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.


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

Discussing Traditional Tibetan Medicine with Nashalla Nyinda, TMD (Video/Audio)


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Introduction to the Principles of Traditional Tibetan Medicine with Nashalla Nyinda, December 12–14, 2014

Nashalla Nyinda can help you discover the powerful healing arts of Tibet through Sowa Rigpa, an ancient holistic practice spanning thousands of years. Her students learn how to return harmony to the body and mind by refining their relationship to the elements and seasons. They are given tools for identifying the three humors, for encouraging equilibrium, as well as learn how to apply general antidotes when the humors are imbalanced. The ultimate goal is to foster balance in the body and mind while encouraging a direct relationship to self. Whether Buddhist or non-Buddhist, healthcare practitioner or not, Nashalla can help you explore the time-tested wisdom of Traditional Tibetan Medicine.

Recently, Nashalla took some time to share her wisdom and inspiration. Watch our interview below, or scroll down to stream/download the audio.

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


Nashalla-NyindaNashalla Gwyn Nyinda TMD, LMT has over 14 years of experience in Tibetan Medicine. She earned her Menpa degree (Doctor of Tibetan Medicine) from Qinghai Tibetan Medical College, Tibet and The Shang Shung Institute of Tibetan Medicine. She also has an Interdisciplinary Studies BA from Naropa University with a focus on Asian Medicines and Buddhist Psychology. She has taught these techniques worldwide to Tibetan doctors as well as Western health practitioners. Nashalla and husband, Dr. Tsundu S. Nyinda, are co-directors of the Tibetan Medicine & Holistic Healing Clinic in Boulder, Colorado.

Connecting Tai Chi and Buddhism with Larry Welsh

By Travis Newbill

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Couple

by Keith Kachtick
relationshipsIn Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke makes clear that a loving, romantic relationship is the practice for which all other mindfulness practices are the groundwork. “Love is high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become world for himself for another’s sake.” The ancient Tibetan tantric practice of Yab-Yum recognizes that romantic coupling is as an opportunity for profound spiritual awakening, a practice that invites us—deeply challenges us—to love our way to enlightenment.

Traditionally, in Buddhist thangkas and sculptures depicting Yab-Yum, the confluence of “masculine” compassion and “feminine” wisdom is presented metaphorically in the sexual union of a male deity, seated in Padmasana (lotus pose), with his female consort facing him on his lap. The symbolism is two-fold: Yab-Yum (literally “father-mother” in Tibetan) implies a mystical union within our own individual nature—the two Dharma wings that lift each of us to buddhahood; united, the two awakened beings (regardless of gender) then give birth to a romantic communion embodying the blissful, non-dual state of enlightenment.

Much easier said than done, of course. But for anyone in a committed relationship, the Yab-Yum ideal of unconditional love—borne out of opening our hearts and fine-tuning our communication skills, as well as deepening our understanding of our partner’s needs and desires—is an opportunity and wonderful challenge to recognize and celebrate the highest in ourselves and in each other.

Ultimately, it’s all about soulful harmonizing. “We know little, but that we must hold to what is difficult is a certainty that will not forsake us,” Rilke reminds us. “It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult. That something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it. To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. This more human love resembles that which we have prepared for with struggle and toil all our lives: a love that consists in this, that two solitudes protect and border and salute one another.”

Keith Kachtick and his partner Camilla Figueroa will be teaching the retreat Loving Your Way to Enlightenment: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Couple September 13-15

Portrait of a Rinpoche in 350 Words


He sees that the fundamental error of our time is materialism. Instead of accepting the Dalai Lama’s invitation to represent his lineage in the exile government of Tibet, he came to the West to teach. He was shocked by the amount of garbage his small groups of western students created while meditating for a week, equal to what a monastery in India creates in over a month.

Tenzin Wagyal Rinpoche in western coat

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche believes that our complete subservience to wealth – material wealth – will be undermined when everybody has more sense of who we are. It will answer a lot of questions and alleviate a lot of confusion and suffering just by having an understanding of the stillness, silence, spaciousness at the core of experience. Having taught all over the world, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche has used Buddhism and the wisdom heritage of Tibetan Bon to help others make contact with their own luminous minds. From a lifetime of study, teaching, and practice, he is convinced that there are more awakening experiences to be found inside oneself, and it leads to enlightened actions, creativity, and peace without passivity.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche characterizes Bon–the earliest religious tradition and practices of Tibet of which he is a scholar, teacher, and advocate–as being “very earthy”. Bon works with nature and the elements, it is sensitive to the environment and healing practices. Yet it also has dzogchen, a meditation of pure awareness. It is an awareness-of-inner-light practice and the highest achievement in this practice is said to be a body of light. So, he will tell you with a smile that comes as much from his eyes as his mouth, Bon is earthy and illuminating at the same time.Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche between portraits of his teachers

He was born in the first generation of Tibetan emigres. He became a monk at age ten and earned his Geshe, the Tibetan doctorate awarded after an eleven year program of study, in 1986. He founded the Ligmincha Institute, an international community for the preservation and integration of Bon Buddhism into the modern western world. And on May 31st to June 2nd he will be teaching dzogchen at Shambhala Mountain Center.

Make Your Mark with Barbara Bash

Barbara Bash 4One of the community’s most well-known and talented artists, Barbara Bash is bringing her artistic skills and teaching talent to the Shambhala Mountain Center April 19-21. She will be teaching, “Brush Spirit: The Expressive Art of Calligraphy.” Bash studied Dharma Art with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Chinese pictograms with Ed Young. She also recently wrote and illustrated the True Nature: An Illustrated Journal of Four Seasons in Solitude.

Of her chosen art form, Bash says: “Calligraphy is an inherently sacred activity because it synchronizes mind and body. It is a contemplative practice because it reveals who we are and brings the deep principles of meditation into action and manifestation in the world.” Furthermore, she adds, the practice of writing has been intertwined with religion, including her chosen practice, Buddhism.

“The Medieval monks wrote out texts in their scriptoriums, Buddhist monks copied sutras, Arabic calligraphers created elaborate ornamental designs for the name of Allah,” she explains.

#1 Barbara BashAt this workshop, students will learn three key things, including the strengthening the sense of embodiment in the making of a mark, says Bash. They will work first with the Chinese straight line discipline, which is actually a Tai chi practice, sitting at tables. Then Bash will guide them in bringing this settled and flexible body experience into the creation of large brush strokes while working on the floor.

“Using the whole body brings stability and relaxation into the practice of brush calligraphy,” she says.
As well, students will be illuminating the experience of mind, Bash adds. “’Calligraphy is a picture of the mind,’ according to the Chinese. Working with large brushes opens us to seeing where we are at each moment.”

Finally, students will be using the ancient principles of heaven, earth, and human as the bones of their abstract strokes. “This gives us a way to be held by the process, showing us how to begin, how to follow through, how to resolve and let go–in mark making and in life,” Bash explains.

Bash is looking forward to the workshop. “Being part of the community of a workshop brings me delight,” she says. “Everyone’s strokes are inherently interesting, imperfect and beautiful.  I never get tired of seeing what unfolds in the conversation between humans and brushes!”

Barbara Bash 3