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.

Ikebana Program_Apr2014-11Photo by Paul Bennett

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

~~~

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.

IMG_5148

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…

~~~

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

~~~

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.

IMG_1537

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

~~~

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.

IMG_1429

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

~~~

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.

IMG_1472

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

~~~

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…

IMG_1581

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

~~~

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.

IMG_1529

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.

~~~

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: Still Crazy After… One Year

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.

Oh Bardo, this morning, golden brown strokes in deep grey skies, drizzling cool summer rain, and… cows everywhere — humongous cows… mooing, chowing grass.  Not normal.  Bewildered boy, in transition — perpetually, and now, indeed.

IMG_1525

Reflecting on the solitary sage dream, realized up on the hill, in the yurt.  Awake at 4am and breathing the teachings, texts.  Reflecting on… spiritual materialism, hinayana… and Heather, who appeared in the enchanted aspen grove and became an imaginary romantic character, a dream, and now, realized — deeper and deeper.  A real friend, in the flesh and imagination, always.  Now, mahayana heart dissolving barriers, and the richness and truth of the path of relationship.  This morning, did not make it to the shrine room, missed my drumming shift, instead, spoke with Heather in bed, watched cows out the window, did Qigong while the rain came down.  After breakfast, in the shrine room by myself, aspiring to become sustenance in all ways for all beings.

It used to be cut and dry, in my mind, and now the dharma is more fluid — my mountain bones and ocean, blood.  Inhale, exhale — vapor so luminous and sweet.  The shrine room, a house and car, and cat.  A job and paying bills… time in the cave, the festival, and the bedroom with lover.  The path unfolding in unexpected, yet somehow familiar, trustworthy, poetic ways.

I’ve been here for a year now.  Onwards, further, further, further…

– August 25, 2014

~~~

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: Soft Carpet and Running Water

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 I woke up in a fancy bed, and over breakfast, considered my good fortune.

IMG_1502

Yesterday we gathered as a community and discussed… cats.

Heather and I have been asked to cat-sit for Director Gayner.  So we’re staying in his house for a few days.  Very fancy!  Soft carpet and running water.

When we awoke this morning, beneath a brocade blanket, Heather asked me to sing a song about “little paws.”  I sing a song for her every morning about whatever she would like to hear a song about.  We’re feeling lucky.

After the Community Meeting yesterday, there was lots of charged conversation.  The open forum meetings tend to inspire communal engagement, rippling outwards into the following days.  We’re thinking that we need more of those.

In other news, coffee has been spilt on my new white shoes.  It happened this morning, just after a group of us did the Shambhala Sadhana together.  I was not angry.

Getting together with my friends and doing this sadhana is a powerfully good experience.  It’s active, social, musical, and meditative.  It’s a collective rousing of good intention.  Very uplifting and inspiring.

In my work, I’m feeling like there are pins lined up before me and I have a bowling ball of love.  Our department is shifting around a bit, and I’m feeling really good about my role.

This weekend, I’m going down to Fort Collins to spend some time with my buddy Matt.  We’re planning on doing the sadhana together on Sunday morning and having gluten-free pancakes and avocados.  And, other than that, just spending time.  I’m looking forward to that.

Then… the following weekend… 11 days from now… I’ll be heading to Dick’s for three nights of Phish.

Ahh…

– August 21, 2014

~~~

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: Ponies, Buis, and Trotting Onward

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.

Routine is fluid, stillness is illusory.

“Logic is safe,” Joshua once told me.

The teachings often emphasize the importance of surrendering agenda, and privacy.  Phish says: The trick is to surrender to the flow.

10613094_1465515447051515_434306106077076441_n

Photo by Cait Rotkiewicz

Routine has been delightfully interrupted for the past few days, as Heather and I hosted her parents — Rebbi and Thai Bui —  who came to visit from the Bay Area.

Her parents are beautiful people, and knowing them deepens my appreciation for the miracle of Heather.

We borrowed our friend Yossi’s car to pick them up down in town.  Apparently, the car was damaged somewhere along the way, which has been a painful thing.  The staff “rental car” has recently dissolved.  It’s tough being up here without a car, and it’s not a comfortable thing to borrow cars from friends, so… it seems like we need to buy a car.  Feels like a good step in the direction of full adulthood, or something like that.

Since the beginning, I’ve viewed life at Shambhala Mountain Center as training for life in the world.  It’s a place for “practice.”  It seems like the first phase was living on my own — working, meditating, making art, being okay with loneliness, and so on.  Now I feel like I’m into another phase, in which I’m exploring partnership, family and greater responsibility.  Life with Heather, knowing her family, and talking about getting a car together.  It feels like a natural progression.

Anyway, we picked up the Buis and met up with the Greenleafs (Rebbi’s sister, her husband and kids) and went to  “The Farm,” which is a petting zoo in Fort Collins.  Thai peacefully sketched the animals, the kids went crazy for the goats, I was fond of the fattest sheep and fed him most of my oats, Heather met a perfect little pony, and so on.  Good times!  Afterwards we played in some water fountains downtown.

The following day we went horseback riding with a friend of Shambhala, a real cowboy named Buzz.  We rode off trail, on the hillsides.  I’d never really ridden a horse before, and it was a beautiful experience of communing with the animal, plants, rock, sky, and my own mind and body all at once.  And, I felt deeply, romantically like a cowboy for a while.  I never felt more like a Coloradoan.  Living at Shambhala Mountain Center, I feel like I live in a whole other world — Shambhala rather than Colorado.  So, riding like a cowboy was a great experience.

That evening Heather, Rebbi, Thai, and I, hung out in Heather’s room and made art together.  The next morning, a visit to the Stupa.  A campfire and singing that night.  And, yesterday, before sending them off, we had a nice tea party in the courtyard of Sacred Studies Hall.

This is a wonderful place to host people of the right spirit.  It’s a big perk of living here.  And, the Buis are wonderful people with the right spirit — warm-hearted, gentle, artists.  Being involved with the Buis is a perk of my karma.

– August 19, 2014

~~~

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