A gift isn’t fully realised until it is given away, then. Those who will not acknowledge gratitude or who refuse to labor in its service neither free their gifts nor really come to possess them.
~ Lewis Hyde, The Gift
Photo credit from National Geographic
In March of this year, I went to Sarnath, India, where Shakyamuni Buddha gave teachings for the very first time. While I was there I had the incredible good fortune to have a private meeting with His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. My meeting was limited to 3 minutes, so I had time for one question and one photo. In answer to my question, he essentially reminded me that the best way to use this precious human birth is to practice taming the mind through meditation, and to use that training to develop compassion for all sentient beings.
Just finished our 3rd annual Contemplative Practice and Wellness Retreat in Phuket, and the incomparable Amanpuri Resort. We hosted a small group of graduate level psychology students in a training designed to share mindfulness practice for practical application in the clinical setting.
It was a fabulous reminder that being a pilgrim, learning to train the mind and body to be present does NOT have to mean self-denial through ascetic practices.
Though we did practice yoga and meditation each day, and discussed ways to inspire compassion to arise in our hearts, we also ate fantastic Thai food, discovered the beautiful beaches Thailand is famous for.
We will repeat this program again in October 2014, so if you are interested to join send me a message in the form below, or click here for more information.
If ever you need a reminder on why to practice Dharma, Pema’s message of love is the only reminder you need. Enjoy.
Giving Our Best: A Retreat with Pema Chödrön on Practicing the Way of the Bodhisattva – Trailer from Shambhala Publications on Vimeo.
We are all connected, you’ve no doubt heard this before. A friend recently sent me a link to this incredible video that shows why, from a scientific and a spiritual perspective. Rather than looking to the outside world to create peace on earth, we can change our planet by changing how we see things.
Please have a look.
Just as I was about to enter into solitary meditation retreat a couple of weeks ago here in Crestone, I learned that Tulku Damcho Rinpoche would come to give 3 days of empowerments at Vajra Vidya Retreat center.
Empowerment (Tibetan: wang) in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is a ritualized way of transmitting the essential wisdom of certain deity practices, so that when one undertakes that practice, there is an authentic connection to the lineage. It makes the practice more powerful when you have a live connection–like having someone pick up on the other end of the phone line, rather than just standing there with a phone to your ear.
So, talk about a powerful way to begin retreat.
After receiving the empowerments, I shut my door and spent the next 10 days practicing, using Thrangu Rinpoche’s commentary of Pointing Out the Dharmakaya as a guide for my meditation sessions. If you aren’t familiar with this text by the 9th Karmapa, go get it now. It is one of the most clear and concise guides for Mahamudra meditation there is, with excellent, easy to read commentaries on Shamatha and Vipassana meditation.
Some days were easier than others, and yet the vast San Luis Valley out my windows helped me keep perspective. After all, we can’t always expect clear blue skies.
But finally, perhaps because of all those blessings, by the end of retreat something wonderful shifted, allowing me to see great beauty in the imperfection of things. Sometimes sunsets are made more compelling by the presence of dark clouds, especially when you realize that it’s all impermanent. Then you can appreciate the fleeting beauty of it all.
Getting ready for our second annual Contemplative Psychology Retreat Intensive this week at Amanpuri Villas in Phuket. It’s not at all a bad place to have a retreat.
Ten graduate students from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology will learn the foundations of Ashtanga yoga, shamatha sitting meditation, and practices of loving kindness and compassion, all with the view of applying these tools to the therapeutic process.
Though I think staying in such a gorgeous environment is itself therapy. I’m already healed.