Floral Notes and Bardo: Estranged into Love

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.

In the wee hours, I stepped outside the yurt to wee.  It was frosty and blue.  The moon nearly full in the western sky, so the east-facing ridge was kissed, aglow.  Everything so still, frosty.  The Stupa illuminated, and the bare aspens, unconcerned.

My mantra: no rush.

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I’m realizing — again and again — how bent I am on doing so many, many, things.  Today at breakfast, I skipped the grapefruit, rather than inhaling it so that I could make it to meditation on time.

Less and more fully.

No rush.

I spent some time last night in the shrine room, by myself, studying the dharma.  So cold outside, and cozy in Pushpa with my tea and the heater, and lots of space to read, reflect.  I felt connected to my journey.  When the session felt complete, I walked up to the yurt, lit candles and played music without even glancing at the clock.

Nearly full moon rising, and playing whatever music I felt like playing.  My voice out of shape, but not.  What is “out”?

Music as a yoga.  Through playing: knowing genuineness, tenderness, timidity, fear, playfulness and all the rest.  It’s so poignant for me.

Two and a half years ago, when I first envisioned living here, making music was part of the vision.  Living in this amazing environment and letting it sing through me.  A year ago, after moving here, that was still the vision.  Somewhere along the line, it fell off.  I’ve touched the desperation of being estranged from it, and now I’m falling in love.  Music, music, music…

Last night, playing, such a deep joy out of the beautiful mystery of the music arising.  The music saying more about life than words on the page.  Period.  Ellipses.

– November 4, 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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Awake and Grateful: Reflecting on our First Online Event

By Travis Newbill

As some of you know, we recently invited some of the most brilliant people we could think of to share their wisdom with people from around the globe. And, we invited people from around the globe to show up to receive this wisdom, and to offer their own wisdom in response. We’re glad to report, that it all worked out very nicely, and we’re all a bit wiser for it!

For our first free online event, Awake in the World, more than 18,000 people participated over the span of 6 days — for live broadcasts, dialogues between teachers, guided meditations, contemplations, and a variety of additional presentations. Every morning, thousands of participants began their day by enjoying an artistic piece that we offered, and every evening, they asked questions of the presenters, who responded in real time. Throughout the event, participants shared personal insights and inspirations in an ever-growing comments section on the website.

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A genuine community of learning and awakenment was formed. Thus, Awake in the World has been no different in essence from what Shambhala Mountain Center has been doing for over 40 years. Of course, it has been different on other levels. For instance, this program involved many more people than any program we have run previously. Can you imagine a basketball arena on the SMC land? That’s what it would have taken to accommodate this audience.  So, we did this event in virtual space, rather than up in the Rocky Mountains.

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People from Chile, Switzerland, Iran, Israel, and so on, were able to join together to express their aspiration to realize a more awake, sane world. And, they were able to do so without having to travel from their homes. We do hope that all of these folks will come visit the land at some point, but it sure is nice that we’ve been able to connect from afar.

The appreciation that we’re received in response to the event has been overwhelmingly beautiful. Hundreds of messages have come in expressing appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to receive teachings with such ease. Here are a few:

“Inspired and excited listening to these teachers…from Yael Brisker in
Israel…where danger lurks so close, it is heartwarming to connect with this
energy. Thank you!” -Yael from Israel

“I am so thrilled to be able to follow from down here in Santiago, Chile. It is like
a dream coming true for me. Thank you all for this opportunity I am given. I am a
humble apprentice and had stopped for a while due to health conditions, but now
I am alive again and can hardly wait for being immersed in this beautiful AWAKE
IN THE WORLD.” -Virginia from Santiago, Chile

“Thank you all for the incredible package that you’ve made available to
everyone. I can’t imagine how much work was involved in putting this program
together but you did it in a magnificent way that has truly touched me and many
thousands of others. My heart is swelling with appreciation and gratitude.”
-Stella

Frankly, this is hitting us hard. We’re honored to be in a position to do this work, to offer these teachings to so many people. And we’re inspired to do more, and to refine our skills in doing so.

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To everyone who has been a part of this — in any way — we’d like to offer our deepest thanks.

To those who missed this one or who would like to spend more time with the material, we are glad to say that all of the recordings of the event, as well as a slew of additional teachings and bonuses, are available in our Resource Package. Purchasing the Resource Package, by the way, is a great way to support Shambhala Mountain Center, as we endeavor to provide opportunities for personal and collective awakenment long into the future.

Thank you for your ongoing support — financial and otherwise energetic.  It is felt, appreciated, and is the reason that we exist.

Looking back on what has occurred over the course of a year of planning and finally presenting the event, we’re feeling so inspired.  We have a sense that together, we can actually do big inspiring things.  We can brighten the world.  We can wake up.  Here’s to co-creating a world based on sanity, peace, and generosity.  Thank you for being a part of this.

Floral notes and Bardo: Changes Visible in Moonlight

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.

Changes visible in moonlight — the aspens and my ongoing evolution.

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Myself and the newly elected Dekyongs gathered in the fancy upstairs lounge of Shambhala Lodge — it always feels like a VIP room to me, compared to the rustic spaces I typically inhabit.  I shared my thoughts and experience related to Head Dekyongship and the Delek System at SMC.  I’m committed to ensuring a good, wholesome, transfer of power.

We sat in a circle and through a rousing round of spontaneous insight, elected my buddy Danny to be the next Head Dekyong.

I’m looking forward to being out of the position.  There’s a lot going on these days.  I’m working extra hours in the Marketng job — we all are — to bring this event to fruition.  We’re giving birth.  Meanwhile, I’m giving Stupa Tours, doing Ikebana, and beginning teacher training.  I’m seeking space within the packed days — trying to enjoy walks to the bathroom.

My life is full.  But, I’m sure that’s not true.  If more things popped up that I need to do, it would probably be possible to do more things — to rest less, have even less free time.  But, eeesh… My personal life, my relationship with Heather, my art (which has been severely neglected lately), is also important!

What is right exertion?  Running hotter than is healthy doesn’t feel right.

I want a healthy, balanced, life.

Speaking of health… after many years of not being able to go to the dentist — because I was living a good life as a starving artist, and choosing trips to NYC, Phish concerts, and bags of weed over dental hygiene — I finally went!  For a while now, I’ve been wondering which would come first: tooth-ache, tragedy, or getting a check-up and cleaning. The latter won, by a hair.

My mouth is not in good shape, but it could be worse. My teeth are good, but my gums are not.  I was told that I need about $20,000 in periodontal surgery.  That number is not even real to me.  I don’t know what to do.

Aside from that huge WTF, my life is feeling really good, and I feel like I’m learning a lot about how to conduct a good, healthy, life.  My finances are balanced, my health is good… But, WHAM.

It feels heartbreaking — knowing that my body needs care that I cannot afford to give it.

I’m going to look around at my options, maybe there’s another way…

DON’T WALLOW IN SELF PITTY

– October 6, 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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Deep Yoga, Goofing Around

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 office is full of incense smoke and we drink fine tea in here, jump on the trampoline, and dance to celebrate small victories.

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The Awake in the World event has a life of its own.  We are its lovers, parents, servants, and biggest fans.  Good things are happening.

Meanwhile, today we elect new Dekyongs, and establish the new Deleks.

Carolyn Gimian presented a slide show to the staff the other night about the life of Chögyam Trungpa. It was cool to meet her and hear her talk personally about him. She’s done lots of work to bring his teachings to the public, and I’ve been grateful for a long time.

The music is beginning to play in my bones. I picked up my guitar the other night and it felt so good — to play old tunes, newer tunes, and just to play. It’s a deep yoga — even goofing around with folk songs.

– October 2, 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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Burnt on Government

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.

Within a dense tangle — stop, drop, and sing.

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Recently, Harvest of Peace community celebration, welcoming the autumn. The marketing department buzzing at a high frequency, like an exploding galaxy, bringing our big project into being — Awake in the World.

My community work has been more demanding than ever, as a group of us has been meeting to create the Shambhala Mountain Center values statement.  Along with Care Council, Community Council, and the rest of Delek System work.

I’ve been maxed out.

And so, a shift…

Now… each week (beginning last week) I’ll be doing an Ikebana arrangement on Friday morning, and on Friday afternoon, I’ll be going up to work at the Stupa for three hours.

This week I’ll be stepping down as Head Dekyong and will be beginning Teacher Training with Greg Smith.

Last night I spent an hour and a half playing music.  Ahh…

I’ve been involved in all sorts of things and not so much in the basic things that bring me joy: Art, Stupa, Dharma.

I know, I know, it’s all art and it’s all dharma.  But, at this stage in my being alive, it feels so good to do Ikebana, play music, and directly work with… Buddhism.  That’s my stuff.

I’m burnt on government.  I’ve been not-so-joyful recently.

Acharya told me:

“All bodhisattvas must be joyful.”

Bhanu told me:

“Be your music self up here.”

Something is shifting and I feel like I’m discovering a new way of being a member of the community, which is actually the way I used to be, but wasn’t sure of its value.  I thought I had to take on esteemed positions, or more formal leadership roles, more formal service roles.  Now, I’m feeling my way into joyful service.  I’m feeling my way into being myself, very simply.

– September 29, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Yoga for Every Body — Interview with De West (Audio)


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts This Moment, Beautiful Moment: Yoga for Every Body with De West, November 7–9, 2014

In De Wests yoga, participants may cultivate deep awareness of body and learn to uncoil obstructions to find greater freedom. In her rejuvenating retreats, we discover where we have developed patterns over the years. Even in the womb we favored one side or the other of our mother’s belly. Through slow, directed movements, we learn where we can focus our mind to create more energy and openness and less physical discomfort and stress — targeting our entire bodies gently rather than stressing some parts while ignoring others.

Recently, De took some time to have some discussion around these points. Please click below to her our conversation. And, if you’d like to download the audio, click here and find the “Download” button.

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De West

De West is a leader in the Boulder yoga community and is a co-director of Studio Be Yoga. Her teaching combines principles from Iyengar alignment and therapeutic yoga. As a teacher, De is insightful, intuitive, and attentive. Her years of work with osteopathic doctors allow her to apply yoga to many different people and conditions. Students leave De’s classes rejuvenated and grounded with a sense of personal and physical empowerment. Find more information about De at DeWestYoga.com.

Floral Notes and Bardo: Japhy is Relevant

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.

It’s blue and cool in the morning when I begin moving around — moonlight, pre-dawn.  This morning it was so still.  There was not a whisper in the air.

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Heather sleeps and I:

Hike to the outhouse, sit in my chair on the porch and gaze into the woods, write my morning pages, do qigong, and then rejoin her in bed for a bit — a lil’ honey time, sing her a song, and then move towards meditation, breakfast, dharma study, and then into the office.  I sing while I walk down the hill.

It’s feeling full, but good.

Last night I attended a class that Director Gayner is leading.  It’s a five week course on working with the mind in stressful situations, designed to be training for Dorje Kasung.  Mr. Gayner created the course and has taught it all over the place.

It’s really a great opportunity, as he’s an excellent teacher, and it feels like something that one would have to pay a lot of money to do in the outside world.  He’s offering it to the the community, of course, for free.  It’s very generous.

It is a Kasung-flavored affair, and so my typical aversion flares, but very interesting and rather fun nonetheless — activities and discussion.  It’s demanding as well: A two hour class every week and homework.  It feels very valuable, but not immediately relevant to my life.

Tonight, I’m heading down to Fort Collins with a few people to see Gary Snyder.  He’s going to be giving a reading at the university.

That is immedately relevant to my life.

– September 17, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: All Turn

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.

Last night in the library, my mala burst.  It’s said that it happens at an auspicious time.

Heather and I were talking for hours, about all sorts of exploratory, self-reflecive, what-is-life stuff.  She mentioned her wish for a fairy godmother.  I had a thought about how the Sakyong, in a way, is my fairy godmother.  At that moment, the mala — which was a blessed gift from the Sakyong — burst.

Heather said: “It happened!”

Then we fell into deep eye contact for what felt like an hour or so.  Myself, experiencing such rich, almost comically mysterious, energy exchange — in the library.

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Earlier in the day — in the beginning — laying on the porch, in the sunshine, without clothes.  Those days are numbered now that the cool autum breezes are beginning to blow and earlier in the week we had our first snow.  Anyway, soaking it up.

After breakfast we had a life-planning session: what am I doing?

I’ve been so out of routine.  The wish for ryhthm — dharma, art, relationship, work, recreation…

After we made a nice list and schedule for life, I hiked across the land to the Stupa, to work with Joshua.  It felt so, so good to work at the Stupa again, with Joshua.  It had been a while.  That’s where it all began, and that’s how it shall continue, I realized.  I felt reconnected to what I’m doing here.

The Stupa embodies the whole thing, and service to the Stupa — service to the whole thing — is the point.  Working with my hands, beautifying, caring for, the Stupa is tangible, real work.  And, Joshua is my teacher.  He is my fairy godmother. Working for him feels right — expressing appreciation, devotion.  And, there is no bullshitting him at all.  And, there is no bullshitting the Stupa.

So clearly: I am here to work on the Stupa.

This morning I launched my new routine.  For a while, I’ve felt myself searching for a new groove, now I’m beginning to tap in.  Here we go…

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The colios that I brought from Brooklyn lost its leaves, at the same time that I came down with the heavy cold, in which I lost all of my leaves and am now regenerating, feeling renewed.  The aspens, meanwhile, are beginning to turn — the first signs of yellow, a few leaves dropping off.  Tonight a dance party for the staff and this weekend, our Harvest of Peace, autumnal equinox celebration.

All Turn.

I brought the colios to my desk so I can give it love all day, and it has friends — two plump jades.  My desk is like a garden.  My mind is like the sun.  My life is blessed.  Kaleigh is now running the blender, making a raw cacao bananna smoothie for me, which shall be delicious.

The crazy noise of the blender is the sound of nourishing universe.

– September 15, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Winter is the Ultimate Yin Season

By Ron Davis

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Qigong for the Seasons: Winter Qigong with Ron Davis November 14–16, 2014

Nature’s winter energy moves toward the center. Green leaves have withered away leaving the life force nestled in the roots; autumn’s warm hazy air has been cleansed and brightened by cooler winds; flowing water slows and begins to freeze; brown meadow grass has fallen back to earth. For people, winter causes our Qi vital energy to retract from the outer aspects of the body and settle in the bones, kidneys, and the lower dan tian (LDT) of the abdominal region. This seasonal migration of energy toward the body’s core is essential to our health.

Winter is a time for deep resting and nourishing the most vital structures of the body: bone marrow, kidneys, spinal cord and brain. We can do this with qigong exercises, specific meditations and certain foods and herbs. As part of the Winter Qigong practice, the following exercise is a wonderful way to help you stay healthy all the way through winter.

Filling the Lower Dan Tian to Nourish the Kidneys.

The lower dan tian (LDT) functions as an alchemical stove. It has a diffuse boundary going from the lower abdomen, down to the perineum, up the lower back, and forward beneath the diaphragm. The essence of food and air becomes transformed inside the LDT into the Qi that circulates through the meridian system. The kidneys are located close to the LDT and act as the energetic foundation of each organ’s yin and yang. That’s a big responsibility. Without the Water and Fire of the kidneys all other organs would dwindle away.

This exercise brings the healing Qi from earth and sky into the top of the “taiji axis” (the deepest energy channel that runs through the very center of the body), then down to the heart where it mixes with the Qi of the chest, and then down to the LDT for purification and storage. Filling The Lower Dan Tian To Nourish The Kidneys will stimulate the body with vital healing energies from terrestrial, celestial, and human sources.
BEGIN by standing with feet shoulder-width apart, hands down with palms near outside of thighs.

Inhale slowly as you lift arms laterally in a big arc, with palms up, to overhead position where the palms touch.
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Think of gathering in fresh Qi from the earth and from the sky. Then compress this Qi between the hands. Think that you are consolidating and transforming raw elements into a priceless jewel.
Exhale very slowly through your nose as hands, in prayer position, come down the front of the body’s midline to the chest.

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Think of bringing the Qi jewel down the taiji axis and into your heart. Although the hands move in front of the body, the energy is brought down the internal channel. Still exhaling, turn hands over into a diamond shape with fingers pointing down, thumbs up, and palms against the body.
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Continue to exhale, move hands downward, as the Qi descends the taiji axis and flows into lower dan tian. Finish exhalation with thumbs at navel and palms lightly touching abdomen. Relax.
Inhale and turn hands so that palms are facing each other, fingers still pointing down, then move hands apart just out to hip-width. This is a short inhalation.
Exhale and bring palms toward each other until almost touching. Think of packing the valuable energy into the LDT for storage.
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At the end of this short exhalation, drop your hands to sides and relax your shoulders.

Do 8 repetitions.

At the end, stand still with right hand resting lightly on the LDT, left hand over right. Take 3 slow natural breaths, feel the Qi circulating.

This is the premier exercise for Winter Qigong practice. Movement is kept to a minimum, while mental intention is foremost. Use your mind to lower the Qi. The movements bring the limitless energy of the outside world into the nucleus of personal existence. And then the treasured Qi is stored in the bedrock reservoir of vitality, there to be slowly refined and nourished for self-preservation and good health through the long season of Ultimate Yin.

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Ron-DavisRonald Davis, DC. LAc. Dipl Acu (NCCAOM) has been in clinical practice since 1984 and has taught qigong, taiji and spinal health care classes for more than twenty years. He is a certified qigong instructor as well as a medical qigong teacher for professional continuing education credit from the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Dr. Davis is committed to helping people learn how to improve their health by using qigong, meditation, and dietary guidelines. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, Qigong for the Seasons.

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Regard All Rainbows

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.

Early in the morning, dharma dream — with Xavier, who was encouraging me to come live in Mexico to hang out.  Inside a Theravaden shrine room, I hooked a swing on chains to the wooden rafters on the ceiling — delicate.  And I swung playfully around the room while telling Xavier about Trungpa, Ginsberg, and the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.  I told him that a decade ago, the moment I heard of the school, after I had just begun reading the beats, I knew for sure that I’d be attending one day.  At that instant, the chain broke through the rafters and I fell flat on my ass — as if punctuating the statement: I will attend JKS.

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I told Heather about the dream, wrote in my journal, and then walked down the hill — it was dawn-time, but no sign of the sun.  Thick mist.

“Regard all dharmas as dreams.”

I practiced in a room by myself downtown, in front of the giant thangka of Amitabha in his pure land.  Then, I washed the dishes — covering Heather’s shift so that she could rest, as she still is not quite over the cold I passed to her.

– September 11, 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill