All posts filed under: Creative Expression

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.  Please, enjoy your time listening with Sara, and consider joining us May 20 – 22 for Sara’s next retreat at Drala Mountain Center: Coming Home to Yourself: A Women’s Yoga, Meditation & Nature Retreat Overcoming Resistance to Your Spiritual Practice        About the Author: Sara Avant Stover Sara Avant Stover is a teacher of feminine spirituality, …

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 …

Meditate to Cultivate Healthy Habits of Mind

By: Dhi Good The meditation journey is all about getting to know one’s mind – learning how it works and observing the tendencies we have. Most people know and accept that we have behavioral habits, but fewer consider that we also have habits of mind that are worthy of our benevolent attention. More about benevolent attention in a bit, but first, habits. Habits are not necessarily bad. In many cases they serve us well. Thank goodness we don’t have to sort out how to ride a bike every time we jump on a 2-wheeler. We just get on and start pedaling. Adopting habits saves us time and the wear and tear of considering each and every decision about what we’re going to do next. It can be helpful to have a pattern so we don’t get stuck deciding what to do next. And when circumstances force us out of habitual patterns, we tend to get cranky if not outright upset. Similarly, we have certain go-to patterns of handling the ever-changing circumstances of life. They govern …

Inhale Life Deeply and Slowly

By: Blake D. Bauer Excerpt from the international bestseller You Were Not Born To Suffer, By Blake D. Bauer The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms … Smile, breathe and go slowly. Thich Nhat Hanh If we can learn to be present to our breath in any given moment, we can find our way back to the strength, peace and love that already exist within us. Although we tend to overlook it, each inhalation offers a pathway down into the depths of our being, where unlimited space and stillness are always patiently waiting. Our breath is an anchor that has the power to keep us centred during the most turbulent of times. Regardless of how strong a thought or emotion is in our moment-to-moment experience, we’ll always find a wealth of joy and clarity below these mental and emotional waves. Through our breath we can immediately step out of illusory thoughts about the …

How to Meditate

by:  Loden Nyima, Resident Teacher at DMC Meditation is a process of trusting ourselves and coming home.  We often come to meditation for relief from stress, turmoil, or from inspiration for meaning and truth.  It’s that very part of ourselves seeking such things that already has them.  It’s like longing for like.  It’s our innate wisdom, compassion, and freedom shining through.  We’re learning to trust that intuitive part of ourselves, to come home, and let it expand.   Shamatha is a Sanskrit word that means “peaceful abiding”.  It describes an ancient form of mediation that pre-dates Buddhism by a long shot and has been practiced by people of all or no spiritual or religious tradition for thousands of years.  Many of the teachings we know today in the popular mindfulness movement were derived from these and related teachings, either in Buddhism, Yoga, or more.   Anyone can practice shamatha, we don’t need to have any interest in Buddhism or in any spiritual tradition..  And if we do have an interest in Buddhism, shamatha is quite foundational to …

Becoming Our Own Best Friend

by:  Loden Nyima, Resident Teacher at DMC All of us long for connection.  It’s just part of what we are.  From a Buddhist point of view, it’s actually a form of our innate compassion, even if it’s all tangled up into loneliness or grasping at others to make us feel at ease.  The irony is, we’re connected already…but more on that in a bit.   We all want friends to talk to, people to share life with, to enjoy the ups and support the downs, people to understand us, to love us, etc.  To a greater or lesser extent, we want to offer that to others, in one big cycle.  And that’s a wonderful thing!   And, we’re actually the only ones who can give that to ourselves completely.  The more we offer unconditional love to ourselves, the more loving and healthy our relationships with others will be.  The more we have to give, the more our innate compassion unfolds and embraces others. The more that happens, the more we feel how much of that also comes …

Freedom from the Inner Netflix

by:  Loden Nyima, Resident Teacher at SMC First of all, I actually love Netlflix, so please don’t sue me or cancel my subscription if anyone from there reads this—my problem isn’t with you! What this article is about is what I call the “inner Netflix”—the repetitive stories, dramas, narratives, that play out in our minds over and over again. Do you know what I mean?  Like the situation in our lives we think about constantly, whether at the workplace, or in our relationships, or other situations. It’s the thing we keep mulling over… ”if only I would have, if only they would have, one day it will be this way, next time I see them I’ll say this” etc, etc.  Or, the list of things we have to do later, or the big regrets we have, or the endless self-criticism, or the various fantasies, or the hopes and fears or anxieties about the future. The list goes on and on. The inner Netflix has it all. We’ve got the drama, the workplace sitcom, the relationship …