FLOW: I Move Because I am Curious

By Katharine Kaufman

Katharaine Kaufman will be leading FLOW: A Meditation and Yoga Retreat, April 25-27

I start in stillness. Then I recognize I am breathing. The breath appears to be more clear—prominent. I recognize a sense of body—what is touching the ground, what is a little snug, what feels tired. Hello body. I relax my jaw and shoulders and along with this, discursive movement relaxes too. Breathe out. I am landed. Where does movement start? Mind? A reflex? Breath? I move not because I am uncomfortable and want to change my posture. I move because I am curious. I am looking for what my mentor, Barbara Dilley, calls, “kinesthetic delight.”

I open my peripheral view to the others in the room. Pretty soon we are moving through space, slowly, and somewhat together. I don’t have to hold this body up—by myself. I think of my yoga teacher, Richard Freeman who always said we can “ride the breath.” And there’s a sense of support from the group. When we slow our movement we can take care of ourselves as we enter and leave the poses. When we slow even more we don’t need to push at anything. The breath seems to carry us. Gravity seems friendly.

DSC_2289Photo by Barbara Colombo

The creative yoga sequences are funny— and there is some laughter, and a few groan as someone is challenged with how to unwind from a pose. When we enter a twisted posture it seems that the breath is all that moves. Our entire body works as a unit in strong poses. When we balance there is a tremor. Someone who usually toughs it out chooses to rest for a while and then joins a little later. So it goes—starting simply, we move into more complex poses and then return to the simplicity of sitting or standing, or lying. We have been around the block -–looked into our alleys and windows… With each sun-salutation, plank pose, and savasana we feel both the limits of our movement and the expansiveness—We know ourselves as moving beings. After all this moving it feels natural to sit, so we do.

This is what we do with our short time together. This is practice. The land supports us in our practice. The staff understands. They are friendly and gentle. Other programs support us in our practice and the practice itself supports our practice. Zen Master, Kobun Chino said, “practice is a fancy word.” It’s not special. It’s ordinary and visceral. We have the opportunity to go to the depths as well as shallows, and to let our recognition of each current exploding moment expand us.

Then there are meals –beautiful vegetarian meals —waiting for us. We walk in the springtime mountains. Are there flowers yet? I forgot. It has been a long time. Maybe there is a puffy spring snow that melts as it touches the ground.

After lunch I walk up to the stupa and around the perimeter a few times. I only hear the sound of my steps on the gravel so I try to walk more softly to match the silence. This allows me to really feel each step and swing of arms, legs. The wind shoots through the land. I realize I don’t know much about wind, this land, myself…I find this hysterical and burst out in a big laugh. When I enter the stupa I am surprised by a rush of energy and clarity as I sit, facing the mystery of who I am, what phase I am in. I feel the vulnerability of this human life. Here, I don’t need much to be satisfied.

Being removed from my habitual routes and places gives me the opportunity to look at my thoughts, body, relationships, and days from a bigger perspective. Questions arise as we move through our practice—in relationship with our own mind and body. They are questions that can be translated to our lives. I may ask, Where is space in this back bend? What flows? What is necessary? With what kind of energy and awareness am I stepping on the ground? How gracefully do I perform these stops and starts? Can I let go here—and here? Is my movement too swift for how my body really feels? The questions are enough. They don’t require answers.

Katharaine Kaufman will be leading FLOW: A Meditation and Yoga Retreat, April 25-27 — click here to learn more

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Katharine_Kaufman2Katharine Kaufman, MFA, is ordained as a priest in the Soto Zen lineage. She studied Yoga in India and practiced and taught for many years at Richard Freeman’s Yoga Workshop and Wendy Bramlett’s Studio Be. Katharine is an adjunct professor at Naropa University where she teaches Contemplative Movement Arts and is a student of poetry.

Simplifying Meditation: Why Practice? To Wake Up!

By Thomas Roberts

Thomas Roberts leads The Path of Simply Being: A Meditation Retreat, November April 10-12 2015

These days you hear a great deal about meditation. This kind of meditation, that kind of meditation; all sorts of books describing what it is and what it can do for you. Often meditation is associated with a particular religion or spiritual practice. Let’s clear something up right at the start.

Meditation is not a religion. Meditative/contemplative practices have been part of numerous spiritual practices throughout history. No one owns it.

Meditation is not Prozac. It does not cure or solve anything.

Meditation does not make you a better parent, a better doctor, a better student, help you be less depressed or anxious.

In fact meditation does no-thing at all!

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 Like everything else that gets exploited, meditation is now neatly packaged for your consumptive desires.

Everybody is touting and selling meditation. Step right up and get yours.

Okay let’s restore some sanity here.

A meditation practice doesn’t help you overcome anything. It just helps you face your life with greater patience, openness and compassion.

If you do meditation for some outcome you’re not doing mindfulness. I’m not sure what you’re doing and it may be beneficial but it is not meditation.

You see, the real practice of meditation has no outcome. You don’t do meditation to get anywhere or achieve anything. If you do, you run the risk of becoming attached to that particular outcome and that interferes with your meditation practice.

So why practice mindfulness?

All the great teachers (Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Toltec, Muslim, Native Peoples) have taught one thing:

The only reason to practice mindfulness is this:

to wake up!!!!

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That’s all.

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To wake up!

A regular meditation practice simply peels back the layers of self-deception to see things clearly as they truly are. The more you wake up, the more you are able to live your life from an open compassionate heart, and a balanced calm mind; from a deep place of innate wisdom. The benefits of awakening move in all directions throughout all your experiences.

Meditation is the awakening of our entire experience, not just our minds; the awakening of our entire body-mind and its sensory experience. This awakening reduces our fear-based reactions and cultivates our natural ability respond to others and ourselves with great patience, openness and compassion. Our senses become alive with wonder and curiosity for past conditionings and limiting attachments.

So let’s stop all this nonsense of trying to practice meditation for any particular outcome.

It comes down to this: Practice this enduring skill for its own sake, and everything else will take care of itself.

The simple yet profound practice of mindful meditation, whether on a cushion or in a chair, or in a grocery line, or talking with another, just keeps you in an open, balanced, and compassionate place that just makes this a better world.

The Path of Simply Being retreat will be a wonderful experience in developing a meaningful and beneficial meditation practice.

You need not have any prior meditation experience. Or you may wish to attend to deepen or re-kindle your practice.

Hope to see you here at Shambhala!

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Gassho.

Tom

www.thomasrobertsllc.com

www.innerchng.com

P. S. Here is a video I made of the practice of meditation:

Thomas Roberts leads The Path of Simply Being: A Meditation Retreat, November April 10-12 2015

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Tom-RobertsThomas Roberts, a Zen Buddhist and psychotherapist, has led dynamic, refreshing, and practical retreats on mind-body healing and meditation practices for over 30 years. This retreat will draw from his book The Mindfulness Book: A Beginner’s Guide to Overcoming Fear and Embracing Compassion.

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.

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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.

Layth Matthews on the Four Noble Truths of Wealth (Video/Audio)

 

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts The Four Noble Truths of Wealth: The Path to Genuine Prosperity with Layth Matthews February 20-22

The way we think about wealth affects our personal experience and our world dramatically. Yet we rarely contemplate the heart of prosperity, which may be why it feels like we are running in place personally, and accelerating toward crisis globally.

In this recent interview with Shambhala Mountain Center, Layth Matthews discusses the connection between contemplative practice and a wealthy outlook. Through this fresh perspective we can make more accurate financial decisions, magnetize genuine prosperity into our lives, and extend compassion to others in many ways, including through the economy.

Watch our interview with Layth 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.

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LaythMatthewsLayth Matthews is the author of The Four Noble Truths of Wealth: a Buddhist view of economic life. He is a Shambhala Buddhist teacher, economist, and a financial professional. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia with his wife and three children.

Freak Out! Or Not: An Interview with MBSR Teacher Janet Solyntjes

 

Janet Solyntjes will be leading Introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, March 6-8, 2015

What does it feel like to FREAK OUT?! Becoming familiar with the early signs is the first step toward avoiding catastrophic fits of stress. Sound good? Learn more by checking out our recent interview with MBSR teacher Janet Solyntjes.

Watch the video 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.

Also, please see these posts from Janet on our blog:

Janet will also be leading Living the Full Catastrophe: A Day of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Denver, April 4

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JanetSolyntjesJanet Solyntjes, MA, is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and Adjunct Professor at Naropa University. A practitioner of mind-body disciplines since 1977, she completed a professional training in MBSR with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli and an MBSR Teacher Development Intensive at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Janet leads mindfulness retreats in the U.S. and internationally and is co-founder of the Boulder-based Center for Courageous Living.

Floral Notes and Bardo: Find the Others

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.

Just now, on my way out the door of the lodge to walk up the hill to work, I realized that Seth Godin and Terrence McKenna both say this:

FIND THE OTHERS

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(Later I learned that Timothy Leary may be the source of that phrase.)

Anyway, walking up the path, as I was saying to myself over and over FIND THE OTHERS, I see Avajra John coming up another adjoining path.  As we approached each other, we put our palms together at our foreheads.  Then he said:

“You know, my take on it is that the transcendent Shambhala is just behind a very thin veil.”

He grinned widely.  I thanked him.

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Just before all of this happened, while sitting in the shrine room, I decided that I ought to meditate more in order to tune into what’s going on here more fully.

All signs have pointed towards YEP.

– December 18, 2014

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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

Jon Barbieri on Establishing Intention and Commitment for the New Year (Video/Audio)


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Take a Leap into 2015: Establish Your Intention and Commitment with Jonathan Barbieri December 30, 2014–January 1, 2015

It’s become a yearly tradition here at Shambhala Mountain Center for Jon Barbieri to lead a special program that allows our aspirations for the New Year to become clear, confident and committed through reflection and renewal.  He leads us beyond the usual goal focused resolutions and we learn how to go deeper and reconnect with our innate insight and wisdom and see renewal as a further step in our life’s journey.

Watch our interview with Jon 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.

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Jonathan Barbieri

Jonathan Barbieri was part of the first Shambhala Directors Training with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in the late 1970′s. Since then, he has taught extensively throughout North America. Jon has been engaged in several livelihood pursuits including being a consultant to cities and counties on workforce development and the creation of contemplative cohousing communities. He was formerly the executive director of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Discussing the Posture of Meditation with Will Johnson (Video/Audio)


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts The Posture of Meditation: Breathing through the Whole Body with Will Johnson, November 14–16, 2014

In the practice of meditation, what you do with your body is every bit as important as what you do with your mind.  Will Johnson help student to explore the conditions of body that naturally deepen meditation and to learn to establish the three primary somatic principles shown to support our posture: alignment (establishing the upright spine), relaxation (surrendering the weight of the body to the pull of gravity), and resilience (the understanding that everything in the body moves subtly in resilient response to the force of breath).  Building on this foundation, we’re naturally led to “breathe through the whole body, ” as suggested in the Buddha’s teachings.  By embodying these simple principles, we can bring far more ease, grace, and release into our sitting practice.  Body awakens.  Mind slows down.  Heart comes open.

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.

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Will Johnson

Will Johnson, an early student of Ida Rolf, has written extensively about the role of the body in spiritual practices. He is the author of The Posture of Meditation, The Spiritual Practices of Rumi, and, most recently, Breathing through the Whole Body. Merging his interests in spiritual practice and Western approaches to the body, in 1995 he founded The Institute for Embodiment Training, a school in British Columbia that views the body as the doorway to spiritual opening rather than the obstacle to it.

Discussing Running and Meditation with Cynthia MacKay (Video/Audio)

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Running with the Mind of Meditation with Cynthia MacKay, Marty Kibiloski and Tarah Cech, August 29–September 1, 2014.

Cynthia MacKay leads popular retreats based on Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s best-selling book, Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training the Body and the Mind. Geared for runners, walkers, and other athletes, the book offers fresh insights into the activities of meditation and movement, and the ways our running experience can be dramatically enhanced by working with the principles of meditation.

In this interview, Cynthia shares some wisdom she’s gained from being swift on her feet and stable in her mind.  Watch 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.

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Cynthia McKay

Cynthia MacKay has been a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche for over 20 years. Inspired by her teacher’s running, Cynthia has completed eight marathons of her own, from Casablanca to San Francisco. She lives in Los Angeles where she teaches meditation at the Shambhala Center, the Men’s Central Jail, and a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.

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.

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