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

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.

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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

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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: 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.

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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

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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: 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.

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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

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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: Rise to Song

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.

Days may begin in silence which may give rise to song.  It’s one way to live.

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I’m at my desk now, once again, after having spent two weeks in beautiful retreat with 107 other people (108 total retreatants, not including staff and teachers).  We spent two weeks in a tent together, practicing kindness.  We sang, walked the land, ate meals and celebrated together.

I saw the forms of Shambhala come to life in a big way, which was reassuring and beautiful.  We received practices which I feel very good about.  I sense the potential for transformation towards more openness, love, creativity, and joyful existence — on and on.

We took vows.  We all vowed to engage socially in such a way that the whole of the earth may awaken into cheerfulness.  Some of us vowed to dedicate this and all future lives to benefiting other beings until all are liberated into bliss.

We were given a Qigong practice, and I’m so grateful.  It fits right in.  All of these practices seem to be means through which we may work with subtle energies in order to realize deeper harmony — within the body and in relationship.  It’s all relationships — the skull eventually affects the belly, the flowers affect my mood, and my touch affects my partner.

Tuning in…  So that we may glide in cosmic wind with less resistance and greater stability.  Tuning in so that paradox doesn’t cause stress, but rather, wonder.

This morning I awoke, walked on the hill at dawn (down to the outhouse and back), the sage and the flowers of late summer… I lit candles and made my vows, walked down to the shrine hall and sang with my fellows…

– August 14, 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: Shoving Off

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 on the hillside, standing — symphony dawn — witnessing: my preferences are like fleeting mosquitoes in the cosmos.  Yet, wondering… how big can I be?

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Tomorrow I’m going into a two week, group retreat: Enlightened Society Assembly.

Yesterday, I spent time in the shrine tent with Shenpen, Sensei, working on a large installation.  It felt magical in there.  It felt refreshing.  There’s good substance to the Shambhala tradition, and I pray that this two week immersion may put me into touch, a bit deeper.

Today, trying to “wrap things up” and prepare for the retreat.  Deciding what ends to leave loose.  How much to scramble in order to get things tidy, and how much to let go so I can go into this relaxed and well rested.

I’ll be settling back into Avalokiteshvara (lil’ yurt).  I’ll spend some nights with Heather.

I live here.

It’s a funny thing going into a retreat like this, which most people leave their homes far behind in order to do.  For me, it’s happening right here — where I live, work, play… I’m not leaving anything behind.

Rather than pretending that I am, I’m going with it.  We’ll see how it goes.

Gotta make an Ikebana arrangement for the yurt.  Gotta get up to the Stupa –circumambulate, refresh the offerings, light some incense, prostrate — stir up some good mojo.  I’ve ordered some real nice tea to drink during the retreat.

Ahh… excited! Going in!  Shoving off!

– July 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.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Cookin’ Onion

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.

From the fringes, inwards to the core — by rubs and punches, sweat and shatter.

Deepening familiarity is apparent in relation to fresh faces.  The longer I’m here, the more which is uncovered.  The more genuine the care that swells in my heart.  The more informed.  Less superficial.

Onion.

Meanwhile, the chipmunks are getting fat on “people food.”

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I’ll be here for two more years.  I’m just now feeling a bit settled.  I’ve experienced a wave of burnout, cynicism, resentment.  No hurtful eruptions, just boiling in my brain, bones.  It felt like purification.

Yesterday, in Care Council meeting, where a small group of us discuss the well-being of the community, I felt so raw.  I was listening and speaking with intelligence, rather than acting.  In comparison, my caring has been contrived previously.  More tainted with want for recognition — trying to be a good “me.”  Tainted in that way, but not phony.  It’s still tainted, but it’s becoming more real.

Greg Smith and I both have Ngejung in our Buddhist refuge names.  He said that it means:

“Becoming real.”

Burning through baloney notions so that I may actually connect and be helpful.

Burning through filters of conceptual jargon, and “good boy” motivations.

Shambhala Mountain Center — a great pressure cooker, an oven in which one may become more real.

Cookin’.

– July 23, 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: Stepping, Steeping

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.

What kind of tea?
Puerh.
Green or black?
Green.

Avajra: “Black!  Always black.  We’ve got shit to do.  Double doses of black.”

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This morning, sitting on the porch, looking out into the woods, while the sun came up over the ridge — breezy-cool thoughts about time.  The karmic implications of decisions.  How well I hold my seat and not get swept up for minutes, hours.  It adds up.

So much to do, and it remains in a cloud — lightning bolts of anxiety.

One foot in front of the other.

Sometimes I think I’m screwing up and sometimes I notice success.

“Success and failure are your journey.” — Trungpa Rinpoche

Everything that happens is a potent teaching.  It’s so noticeable here — my changes, hang-ups… messages in the phenomenal world.  There’s no escape and it’s clear as a bell — the ambiguity.

– July 22, 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