The Art of Being Human: Loving Ourselves in a Chaotic World

Meditation can be daunting.

I mean, what is it really? You sit down cross-legged on a cushion and try to clear your head of thoughts right? What are you actually doing? Does it actually do anything?


The reality is both complicated and very, very simple.

The fact is, most of us are in our heads constantly which disconnects us from the present and creates friction in our life. We wonder why we don’t have enough time, why we can’t seem to connect with others and where all our anxiety is coming from. What we don’t realize is that we have the answers to all these questions right here in the present moment if we allow ourselves to BE. Or, more importantly, we can be our own best friends if we take the time to do it.


Which is where the practice of meditation comes in.

This September 16 &17 Shastri Russell Rodgers, a senior teacher with over 40 years meditation experience, will be leading a weekend retreat at the Kootenay Shambhala Centre . This retreat- entitled The Art of Being Human: Shambhala Training Level One- is about discovering our innate goodness. He kindly shared some insight on the topic of meditation in daily life and the fear surrounding it. Watch a snippet of our video interview below or keep reading for a full, juicy slice of the Shambhala world of meditation.



Louis: Life is busier than ever. How do I fit meditation into my busy life?

Russ: First you have to understand the proper attitude and approach. Otherwise meditation and life will be fighting each other. That’s something that’s best picked up by talking to someone with experience. It’s partly an attitude that you feel, maybe a sense of humor. Meditation is really about becoming unconditional friends with yourself, which can be challenging.


(L): Where does mindfulness fit into all of this?

(R): Mindfulness brings us into the present. We can focus on what’s in front of us. We can be free of our conditioning, free of thoughts that constrain us. It’s wide open and the only time we are truly free. We can see what is real and what is not. It’s where we can take charge of our karma. Based on being present we can make choices that are beneficial to ourselves and others.


(L): What if I have lots of fear or anxiety? What can I do to help lessen it?

(R): We have a solid, habitual version of reality and then there’s the fact that it can’t be pinned down. So fear is built in–it’s the constant presence of open space, which also represents opportunity. When you see a thought in meditation, you see it as just a thought, and it dissolves of it’s own accord, back into open space–which is actually kind of relaxing and spacious. Those moments of dissolving can be very brief at first. It’s important not to cover those moments up with thoughts that you are a bad meditator because you just had that first fearful thought. What happens, happens, and you don’t judge yourself.


(L): What if my fear is too intense? How do I come to terms with that?

(R): It will come back again and again. Each time you look at the fearful thoughts without judgement. You feel the sensations in your body, and you just stay with the sensations and the thoughts as long as you can before it takes you away again. Each time it gets a little lighter and more transparent. It can be hard work.


(L): Can we ever be free of fear?

(R): We probably won’t ever be totally free of fear, and that’s a good thing.


(L): How do I know if I’m right for this retreat?

(R): If you are a human being and willing to just be with yourself and make friends with yourself, then you are right for this retreat. I’m not very good at teaching meditation to animals. They seem to be happy to be themselves.



Perfect for beginners, the weekend will be a combination of sitting and walking meditation, discussions, talks and tea. Breakfast will be provided on both days. All are welcome.


Pre Register for The Art of Being Human by clicking here or by visiting the Kootenay Shambhala Centre at our open house on Monday nights 7-8:30.