All posts tagged: Buddhism

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 …

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. …

Feeding your Demons: Revealing the Hidden Treasure Within Difficulty

by Charlotte Z. Rotterdam I was first drawn to the Feeding your Demons process and the teachings of Machig Labdrön – the great 11th century Tibetan yogini from whose teachings the process was developed – for the radical invitation to turn towards that which we find most repulsive or frightening. This view seemed so counter-intuitive, so clearly different from the human default response of avoiding or rejecting the ugly and threatening aspects of life. Perhaps it reminded me of my early childhood, when I spent time in the autopsy lab with my mother, a pathologist. There was an odd peacefulness in the autopsy room where the intensely eerie became quite ordinary and sometimes even sacred.  Beyond transforming the morbid into the mundane, however, lies a profound teaching on compassion. Ultimately, these teachings suggest that it is only by meeting and even nurturing whatever we consider threatening or “other” that we can live a fully integrated life, radiant with our own wisdom. Holding our inner and outer demons at bay draws us into a never-ending cycle …

awakened heart

Cultivating An Open Heart

By Cole Schlam As was true for so many of us, in the last few years I experienced some of the most profoundly transformational times in my life – both joyous and also full of deep sorrow.  I felt overwhelmed not just for myself, but also for the grief and fear that swept across the world. There were times in which I wanted to put up walls around myself to protect myself. I found myself calling upon the reserves of compassion and strength within myself to remain open. When I didn’t know if I had more, I somehow found a deeper wellspring. What is Living with an Open Heart? This wellspring, this source, was different; it was more raw and more vulnerable.  My awareness of it often came in the quiet moments after flowing tears or in the deep breaths following spontaneous laughter. As I learned to trust these moments, instead of recoiling from the unfamiliarity of it, I softened my grip, and I could witness my reservoirs of strength and compassion refilling. Looking back, …

What Is the Meaning of Chöd?

by Alta Brown, Ph.D. The symbolism employed in the Chöd practice is certainly exotic and is, by some, considered outrageous. An example of such symbolism is a part of some of the red feast practices. For instance, Red Feast No. 6 is described in this way: Again oneself as Vajrayogini chops the corpse with the hooked knife. In a swirling ocean of blood, bones are planted down like a throne. From the tips of the bones, flesh is raised like banners. From these flesh bone and blood–those three fall continuously. Think that all the demons and obstructors enjoy for kalpas. (Badan.ma.) [Garden of All Joy p.66] The corpse that is being offered is that of the Chöd practitioner. The specific meaning of such symbolism will be discussed later on in the book Suffice it to say, that such an offering does not look like anything related to compassion. However the Chöd practice is, in fact, directly organized around the compassionate activity of feeding the demons, or exchanging oneself for the negativities that torment other beings. Exactly how this method …

Mindfulness is the Key 

by Stephen Vosper Mindfulness is the key to everything.  Being awake in the present moment is the gateway to everything.  Being awake and being mindful are completely inseparable.  Mindfulness is the natural ability of mind to be aware of something, aware of anything, aware of everything.  Through our sense perceptions; sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and from a traditional eastern point of view, thoughts, emotions and intuitions; we can be mindful and awake to the whole world in our own life.  This is actually our birthright.  By just being awake and mindful, in our natural state, we can begin to appreciate the miracle of our senses, our perceptions, our emotions, thoughts and intuitions as they arise, rather than turning away and distracting ourselves in daydreams and fantasies of all kinds.  We can actually be fully awake and alive completely in our lives, right now.  We have everything we need to experience our joy and sadness, our doubts and hesitations, our confidence and inspirations. We can afford to relax and open to our world completely. Why not, what’s holding us back? Let’s find out. Come join us, at …

What does Meditation have to do with Running?

by:  Michael Sandrock One of the special spots in Colorado — and there are many! — is the Drala Mountain Center northwest of Fort Collins, near Red Feather Lakes.  It is 600 acres of aspen and pine-laden hillsides nestled next to national forest land.  There are endless trails and dirt roads to run nearby, as well as a variety of retreats to attend, including Labor Day weekend’s “Running with the Mind of Meditation and Yoga,” (now titled Meditation and Yoga for Runners & Hikers) which I first went to 15 years ago. That first exposure to meditation and mindfulness was transformational, and so, like many others, I watched updates last year when the Cameron Peak Fire swept through the area, burning more than a dozen buildings on the center’s land on its way to becoming the first Colorado wildfire to burn over 200,000 acres.  Saved from destruction was the iconic Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Which Liberates Upon Seeing, a must-see Colorado visit, and which can indeed, for the person who is ready, spur liberation. (As …

Emotional Resilience: Learning from the Buddha’s Life Story

by:  Lama Elizabeth Monson, PhD The life story of the buddha is one of the most powerful examples in religious literary history of how it is possible to transform our relationship to difficult emotions from one of suffering and avoidance to one which allows us to live lives sourced in kindness, ease, wisdom and love. We could say that the life story of the buddha presents us with a paradigm for exploring how to be in relationship with the reactive emotional energies, both internal and external, that keep us from accessing and responding to the world from our innate place of refuge – our Buddhanature – a way of being that is naturally compassionately responsive and which is unconditioned by reactivity. Even for those who do not identify as “Buddhist,” the Buddha’s life story offers a powerful template within which to explore one’s personal spiritual journey and relationship with emotional reactivity. When we read carefully, we see that the Buddha’s life story is our own story writ large and as we explore the Buddha’s life …

སྒྲོལ་མ་ Drölma – Green Tārā, The Bodhisattva Goddess: Enlightened Feminine Wisdom in Action

By Nashalla G. Nyinda Menpa TMD // As with most Bodhisattvas, obscure and sometimes contradictory origin stories abound. In one myth, Avalokiteśvara, the great bodhisattva (the literal meaning of his name is “The Lord Who Looks Down”) was observing the innumerable beings suffering in the worldly realm. The Buddha taught The Four Noble Truths, the suffering involved at birth, old age, sickness, and death were endless. The human realm is complex in it’s suffering because even if we try and avoid our pain, we run headlong into it. Beings suffer when there is basic lack of resources and also the lack for what is desired. Likewise burdens arise through actions, situations and objects we never wanted. In short, humanity seeks happiness, but co-creates suffering and only until non-dual wisdom arises within that we live in cycles of unhappiness and wanting out of our pain. Avalokiteśvara had at this time been steadily working to liberate innumerable beings from the sufferings of existence, yet, still uncountable beings suffered. This realization brought him to tears. As he wept, his tears fell creating a vast lake. From …