All posts filed under: Mind-Body

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 …

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.  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 …

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 …

In the Times of Coronavirus: How to Be Informed Without Being Overwhelmed

By Megan Prager // Is it possible in this time to stay informed and not be totally overwhelmed? Like many, I find myself consuming a large amount of media. There are beautiful stories of people supporting one another, as well as many stories and statistics of suffering that can leave us in wonder and fear. Recently the World Health Organization put out a list of Considerations to Support Mental Health in the times of COVID-19, with one recommendation being:  Minimize watching, reading or listening to news about COVID-19 that causes you to feel anxious or distressed… seek information updates at specific times during the day, once or twice. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried.  Important advice indeed. When we aren’t intentional about consuming news related to COVID-19 both in terms of content and amount, we can easily experience feelings of distress and overwhelm. Here is the thing about overwhelm: It doesn’t feel good! We suffer when we feel it. What we know about optimal adult learning (based …

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 …