All posts tagged: women

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 …

Grounding Into The Four Layers Of Your Being – A guided meditation from Sara Avant Stover

Grounding Into The Four Layers Of Your Being Please click the above link for a gentle meditative practice to begin the start of your day or any time you’re needing to connect more deeply with yourself. Attuning to your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies, you’ll move through all the different dimensions of your being. The result is landing in a place of gratitude, calm, and presence. Join Sara at Drala Mountain   How do we stay inspired, centered, and rooted in our innate wisdom—especially during times of challenge? In this three-day women’s retreat, you’ll replenish your body, heart, and mind through spaciousness, quiet, yogic and dharmic teachings and practices, sisterhood, as well as ample time in nature. Autumn is the season to fill our inner wells with reserves before the onset of winter. Together, we’ll do just this. Each day will include periods of gentle guided yin and slow yoga; seated, walking, standing, and lying-down meditation; silence; dharma teachings and discussions; women’s circle practices; and time in nature. Using the wisdom of the Buddha, the …

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 …

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 …

an invitation

An Invitation

by:  Katharine Kaufman A retreat has a beginning, middle, and end to it and certain things are bound to happen during these phases.  I listen to a chef on the radio. First thing to teach novice chefs is: mise-en-place. This means to gather and put all the ingredients and tools you’ll need for the recipe in one place and also to prepare them. Chop, grate, stir. This is the beginning. She said the new chefs want to rush to make the recipe without preparing.  I have packed and traveled and checked in, removed my shoes, and lined them up with the others and am standing outside the meditation hall. There is one thing left I need to do to begin. My meditation cushion. I need to find a place to sit down and wait. “Stay in the middle of the event and listen for messages there,” Barbara Dilley, my friend, and a contemplative dance mentor said to a group of us. I wrote it down and pasted the instructions on the inside cover of my …