Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Weekend Mind Erasers

I'm as much a fan of "stay"-cations as I am about vacations. To be honest the thought of getting in my car and going on a road trip excites me. Perhaps it's because it reminds me of my high school and college years where we were limited to traveling wherever we could get by car when it came to spring break or a weekend getaway (one such spring break involved driving 18 hours to key west thus proving you aren't as limited as you think when driving). Maybe it's because I spend so much time in airports and flying around the country, packing and unpacking my suitcase week after week. There's something freeing about being able to take whatever you want (Hello full size shampoo bottles!) and as much as you want (4 pairs of shoes and 5 jackets? Yes please I might NEED those). Whatever the case may be, when I do have the wanderlust urge creep into my veins, I seek out engaging places that happened to be in my own "backyard." Which led me to find The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, a Buddhist Destination here in Colorado (pictured above).
Last year, about this time, Chad mentioned he wanted to take a spin class. It was just in passing, and to tell the truth, I don't even know why he said it because he truly hates spin (as I later found out) but it sparked something in my brain. I began frantically searching for a place to take a class where I didn't have to sign up for a gym membership (24 hour fitness? no thanks) which lead me to find Qi Fit ( The spin class was a combination of half an hour of spin and half an hour of yoga. My first class, killed me. I swear I tasted blood during the biking part. During the yoga I was awkward, had no idea what the poses were and spent half the class facing the wrong direction. Yet, I was hooked. And with a wedding 5 months away, I signed up for unlimited monthly classes and began my obsession with yoga.
The challenge of yoga turned into a love for the practice which in turn sparked an interest in Buddhism for me. This is in part, why I picked our honeymoon in Thailand and what led to this tattoo:
Which is my first and only tattoo ( so far at least). Om is where I draw my strength from and practicing yoga taught me about Om and I feel, saved my sanity and my life. I was so stressed out about our wedding and so upset by people and things happening in my life, but after an hour on the yoga mat I forgot all my worries and could focus on what was really important in life.
"Let go, open up and create space for something new.." was a quote I heard quite frequently from one of my instructors and I took it to heart.

So all this realization has led me to be interested in visiting this Buddhist Retreat. The Shambhala Mountain Resort is located in Red Feather Lakes Colorado and has been around for 30 years. People come from all over the world to see The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya which transformed the site into a pilgrim's destination. Stupa's are related to ancient Asian burial grounds. When Buddha was dying his disciples asked what they should do and he told them to build a Stupa for his remains. Since then, these Stupa's are erected to signify the remains of a great teacher. The teacher buried within is Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who died in 1987, after establishing several Tibetan Buddhist communities in the United States with The Shambhala Mountain Resort being one of them.
There are yoga and meditation programs and visitors can stay anywhere from nice lodging to tents. You can hike the surrounding property, eat vegetarian dinners, meditate or practice yoga or simply talk to many of the Buddhist teachers around the campus. While some of the weekend programs are pricey ($445 for a weekend Yoga retreat which is equal to about 4 months of classes at my studio) but I would like to go up for a weekend just to visit the center and see this amazing piece of architecture in Colorado that I had no idea even existed. It's amazing you don't have to travel half way around the world to see something of this magnitude. Being that I am more spiritual than religious I can respect the Buddhists and their dedication to meditation and reaching a higher level of enlightenment. Many times in spin or yoga class I have to "quiet the chatter" or turn my brain off so that I can power through the intense workout. Your mind gives out long before your body does and you have to silence that inner voice that says "you can't do this." I am always open to new experiences and learning so I think this place would make an ideal weekend retreat....

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