All posts filed under: Creative Expression

Permission to Rest

by Marissa C. Knox, PhD Photo credit: Marissa C. Knox, PhD I’m currently in a major life transition– adjusting to a new home in a new state with a new job in an entirely new environment – and I’ve been waiting to exhale until I finally feel settled. I’ve told myself that I can finally relax once I get through a full year of living and working here, experienced all four seasons of weather, successfully taught classes for two semesters, and I’ve figured out all of my new routines, and generally have “it” all together. And until then? I guess I’ll just brace myself and hold my breath. … Well, it may not be surprising, but this plan has not been working very well. In fact, I have only made it this far precisely because I have forced encouraged myself to exhale and rest. It has become undeniably clear that without rest, nothing else is possible. Giving myself permission to exhale, even when it feels like I don’t have the time, has been a portal …

Three line expression by Barbara Bash

Creativity to Awaken Your Mind

Three line expression by Barbara Bash By Victress Hitchcock The weekend of October 8 & 9, 2022 Barbara Bash and I are leading a Drala Mountain Center online retreat:  AWAKE MIND: Write – Draw – Contemplate.  As the writing guide for the retreat, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to bring to this journey into the world of natural creativity. I love words. I love playing with words and constructing worlds out of words.  Let me share a couple of quotes that I feel perfectly describe what we will be doing in our two days together:  One by Flannery O’Connor: “I write to discover what I know.” And another by Mary Oliver: “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”  As we dive deep into free writes and prompted writes and haiku we will be paying attention, exploring, discovering and telling all about it.  One of the ideas I am playing with is free form writing where we put words together in different ways to create a simple poetic expression. You can use …

Allowing the World to Come to You

Exploring the rich world of natural creativity we all share is the focus of our upcoming online retreat – AWAKE MIND: Write • Draw • Contemplate on October 8 – 9, 2022. Experience a little taste of this playful virtual adventure with this simple practice, Sky Earth Heart : A Threefold Path, offered by Barbara Bash, co-presenter of the retreat. Join Barbara and Victress for this virtual retreat in October! About the Presenters Barbara Bash Artist/calligrapher Barbara Bash has taught Brush Spirit and Contemplative Drawing workshops over the years. She was a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche during the early years of the Vajradhatu sangha in Boulder with Victress Hitchcock. Barbara was a teacher of calligraphy and contemplative art practices at Naropa University. Barbara is an artist and writer/illustrator of books including her most recent True Nature: An Illustrated Journal of Four Seasons in Solitude Useful Links View Barbara’s website Upcoming Workshops Victress Hitchcock Filmmaker/writer Victress Hitchcock was a founding member of Centre Productions, the film company Rinpoche started in 1975. Victress has been a …

compassion in action

Compassion in Action

What does Compassion in Action look like?  How does it feel?  Is it something that we can experience in everyday life?  David Chernikoff helps us to understand the practice of compassion and compassionate exchange in his most recent dharma talk, Compassion in Action. Learn more about: How we can open our hearts in the moment, What “negative negativity” is and how to skillfully work with it, and How the suffering in our lives can become a gateway to deepening our compassion for others. ​David will lead The Path of Service: An Insight Meditation Retreat, July 7 – 10 at Drala Mountain Center.  We warmly invite and encourage you to join us! About the Author:  David Chernikoff David Chernikoff began the study and practice of meditation in 1971 and started teaching insight meditation in 1988. He trained as a yoga teacher at the Integral Yoga Institute and completed the Community Dharma Leader program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. His teaching has been influenced by senior teachers from the Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock, Tibetan teachers he studied with during a …

heart of mindfulness

The Heart of Mindfulness   

by: Jon Aaron  For our retreat coming up in June, we were inspired to call it “The Heart of Mindfulness,” which has a nice double meaning.  On one hand, this retreat explores the core teachings which form the basis of most mindfulness practices offered today whether through Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction or other programs. Even shiny new meditation apps are often utilizing these core teachings, which go back 2600 years or so.   The heart of mindfulness also refers to non-judgment—or heartfelt curiosity.  This is a crucial component of mindfulness practice. Without heartfulness, mindfulness is hardly more than paying attention. When this element of compassion is integrated with the mind’s capacity to sustain attention then things start to change. Yet too often, in the rush to develop “productivity” or “focus” in our culture, this dimension gets lost.  The danger of titles is that they reify what they name. We might start to think of mindfulness as a “thing” to obtain (in only 8 weeks! 28 days!) or an instrument we can call into service when needed. In …

invest in your wellness

Why Invest in Your Wellness? 

by: Erica Kaufman  Let’s take a peek at our inner experiences & how we can contribute to our well-being. First tool…before anything, a deep, slow, comfortable breath. This is one of the foundations of yoga—it calms us, signals to the brain that we are safe, and actually changes our hormonal balance. Stress can not co-exist at the same time as an intentional caring slow breath. This is a breath that creates space for joy and peace. When we experience density in our body and mind, and an internal pressure is felt, it’s a signal that we are not in a sustainable state, but rather a reactive state, and a disproportionate amount of energy is stagnant within us. This can manifest in dissonance—the opposite of harmony. Trauma, violence, fear, and everything else that squeezes the space around our heart is called ‘Duhkha’. It’s the Sanskrit word for suffering. ‘Kha’ means space and Duhkha literally means the squeezing of space. Collectively there is traumatic energy going around. It’s hard to make sense of it all. And unhealthy …

slow down

If You’re Tired or Confused, Slow Down and Focus on Feeling Alive & Well*

*Excerpt from the international bestseller You Were Not Born To Suffer, by Blake D. Bauer Each day we are faced with decisions in our personal and professional lives that end up shaping the course of our destiny and the quality of our health, happiness and relationships. If we want to enjoy our life, be well and respect ourselves, it is crucial we each master making choices that are aligned with who we truly are, why we’re really here and how we genuinely feel. A simple but powerful way to achieve this is to look at each moment as a fork in the road on the path to our most joyful and authentic life. In any given scenario, at least one direction will always represent a decision that does not feel good in our heart or in our body. In this same situation, at least one other direction or path will eventually reveal itself, which represents a decision that undoubtedly feels good or necessary. Quite often it can be confusing as to which path is best or …

mindful retreat for educators

May We All Be Well.  Especially Educators.

by: Andra Brill, Ph.D. This was supposed to be the year that schools went back to “normal.” Whatever that means.  Instead, we are in year three of disrupted learning across the grades.  This means that most second graders have NEVER had a “normal” year of school.  As this school year enters the final stretch, there is not only the longing for normal, there is a need for rest.  We are all exhausted. More than anything we are yearning for rest.  For being able to stop, notice and let go of the constant drive to do one more thing.  We need to allow ourselves space to slow down and nourish ourselves.  We need to be gentle with ourselves, letting go of the constant self-talk driven by what we believe we should be doing.  Even as I grudgingly loosen my own heightened awareness around wearing masks, I am still recovering from the constant work of assessing risks and the decision fatigue that comes with this.  I know that I have revisited grief in a whole new way over …

dream yoga

Dream Yoga as Preparation for the Bardos

by: Andrew Holecek If you are well trained, your first after-death experience will be the luminous bardo of dharmata. If you’re unfamiliar with the subtle states of mind revealed in this bardo, it will flash by in an instant, or be completely missed. Those who have practiced the meditations that facilitate recognition will reap the rewards, and attain liberation at the level of the dharmakaya or sambhogakaya. Without this preparation, most of us will wake up in the karmic bardo of becoming. For nearly everyone, the first experience after regaining consciousness is a sense of being in their own body. Even though the mind is without a body at this point, the habit (karma) of being embodied is so strong that it continues. You feel like your old self, and don’t know you are dead. The first and most important thing to do after death is to recognize that you are dead. This isn’t easy. Many people will not recognize. Without preparation, most of us will black out at the end of the inner dissolution. …