All posts tagged: writing

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 …

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. …

Grounding Into The Four Layers Of Your Being – A guided meditation from Sara Avant Stover

Grounding Into The Four Layers Of Your Being Please click the above link for a gentle meditative practice to begin the start of your day or any time you’re needing to connect more deeply with yourself. Attuning to your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies, you’ll move through all the different dimensions of your being. The result is landing in a place of gratitude, calm, and presence. Join Sara at Drala Mountain How do we stay inspired, centered, and rooted in our innate wisdom—especially during times of challenge? In this three-day women’s retreat, you’ll replenish your body, heart, and mind through spaciousness, quiet, yogic and dharmic teachings and practices, sisterhood, as well as ample time in nature. Autumn is the season to fill our inner wells with reserves before the onset of winter. Together, we’ll do just this. Each day will include periods of gentle guided yin and slow yoga; seated, walking, standing, and lying-down meditation; silence; dharma teachings and discussions; women’s circle practices; and time in nature. Using the wisdom of the Buddha, the sensuality …

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 …

Reeling from the Pandemic?  There are things YOU can do.

by Rona Wilensky, Senior Faculty, PassageWorks Institute Many educators entered the 21-22 school year with high hopes that it would be a return to normal.  Schools would be open, students would be in schools and they could return to the work they love.  Those high hopes tumbled into deep disappointment as they confronted the challenges waiting for them.   Pandemic surges led to sickness, student and staff absences, and in some cases intermittent returns to remote learning.  The damage done in 20-21 became all too apparent:   learning losses, extraordinary behavior, mental health challenges, and bitter community fights over masking and vaccines.  As if this weren’t enough, many communities were roiled by ugly fights over what is appropriate to teach related to our complex and checkered history as a nation with regard to race, ethnicity, and gender identity.  And all of this took place in the context of economic, political, and now, with the war in Ukraine, global challenges. Teaching has always been stressful.  Too much to do and too little time and support to …

Healing Guilt, Shame and Insecurity 

Excerpt from the international bestseller You Were Not Born To Suffer by Blake D. Bauer “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. “ Jiddu Krishnamurti  Do you constantly make yourself wrong for feeling the way you feel or for desiring the things you desire in life? Do you find yourself feeling guilty after you express your emotions or after doing something just for yourself that’s not about pleasing someone else? Do you constantly fear hurting others when making a choice that’s best for you, but then find that you stop yourself and hurt yourself instead? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’re just like me and most people on the planet who suffer with deep guilt whereby we not only feel that we are a problem – that our mere existence is a burden – but also that we are somehow wrong, bad or sinful for wanting to be happy, well and truly loved.  Is the fact that we’re surviving really enough? Should …

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 …

Overcoming Resistance to Your Spiritual Practice

by Sara Avant Stover Sara is a teacher of feminine spirituality, bestselling author, and Internal Family Systems (IFS) Practitioner. She has been leading retreats at Drala Mountain Center for many years and we are delighted to welcome her back to the Land in May 2022. In the following podcast,  Overcoming Resistance to Your Spiritual Practice, Sara walks us through some ways to work with our resistance to overcome the challenges we all experience in creating and maintaining a consistent spiritual practice.  She provides creative and thoughtful ways to carve out the time needed to nurture our meditation practice and reminds us of the importance of this lifeline to better resource ourselves to meet the needs of our dynamic existence. About the Author: Sara Avant Stover Sara Avant Stover is a teacher of feminine spirituality, bestselling author, and Internal Family Systems (IFS) Practitioner. After a cancer scare in her early twenties, Sara moved to Thailand, embarked on a decade-long healing and spiritual odyssey throughout Asia, and has since gone on to uplift tens of thousands of women …

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, …

Meditation Instruction: tips.

by: Katharine Kaufman I thought to offer a small thing to you, to assist you with your meditation practice—a tip. Then I thought of another, and another. They are yours to evolve as you wish. After I’ve found a quiet place where I want to sit down, an upright posture, figured out how high or low I should sit, how hard or soft the cushion, what kind of support I need under my knees, then I can rest. I feel the movement of my breath. I let my mind/heart be a filter. I let myself have thoughts. I feel things in my body. I cry a little, usually.  I met a teacher who said, “That’s extra.” It’s not right, all the crying. I can see her point. My father cried sometimes in a way that he couldn’t stop it. Like the time he tried to read to my brother and me, Hemmingway’s, The Old Man and the Sea. The first evening he read this sentence:  “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff …