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

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

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

Floral Notes and Bardo: Death in a Head Cold

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.

Forgotten flower, unsung ditties — forlorn in peace, for nights and days in the mist.

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Just getting over this…cold?  Seems like that word doesn’t quite do it justice.  It was an experience, a journey.  I was feeling it during the baseball game, while chowing a footlong vegan hotdog and having a beer, celebrating Labor Day.  The next day my head was full of snot and I stayed in bed — until I went out to lay in the hammock, which didn’t go smoothly.

As I was tryig to shimmy my way into the sleeping bag, in the hammock, so that I could rest as a warm little bundle in the fresh mountian air for hours, the hammock turned on me — turned me over — bodyslammed me onto the ground, onto a small tree-stump which bruised my ribs.

A few days later the cold had evolved into a nasty, endless fit of coughs, and each one felt like a punch into those sore ribs.  Exhausting.

I feel like I went twelve rounds with the universe and am now coming out the other side, purified.

Heather has had the cold also, and so we’ve been in this alternate reality together.  Kooky stuff one of those nights when I had NyQuil

And, one of those afternoons, feeling shitty, I sat out on the porch and read through a beautiful contemplation that the Sakyong wrote for bodhisattvas under the weather.

I thought about death a lot in the early days of the cold and felt appreciative for my life.  Last night, the first night of good sleep — without the Quil — in a while, I was awake with anxiety for a bit related to my life here, and how I’m feeling so behind and out of it.  A feeling of lots of catching up and work to do.

Having been here for a year, I feel less motivated to “prove myself.”  I believe that was part of it before.  A feeling of complacency has been present.  Last night, I was feeling sick about it.  And, I’m sensing the beginnings of a new groove based on deeper compassion, more true and stable love.

“This place will work on you.  Let it.” — I can’t remember who said that.

– September 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Path in Mist

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.

This morning, woke up in a cloud — land, folks, houses, engulfed in mist.  Like my life, countless hidden truths, bodies, beings, outside of my limited view.  Less ambitious about trying to sort them all out, because, in the shrine room, peace, space, the moment as always — nothing to achieve.  Patient while the tale reveals itself — no conclusion, no final answer.  My journey — I’m on the Buddhist path, personally.

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I don’t know who’s going to fall away, or who’ll grow alongside of me — these old ponderosa pines have housed a million chipmunks, magpies, great horned owls.  A thousand bears have shit in their vicinity, and some friendly peeps have hugged their trunks.

I get the feeling, in the mist, that I really don’t know.

I’m glad to have made the vows that I have.  I believe in the path, that I’ll hold to the path, that the path will unfold all around me and as I’m doing my best to stay true, my slip-ups will blossom into poignant songs of joyful-sad growing.

– September 5, 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: Of Fluidity

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.

So many influences and I can only name a pathetically few.  Many more voices I’d like to know.  My own voice, only echoing…

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Wonderful weekend adventure with Heather and good friend Jonathan — in his truck, we rolled down the hill into Boudler, Denver, and to the 3 day Phish concert camp-out.  The music was so good… and the whole weekend…

Into town for Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanical garden, yummy vegan eats, rendezvous with old friends who traveled from Nashville, lots of good conversation, exploration.

The band as the center of the mandala, and 30,000 folks all interconnected — some quite off balance, some calm and aware, ecstatic, depressed, bored, and all the rest.  All gathered for different particular reasons, but essentially maybe the same.  Maybe having something to do with seeking happiness, good human experience.

Here at Shambhala Mountain Center, it’s the same.  Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is the center of the mandala.  Or, at least, the embodiment of what is truly the center of the mandala.  Something like that…

Anyway, we’re hanging together.  Personally, I’m familiar with a tendency towards comfort-seeking.  But then, if I stay in bed for too long, I want to tear out of the sheets, shave my head, and go swimming.

On Monday, Labor Day, after the full weekend of Phish (so good…), the three of us — J, H, and I — who had really become quite a lovely, loving crew, decided to put a cherry on top.  We went to a baseball game!  We had footlong hotdogs (I had a vegan one… they have vegan footlongs at the ballpark these days!) and beer.  Good stuff.

I woke up the next morning with a heavy cold.  Heather wrote a note to my boss requesting that my absence be excused.

I spent most of the day in a hammock, enjoying fresh air and sunshine.  Did some dharma practice, blew tons of snot out of my head — which weighed about a thousand pounds when I woke up.  Heather brought me meals and generally took very good care of me.  Now she seems to be coming down with the same cold.  It’s dissolving in my body and growing in hers.

This morning I did her dishwashing shift so that she could stay in bed longer.  I missed group meditation, but practiced on my own after the dishes were done.  It’s funny the shape that the path takes — concerts, ballgames, and headcolds.  Washing dishes, connecting in the shrine room and showing up late to work.  Working the weekend to make up hours.  This is the path of fluidity.

– September 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 Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Not Normal

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.

Gluten free, vegan french toast, chocolate muffins and not-cow milk, but lots of big, fat cows all over the land.

None of this is normal.

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Meditation time has been moved an hour earlier and I’m off balance.

I was describing my feeling of being so out of routine lately, and how this has really started happening as teachers have been welcoming me into the mahayana.  “Good job,” Zane said.  “Enjoy the rug-being-pulled-out constantly, from now on.”

“Logic is safe,” Joshua told me.  “Sometimes the virtuous thing to do is sleep in.”

I’m seeking balance, still, stability in mid-air.  Studying teachings last night from the Sakyong about finding balance: time at the Shambhala Center, time being a householder, time out in the larger society.  Sometimes one area is receiving more attention than the others, and it’s always shifting.  What is path?  What does it look like?  Not always looking like a shrine room, church, or whatever.  The whole sacred display full of poetry and meaning, and empty, beckoning me forever to dance and play.  Not resisting change, emotions, or any person, and so a joyful presence.  May it be so.

Oh goodness… heading to the Phish concerts — weekend camp-out.  My soul-mouth is watering.  Ahh… Phish!

Each morning and evening I play a Phish song for Heather, as she’s not so familiar.  A couple of weeks ago, at dawn, we hiked up to the top of Marpa Point, overlooking the valley, beautiful dawn, and we listened to Gamehenge.  I had been leading up to it with stories — hints that Gamehenge is the parallel dimension sister-village to Shambhala Mountai Center.  (Truly, this is as close to living in Gamhenge as I could have arranged for myself.)  Anyway, I told her that Icculus lives up on the top of the mountain, and midway through the story, about the time that Icculus shows up in the story, a shirtless summer volunteer came out onto the top of the peak, above us, and howled.

Icculus!

This is a fairytale life, indeed.  I’m sure there are dragons in the air that we can’t see, and that the trees hear me singing.

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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