All posts tagged: community

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 …

invest in your wellness

Why Invest in Your Wellness? 

by: Erica Kaufman  Let’s take a peek at our inner experiences & how we can contribute to our well-being. First tool…before anything, a deep, slow, comfortable breath. This is one of the foundations of yoga—it calms us, signals to the brain that we are safe, and actually changes our hormonal balance. Stress can not co-exist at the same time as an intentional caring slow breath. This is a breath that creates space for joy and peace. When we experience density in our body and mind, and an internal pressure is felt, it’s a signal that we are not in a sustainable state, but rather a reactive state, and a disproportionate amount of energy is stagnant within us. This can manifest in dissonance—the opposite of harmony. Trauma, violence, fear, and everything else that squeezes the space around our heart is called ‘Duhkha’. It’s the Sanskrit word for suffering. ‘Kha’ means space and Duhkha literally means the squeezing of space. Collectively there is traumatic energy going around. It’s hard to make sense of it all. And unhealthy …

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 …

mindful retreat for educators

May We All Be Well.  Especially Educators.

by: Andra Brill, Ph.D. This was supposed to be the year that schools went back to “normal.” Whatever that means.  Instead, we are in year three of disrupted learning across the grades.  This means that most second graders have NEVER had a “normal” year of school.  As this school year enters the final stretch, there is not only the longing for normal, there is a need for rest.  We are all exhausted. More than anything we are yearning for rest.  For being able to stop, notice and let go of the constant drive to do one more thing.  We need to allow ourselves space to slow down and nourish ourselves.  We need to be gentle with ourselves, letting go of the constant self-talk driven by what we believe we should be doing.  Even as I grudgingly loosen my own heightened awareness around wearing masks, I am still recovering from the constant work of assessing risks and the decision fatigue that comes with this.  I know that I have revisited grief in a whole new way over …

On Creativity – an Interview with Kazuaki Tanahashi

by Miguel Mendonça, October 2020 *reprinted with permission from Kazuaki Tanahashi MM: What drew you to your medium? East Asian calligraphy—Chinese, Korean , or Japanese—fascinated me in my youth. There is so much to learn and express. So, I became serious and eventually started exhibiting my artwork. I also studied oil painting and Western drawing at the same time. I started combining these disciplines. For example, calligraphers don’t go off the edge of the paper, but painters do. I did calligraphy in an expressive Western painters’ way.  It was a small town near the city of Nagoya in the central part of Japan where I studied calligraphy. I was tutored but in a class at a local community center. I didn’t want to study with a famous calligrapher or painter, because I would be his or her student for the rest of my life. So, I chose someone who was not well known. MM: Do you feel a connection with the history of your medium? East Asian and Western calligraphers are by large classicists. In …

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 …

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 …