Floral Notes and Bardo: And, who knows? But living…

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Green blades of grass are popping up from the ground.

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Last night a deep discussion on death and impermanence in class with Greg — Fearlessness in Everyday life.  Afterwards, with Heather, connecting in presence, communicating, acknowledging a disconnect in… view, personality, life-approach, interests.  Acknowledging the possibility of splitting as well as the possibility of not.  Impermanence is not theoretical here.  None of the teachings are.  This whole place is a living, breathing, dharma lesson.  Teachings in 3D.  Maybe 4D.  I can taste the dharma here.  It rubs my shoulders and smacks me on the head.  Walking away from her, I felt relief — in imagining passing, freedom.  Now… What is freedom?   Solitude — free of mirrors?  Free to only dive into dharma?  What is dharma?  Sitting on a cushion and reading books?  I know that my work here, my whole life here, is the path of dharma.  I may be here for ten years.  This morning in meditation, I was contemplating impermanence.  I recalled my brother singing “All Things Must Pass” to our dad while he was dying of cancer.  There seems to be enough room — in my life, heart, mind — to let that happen.  Clinging is clear to see here, and its futility.  Beauty in arising, beauty in dwelling, beauty in passing.  And, who knows?  But living with the reality of impermanence…

– April 10, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Knowing (Not Knowing)

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Private appreciation for mystery — not exactly private, but not easily shared.  I can’t tell you.

Slipping from a rock, so, trusting air to not grip my skin and for earth to bruise me nice.

~~~

Heather doing chores:

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I was thanked just now by a teacher for what I do in the community.  He attributed it to my connection to practice, to the dharma, to the lineage.  I told him (he already knew):

“I appreciate that connection.  It’s there.  And, it’s very mysterious.  So, everything that I do here is very natural.”

It’s quite huge to be experimenting, playing with, forms such as social structures.  It’s not about being reckless and pushing people around, but with the sincere wish for harmony, I am jamming, making statements of all sorts, all the time.  In this closely interconnected situation, it’s easy to see karmic effects rippling outwards, and feedback coming around, back through.  Everything that everyone does influences the shapes, tones, colors.  Some statements are bigger, some more subtle.

The flavor of every “good-morning” affects the community.

It’s artistic on a big scale.

Friendliness cannot be contrived.

Genuine expressions of friendliness, care, humor, delight: ventilate stuffiness, allow for glow.  So, the thing is to cultivate good-mind.  I can groom my own little garden.  And, that affects everything else.  The rest comes naturally.

Teacher told me: “You’ve done a lot of work in the past.  It’s karma.  It’s no accident.  But, it is mysterious.”

We shared a knowing (not-knowing) grin.

– April 8, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Blissful Who-Knows-What (HUM HUM HUM)

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Greeting my smile at the bottom of the ocean, therefore unconcerned with flotation or undertow.  Wakeful waves — only the chatter of the depths.

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Friday evening — Feast celebration for Trungpa Rinpoche‘s Parinirvana.  Sadhana of Mahamudra.  In the middle of the triple HUM recitation — the space of rainbow magic manifest — the Sakyong and the choir of Acharyas, appeared.  We created an isle, parted the sea.  Rinpoche came in and prostrated three times to the large Buddha, which contains his father‘s skull relic, and a picture of the Vidyadhara on the shrine along with many offerings.

He gazed at the picture, whispered blessings, and tossed a khata into the seated Buddha’s opened palm (perfect shot).

He offered amrita from a skull cup to each one of us.  Then, out front, he said some words about the preciousness of us all being gathered at the Great Stupa for this occasion.  Then, we sang the Anthem and circumambulated.

I circumambulated behind Pema.

Then, back into the Stupa and resumed the feast:

HUM HUM HUM

After the feast, chants, and a video of Trungpa Rinpoche giving a talk at Naropa in 1976. Then, old-timers shared stories.

~~~

Saturday, a day of catching up with Heather. Since the move it’s been so scattered. Lots of time together. Felt great, healthy.  Anyway…

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Sunday morning, a talk from the Sakyong to the staff.  Beautiful.

In the evening, dinner in the shrine room, because we’re re-painting our dining hall.  Joshua and Greg (old dogs) telling us about consorts and yabyum deities (because we asked like curious children).  Mystical things in a fun tone.

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Being around the Sakyong and Acharyas… Feels warm, big.  Glad to be a part of it.  Yesterday, before Rinpoche left the land, I was speaking with Acharya Lobel.  He expressed to me what a powerful retreat it was for all of them.  That they were grateful for the staff holding the space so well, and that, inside, they were blown away by the teachings.

It’s great to hear that.  I’m glad to be contributing.  And, hearing reports of what’s going on “inside” keeps me brimming with curiosity and longing.

It’s fun.  It’s an adventure.  How to get to the next point?  Clues and questions.  Magical encounters.  Synchronicity…

So much synchronicity while they were all here.  Like, whatever was going on in that shrine room was affecting everything else.  The waves extending and stirring things into blissful who-knows-what.  Music.

– April 7, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: This Time…

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

I walked along a dirt trail, beside Rinpoche, holding a white umbrella over his head to shield him from the sun.

A feeling of cosmic friendship, preciousness, gratitude.

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Earlier in the morning I held a tray for him while he made tea offerings, after returning from his morning run, still catching his breath and sweating.

The core teachers of the Shambhala Buddhist mandala are here: The Sakyong, Ani Pema, the Acharyas, the Kalapa Council.  It’s powerful, enchanting.

The teachings that are occurring here these days are new.  There is a sense of quiet explosiveness.  It’s tangible.  There is a glow.

After one teaching session yesterday, the Sakyong ran joyfully from the shrine hall back to his quarters, his escorts had to keep up.

It’s awesome to be here for this.

A couple of years ago, my first week at Shambhala Mountain Center, the annual Acharya retreat was happening.  I was mystified.  So beautiful.  The first time I saw Rinpoche, he was being escorted down the stairs by someone holding a white umbrella.

Now, the wheel has turned a couple of times, and I’m holding the umbrella.  Where will I end up, and up, as the wheel turns and turns?  How long will I be on the planet before I die?

I like the direction things are going.  I hope to live a long life to allow for more and more blossoming.

And of course… this is it.  Maybe I will live long enough to become a close student of Rinpoche, perhaps I will be an Acharya.  Or, maybe I will die sooner than that.  Today, I am in a very fortunate position.  My dedication to the dharma has brought me here.  I wish to honor that and not let my dedication wane.  I wish to offer more and more, to become more and more sane and helpful to others, and to generally delve deeper and wholeheartedly into the dharma.

May I relate to all the flickering conditions of my life as dharmas, and know the entirety of my life to be the path of awakenment.  May I not take my good fortune for granted.  May I not seek refuge from fear and discomfort in conditional situations, but rather, take genuine refuge in the three jewels, again and again.

~~~

“This time, practice the main points”

“‘This time’ refers to this lifetime. You have wasted many lives in the past, and in the future you may not have the opportunity to practice. But now, as a human being who has heard the dharma, you do. So without wasting any more time, you should practice the main points.” — Vidyadhara, the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

 – April 3, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Funny Little Crush on a Nun

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Pema Chödrön is on the land.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream that her and I were walking around the land together.  At some point, we were gazing into each other’s eyes and she said something like:

“We have karma like we’ve kissed before.”

Like, in a past life, we were honey-buddies.

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A couple of days ago, when I first saw her, as we were crossing paths in our dining hall, we exchanged bows.

I wish that I may say to her, somehow: “Thank you.”

Who on this planet has been more helpful to me than her?  I don’t know.  And I’ve never exchanged words with her.

I saw her on a street corner in Boulder once.  And now I’m seeing her, in little glimpses, here.  On my way to my office this morning, I was watching her walk up the steps to the shrine room, from a distance.  She stopped and turned around, looked back at me.  I bowed and walked away.  I felt embarrassed.  A few minutes ago, walking, I saw her on a trail up ahead.  She turned to walk in my direction. I became fluttery.  I smiled and waved like a goofball while we passed each other.  She smiled and waved back.  Ahh… Hopeless..

Yesterday was April Fools Day.  Throughout the afternoon, people brought me love notes from Pema to me (created by Heather, who I told about the dream as soon as I awoke, and who has seen me swooning for the past couple of days).

It’s a funny little crush that I have on that amazing little nun.

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Connecting Tai Chi and Buddhism with Larry Welsh

By Travis Newbill

Larry Welsh will be leading Flowing Like Water, Strong as a Mountain: Tai Chi Retreat, April 25-27

Larry-20Welsh-IMGP0429cc-(1)The ancient practice of Tai Chi Chuan has often been called the “supreme ultimate exercise.” When joined with mindfulness sitting meditation, these two forms bring forth a potent way to awaken health and restore well-being in body, mind, and spirit.

Larry Welsh, MAc, MA, has trained in the Yang-style short form, listening hands and sword form of Tai Chi Ch’uan since 1977. Larry is Senior Adjunct Professor and Mindfulness-Meditation teacher in the Traditional Eastern Arts program at Naropa University. He practices Japanese Classical Acupuncture, herbal medicine and whole-food nutrition in Boulder, Colorado.

Watch our interview with Larry Welsh below, or scroll down to stream/download the audio.

If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.

Larry Welsh will be leading Flowing Like Water, Strong as a Mountain: Tai Chi Retreat, April 25-27. To learn more, please click here.

Floral Notes and Bardo: Great Eastern Sunshine Daydream

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down…

The Golden Road (to Unlimited Devotion) runs through Shambhala Mountain Center…

The Dead and the dharma.  Thus it is.

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(I created an image for this post–a mash-up of the Great Eastern Sun and the Grateful Dead Steal Your Face logo.  I really liked it a lot, because it fit so well here, and also because I know so many Shambhalian-Deadheads who I think would have liked it a lot also.  However, it seemed inappropriate for public display/internet, since it may be too easily misunderstood.  So, instead, here’s Dorian enjoying a moment of psychedelic arising at Elkhorn, on a night the weekend prior to the events described here.)

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Still not quite settled into my house, but I spent a great deal of the weekend setting up the Sakyong’s residence.  At first I felt resentful. Why am I working on this house when mine is in disarray?  I wanted to feel selfless devotion and inspiration.  Eventually I did.

I skipped out of my window cleaning duties for thirty minutes one morning to go online and score Phish tickets right when they went on-sale…  Yea!

Then, back to cleaning and setting up Rinpoche’s household.  Friday evening, a gathering at Elkhorn.  I screened the Grateful Dead Movie.  Fun!  Warm up for Saturday night field-trip:

A group of us went down to Boulder to Dark Star Orchestra concert (Grateful Dead tribute).  We were well hosted by a friend named Lee, who lives in a legendary house on the East-side of the valley (Boulder-town below).

The concert was explosive-color-fun.  Singing and dancing.  Wonderful to be with my SMC peeps in that space, that energy-field.

Back up the mountain Sunday, just in time for lunch, then a talk on diversity from two Acharyas: Eric Spiegel from New York and Marianne Bots from the Netherlands.

I asked about the tension between individual intelligence, individuality, and devotion, or faith, or going along with this Shambhala thing.

Acharya Spiegel’s answer was powerful, and I don’t quite think I can do it justice.  Something about getting a strong enough whiff of familiar truth and lineage that you trust the whole thing enough to go further.  Further.  It’s personal, and quite mysterious.  First you understand the words, and then the meaning.  So…a journey.

I felt a strong connection with Acharya Spiegel.  I think I’ll travel to NYC in May to do Rigden Weekend (the next retreat for me along the progression of the Shambhala Path), which he is leading.  I was going to do it in Boulder with Acharya Hessey, but the dates conflict with a program that we’re hosting here at SMC called “Relationship as a Path of Awakening,” which I’m really excited for after speaking with the teacher — Bruce Tift, a long-time Buddhist in the Shambhala sangha and a psychotherapist.  Since a relationship is happening in my life these days, I feel I ought to do the program to nourish and encourage its “path” potential.

–March 31, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Bags n’ Boxes

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Bags n’ boxes on the floor and everywhere in my lil’ house.  Just enough room for my morning shimmy, and just barely enough time to make it to breakfast and then meditate for a bit.  Adjusting–to the spring/summer schedule and the new living situation…

Late for meditation this morning, but still the first one there.  I filled up the water bowls and rang the gong, Heather the only other one in the room.  My number-one witness.  I said:

The life of the lonely umdze.

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I’m yearning for the new groove-routine.  Previously, living as a solitary fellow in my lil’ hermitage: I’d wake up between 4 and 5 and get moving–lujong, sing, shit, write, breakfast, practice…  Now, I have a mate, and there is uncertainty about how to arrange my life and time–because, to some extent, it’s our life and time.

I don’t want to suppress my wild-yogi-artist spirit, and also, I don’t want to neglect the beautiful relationship…or the beautiful community.  Searching for the middle way.  Searching for harmony, always.  Singer…

I wish for individual and group flourishing.  I know the two are not separate.  The heart has a secret.  My mind-mud is too stirred up to know the way.

Humanness:

I’d like for us go through all of this together: to caringly witness the mud, the sun, each other, ourselves.

~~~

Singing, singing, befriending the human…

–March 25, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: My Lil’ Spot and the Ongoing Miracle

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

“…the womb of Avalokitesvara, a vast secret silence, springtime in the Void…” –Jack Kerouac

Drawn like a sketch, watercolor, drawn by a star–across the meadow, into a spot in the valley –feels like home.  I’m in my spot.  I am that spot.  That spot is my spot.  There is no better spot for me.

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After four months in the cushy (oh so cushy!) lodge, we’ve moved back out into the woods, into our little cabins and trailers.  I’m so glad for it.  I’d been becoming a bit attached to lodge living–a bit lazy, a bit like vacation.

Now, getting back into my groovy little cabin last night, right near the Stupa, felt so good.  After being in there for a few minutes it started to overwhelm me.  It was like connecting with an old friend.  I’ve never felt more at home in any spot on this planet than I do in my little cabin on the hill, which Trungpa Rinpoche named Avalokiteshvara.

I glowed for a while.  Heather was up on the loft in the bed, enjoying my giddiness–deep giddiness.  I lit my incense and hugged the house with my energy. Ya, ya, ya… Ahh.

So glad.

And… Heather was now in my house, which was so surreal.  It’s been such a solitary, mystic, artist thing up there.  Now, she has manifested like a dream.  Before she arrived at SMC,  I sang about her in that house, her art was on the walls. Now she’s here.  Beautiful girl in my little house.  Little honey blessing.

Before we turned out the little solar-powered lantern to go to sleep, the little book on my milk-crate night-stand was calling me: The Scripture of the Golden Eternity.  My brother gave me his well-worn copy a few years back.  It’s a special book–beat-dharma from Brady.  So, the little book was calling me and I felt like there was something nice in there for the moment.  Here’s the passage that I opened up to, by chance/karma:

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The words “atoms of dust” and “the great universes” are only words. The idea that they imply is only an idea. The belief that we live here in this existence, divided into various beings, passing food in and out of ourselves, and casting off husks of bodies one after another with no cessation and no definite or particular discrimination, is only an idea. The seat of our Immortal Intelligence can be seen in that beating light between the eyes the Wisdom Eye of the ancients: we know what we’re doing: we’re not disturbed: because we’re like the golden eternity pretending at playing the magic cardgame and making believe it’s real, it’s a big dream, a joyous ecstasy of words and ideas and flesh, an ethereal flower unfolding a folding back, a movie, an exuberant bunch of lines bounding emptiness, the womb of Avalokitesvara, a vast secret silence, springtime in the Void, happy young gods talking and drinking on a cloud. Our 32,000 chillicosms bear all the marks of excellence. Blind milky light fills our night; and the morning is crystal.

This morning I woke up at 5, walked down to the outhouse singing, just like I used to (my body remembered just what to do).  I kissed Heather good-morning, made a lil’ pot of pu-erh, lit my incense and offered water on my little shrine, lit the candle, did my little lujong routine, sang a bit and then out the door to breakfast.  Feels like falling right back into the grooviest groove I’ve known in my life.  Said good-morning to my neighbor: The Great Stupa.

Mojo, mojo, mojo.  Wishing that beneficial songs, truths and beauties may come forth in this new/familiar arrangement.

May all beings know good mojo, good houses. May all beings recognize the ongoing miracle.

–March 24, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Good-life Immersion

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

A week of staff retreat–so, so good…

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Meditation in the mornings, talks from our teachers, a beautiful lahsang on day one, cooking meals for each other.  In the afternoons–activities: music group, art, nature, physical movement, study…

So, peeps chose a track, grouped up, and got deep into those activities.  Some of us peeps got into music.  I facilitated the group and encouraged deep listening, space exploration, improvisation…  edgy spots, sweet spots, unexpected things.   And after we bravely improvised together, becoming braver as the days went on, we’d spend some time just hanging out with some tunes–Irish tunes, Brazilian jazz tunes…  everyone in the group was coming from a different place, musically, and so the improv was interesting and also the hangout section was lots of fun and varied.

The first night of the retreat we held council practice for the whole community.  People sharing from the heart in a sacred space.  I felt such deep love for everyone.  It set the tone for the rest of the retreat.

Such immersion into what it is to live here.  Time spent together–practicing, playing, just being together.  Lots of spontaneous, long conversations.  People staying after meals just to hang…  Ahh, so good.  Time with the land.  Time enjoying living in this amazing situation together, free from the day-to-day complexities and stresses that go along with trying to keep the thing afloat, and progress towards greater operations.  Of course (of course!), the greatest operation is ever-happening.  This was a nice reminder of that.

In the evenings there were various activities–dancing, movies…  Nathaniel and I hosted a sound bath.  People laying on cushions in the center of the shrine room–heads together in the center, huge speakers all around, dimmed lights, and an hour and forty minutes of washy, lush, beautiful music curated by Nathaniel, who has exceptional taste.  I offered a bit of my music into the mix, which he blended nicely.

Milarepa Day on day 6.  Oh, wow!  A full day of reciting, singing, chanting “The Rain of Wisdom“–spontaneous songs of our Kagyu forefathers.  So, so, beautiful.  So deep.  We began at 9am and went until after 10pm.  A very rich, traditional Buddhist day.  We drank chai  and nettle tea on breaks.  Sho mo! What a joyful, good experience!

The next day we went to the Great Stupa for Sadhana of Mahamudra.  I was so glad for how everything lined up/unfolded.  We spent a lot of time planning and preparing for the retreat, and then it seemed the magical forces kicked in and carried it to better places than we could have imagined.

We ended with a feast at which we practiced the Shambhala Sadhana, dined, and had libations, toasts, and made offerings.  The music group performed, others sang and shared things about their experience throughout the retreat, the art group had everyone throw colorful paper airplanes…

Rejoicing the Container: Our friend Tara–who was here and then left–asked us to put this nice thing into place: a box which collects ‘thank yous’–to people, from people.  We did so and offered the thank yous at the feast.  Everyone read one from the box.  Touching.

So… Ahh!  Such a deeply beautiful immersion into the magic of living here together.  That’s the thesis.  That was the intention and it really hit nicely.  So grateful.  Now onwards into the springtime…

–March 24, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community.