All posts filed under: Mindful Living

Exhaling Deeply

By Kelly Lindsey It’s a beautiful sunny day in late July and I have just arrived at Drala Mountain Center for Family Camp, an annual retreat for families that I have been attending with my children for the past 20 years. Drala Mountain Center has been my spiritual home since I first set foot on this sacred land more than two decades ago. Each time I return and I glimpse the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya in the distance, my body softens. My heart opens. My breath deepens. I notice that as I exhale, a gentle sigh escapes my lips. It feels like I have been holding my breath for awhile. Living though a pandemic and bearing witness to the increasing amount of confusion and conflict in the world has at times felt like too much to bear. This is a place where I find refuge. I take a walk and begin to reacquaint myself with this place again. As I wander, I recall sacred moments of connection that I have felt throughout my many summers …

The Gift of Attention

By Melissa Lago When we feel calm, we have more options about where to place our attention. One of the many gifts of yoga and mindful movement is that it can help us to calm our sympathetic nervous system designed for fight, flight or freeze, which causes stress, and activate our parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest, which promotes an experience of relaxation, inner peace, and well-being. Since we are wired for survival, it’s natural that when we are overwhelmed or stressed, our negativity bias turns on, which is designed to keep us safe. In these moments we often notice what is out of balance in our bodies or challenging in our lives rather than what feels supportive or is working.  Many of us have had the experience of noticing when our back is sore, and then barely noticing it once it’s healed. This can be true in our relationships too. We might find ourselves focusing on the one thing that we find annoying that our partner, friend or family member is doing rather than …

Flowing with the Seasons

By Heather Lindemann The realities of living in our modern culture can often impose a quick pace that is focused on “doing.” From getting to the next meeting to answering e-mails or texts, to checking off items on the never-ending to-do list, it’s easy to get consumed by the forward-moving cadence of a “productive” life.  The natural flow of the seasons offers us another way to move through our day While the to-do list might remain, we can also align our movement, intention, and practices with the energy of the seasons as a way to slow down and harmonize with the innate rhythms of Mother Nature. By connecting with the subtle energies of the Earth, we create a flow in our daily lives that boosts our innate superpowers and fosters ease and a sense of calm within our busy and over-scheduled lives. Alignment to the seasonal flow isn’t a new concept. Ancient cultures prayed, celebrated, worshiped, and built monuments to synch with the summer and winter solstices as well as the fall and spring equinoxes. …

Why Meditation and Yoga for Runners & Hikers?

“I drove myself with an unconscious motivation of fear. Afraid that I am not special unless I prove I am special.” ~Marty Kibiloski In our upcoming Labor Day Weekend program, Meditation and Yoga for Runners & Hikers (formerly Running with the Mind of Meditation), you’ll learn how to enjoy the journey — not just the finish line. “The people that, I think, are drawn to running are used to hard work and pushing themselves and tend to be goal-setters,” says Marty. “We start to compare ourselves to other people.” This is where mindfulness, which employs the same principles used in yoga and meditation, comes in. Mindfulness is the basic ability to be fully present. It’s a mental state achieved by calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations without judgment.​ There are sound evolutionary reasons why running and walking have surged in popularity in the new millennium to become the exercise of choice for reducing stress, bringing us greater perspective, and connecting us directly to the wisdom of the body. The practices of …

Yoga Heart Opening Work

Most people are aware that yoga improves heart health by increasing circulation and blood flow. Research shows that practicing yoga can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels, as well as the heart rate. All these benefits can add up to a lower risk of hypertension, stroke, and heart disease. In this practice video, De West shares another benefit of Yoga for your heart. The heart open practice is noticing what is happening and then being very kind to it. You’ll use your body to help you be more in touch with what you feel. About the Author De West, Certified Yoga Therapist and a Trauma-Informed Yoga Teacher is a leader in the Boulder, Colorado yoga community with over 29 years of teaching therapeutic yoga. She has developed a movement practice that allows people of all ages and abilities to experience a positive, relaxed, and transforming experience in both body and mind. Observation, listening, and respect of one’s unique anatomy contribute to her passion for helping students create more peace and freedom. De …

Healthy Selfishness 

Excerpt from the international bestseller You Were Not Born To Suffer by Blake D. Bauer A person who seeks help for a friend, while needy himself, will be answered first. ~The Talmud  If you’re honest with yourself, would you say you’re a selfish person or a selfless person? What do you think of the assertion that everyone is in fact selfish, regardless of how well it is masked? Could you entertain the view that some of us are healthy in our selfish tendencies while most of us are quite unhealthy and destructive, which is what gives the topic of ‘selfishness’ a negative association and leads us to deny it as a fundamental attribute of human nature?  If you really analyze it, you will eventually see that we either take good care of ourselves – which enables us actually to have time and energy for others – or we neglect our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, and therefore live in the world with stress, resentment and a lack of joy. Our metaphorical cup is either overflowing …

Permission to Exhale

By: Brooke Binstock  As I sit to write this post, I pause to feel the wind on my skin. I look around and see people sitting at picnic benches drinking iced coffee and connecting. It is a Saturday morning in Austin, Texas. It has been an intense time in the world and as an empath, I feel it all, heavy and slow moving. I consider how difficult it is for us as a culture to just be, rest and give ourselves time to process. It is a theme I have written about over and over again in my monthly newsletter. Just rest, slow down, breathe, pause, allow…  And though it’s one thing to write and teach about these concepts, it is quite another to put them into practice.  One Big Inhale When my co-teachers, Kelly, Marissa and I got together via zoom to talk about a theme for our upcoming retreat in September at Drala Mountain, we discussed how these past few years have felt like one big inhale. An anticipation, a collective worry, a …

Overcoming Resistance to Your Spiritual Practice

Sara Avant Stover Sara Avant Stover, presenter of Drala Mountain Center’s Filling Your Well: A Women’s Yoga, Meditation & Nature Retreat, is a teacher of feminine spirituality, bestselling author, and Certified 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 worldwide. The creator of the world’s first Women’s Yoga Teacher Training, Sara has also been featured in Yoga Journal, the Huffington Post, Newsweek, Natural Health, and on ABC, NBC, and CBS. She lives in Boulder, CO. Sara’s the author of The Way of the Happy Woman: Living the Best Year of Your Life and The Book of SHE: Your Heroine’s Journey into the Heart of Feminine Power. Useful Links View Sara’s website Check out offerings and upcoming programs Listen to Truth, Love & Beauty podcast Featured Audio Talk February 20, 2022 – Overcoming Resistance to Your Spiritual Practice With the increasing levels of uncertainty we’re …

compassion in action

Compassion in Action

What does Compassion in Action look like?  How does it feel?  Is it something that we can experience in everyday life?  David Chernikoff helps us to understand the practice of compassion and compassionate exchange in his most recent dharma talk, Compassion in Action. Learn more about: How we can open our hearts in the moment, What “negative negativity” is and how to skillfully work with it, and How the suffering in our lives can become a gateway to deepening our compassion for others. ​David will lead The Path of Service: An Insight Meditation Retreat, July 7 – 10 at Drala Mountain Center.  We warmly invite and encourage you to join us! About the Author:  David Chernikoff David Chernikoff began the study and practice of meditation in 1971 and started teaching insight meditation in 1988. He trained as a yoga teacher at the Integral Yoga Institute and completed the Community Dharma Leader program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. His teaching has been influenced by senior teachers from the Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock, Tibetan teachers he studied with during a …

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 …