All posts tagged: Janet Solyntjes

On Silent Group Meditation Retreats: 10 things I’ve learned along the way

by Janet Solyntjes In 1987 I participated in my first silent group meditation retreat.  It was a month-long program held at what is now called Drala Mountain Center (DMC).  A few friends suggested that it was the next thing for me to do on my meditative journey. For me, going on retreat was an abstract concept, a box to check off on my way to something more important.  Perhaps I had fallen under the spell of spiritual materialism – seeking higher states, an idealized state of peace, and wanting some form of credential from engaging in what seemed like a very long time to spend doing nothing. Would a month of intensive practice make me a “better” spiritual person?   In the days before the retreat began, I sensed my fear and anxiety about participating in the rigors of long disciplined days over a four-week period. I wasn’t sure what triggered the fear, but didn’t worry much about it.  The arrival day came and I got into my car to head up the mountain to DMC …

Heart of Mindfulness Retreat

Janet Solyntjes and Jon Aaron are two leading teachers in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) world.  Drala Mountain Center is delighted to welcome both Janet and Jon to the Land in June for The Heart of Mindfulness 7-Day Silent Meditation Retreat. The Heart of Mindfulness Retreat is a 7-day silent meditation retreat that emphasizes the deep understanding and practice of mindfulness in its most universal expression while respecting and acknowledging its contemplative and spiritual roots. The retreat is open to all experienced meditators who are looking for an enriching silent retreat experience. It is suitable for mindfulness teachers or aspiring teachers, and fulfills the retreat prerequisite for attending MBSR and most other teacher training programs. In the video below, Janet Solyntjes and Jon Aaron invite you to their upcoming week-long retreat, and give you and idea of what you can expect. We also invite you learn more about Janet and Jon’s experience in retreat from their recent creative offerings: The Gift of Silent Retreat – Jon Aaron On Silent Group Meditation Retreats:  10 Things I’ve …

silent retreat

The Gift of Silent Retreat 

by Jon Aaron  The silence amidst the noise the gem at the core of every experience is polished by simple attention into shining magnificence -Nirmala  “words do not come” I remember my very first experience on an 8-day retreat. I had no idea what to expect. I had been meditating for a year or so and decided it was time to try a retreat. The challenges in the first few days felt insurmountable. I wanted to jump out of my skin. By the end, I never wanted to leave! Each time I was ready to give up, something was said by one of the teachers which gave such encouragement and confidence that my thoughts of leaving vanished. This was helped by the support of everyone else as we practiced together in community. It’s hard to describe what happened. Suffice to say it changed my life forever. Retreat practice is such a unique opportunity, and these days in-person retreats are even more special. With vaccines, ease of testing and a communal commitment to keeping each other safe, we can …

MBSR

28,762 days

By Janet Solyntjes // This is the number of days that make up the average life expectancy of a person born in the United States. How many of these days will US citizens spend appreciating life? How will you spend this one? We are a time-conscious society. Productivity, connectivity, pressured to beat the clock—how often do we look at our iPhone or laptop to see what time it is? Do we understand what time is telling us? The clock and the calendar are both saying that we won’t be here forever. They reveal one simple truth: time only runs in one direction. An aspen tree doesn’t look at a clock to see when it is time to turn golden. The northern lake doesn’t need a timeline or deadline to tell it when to freeze or thaw. As humans, we often experience time-related stress. Rather than seeing the passing of time as a source of pressure or a reason to feel that we are too lazy, too crazy, or that we are losing our grip on …

waves - JS blog 062921

Innate Beauty 

by Janet Solyntjes // Have you noticed how human beings can express themselves in such a variety of ways? We can be fantastic, imaginative, inexplicably wise, and quirky.  We can be kind, generous, patient and courageous in the face of challenges.  We can also be stingy, grumpy, angry and confused. When we make the choice to inhabit our being––fully present and aware––we can then learn to embrace all parts of our experience, uncovering the wholeness and goodness that is the basis of all life.    I love the following poem by poet Mary Oliver for its ability to communicate the rich complexity of our human experience and of our relationship to nature:   The sea can do craziness, it can do smooth, it can lie down like silk breathing or toss havoc shoreward; it can give   gifts or withhold all; it can rise, ebb, froth like an incoming frenzy of fountains, or it can sweet-talk entirely.  As I can too,   and so, no doubt, can you, and you. Often we experience our “crazy-froth-frenzy” as unwanted and unwelcome, judging these experiences and comparing them with “smooth-giving-sweetness.” The practice of meditation is one way, perhaps the most direct pathway, to dropping the critical mind and softening into what is present, into the ups …

Healing Sound

Freedom within the Dimensions of Silent Retreat Practice 

by Janet Solyntjes // Do you associate the practice of mindfulness meditation with freedom? How is freedom discovered within the form of a meditation retreat?  This article is intended to offer a framework in which to view silent retreat practice as a path to freedom.  The Gateway to Retreat: Motivation and Preparation  The gateway to retreat is acknowledging your personal motivation for retreat practice. Motivation is often based in a longing of the heart and a curiosity of the mind. The following questions might spark a knowing of your personal motivation: Are you seeking to bring a renewed inspiration into your life and relationships? Do you long for a deeper appreciation for your mindfulness meditation practice? Are you curious if hours of formal mindfulness and awareness practice will positively influence your sense of being human?   Having touched into the spark of personal motivation you will need to follow with some preparation.  The most important preparation involves cultivating an inner resolve to abandon any hope of fruition. Really.  Let go of hope regarding the outcomes of retreat.  Let go of fear, too. Simply attend to the three dimensions of retreat, as best you can.   The Outer Dimension of Retreat: Environment  Over thousands of years and across the globe, women and men have sought places of seclusion and quietude for engaging in deep contemplation and meditation.  What did their places of refuge look like? Picture Henry David Thoreau spending time along the shores of …

MBSR

[Watch] Janet Solyntjes on How Mindfulness Helps Reveal Our Personal Truth

In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the uprising for social justice in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, it seems fair to assume that many people are experiencing intense emotions right now and uncertainty about how to navigate… all of this.  In a few weeks, SMC will be hosting an online Mindfulness Meditation Intensive, and recently we asked Janet Solyntjes—a longtime MBSR teacher, and co-leader of the retreat—to share her thoughts.    While Janet didn’t claim to have all the answers, she offered that mindfulness practice—especially in an intensive retreat context—is a way to “feel into, and relax into, the truth of what you don’t know—and perhaps little threads of what you do know. It’s an invitation to do the personal inquiry that we all need to do in one way or another. And, in retreat, it’s a way to do that in community, and to feel the interconnectedness.”  For those seeking some guidance for their practice and/or considering the benefits of carving out some retreat time, I encourage you …

MBSR

28,762 days

By Janet Solyntjes // This is the number of days that make up the average life expectancy of a person born in the United States. How many of these days will US citizens spend appreciating life? How will you spend this one? We are a time-conscious society. Productivity, connectivity, pressured to beat the clock—how often do we look at our iPhone or laptop to see what time it is? Do we understand what time is telling us? The clock and the calendar are both saying that we won’t be here forever. They reveal one simple truth: time only runs in one direction. An aspen tree doesn’t look at a clock to see when it is time to turn golden. The northern lake doesn’t need a timeline or deadline to tell it when to freeze or thaw. As humans, we often experience time-related stress. Rather than seeing the passing of time as a source of pressure or a reason to feel that we are too lazy, too crazy, or that we are losing our grip on …

On Silent Group Meditation Retreats: 10 Things I’ve Learned Along the Way

By Janet Solyntjes // In 1987 I participated in my first silent group meditation retreat.  It was a month-long program held at what is now called Shambhala Mountain Center (SMC).  A few friends suggested that it was the next thing for me to do on my meditative journey. For me, going on retreat was an abstract concept, a box to check off on my way to something more important.  Perhaps I had fallen under the spell of spiritual materialism – seeking higher states, an idealized state of peace, and wanting some form of credential from engaging in what seemed like a very long time to spend doing nothing. Would a month of intensive practice make me a “better” spiritual person?   In the days before the retreat began, I sensed my fear and anxiety about participating in the rigors of long disciplined days over a four-week period. I wasn’t sure what triggered the fear, but didn’t worry much about it.  The arrival day came and I got into my car to head up the mountain …