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 other news:
Most of the SMC leadership people (upper tier of the hierarchy) are in an intense retreat this week: Monarch Retreat. It’s secret sort of stuff. I don’t know what’s going on in there, but I feel confident that it is good stuff. I’m glad they are all in there. It’ll be good for everyone for those folks to be even more tapped-into their wisdom-ruler-mojo.
Meanwhile, I lead the weekly community meeting yesterday. It didn’t go as planned. It turned into a group check-in–everyone had a turn to share from the heart. It was great, except that I didn’t set it up right. From time to time we do something called Council Practice. That’s kinda what this meeting turned into, almost accidentally, except it was missing some key components–mainly the set-up.
In Council Practice, a sacred space is created and everyone participating agrees to treat the space that way. No one responds to what other people say, everything that is shared is confidential, and nothing leaves the space. You can’t follow-up with someone afterwards. A talking-stick of some sort is passed around the circle and everyone has a turn to share. The emphasis is on deep listening. We go around three times.
Yesterday, we all shared intimately, but without the sacred set-up, though I did begin with a contemplation on deep listening. Anyway, in the meeting and afterwards, because I didn’t create a good container (I believe) there were some emotional flare-ups. Some people got hurt. It was kind of a karmic oops on my part. Mostly though, people seemed to benefit. So, it may have been close to neutral.
Many of us feel now that there needs to be more gatherings like that. Something I feel inspired to work on as Head Dekyong is cultivating more warmth and togetherness in the community. Some folks are reporting feeling isolated, and not much community-togetherness these days. Maybe it’s part of the winter-blue season.
We all see each other a lot. At least everyday at meals, and throughout the day all over the place. Yet, we can feel so distant from one another.
This is the stuff. This is the real experience/experiment. How to cultivate a culture of kindness? Of empathy and friendliness? I’m right here in the thick of an experiment. I’m so glad for that! We’re all here. How can we set things up so that it works? This is training ground. This is the petri dish. We have to be able to get it right here if we (humanity) are to have any hope of doing it on a larger scale.
We have to figure out how to exist together, and sustain ourselves in various ways. We’ve got to pay the bills and we’ve got to enjoy life also. We need to achieve financial and emotional well-being. We need to balance work, community, and personal lives. How to do it?
The Shambhala Teachings say a lot about this. So, we have some guidance. Still, it is so experimental. There is no recipe to follow. It is often said here: “We are building the plane as we fly.”
How great is that?!
Travis 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.