Course Registration

This is for new students registering for our meditation classes in Colorado Springs or online. 

2018 Meditation Courses Mahakala Radio– Participant Information

Course Title:

1.  What about this course interests you?
2.  What do you hope to learn in taking this course?
3.  Describe your regular meditation practice:

4.  Describe what brought you to meditation practice:
5.  What are your principal traditions, teachers…
6.  Describe your relationship with your current teacher or your experience with spiritual teachers:
7.  Describe your relationship with sangha (fellow practitioners):
8.  Do you have a somatic movement practice? please briefly describe:
9.  What are three things you have learned through meditation or movement practice?
10.  In some courses, we have online participants.  Are you willing to have at least 1 practice conversation every 2-3 weeks with an online participant?  
You will need to use skype or google+ or facetime for this conversation
11.  Do you have any medical, physical, emotional or mental condition that will affect your practice?
12.  Please read
these responsibilities and let us know you can follow them

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Private Meditation Consultation

meditation consultation, meditation instruction colorado springs Sometimes a meditation class is not quite enough to help you find your way on the path.  The teacher-student relationship is unique and valuable.  It requires trust and willingness, mixed with a lot of courage.  This relationship can be the catalyst for deep insight to unfold.

We offer private meditation consultations by appointment.  Please contact us directly for more information on these sessions.

Or click here for our meditation classes offered, for more on Jeff Bickford, Gail Gustafson, & the student-teacher relationship.

Shibashi – 18 Movements of Taiji / Qigong

Waving Hands (Rising & Sinking)

Opening & Closing the Chest

Swinging the Rainbow

Parting the Clouds

Reeling Silk (Rolling Arms)

Rowing Across the Lake

Raising the Sun

Gazing at the Moon

Rustling Leaves (Twisting, Pushing, Grasping)

Waving Cloud Hands

Scooping the Sea & Opening to the Sky

Rolling with the Waves

Dove Spreading Wings

Dragon Emerging from the Sea

Flying Crane

Turning the Wheel

Stepping & Bouncing the Ball

Gathering Energy, Pressing Palms

( Shine the Pearl )

Click here for more moving meditation videos, Colorado meditation retreats, more information on meditation in Colorado Springs

What is Given

Generosity is not a matter of giving something to someone else.  It is letting go of the requirements we usually place on the situations we find ourselves in, of the actions we take.  ‘If I am kind to this person, they will appreciate me and send some clients my way.’  ‘If I help this person feel better, I will no longer feel so intensely alone and bad about myself.’

Generosity is not barter.

It is simply being present in what is going on without demanding it go a certain way.  More, it is being wholeheartedly in what is going on, giving it your all, letting it be vividly alive.  Technicolor!  Being right there, with all your heart, all your attention, doing what you do, free from the stress of trying to control how things go.  Freeing the situation and those around you to be as they are.

There is a statement attributed to Buddha in his first teaching on karma, ‘There is what is given’.  What does this mean?  Perhaps it points to what we are given at birth and every moment thereafter.  Attention, open clarity (or call it buddha nature), luminous emptiness, joy, love, contentment, compassion – all right there, so close we rarely see them.  And there is what arises, like a river, a continual coming and going of experience.  All this we are given.

Can we receive it?  Can we meet the open clarity that is there if we notice? Can we meet what comes and goes in our lives without requiring it be a certain way?  Without requiring that it be peaceful, profound, resonant with holiness, or comfortable?  Can we let what is be as it is?

‘There is what is given’.  What is it that we can give?  We can be in what is going on and meet it, without dodging, without copping an attitude, without demanding the moment be other than what it vibrantly is, continually letting go of the requirements we place on all we encounter.  This doesn’t mean being passive, or dull – it is doing what we do, with all our hearts, but knowing that each moment contains more than we can ever imagine, so we let it live.

Can we feel gratitude, appreciation for what is, for what is arising – for what is given, as it is?

Copyright© Jeff Bickford 12/20/10

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Give Gave Given

There is a saying many of us have heard that goes something like:  ‘as we give, so we receive’.  It seems to suggest that how and what we give leads to how and what we receive.  In my own experience that has not been the case.  I give this, I give that, I give it this way and I give it that way, and in whatever other ways I can think of, and I don’t notice a whole lot of ships coming in to my dock.

I began to wonder if I was giving the wrong things in the wrong way.  That pondering ended up in a materialistic tussle that could be summed up as: if I ponied up the right stuff with the right attitude would I get something back on a par with what I gave? Seems nice, but if I reflect upon it….. it’s a nice, lose lose proposition…

Then it struck me, what if the saying goes:  ‘as we give we receive’?  In the moment we are giving we are receiving.  That has a different ring to it.

Try it for yourself:  when you actually give something freely to another, what is your experience in the moment of giving?  It may be something like ‘I feel joy’, or ‘I feel happy’, or ‘it feels great!’.

If in the moment of giving we are receiving, then how we are giving matters.   Check again in your own experience.  Imagine giving without any requirements for results, without holding a sense of what should happen or how it should look.  What do you experience?  If we are giving, with no strings attached, there is a sense of joy or happiness or maybe even freedom, right in that moment. This seems to be one of those win win situations we hear about.

Consider trying this as a practice – becoming aware of the moment of giving.   Experiencing that ‘as we give we receive’.  What might that lead to?

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copyright© Jeff Bickford 12/16/10

You & Your Body are NOT Enemies

Dependent upon this body, most of us function without concern for its delicate balance.  Then one day, something about our body becomes ‘not right’.  We overuse a muscle group.  We sprain a shoulder.  We realize we have gained 30 pounds.  Our body becomes “the other”, the creature from the swampy dark sea, out to make us miserable.  “It” is not doing It’s job.  It is no longer something we can take for granted.  We react with anger, betrayal, despair, and defense.  Suddenly, something has to be done about It! We want someone else to get rid of the ‘other’ that is making our lives miserable.  We take medications and have surgeries.  We want “It” to return to as It was before!  It is not cooperating!

At this point, we actually have a great opportunity.  We could learn to attend to It.  Ha ha ha – such a radical idea!  The body will never return to how it was before, just as you cannot return to when you were sixteen, or before the divorce, or when you had a lot of enthusiasm for your work.  Time passes.  Everything changes.  This is the way of things.

Okay, so perhaps that is the way of things, changes happen, perhaps….  So, what can you do?  You could struggle with the goal to return to your previous ways, when you ignored your body. You could do what needs to be done for the body, decide to practice attending to the body as it is right now and see where that way of life leads.

Choice #1: Continue to Ignore

We love this choice.  Give me pain killers, a drink and reality television, then I will be fine.  Is that actually true?  What is the quality of your experience before, during and after the television, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, or shopping binges?  At best we are momentarily satisfied, or perhaps it lasts for a few hours.  But then suddenly, “It” betrays us!  Our knee hurts again, our hip on the opposite side gives out and the pain returns.  “My body, that I am working hard to ignore has come back to make me miserable.”  So we begin again, looking for a different practitioner who will treat us, or a different pain killer or other way of ignoring.   What are the effects and results of this choice?  What do you learn?

Perhaps there is nothing wrong with ignoring.  I suppose it could be a choice, such as “I am going to ignore the pain in my knee, so that I can get through my daughter’s wedding without attracting attention to myself.”  In my experience, the problem is: Ignoring is contagious.  Easily it spreads to all parts of our life and becomes the mode of operation we use for all situations that are difficult for us.  In this way, ignoring can become a numbing habit that feeds on the energy of your life.

By engaging ignoring, we become a shadow of our own potential. Think about it this way.  Do you like to be ignored or taken for granted by others?  Nope.  Neither does your body.   I have seen the effects of habitual ignoring in myself and in my clients:

1.  We become disconnected from experience.  Even experiences that we enjoy lose their sparkling vitality.

2.  Our senses become numb.  Seeing starts to lack distinction of light and color.  Hearing becomes selective and generalized within a limited range.  Our ability to experience subtlety diminishes. Our sense of taste solidifys around one to three main flavors.  Thinking becomes limited, nothing can get in, nothing can expand and nothing can move.

3.  We find ourselves pushing others away, closing down our minds and getting attached to our unpleasant experience.

Choice #2:  Learning to listen with awareness to your body

Awareness is the ability to know what is going on.  What is going on is your body is trying to get your attention.  The experience of the injury is unpleasant, you do not like unpleasant things, you link unpleasantness with a belief you solidify around these stories and you shut down.

Alleviating pain is most effective when learning is involved.  We have this neat thing, our body, which is how we experience the world.  By bringing attention to your body you become aware of your actions, your thoughts, and your emotions and their effects on you, those around you and the world you live in.  Bringing attention to your body is one step to vitalty.

Here are some tips to get you started.

1.  Be practical.  If you are in pain, injured, emotionally upset, overweight, etc. definitely seek help from a health care professional.  Listen to what they have to say.  Educate yourself.  Try what they suggest.  Notice the effects and proceed from there.  Do what needs to be done.

2.  Start a practice of attention to the body.  Find teachers skilled in the study and practice of awareness through the body, through movement and through experiential meditation. Be open enough to give different methods an opportunity to work.  Check out: Search the Internet on movement and awareness, body awareness, movement pattern analysis, embodied meditation… Become curious about what you do not know.

Here are a few starting points for bringing attention to your body:

1.  Experience your body resting.

Before you jump out of your bed alarmed by your clock, practice experiencing your whole body. What areas are the most released into your bed?  What areas are not touching the surface below you?  Without looking, how long is your sense of your right leg?  How far apart from your left leg is your right leg?  What is the your sense of weight of your right leg?  Is it the same as your left leg?  Can you feel your pelvis?  Do you know what the bones of your pelvis look like?  What part of your pelvis is touching the bed?  What is your sense of space between the front of your torso and the back of your torso?  How much room do your organs have inside you?  Which arm feels hotter?  Which hand is most relaxed?  Where does your tongue rest in your mouth?  Can you tell that you are breathing?  What is the quality of your breath (strained, slow, full)?  Does one lung fill more deeply than the other?  Where can you feel your body being moved by your breath (your abdomen, your sides, your mouth, your throat)?  Now, feel your entire body again, the whole experience.

2.  Experience your body in motion.

Spend a few minutes walking with the intention to experience your body moving.  What is motivating and initiating the action of walking?  Are your legs pulling your along?  Is your head leading you onward?  Is your sternum/chest moving forward or is it resisting or frozen?  Is your pelvis gliding forward or is it dragging behind you?  What is each side of your body doing?  What are your shoulder blades doing?  What do they have to do with your chest?  Are your arms stiff with anticipation or relaxed in cooperation?  Are you holding any part of your body with unnecessary tension? (jaw, tongue, eyes, fingers, lower back, heart area, gut)  What is the feeling of your feet?  Can you feel all of your toes or just your smallest toe?  Do your feet emphasize pushing, pulling, springing, or flopping as you walk?  What is the experience of the overall quality of pressure?  Is it easy to walk along or does it feel like the space is resisting your forward action?  What happens to the pressure if you walk backwards or sideward?  What is your sense of pace?  Do you feel rushed or do you have all the time in the world?  What is your sense of flow, do you feel bound up when you practice placing your attention on your body’s movement or do you have a sense of free flowing ease?  Notice the quality of space as you walk.  Are you pinpointed with your focus, seeing only the sidewalk before you or are you global with your focus, seeing everything all around you?  What is your experience of the air as you move through space?  Does the air feel hot, light, clear, fresh, thick, wet, or stuffy?  Now, return to walking, moving through space, experiencing your body, your senses and the space all at once.

The body has its knowing.  It is not verbal.  It is not mental.  The knowing of the body is truthful and clear.  You do not need to spend your life being estranged from your body.  It is here with you all the time, waiting.  You can become intimate friends.  It requires a willingness to notice your body and discipline to develop the skill.  It is like adopting a new dog.  At first you learn to observe the dog’s movement behaviors, then you learn to communicate through movement with the dog, then the dog learns to trust you, open up and together you grow with respect, honor and devotion.  Your body is not your enemy.  It eagerly waits to show you the experience called life.

Copyright© Gail Gustafson  September 2010, Colorado Springs, CO
Click for information about movement and awareness, upcoming classes

How to do Awareness Through Movement® Lessons

Go Slowly. The movements you are learning may seem unusual and unfamiliar to you. You will need time to assimilate them, to feel the way your body is moving and changing. Do not rush! Pause whenever you feel like it and repeat movements you want to experience more fully.

Insist on Comfort. There is no reward in doing any of the movements in an uncomfortable position. Alter the position in whatever way makes it comfortable for you. Enjoy the process of the movement as much as the result. If it hurts, it’s not helping you.  Never try to overcome pain – it is a signal that your body is asking you to find a new way to move.

Don’t test your limits. Your goal here is to discover how your body achieves a movement so that you can learn to make that movement easier. Your movements should be light and as effortless as possible. Imagine how good it will feel to do simple mobile tasks without trying hard, without working.

Use your imagination. Take the time to do movements from these lessons in your imagination only, before doing them in practice. Allow the movement to become very clear and lucid in your mind, like a scene from a movie. Imagine a movement before attempting it can make an enormous difference in your ease of motion.

Rest frequently. The movements in these lessons, while gentle and pleasurable, may cause slight strain because you are using parts of yourself you may not have used in a long time, or in ways that are not familiar to you. Rest often during each lesson. Relax and let the movement settle in, enjoy the feeling.

Take the lessons with you. Throughout your day, pay attention to how a lesson affected you. Be aware of changes in the way you reach, walk, sit, feel and think. Putting your sensations into words builds a new sensory vocabulary and expands your body awareness, increasing aliveness and changing fixed habits of thinking and feeling. A lesson doesn’t have to end with its last movement – let the learning process linger and grow.

Click for more lessons and upcoming Awareness Through Movement  and Feldenkrais courses with  Jeff Bickford 

Ease and the Four Tools

‘Can I Be at Ease With This?’
‘Can I Experience This With Ease?’

‘This’ could be difficult emotions coming up during sitting practice or a difficult situation during your day.  ‘Can I experience this with ease?’ points to a possible way of experiencing, of doing; ‘Can I be at ease with this?’ points to a state to be in while experiencing.

Most of us would love to be able to rest in a state of ease while traversing the daily stresses and discomforts of living; pharmaceutical companies realized this long ago.  Alchohol, opium, valium; ‘thar’s gold in them hills!’

We can also hypnotize ourselves into states, create trances.  They are distractions; ‘what is’ remains, as it is, we’ve simply donned padding.

‘Ease’ can be a way of experiencing, a way of coming more completely into the moment without being sucked into the vortex of powerful emotions, a way of being in the complexity of experience with the ability to respond to what is arising rather than react.

4 Tools:

1 give yourself permission to let your experience be just as it is

2 don’t try to understand it, simply experience it

3 relax in the experience, difficult as it may be

4 open to the whole of your experience

We have truckloads of rules of how and what we should be experiencing, particularly in meditation – ‘I should be calm, peaceful, clear, undistracted, blah blah blah blah’.  Allow yourself to experience what is arising.  Simple.  Sometimes it’s a roiling mess, sometimes it’s open and clear.  This is it.

‘I’ve almost got it, if I can just figure it out I’ll be finally free of all this’.  Right.  Pooh Bear and the honey jar.  A trap we fall into over and over again.  We might understand ‘it’, know it’s causes and ramifications and permutations, but “It’ is still there.  Simply experience it.  See above re ‘permission’.

‘Just Relax’ a very good teacher once said.  If you shout it sternly 3 times to yourself it’ll work.  Or.  What does it mean to relax with your experience?  Say it’s a gripping tightness in your chest with a sense of anxiety, even fear.  To relax with that experience is to be with it, as it is, not trying to change it, not judging it, letting the experience, and your sense of your self, just be.  Not adding layers of tension and stress created by judging, trying to change what is going on, feeling bad for feeling the way you do.  Relax into your experience, just as it is.

Frequently when we try to be with an experience we end up collapsing completely to just that experience, feeding it, until it takes over our world.  Open to all of the moment.  Your body, your relation to the ground beneath your feet or the floor of your pelvis, the movement of your breath, your sense of density, the light, sounds, objects and space around you, and whatever is coming up emotionally.  Continue to open, including more and more of your experience, not hanging on to it, letting it come and go.

These 4 tools may move you towards experiencing, doing, with ease.  Don’t get attached to getting there; there is no there there.

copyright© 2008 Jeff Bickford

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