On the weekend passed I attended Levels 1 and 2 of Shambhala Training. The teaching provides a path toward and foundation for a mindfulness meditation practice.  Based on the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche as collected and shared in The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Shambhala Training is sometimes referred to as secular buddhism.

Held in the beautiful snow-rich setting of Dorje Denma Ling in Nova Scotia, some 35 or so participants attended.  Offered by David Burkholder and a small cadre of staff, assistants and volunteers, the instruction combined gentle bodywork with meditation training and practice.  David is wise, gentle, amused and amusing, broadly intelligent, challenging.

buddhist meditation retreat

I have had a sporadic sitting practice for a bit more than 4 years, inspired by some brief instruction and a meditation retreat in Thailand in 2006 through MCU Buddhist University.  In the past year or so my practice has become more consistent but in need of instruction/guidance/exploration.

The Dorje Denma Ling weekend began with bodywork based largely on Will Johnson‘s work on The

fun on retreat

Posture of Meditation. Alignment, relaxation, resilience are the key principles to settling the physical body. We performed Shamatha yoga, a simple series of postures elaborated by the Sakyong, Mipham Rinpoche connecting mindfulness of body to a sitting practice. We particpated in body scans and lovely stretches. Taking care of our physicality allowed us to sit more gently and work with mind.

Discovering basic goodness in the world and in ourselves was the first level of instruction. Cultivating our willingness to observe our habitual fear and defense mechanisms – the protection of our conceptualizations – was the second level.  In each level, sitting and walking meditation practice allowed space and time to explore the teachings.

serene beauty

We sat. We walked. We sat. We walked. We sat. We walked. We sat.

And so I continue with my practice. It is important.

I might also mention the  incredible meals and lovely teas which were offered us and which helped sustain us through some challenging hours.  The food at Dorje Denma Ling is gaining some measure of reknown. Compassionate nourishment.

In the garden of gentle sanity, May you be bombarded by the coconuts of wakefulness.

~ Chogyam Trungpa