includes time and timelessness, and the drifting in and out of self-awareness. Our minds spin furiously to do good, to accomplish, to reach a destination. Overwhelmed by the ticking of the clock, we race off on a tangent, away from the Circle of Life. And just when we reach our greatest speed, we will encounter the large immovable objects, the limits, of our existence. Will we crash and break up, or instead take our pause and rejoin the circle? Do we have a shear-pin to release the tension, to tell us what is enough and when to stop and return? Pastel pinks and oranges gently brush the river as the Sun, still unseen, promises to rise once again.

Because of our intense awareness of the future and our ability to abstractly place ourselves there, we humans are blessed with unique abilities and uniquely cursed with worry, the inability to enjoy the present and a host of other related mental burdens. Our ability to go off on “time tangents” is our birthright as humans and accompanies many other unique, abstract abilities such as language, religion, and betting on horse races. In modern, Western society, however, we increasingly find ourselves worried and hurried. It is not only more difficult to enjoy the present moment and the beauty of life around and within us, our physical and mental health is suffering as well. Can we release that tension? Can we find ways to re-link with the pre-human pace of life while staying true to human nature? Can we find ways to consciously invoke ecstasy in its etymological sense of “putting our minds in another place?”

Come explore these and other questions at the September 11-13 Retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center: “Gaia; Engaging the Rhythms of our Living Earth.” — click here to learn more

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Martin-OgleMartin Ogle holds degrees in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State and Virginia Tech. He was Chief Naturalist for the No. Virginia Regional Park Authority 1985 – 2012. He received the 2010 Krupsaw Award for Non-Traditional Teaching – The annual award of the Washington Academy of Sciences for outstanding teaching in informal and non-academic settings. Mr. Ogle promotes a widespread understanding of the Gaia Paradigm through his workshops, programs and writings. He and his family moved to Louisville, CO in 2012 where he started Entrepreneurial Earth, LLC. Mr. Ogle was born and raised much of his younger life in South Korea.

Happiness Depends On Your Mind | Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche (VIDEO)


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Finding Happiness Within: Reconnecting with Your Natural State of Mind through Meditation with Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche September 4–6, 2015 — click here to learn more

In this excerpt from a recent teaching at Frog Lotus Yoga in North Adams, Massachusetts, Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche explains how happiness depends on our minds, not external circumstances. By working with our minds through meditation we discover happiness that we can take with us everywhere we go. Rinpoche also explains how this type of inner happiness is an attractive quality and the key to building connections and community.

Click here to learn more about Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche’s upcoming retreat at SMC.

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Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche_1214Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche is a meditation master in the Nyingma lineage of the Buddhist tradition. He studied for ten years at Larung Gar in Serta, eastern Tibet, with his teacher, Jigmed Phuntsok Rinpoche, who is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest Dzogchen meditation masters of the twentieth century. Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the founder and spiritual director of Pristine Mind Foundation (www.pristinemind.org). He travels throughout the United States and around the world teaching a broad range of audiences, including those at universities, tech companies and yoga studios, how they can improve their lives through meditation. Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche is the author of Our Pristine Mind: A Practical Guide to Unconditional Happiness forthcoming from Shambhala Publications Spring 2016.

Writing as a Path to Awakening

By Albert Flynn DeSilver

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Writing as a Path to Awakening with Albert Flynn DeSilver August 13-17, 2015 — click here to learn more

Writing as a Path to Awakening is a dynamic and fun process using mindfulness as a way to deepen your writing practice and expand your creative potential. Spiritual practice has always brought insight to my writing—increasing the flow of ideas, the big open inclusive ideas of beauty and of being and of surrendering to a state of love and compassion.

Too often we get pigeon-holed into false conceptions of ourselves. There are a million distractions, negative self talk, old voices of doubt and self recrimination often holding us back. We experience it in the form of writer’s block, in the creation of flat characters, in novels left half-written collecting dust on the table.

aynrand B

I know if my heart of hearts when people have a safe place to express their true poetic self they can realize who they really are, and this process of awakening can change the world. If you take a look at the great spiritual teachers from around the world— Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Amma, Thich Nhat Hanh — they have something in common beyond their spiritual practice and messages: they are writers. They have to be in order to spread their messages of compassion and love. Think about it. Is there anything more powerful than the written word? “In the beginning was the word and the word was with god and the word was god.”

How powerful would it be to follow in the footsteps of these leaders, to integrate an expansion of consciousness into your writing and vice versa? Writing as a path to Awakening is a process of utilizing the practice of writing toward further self-awareness, increased emotional intelligence, and overall expansion of consciousness. It can allow you to express the truest form of yourself to the world through your writing.

I want people to remember that creativity isn’t something that some people have and others don’t. Creativity is not something you go and get at a workshop, or even a thing that you learn. Creativity is you, it’s who you are at your very core. One just needs to stop, turn off the computer, phone, i-pod, etcetera and listen in silence, spend time in nature, and there you will merge with the creativity that is you!

No matter what your vocation is in this life, you can integrate mindfulness and certainly writing if you are so inclined. In order to live the awakened life, you need to get in touch with who you really are. Writing as a Path to Awakening can be part of that journey. When you open up your mind to your inner self you begin on a journey into creativity—exploring your sociological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual story—over time you gain insight, understanding, further clarification of the self, and ultimately the ability to transcend a lot of perceived limitations.

Through mindful being and reflective writing you will find that your very existence is miraculous. This simple and profound insight is not only worth writing about, but a courageous and beautiful step toward changing the world.

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writing-retreat-with-albert-desilverAlbert Flynn DeSilver is an internationally published poet, writer, speaker, and workshop leader. He served as Marin County’s very first Poet Laureate from 2008-2010. His work has appeared in more than 100 literary journals worldwide. http://www.albertflynndesilver.com/

You can follow Albert on Facebook and Twitter

Thank you divine order…

By Sue Frederick

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Bridges to Heaven: A Grief Healing Workshop, led by Sue Frederick, June 5-7, 2015

My husband Gene just drove us up to Four Mile Canyon to the little Chapel of the Pines where my first husband Paul and I were married in 1979. So many memories flooded me of that happy sunny September day filled with love and hope.

As we drove back down the canyon we saw the little cabin down the road beside the creek where Paul and I first lived and had our sweet wedding reception. Both places have survived flood and fire and are impossibly still standing.

Think Paul must have watched over them…

It brought back so many powerful sensory memories to be there. I sat on the chapel steps and cried for 20 minutes. I remembered how happy my dad was that day and how much he loved Paul, our wedding, and our cabin. Dad and Paul are both watching out for me now from the other side.

Sitting on those steps I felt my dad, Paul, Crissie and Marv all with me. In the hard years following that amazing wedding day in 1979, I lost all of them to cancer – except for Marv who died of a stroke at the age of 44. Yet I’m grateful for the heartbreak I experienced then which sent me on my spiritual journey.

Today I have my incredible husband Gene Malowany and our miraculous children Sarah and Kai – and my amazing career as a grief intuitive and author of Bridges to Heaven: True Stories of Loved Ones on the Other Side – none of which I would have without going through my journey.

Gene sat beside me today listening to my memories and soaking up the experience. He understands everything about my life and where it’s brought me. It was his idea to drive up there. I hadn’t been up that canyon since 1980. I was grumpy on the drive up finding a million reasons not to go – some part of me realizing what I’d remember as soon as I saw that sacred place.

Yet once I released the flood of emotion that rose up in me… I saw with great clarity the gift of my life story and the gift of loving so many amazing souls along the way.

Thank you divine order…

Click here to learn more about Sue’s upcoming program at SMC

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SueFrederickSue Frederick is the author of Bridges to Heaven: True Stories of Loved Ones on the Other Side; I See Your Soul Mate and I See Your Dream Job. An intuitive since childhood, Sue has trained more than 200 intuitive coaches around the world. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, CNN.com and Yoga Journal, among others.  Visit her websites to learn more: SueFrederick.com | Bridgestoheaven.com