Meditation at RBY

As you many of you have noticed we’re slowly building classes at RBY that reflect a variety of interests. It’s the hope, though, that it’s not just a mess of different offerings, but a cohort of classes that compliment one another. At RBY, we begin with learning classical, alignment based yoga and then we can continue our practice by working on endurance and muscle strength in the power vinyasa, strength clinics and our Kundalini Class, and finally we can learn to settle our mind in meditation. Of course, meditation in many ways is both the base for a good yoga practice and often functions as a test to show us just how deep and honest our asana practice has been thus far, challenging us to go back to the mat and explore the mystery of breath, mind and asana ever further. Regardless, RBY’s method is a truly a holistic approach to health and well being. Rather than paying for multiple gyms and studios all around Seattle and Shoreline, a student has the option of developing in multiple ways just at our humble little space.

With all this in mind, i’m planning on starting one or two evening meditations, Monday from 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. and Thursday from 6:45 – 7:30 p.m. The idea behind these sits is that they will not be structured as a class (as the other 3 scheduled meditations already are) but will be for more experienced sitters to simply come and sit in silence for one or two rounds of meditation.I will not put these particular sits on the physical calendar, as I wouldn’t want new students to come in expecting instruction and get scared off with 45 minutes of silent sitting practice. 🙂 But, they will be a set part of the schedule and announced at regular meditation sits for beginners to learn about. Feel free to shoot us an email at richmondbeachyoga@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Warm Regards, Rob

The Magic of Retreat

Every retreat is full of surprises. Once you’ve been on retreat, you know to expect the unexpected: maybe not a huge epiphany, but a small, meaningful shift in perspective. Whether we are retreating from something or seeking peace and quiet, something in us begins to stir the moment we set the intention to go on retreat.

One of the first things we notice on retreat is how we are profoundly connected to those around us, and yet we are having a profoundly personal experience. It is as if, to borrow from Rilke, we are “protecting one another’s solitude.”

A retreat is sacred by default. Something in us calls, and is called to. As Rumi advised, we should let ourselves be “silently drawn by the strange pull” of what we really love. Sometimes the busy-ness of life covers the ears of our hearts and keeps us from hearing that call, from feeling that pull.

Retreat offers novelty: new surroundings, new constellations of people. We might feel as if we were stepping onto our mat or sitting on our meditation cushion for the first time. We might realize it’s been a long time since we stood still in the midst of trees and listened to the birds calling to one another. We might wake up refreshed for the first time in a long time, to the wonderful smell of coffee that someone else prepared for us.

Then comes the time of goodbyes and departure, and return to the familiar. And yet something is different. We are clearer. We are better listeners; our hearts are full and we are more present for those we had left behind. We might have learned a new yoga pose, a new way of guiding the breath— or we might have learned that we love saffron, or that we have the ability to relax profoundly and hear our inner voice in the practice of yoga nidra.

So the retreat lingers lightly, casting a bit of brightness and color on what might otherwise seem like the drudgery or monotony of daily life. We don’t go on retreat to escape the everyday; rather we go on retreat to be reminded of the sacred beauty that infuses every aspect of our human life, and we rejoice.

Human Beings are Amazing

Need a little inspiration? I read this gem from Sharon Salzberg this morning: “Our potential as human beings is measureless; it is vast, unfathomable. Our minds are incredibly dynamic, powerful, energetic force fields. Recognizing these realities is the ground for seeing that what we care about and what we do with our minds makes a difference.”

One way to tap into this power is the meditation practice of working with the brahma-viharas, or “divine abodes”, which we’ve been doing in the Tuesday 5:30 p.m. meditation class. These “divine abodes” include lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. We actively cultivate these qualities/emotions/capacities in the class, using time-honored methods.

Salzberg (who was in Seattle just last weekend) continues: “When we practice the brahma-viharas, we can benefit ourselves and all of life. Our lives are our own artistic medium, and there is nothing holding us back from shaping them except our limited ideas of what is possible.”

Imagine spending more of your own precious life dwelling in lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. You absolutely can! Join us on Tuesdays. See you then.

Are You Considering a Silent Meditation Retreat?

Every time I go to a silent meditation retreat, people seem intrigued. They often say, “I think I could use one of those.” Can you imagine 3 or more days with no cell phone, no internet, and no social talking? Does the idea appeal to you?

We are fortunate in this area to have many opportunities for silent retreat.  Cloud Mountain Retreat Center in southwest Washington is a gem, and they have a variety of visiting teachers throughout the year.

Bodhiheart Sangha offers one retreat every August on beautiful Samish Island. You can attend all or part of the retreat. See their website to learn more about these wonderful teachers and their strong Buddhist lineage.

You can do an internet search, of course, and you can contact Northwest Dharma News for a list of meditation classes and events in the Pacific Northwest.

One retreat that many of my friends and acquaintances from all walks of life and all traditions and cultures have done is the vipassana retreat in the tradition of S.N. Goenka at Northwest Vipassana Center.   This 10-day donation-based retreat can be a game changer for many people, and it can be a good foundation for going on to study with any teacher in any meditation tradition.

Enjoy!

All About RBY’s Mindfulness Meditation Program

Mindfulness meditation is everywhere in the news these days because scientists are showing how it changes our brains, making us smarter, happier, calmer and healthier. Meditation helps us relate better to the inevitable difficulties in life. Meditation is the opposite of multi-tasking. It teaches us to see clearly where before there was confusion, to get a little closer to reality and less mired in the stories we make up about nearly everything.

Meditation is an art best learned from experienced teachers and practiced with others who are motivated to befriend their own mind and wake up fully to the miracle that life truly is. People from all walks of life and all spiritual traditions practice mindfulness meditation.

What can you expect from a meditation class? First, a lot of support. The teacher has been there and knows how challenging it is. She or he will show you how to sit so you can be reasonably comfortable. You can sit on a bench or chair if need be, or even stand up.
The teacher will guide you in developing awareness. Meditation does not require stopping all thought; it is said that the mind thinks, just as the ears hear and the eyes see. But mindfulness allows you to be aware of your mental experience so you can direct it in a positive way. Thus it is said that mindfulness guards the mind.

A meditation class might focus on breath, emotions, the body, or some other aspect of our experience. Sometimes the focus is on cultivating positive emotions such as love, compassion, joyfulness, and equanimity.

No one ever said that meditation is easy, although at times it can be relaxing and even blissful. The human mind has many nicknames: traditionally, it is referred to as a wild horse or a monkey, and a more contemporary take on this is: a neighborhood where one should not go alone after dark (said rather tongue-in-cheek, and yet there is truth to this).

If you look at your own mind and immediately see how loud or busy or obsessive it is, you are just a normal human being. If there is a pop song stuck in your head and you can’t get it out, again, you are just a normal human being. Stick with the practice, and it will not only get easier (physically as well as mentally), but it will become more interesting. As you strengthen your “mindfulness muscles”, you will find it is easier to relax and let go, and you will begin to see how the mind works at very subtle levels. And what could possibly be more interesting than your own mind?

We are very fortunate to have teachers from BodhiHeart Sangha teaching meditation in Shoreline at Richmond Beach Yoga. The next quarterly Mindfulness Meditation Mini-Retreat is on January 31st from 2 to 5 p.m. with Venerable Dhammadinna, and a 5-week course will take place Monday evenings in March from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. with Carol Meckling, MA. We also have a group practice session on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. This is open to all, including beginners, and it is included in your RBY membership (6 months, annual, and autopay).

Venerable Dhammadinna took robes in 1983 as a Buddhist monastic after earning a science degree at U. Mass. She moved to Asia thereafter and remained for 21 years, studying with U Pandita and Ajahn Buddhadasa, among others, walking daily alms rounds and meditating in the forests and temples of Burma and Thailand. In 2000 she was sent by her Burmese teacher to Dharmsala to study with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Over the past two decades Ven. Dhammadinna has taught meditation in Thailand as well as in England, India, and the United States. Venerable Dhammadinna now makes her home on Capitol Hill in Seattle and has been resident teacher at BodhiHeart Sangha since 2006.

Carol Meckling, MA is a longtime Shoreline resident. She is a senior student at BodhiHeart Sangha, a Buddhist practice community in the tradition of the Dalai Lama, as well as a psychotherapist and professional artist. She has led meditation groups in prison settings and has twenty years of experience in the mental health field. Carol strives to bring mindfulness and Dharma to her everyday life and to her painting.