All posts filed under: Nature

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 …

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 …

Our Self-Healing, Self-Rejuvenating Mind

by:  Loden Nyima, Resident Teacher at DMC Many of us these days come to meditation or a spiritual path with a wish to heal. To heal from one or another form of suffering or turmoil that we’ve experienced, or from the pace, demands, and challenges of modern life.  We often come seeking relief, peace, stillness, rejuvenation, wellness, and even freedom from whatever limiting conditions we experience.    The good news is that those qualities are already present in us already and are the parts of us doing the seeking and the asking.  While we certainly don’t need to be a Buddhist or even interested in Buddhism to practice many forms of meditation (and I actually mean that!), one name for this part of ourselves is our Buddha nature.  It’s our innate wisdom, compassion, freedom, health, and strength.  The way it shines through in our lives can be by recognizing that we’re suffering and that we long to heal, to release, to be free.*  It’s like longing for like.  It’s the sun shining through the clouds, present …

Coming to Our Senses

by:  Loden Nyima, Resident Teacher at DMC The world meditates us All of our senses are an expression of basic wakefulness.  Right now, we’re seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling—because we’re awake.  And everything we perceive is sacred, living, and free.  It’s all actually made from the earth and the elements, even if it’s so impossibly refined and processed that it’s easy to forget that.  Isn’t the earth sacred?     In meditation, we remember this.  Every perception is a reminder, a wake-up call, a notification that we’re alive and that life is precious, fleeting, and beautiful.  We’re part of an ecosystem, a circle of life.  This can be an especially helpful way to meditate when we feel scattered, anxious, alone, or stressed out by a situation in our lives.  It can help us reconnect with our greater whole.       We can do this by grounding our practice in our senses.  Let ourselves feel our connection to the earth below us, like a tree with deep roots that go down.  The earth has been holding and accommodating us …

Speaking of Silence

by:  Loden Nyima, Resident Teacher at DMC Healing in Space and Stillness When I lead silent meditation retreats, I often begin with a somewhat cynical joke.  I ask, “OK, let’s have a show of hands, how many people here feel like we can keep up with everything in our lives, process all the information we receive in a day completely, give as much time and care to all of our interactions and relationships as they need, thoughtfully attend to all of our work and tasks with no rush whatsoever, take as much time as we need for self-care and health, relax at the end of the day with not a care in our minds, sleep as much as we need, then wake up the next day refreshed and ready to go?”…at this point usually we’re all chuckling and shaking our heads in empathetic commiseration and the kind of relief that comes from being able to laugh in authentic connection with others. That said, it’s no joke.  From a meditative point of view, our spiritual energy …

Daily Practice: Our Reservoir of Sanity

by:  Loden Nyima, Resident Teacher at DMC Meditation practice is a lot like physical exercise: the consistency is more important than the amount.  Having a daily meditation practice can be key to seeing real benefits in our lives.  Every time we practice, it’s as if we’re deepening our reservoir of sanity, peace, resiliency, from which we can draw at any moment when we need it.   The right amount of daily practice is the amount that feels attainable to us—even on, or especially on, a busy day.  If we pick an amount that we know we can do, we’ll do it, and we’ll feel good about it, and that will help us build momentum and want to keep practicing, or even extend our practice.   However, if we pick an amount that’s too much, we might get to it once in a while and just feel bad the rest of the time…that doesn’t help. So, err on the easy side.  Ten minutes a day can actually be quite good.  It sounds small, but try it out and …

Three Breaths at a Time: On the Spot Practices for Life

by:  Loden Nyima, Resident Teacher at DMC Now that we’ve established a daily meditation practice (or even if we haven’t), we’ve built a reservoir on which we can draw at any moment when we feel like we need it. One practice I like a lot during the day when I start to get stressed out or upset about something is the practice of three breaths.  We can just close our eyes, and take three meditative breaths, then go from there.  On the spot meditation.   Or, if there’s stronger emotional energy, we can use the same method we talked about earlier (in “Our Self-Healing, Self-Rejuvenating Mind”) where instead of going with our narratives we find the raw feeling in our bodies with curiosity and care, and just breathe with it as if we’re massaging a knot in a muscle, in this case, with our breath. Another practice we can use is to connect with the elements.  We can step outside the office for a second, or even look out a window, and gaze into the sky.  …

Thoughts on Mahamudra Retreats

by:  Acharya Richard John My first experience of a mahamudra retreat was in the first session of the three-year retreat at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, over 30 years ago. It was the classic Kagyu version, using the text by the ninth Karmapa, Pointing Out the Dharmakaya. Following tradition, the retreat began with three months of guru yoga practice. When we got to the actual mahamudra section, (another three months), we were fully primed for this pinnacle of Buddhist dharma practice, eight men and eight women, in our separate shrine rooms, all facing forward and doing shamatha and vipashyana practice. The obvious question for me was, what exactly made this mahamudra practice? It seemed like a very big deal, but it looked just like any other small dathun. My first insight into that, which sounds amusing now but seemed quite profound at the time, was “Oh, now we are actually going to follow the instructions!” That led to the recognition that we were practicing shamatha and vipashyana with a spirit of continuously roused windhorse, and ultimately to the …