Windhorse: Episode two of Integrative Mental Health: the Trialogues podcast. In our second episode we talk about Mary’s path to Windhorse Integrative Mental Health, her interest on the wisdom that comes from within, her studies in Naropa and a Buddhist retreat center, and how all of these experiences taught her about community and the effects of an uplifted environment on the mind. With that let’s get into the podcast
So I would love to hear more about what brought you into Windhorse.
Mary: What brought me into Windhorse?
Mary: Gosh this must be my week for talking about that. Well I just talked to Cheryl who was doing a profile. What brought me into Windhorse was really a period in my twenties right after I graduated from college where like a lot of people in those days I was searching for meaning, and I had been raised as a congregational, in the congregational church and had sort of left that faith in a lot of ways and was searching for a philosophy of life, and I found it in Buddhism. And I also found it in the 70s when Naropa Institute was just getting underway, and it seemed like every time I, in those days book stores were a place to go and where there was always interesting bulletin boards and interesting conversations going on and interesting books.
And there was this summer where it seemed like every bookstore I went into somebody was talking about Naropa Institute and going out to Boulder, Colorado, and all sorts of artists and thinkers and groundbreaking folks who were sort of on the cutting edge of what was developing in the zeitgeist were at Naropa Institute as well as Chögyam Trungpa, a Tibetan teacher who came to this country in 1970, had relocated and founded this institute of Buddhist studies.
And essentially Buddhism is, it’s a psychological-spiritual philosophy, and has a lot to do with what makes human beings tick, how our minds work, how our emotions work.
Windhorse: What did you see as the key differences?
Mary: Because most of the Protestant religion that I experienced emphasized sort of importance, power, authority and knowledge as being outside the individual. And I think there was a movement in the culture as well as me as an individual to find my own wisdom. And I think Buddhism really that’s what it’s about. It’s about finding your wisdom, finding the wisdom of being in your 20s, finding the wisdom of being in your 60s, you know?
So I went out to Naropa and it was a tremendously exciting environment. I studied Tai Chi, I studied Buddhism, I studied some Buddhist approaches to theater, it was a very heady and exciting time.
Windhorse: Do you remember your first days at Naropa?
Mary: Well my first days at Naropa were interesting because my brother was also out there, and my brother told me what to take. He said well you’ve got to take this class on […] (00:04:13) with Marvin Casbury. You’ve got to take this class on Buddhist psychology with John Baker. You know, so I did what he said even though he’s my younger brother. And I learned a lot. I enrolled eventually in the East-West Psychology Masters, which I was only in briefly because from there I went to study at the Maitri Institute, which at that point was in Wayndale, New York. Did a kind of retreat there and then went to […] (00:04:45) and ended up feeling like I needed to just be in a retreat center as a Buddhist practitioner for a few years.
And a lot of water under the bridge after that, but that was a life-changing experience for me to live in a retreat center and to study Buddhism, and I think I learned a lot about Windhorse by living in a retreat center because we were creating community. We were not so much focused on ourselves but we learned the value of service and the value of creating an environment that makes it possible for other people to learn.
Windhorse: The uplifted environment.
Mary: An uplifted environment, an environment that takes some discipline to maintain and some awareness of the effect of our environments on our state of mind. And so I learned very directly how to just put a vase of flowers in a particular place to uplift that room, or how to keep a place really clean. Because if a place is really clean and orderly there’s a way in which it wakes you up. It wakes your mind up.
Windhorse: I was thinking about this actually when I stayed in a hotel in Boston recently. And I really hate hotels. I’m just averse to them for some reason. And I said to my husband why do you think people like hotels? And he said because they’re so simple and uncluttered.
Mary: I love them. I find it’s kind of soothing because not a lot of my junk everywhere.
Windhorse: Yes, that’s what he said too. It’s like the simplicity, pared-down environment; it somehow strips away stress and worry.
Mary: That’s right and you don’t have all that clutter that’s talking to you, so that it’s possible to be quiet and peaceful.
Windhorse: Thank you so much for joining us for Integrative Mental Health: the Trialogues podcast. If you’d like to find out more about Windhorse Integrative Mental Health please visit our website at www.windhorseimh.org. You can also find us on Facebook, /windhorseimh, and our Twitter handle is @WindhorseIMH. Thanks again and we’ll see you at the next podcast episode.