Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why I Meditate - 1 Year in Shambhala Warrior Training

For the past year I’ve been meditating 5 days per week for 15-20 minutes in length and working through a structured training program offered through the local Shambhala Center.  I’ve committed 5 of my weekends to retreats and 25 Tuesday evenings for group teachings in order to stick with and complete the 5 sequential levels in the first year’s curriculum.  So why would someone dedicate this much time to meditation and spirituality which can seem so simple and boring?  Because the Way of Shambhala has subtly but powerfully transformed my experience of living resulting in a more true, steady happiness.  More simply I enjoy it because it helps me to enjoy more of my life and consequentially bring more joy to others.

If you have experienced any of the following you already have your initial motivation to try practicing meditation and getting curious about Shambhala. 

  • Anxiety with trying to be successful, make more money, be accomplished
  • Feeling irritated, righteous and complaining about the way things are
  • Battling in your relationships at home or work
  • Unsatisfied, disengaged and drained of energy for parts of your life
  • Bouncing between pleasure seeking and pain, spinning out of control
  • Struggling with a major loss and overwhelming emotions
  • Reoccurring feelings of insecurity and doubt in yourself
  • Depressed and stuck with your current situation, caught in victim mind
  • Curious about the energy and spirit of someone that practices
  • Needing to take control of your life and make a change
  • Desiring more peace and balance in your everyday experiences
  • Hoping for a break through in your behavior, mindset
  • Seeking more happiness and purpose in your life

Meditation starts my day on the right note with reminders of the core tenants to living beautifully simple from the inside: peace, love courage and wisdom.  It helps everyday, all through my day, with every situation I remember to apply it to: work decisions, relationships, coaching, my workouts, etc.  I think it is what many in our culture are seeking right now; a more wholesome and lasting way to achieve happiness with clear instructions on how to transform our negative energies and stress about our bodies, jobs, relationships, etc. into something manageable and even enlightening.  So inspiring and central to this way is the courageous act of stepping deeper into the situations, emotions and thoughts that plague us from the little acute annoyances to the overwhelming chronic pains to learn what it is trying to tell us and then be able to let it go as the past returning your attention peacefully to the present.  For myself I know that the letting go and not making things into a statement about me has been the most challenging and the most freeing realization especially given the events of the recent years leading up to the start of my training.  Shambhala meditation has made all the difference. If you want to truly make a difference for others, I’ve learned you first have to heal, love and train yourself first to be a genuinely confident example.

A metaphor the Shambhala teachers often use for this mental training in bringing about more happiness is that it is like training your mind to balance and walk on the razors edge.  This means that we must first really get to know through mindful experience what it feels like to live on and off of the razors edge.  In my everyday practice I’ve been learning to pay attention to the signals my mind and body are always sending so I can maintain a more peaceful patient energy between speedy mind and disengaged.  I can choose loving generosity instead of manipulative giving or desperate clinging.  I can summon courageous confidence to step into a vulnerable, difficult situation instead of defensively pushing it away or cowardly avoiding it or shutting down.  This is life on the razors edge with the Shambhala community: disciplined yet relaxed to stay balanced but friendly when you fall off the path and helpful in getting back on it. 

I hope this approach feels familiar because it is lock step with Fusion’s approach to fitness and nutrition coaching only the mind is the muscle being trained to be healthier, stronger and more flexible.  I fully recommend Shambhala mindfulness training as an extension of what Fusion is trying to accomplish “break through your limits”.  With thousands of years of teaching experience and client testimonials, know you are in good hands if and when you choose to start training your mind like you train your body. It is subtle and requires regular practice but it becomes a healthy addiction once you get into it, much like our work out do.  

The Shambhala centers offer monthly “how to meditate” seminars for first timers and their complete “Way of Shambhala” meditation training program starts in January ONLY and you commit to one weekend retreat and/or weekday course at a time with 5 levels in total over the first year.  It seems like a lot but you just take it one level, one day, one moment at a time and recommit or not based on the results.  Click here for more on the upcoming training schedule. I’ve formed great bonds with my diverse class of people and teachers that have continued together through the process.  We can all see the changes in each other and feel the results in our own lives: more peaceful, loving, skillful and happy.

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