All posts filed under: Mind-Body

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 …

Live as a Free and Full Expression of Who You Really Are

by Blake D. Bauer What if all our suffering is a cry from our soul, from our body and our subconscious mind, asking us to love, value, and take much better care of ourselves? What if our suffering is waking us up to what matters most, to the reasons we were actually born? We experience so much pain and suffering throughout our life. You were not born to suffer. You came here to enjoy your life, to learn about love, to grow. The question that’s really important to answer is “how do I create less suffering for myself and for the people I love?”   A lot of our suffering is the result of us betraying ourselves and trying to please other people all the time. I’ve been tortured mentally and emotionally. I’ve struggled with drug addiction, and suicidal thoughts. I’ve gone through periods of not wanting to be here. I feel really lucky that I found some insights that helped me heal my heart and find deep health again…and I want to help you …

Autumn and Cultivating Equanimity

As Mother Nature changes with the seasons, human beings also experience transition. Everything from the activities we participate in, the foods we eat, and the time we go to bed, to our external/internal reflections change. With Fall right around the corner, we thought it was a good time to share Sara Avant Stover’s podcast “Reflection for the Autumn Equinox” to understand how Autumn asks us to change. Celebrate Autumn with Sara and Drala Mountain Center by Filling Your Well

Bringing Together East and West, Meditation and Movement

By Michael Sandrock Leave it to German novelist Herman Hesse to give some great insight into the life of men and women. Hesse, the Nobel Prize winner who influenced many in the 1960s in the era of consciousness-raising, wrote in his 1922 novel “Siddhartha:” Most people are like a falling leaf that drifts and turns in the air, flutters, and falls to the ground. But a few others are like stars which travel one defined path; no wind reaches them, they have within themselves their guide and path. How to find your guide and path? For many of us in the West, it is through athletics and a focus on the body, specifically long-distance running in recent years. In the East, the path included a meditation practice as exemplified by the journey of Siddartha, the future Buddha. Over the Labor Day weekend, the Drala Mountain Center will once again host a retreat that brings together East and West, meditation and movement, in its “Meditation and Yoga for Runners & Hikers,” one of many DMC programs …

The Gift of Attention

By Melissa Lago When we feel calm, we have more options about where to place our attention. One of the many gifts of yoga and mindful movement is that it can help us to calm our sympathetic nervous system designed for fight, flight or freeze, which causes stress, and activate our parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest, which promotes an experience of relaxation, inner peace, and well-being. Since we are wired for survival, it’s natural that when we are overwhelmed or stressed, our negativity bias turns on, which is designed to keep us safe. In these moments we often notice what is out of balance in our bodies or challenging in our lives rather than what feels supportive or is working.  Many of us have had the experience of noticing when our back is sore, and then barely noticing it once it’s healed. This can be true in our relationships too. We might find ourselves focusing on the one thing that we find annoying that our partner, friend or family member is doing rather than …

Flowing with the Seasons

By Heather Lindemann The realities of living in our modern culture can often impose a quick pace that is focused on “doing.” From getting to the next meeting to answering e-mails or texts, to checking off items on the never-ending to-do list, it’s easy to get consumed by the forward-moving cadence of a “productive” life.  The natural flow of the seasons offers us another way to move through our day While the to-do list might remain, we can also align our movement, intention, and practices with the energy of the seasons as a way to slow down and harmonize with the innate rhythms of Mother Nature. By connecting with the subtle energies of the Earth, we create a flow in our daily lives that boosts our innate superpowers and fosters ease and a sense of calm within our busy and over-scheduled lives. Alignment to the seasonal flow isn’t a new concept. Ancient cultures prayed, celebrated, worshiped, and built monuments to synch with the summer and winter solstices as well as the fall and spring equinoxes. …

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 …