Floral Notes and Bardo: Good-life Immersion

 

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.

A week of staff retreat–so, so good…

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Meditation in the mornings, talks from our teachers, a beautiful lahsang on day one, cooking meals for each other.  In the afternoons–activities: music group, art, nature, physical movement, study…

So, peeps chose a track, grouped up, and got deep into those activities.  Some of us peeps got into music.  I facilitated the group and encouraged deep listening, space exploration, improvisation…  edgy spots, sweet spots, unexpected things.   And after we bravely improvised together, becoming braver as the days went on, we’d spend some time just hanging out with some tunes–Irish tunes, Brazilian jazz tunes…  everyone in the group was coming from a different place, musically, and so the improv was interesting and also the hangout section was lots of fun and varied.

The first night of the retreat we held council practice for the whole community.  People sharing from the heart in a sacred space.  I felt such deep love for everyone.  It set the tone for the rest of the retreat.

Such immersion into what it is to live here.  Time spent together–practicing, playing, just being together.  Lots of spontaneous, long conversations.  People staying after meals just to hang…  Ahh, so good.  Time with the land.  Time enjoying living in this amazing situation together, free from the day-to-day complexities and stresses that go along with trying to keep the thing afloat, and progress towards greater operations.  Of course (of course!), the greatest operation is ever-happening.  This was a nice reminder of that.

In the evenings there were various activities–dancing, movies…  Nathaniel and I hosted a sound bath.  People laying on cushions in the center of the shrine room–heads together in the center, huge speakers all around, dimmed lights, and an hour and forty minutes of washy, lush, beautiful music curated by Nathaniel, who has exceptional taste.  I offered a bit of my music into the mix, which he blended nicely.

Milarepa Day on day 6.  Oh, wow!  A full day of reciting, singing, chanting “The Rain of Wisdom“–spontaneous songs of our Kagyu forefathers.  So, so, beautiful.  So deep.  We began at 9am and went until after 10pm.  A very rich, traditional Buddhist day.  We drank chai  and nettle tea on breaks.  Sho mo! What a joyful, good experience!

The next day we went to the Great Stupa for Sadhana of Mahamudra.  I was so glad for how everything lined up/unfolded.  We spent a lot of time planning and preparing for the retreat, and then it seemed the magical forces kicked in and carried it to better places than we could have imagined.

We ended with a feast at which we practiced the Shambhala Sadhana, dined, and had libations, toasts, and made offerings.  The music group performed, others sang and shared things about their experience throughout the retreat, the art group had everyone throw colorful paper airplanes…

Rejoicing the Container: Our friend Tara–who was here and then left–asked us to put this nice thing into place: a box which collects ‘thank yous’–to people, from people.  We did so and offered the thank yous at the feast.  Everyone read one from the box.  Touching.

So… Ahh!  Such a deeply beautiful immersion into the magic of living here together.  That’s the thesis.  That was the intention and it really hit nicely.  So grateful.  Now onwards into the springtime…

–March 24, 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. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Don’t Stay Stuck

 

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.

Sweltering Florida is a heavy swamp,, shirt soaked in
doubt, mowing the lawn, day to day dirt. Muck.

Mountain air is fresh.

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Last night I was asked to describe a transition which has occurred in my life. I spoke about the move from suburbia Florida to a mountain-dwelling contemplative community.

I said lots of things:

What did I leave behind?

Petting my cat. Being close to my Mom. Swimming in the ocean. (and other lovely peoples and things, of course)

What have I gained?

My life is rich with meaningful relationships. I laugh so much more! So much more. That actually says it all, I believe.

I feel confident that I am right where I need to be.

–Lately, in the middle of my morning writing (as just now), I get a little knock on my door and it’s Heather, who visits my room just to kiss and smile for a minute before she hikes up to work–

She’s the one who interviewed me about transition. I thought she meant something else when she proposed the idea and so a bouquet of attachment, disappointment and freedom played out in my body and I read dharma.

Anyway…

I live here near the Great Stupa. I live among teachers and fellow practitioners. We talk a lot about mind, emotions, death, and the quirks of everyday living.

I’m learning tons about marketing, buddhadharma, love, leadership and generally leading a good human life.

I was asked what advice I would give to my pre-transition self:

Don’t stay stuck for too long.

–February 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. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Slow-down Practice (Slow Down, Practice)

 

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 much happening these days–all days, always
in my mind, body, office, and in the general atmosphere. So many ideas about
the path forward–business-wise, community-wise, and
personally. I am feeling more and more
one
with this organization.

My sleep has not been so restful. Maybe too much tea
too late in the day. But also, for sure,
activated imagination. So much energy to process.
It’s challenging. I’m glad for it.
There is a lot to do. There is a lot of work to do.
The is a lot of art to do. There is a lot of caring to do.

–On this planet. In this day and age.

I’m learning how to do that.
There are teachers here who are helpful.
The whole life here–

here = SMC; but also, here = HERE

but, especially SMC (for me)

is a place to practice.

Practice meditation. Practice friendship.
Practice art. Practice work.
etc.

Because there are bombs going off in my chest and
brain these days, I will spend the entire day tomorrow
meditating in the Stupa.

One of my aspirations for 2014 is to sit a nyinthun on every Saturday
which follows a New Moon.

sit a nyinthun = meditate for a full day

Sitting meditation is the opposite of propagating sickness. Here is a sign which is posted on the Quadropooper:

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This is the Quadropooper:

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Bracing the old shack for a windstrom that’s been on the way since before
contruction began.
Before the trees were planted.
Long before lumberjack swung for pay–
greasy sausage

An entry from an encyclopedia
belted out operatically to illustrate
the continuity of knowledge and feel,
words and intuition,
art and work,
speech, song, hearing, and growth.

Passed on from elderly–a verse about the future,
the restaurants are nervous to serve meat,
the folks who sat at the booth are concerned that their coffee may spill on their
laps because they no longer trust their bodies.
Jimmy Dean on a chipped porcelain plate is wet with grease
after the meal the original prophetic-neurotic-author saw himself
in the puddle of lardy-juice,
laughed,
and said “Oh lardy!”

~~~

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. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Visit the Stupa for a day or…

 

stupa top and side

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Which Liberates Upon Seeing. A monument to kindness. Built to last a thousand years. One of the key examples of Eastern architecture in North America.

The Stupa Work Week volunteer program is coming soon, and it is really the best chance you have to take that feeling of accomplishment you get from a weekend working on your yard and multiply it by a thousand. After all, this is not just a landscaping project, the Great Stupa is a site of pilgrimage, equally for the devout and the curious. As an example of enlightened architecture, it is both specific to Tibetan tradition and archetypal as a sacred space.

It has accommodated many motives and inspirations from volunteers, who provided most of the labor to build it. You can visit the Great Stupa in a day, but you can also work with it for a week.

stupa work week

Expect some hearty activities like concrete crack repair, path expansion, and fire mitigation. But where there are tools, there are tools in need of organization and storage. And where there is a 108 foot tall, white concrete stupa in the middle of a rustic mountain range, there is a stupa in need of a fresh coat of paint.

You will be working with Joshua Mulder, who must be in rare company when he fills out his census with “Occupation: Stupa Caretaker”. His mission—should you choose to assist it—will benefit an inestimable number of visitors. Volunteers are essential.

Along with the lifting, painting, and general caring for this amazing site, you can expect dharma talks and discussions…and sitting meditation. Because you don’t spend a week at the Great Stupa without logging some time on the cushion.

Enjoying the peaceful space of the mountains, however, is completely optional.

Autumnal Tori Gate

Please contact Lindy and Bob King at lotusking@indra.com to apply for the program. Once your application has been reviewed and approved, you will be given a link to register for the program. Good strong backs are very helpful, but not required!

everyday I'm shoveling