Floral Notes and Bardo: Everything is High


Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident
 is a regular feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of living as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

The hum, cranking mechanics of this lumpy old computer is so loud, it’s difficult to hear the voice.  It’s a wounded beast in the choir.  Holy jalopy.

Anyway…

All of these dreams…

IMG_1228

Walking in the woods one day during retreat, singing, it occurred to me — All of These Dreams — that lovely little song may be heard as an ode to the terma phenomena.

Saga Dawa — long ago now.  At dawn I walked through the woods, across the land to the Stupa — made offerings, prayers, prostrations.  Hung a large Gesar flag up in the tress on the hill to the east.  Back to the nest, hung more flags all around the yard with Heather.  She made a few, which are wonderful.  A pink breezy pony flag hanging beside my blue windhorse flag.  Our distinct iconographies, minds, complimenting one another.  The union… 1+1=3.

Golden Key — blissful days with Cynthia Kneen.  Received profound poetry, liquid realization.  Merged with phenomena in deeper ways.  Having acquired new, reliable tools for connecting in ways that I always have (sometimes).

Warrior Assembly — Dipping deeper and deeper into the mystical aspects of Shambhala.  Poisoned by splendor.  Delicious.

Meanwhile, a heartbreakingly wonderful friendship, partnership, companionship — more and more real — Heather and I.  Honest.  Blood and guts, bones, emotion.  Heart, inexplicable circumstance, practicality.  A good deal.

Immediately following two weeks of intensive program, retreat, assembly — a full day of assisting Sensei, a day of email-a-thon catch up in the office, and then another day — 11 hours — assisting Sensei again.  Assisting Sensei in taking down the Warrior Assembly arrangements and creating the Ikebana environment for Scorpion Seal Garchen.

During Warrior Assembly, my job was to help with flowers the whole way through.  Mmm!  A lot of work.  Art work.  At one point I brought this question to the assembly: “Is the contribution of the artist valued in this mandala?  If so, why does there seem to be so much more emphasis and validation for the military?”

I was in the trenches with Sensei.  11pm, 10 hours into the work, sawing branches. Joshua was there too, helping out.  I was terribly cranky, but keeping quiet.  Sensei asked me to report on my current experience.  I told her.

She said: “And if that crankiness could speak, what would it say?”

Me: “I want to go home. I want a break!”

She was nearly 20 hours into her work for that day.  She probably worked nearly as many hours the day before — creating art.  Bringing the environment to life for the assembly, for the practitioner, for the guru to share wakeful mind.

I looked her in the eyes — her eyes are always devastatingly kind, accommodating, friendly — I said:

“I want to be able to offer like you do.  I don’t know how you do it.  I want to be able to offer joyfully, tirelessly, like that.”

She assured me that I shouldn’t be hard on myself, and that I am on a path.  She encouraged me to go home so that I don’t burn out or form a negative association with Ikebana.

I went home laughing about how I simply cannot keep up with that woman twice my age.  Unbelievable.  Promising.

Saturday, the next day — day of rest.  Wonderful.  Cartoons and cereal with Heather, a couple hours of practice, picnic lunch, a hike — then, sweating, back at the house, laying in the grass, feeling cool breeze, sky-gazing, opened a cold bottle of beer, in the shade, delicious, melted into the land, the sky, the air, the tall, fragrant, grass, the south facing slope across the valley which I had just hiked, wrote some poetry, laid, bliss.

Sunday, a full day of connecting with Heather — our seasonal relationship celebration/strengthening, check-in.  Yummy watermelon popsicles on the porch of the gift store (The HUM Depot), friendship-bracelet-weaving, lovely stroll, enchanted aspen grove ceremony, and in the evening, a community solstice celebration event — we all contributed art, words, aspirations to a large prayer flag that will be hung, on an auspicious day, on the hill near the Stupa.

Now, the end of a week of busy-ness.  Much driving — dropping off Heather, who is now in California, arranging for the car-hit-tree damage to be repaired — a million things at work, and arranging for Ethan Nichtern to hold an audience with the SMC Staff.

Meanwhile, we are in a sea of high practitioners, Rinpoche is on the land, and everything is high.

Now I must go to eat!

— June 26, 2015

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a writer, musician, and aspirant on the path of meditation.  He currently resides at Shambhala Mountain Center, where he serves in the roles of Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Yesterday, Sitting Beside Sensei


Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident
 is a regular feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Yesterday, sitting beside Sensei…

IMG_0577

As she introduced Ikebana to the students from Chapman University, from LA, who are here for a week to immerse in Shambhala culture in a program called “Ancient Wisdom: Modern Madness,” which we’ve been hosting here for 25 years.

Sensei is musical in everything that she does; floral. Her speech, throughout the hour long talk — which touched on Japanese culture, Tao, Heaven, Earth, Humanity, flowers, flowers, branches, sticks and stones, meditation, avante garde, and more — was fluid.

She told me afterwards that she used to be too shy and nervous to even make an announcement that lunch was ready.

That quality of nervousness, she said, is gone.

“It’s gone.”

After the talk, my friend Noel remarked: “Sometimes I think that they shipped her in from another dimension.”

“She’s floral,” I said.

In the next session I helped her hand our flowers to the students, who sat in a large circle with their eyes closed.  She instructed them to explore the flowers through touch.  I’d done this exercise with her several times, but this was the first time that I got to watch other people explore — brushing the flower on their cheeks, smelling, tickling.

Just as I was becoming amused and delighted at watching the others she leaned over to me and said “Close your eyes.”

She handed me a flower and I enjoyed my time with it.

We all placed our flowers in small containers and then, slowly, while Sensei rung the various singing bowls, we stood and placed the flowers in the center of the room, making a large, collective installation.

Then we circled the room together, slowly.  “Moving the energy around,” she said.

We all bowed to each other, recited protector chants, and everyone went to dinner.  I stayed back with Sensei and prepared for the evening session.

I ate dinner with her and we spoke all about art, dharma, living at SMC.  I shared my ongoing frustration with her, which is that I think I should be making more art.  And I told her about the recent shift towards surrendering that, and allowing myself to focus more fully on deepening into dharma.

“That’s the best thing that you could do for your art,” she said.

Oh yeah.

Years ago, while reading True Perception (which awakened my mind and approach to life and art forever), I realized that meditation is first.  Before making art, allow mind to settle, awaken, and then simply express, go forth without trying to manufacture anything.

The big idea about coming to live at the dharma center was to deepen into dharma, and then go forth into the world, into my art, whatever.  I decided to live here as I was turning thirty.  So, in the large arc of my life, the idea was (is), as a good way to enter this next phase of creativity, I’ll first meditate for a good while.

I told her about my recent meeting with Joshua, and how he encouraged me to deepen into dharma.  And I asked, “What about music?” And he said “Sing dharma!”

And it’s funny because that’s what has been happening, even before that meeting with Joshua.  I study dharma all the time, and while I’m walking around the land, I sing verses, and I improvise, and I simply sing.

While I’m hanging around my room with Heather, I pick up the bass and groove for a while.

I make Ikebana arrangements every week. I write a blog.

Art is happening all over the place here… just not in the way that it used to.

It’s not the main focus.

Sensei said: “It’s the tea sweet.”

—  January 26, 2015

~~~

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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Be Befuddled or Change


Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident
 is a regular feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Guitar music is floating out from the room across the hall.  It enters through the vent in the bathroom, and also seeps through the door, and the wall.

IMG_0361

I’ve been hanging out with the acoustic bass that Dorian gave me, and singing all over the place.  My art is not quite a discipline these days, but it’s very much part of life.  It’s a joy, and it’s very easy.

Joshua encouraged me to be a minstrel.  He said if he ran this place he’d pay someone to just walk around all day and play music — maybe a clarinet or guitar.

I asked him about finding time for dharma study and music.  He said: “Study, and then play what you studied.”

Funny… I’ve been doing that — taking a phrase from the text and then singing it all day.  It’s been beautiful.

I wondered about “Travis” music — Will all of my music here be so… formally dharmic?

“The circumstances will determine what kind of music you make.  Be amenable.

And, about the general frustration of not being able to find the time…

“You have two choices: you can either be befuddled, or you can change.”

The art is going to come out.  If it is being suppressed, it will forcefully re-aggange the surroundings in order to make space for itself.

Funny… that’s been happening also.  I recently, quite simply, decided that I’d extend my morning meditation session by 30 minutes, and also add an hour of art-making to my morning right afterwards.  When I sat down and looked at the calendar, there’s no reason why I can’t do that and also get my work hours in.

And… be flexible.  Some days, he said, the thing to do will be to just go deep into the music.  Other days, maybe not.

I told him about my ongoing efforts to schedule out my whole life to ensure that everything I want to do happens.

“Schedule is good, and breaking the schedule is better,” he said with a huge grin.

— January 21, 2015

~~~

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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Eight of Us, Fine Tea, Jazz (and Later Dub)

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a regular feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Reflective ribbons on a passing train, a small one, which runs on imagined tracks through my forest hometown — a bit of a town — a bit of an echo, over and over, and the humble drummer plays along.

IMG_0360

We had a lovely gathering at the Nubble Nest on Saturday afternoon — eight of us, fine tea, jazz (and later dub) through the small speakers, and small booklets full of big wishes.  Some frustration because it’s not always so easy to have big dreams.

We reflected on 2014 and looked ahead to 2015.  It was fun, though I didn’t go too deep.  I was enjoying pouring tea, and I made a quik ikebana (Greg Smith calls it “quikebana”) with some flowers that Anna brought over.  I ate plenty of chocolate and I made some aspirations for 2015.

I get confused about New Year these days because the lunar new year actually means more to me — it’s more significant in my world.

Anyway, I don’t quite remember what I wished for, and it may be bad luck to tell you even if I did.

I can say that I pretty much have lots of good things going, and I wish only to cultivate my life-garden further.

Meanwhile, I want to help a family member who is in a tough spot.

After the little party, Heather and I sat around the room, hugging and such.  Scott came over from across the hall and played a beautiful Cat Stevens song for us.  Heather knew it — Rebbi used to sing it for her when she was little.  Cool family.

Later, after tea and lemon bars, I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and I heard some music coming through the air vent.  I grabbed my bass and walked across the hall to join in the jam for a bit.

— January 12, 2015

~~~

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 Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Burnt on Government

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.

Within a dense tangle — stop, drop, and sing.

IMG_5255

Recently, Harvest of Peace community celebration, welcoming the autumn. The marketing department buzzing at a high frequency, like an exploding galaxy, bringing our big project into being — Awake in the World.

My community work has been more demanding than ever, as a group of us has been meeting to create the Shambhala Mountain Center values statement.  Along with Care Council, Community Council, and the rest of Delek System work.

I’ve been maxed out.

And so, a shift…

Now… each week (beginning last week) I’ll be doing an Ikebana arrangement on Friday morning, and on Friday afternoon, I’ll be going up to work at the Stupa for three hours.

This week I’ll be stepping down as Head Dekyong and will be beginning Teacher Training with Greg Smith.

Last night I spent an hour and a half playing music.  Ahh…

I’ve been involved in all sorts of things and not so much in the basic things that bring me joy: Art, Stupa, Dharma.

I know, I know, it’s all art and it’s all dharma.  But, at this stage in my being alive, it feels so good to do Ikebana, play music, and directly work with… Buddhism.  That’s my stuff.

I’m burnt on government.  I’ve been not-so-joyful recently.

Acharya told me:

“All bodhisattvas must be joyful.”

Bhanu told me:

“Be your music self up here.”

Something is shifting and I feel like I’m discovering a new way of being a member of the community, which is actually the way I used to be, but wasn’t sure of its value.  I thought I had to take on esteemed positions, or more formal leadership roles, more formal service roles.  Now, I’m feeling my way into joyful service.  I’m feeling my way into being myself, very simply.

— September 29, 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: Until I Sing

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.

Mental combustion in the middle of the night, fuming while the mist hung cool over the peaks in the morning.  Soft, and myself, dense — until I sang.

IMG_1583

Last night a mime appeared at dinner.  Then we held a Sukhavati ceremony for distant friend.  As the ceremony was beginning, a tremendous thunderstorm rolled in.  Hail came pouring down onto the shrine tent.  Acharya couldn’t speak over the noise, so we paused.  We sat while the storm raged.  Then, continued the ceremony.

Afterwards, I realized that my shoes were soaked.  I walked barefoot on little balls of hail and dirt trail beside Acharya and we enjoyed how the whole thing had unfolded.

I woke up the in middle of the night, angry, resentful of my commitment to Kasungship.

Basically: I have to devote hours of my life to helping others, rather than doing what I feel like doing, and I’m throwing a tantrum about it.

One of my storylines is that there are plenty of ways to serve, and one of them is Kasungship.  And Kasungship is not the one that I feel most naturally inclined towards.  I’d rather be arranging flowers, making music, nurturing the Delek System.

I think that story is valid.  And, it doesn’t matter.  I took an oath.  So, it’s my job to do my duty without complaining.  Seems like a positive thing to do.  Seems like I may grow through the experience.  But, man, it’s a pain in the ass.

This is the nitty gritty of the path.  This is the pickle of devotion.  My inspiration is low.  If catastrophe were to strike, I would be singing a completely different tune.  I want to not drift so far before remembering.

My heart is calling for a refresher: retreat.  Re-connect.  When will the window open?  What will it be like on the other side?  Will I look back with clarity and shake my head, with humor, for having allowed myself to drift so far, become so worked up and muddled-dumb, before taking a step back so that I may enjoy the beauty of the whole display?

Methinks: yes.

— June 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. 

 

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Time and Flowers, People

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.

Fun with Rebbi — Heather’s mom — the last few days. Wondrous artist-human.  Delightful, and glad to be connecting.  Last night, the three of us in my house singing Beatles’ songs:

“Lil’ darlin’, it’s beena long, cold, lonely, winter…”

And now, the sun is bathing us all, the land.  Spring arriving.

Ikebana Program_Apr2014-8

And, in knowing Rebbi, somehow feeling closer to Heather.  Some sense of greater reality.  Greater humanness.  The truth of the texture of her black hair, and her shoulders.

Real people.

~~~

This morning, an hour spent arranging flowers after meditation.  Just an hour, because, I have to be on the clock for a certain amount of time each week in the marketing chair, and my schedule is rather tight.

But, I’m reading this dharma about work and time and so on.  This book form Tarthang Tulku.  There’s a bit in there about having deadlines and allowing that to energize the work — like the pressure needed to produce diamonds — without it freaking you (me) out.

I was feeling that as I was arranging.  Last weekend, a bunch of us did the Ikebana workshop with Shenpen, Sensei, and, all week long, my world has been more spacious and creative.  I’ve been approaching my whole life more like a flower arrangement…

And I’ve got Tarthang Tulku in the other ear nudging me to be more productive.

So…  more productive and more spacious.  How does that work?  It seems to.  It’s what I’m working on.

— April 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. 

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Flowers and Sensei, Awake

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.

Speed like weeds.  Flowers like music.  Pulsating perfection, and busy bodies missing beats.  A million words, a million actions — exhausted bodies wanting to flop…  but far too busy.  A million deaths and missed opportunities, a smile, and one perfect ringing note — the bliss bell.  Soon-enough, tumbleweeds of thinking.  Busy bodies.  But, perhaps more and more often — bell.

Ikebana Program_Apr2014-16

Breathe.  A weekend with Shenpen, Sensei — arranging flowers, slowing down, opening up.  Her being is her teaching.  It’s always that way.  More the wholeness than the spoken instructions.

My emotional state — worked-with through arranging.  And then the arrangement as a mirror.

Heaviness purified through art-form.  The energy, once challenging, now reflected, purified, no more grief about it, rather…  there it is.

Flowers.  Resistance to knowing flowers, revealing ever-floral me — the fragility is too much to bear.  Always so tender and never-lasting.  Afraid to say goodbye…  and, thus, afraid to say hello.

So…  dropping all of that and being simple.  I wish to be more relaxed — not in a floppy way, but in an open way.  I wish to do my work, but without all the tension and goal-orientedness.  I believe it works better that way.

What good is scatter-brained accomplishment?  What power is there in that?  Instead, one simple, perfectly timed bell.

One after another.

After the weekend program concluded, Sunday with lunch, I went to my house and napped.  Then, awoke and cleaned, and arranged, my space.  Sensei said that Ikebana is a dangerous contemplative art, because it will change your life.

I see the way environment affects mental and emotional states — and vice versa.  It felt amazing, uplifting, to be in my space after it had been cleaned and arranged.

The world is always communicating.  We are always communicating…  What is the message?  Heart, care, awake, play, not-so-serious.  We’re expressing always.  Artwork — changes the world, changes minds.

The whole way through.  Friday afternoon, I felt like I wanted to nap for three days.  I was so burnt from the work week — so much activity.  So much obligation.  So much hope and fear.  Instead of curling into a ball, I engaged in artwork.  It purified my state.  And the result was more beauty in the world.  The whole process was helpful and beautiful on many levels.

Grateful.  Grateful for the reminder.  For the immersion.  Grateful to have been in space with Sensei.  Her floral radiance.  Her heavenly wisdom and strong hands, delicate touch.  Glad to know my world to be a living arrangement.  Sensei, smile.  Oh, virtue of whimsy.  May I not become too busy.  Sensei, awake.  Pause.  Awake.

— April 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. 

Ikebana: The Contemplative Art of Flowers

By Alexandra Shenpen, Sensei and Travis Newbill

Shenpen, Sensei will be guiding Ikebana/Kado: The Contemplative Art and Way of Flowers, April 18-20, 2014

Alexandra Shenpen

Alexandra Shenpen

Ikebana is more than just flower arranging. Rather, it is a practice through which we explore nature & life,  the relationship between heaven, earth, humanity and personal artistic process — whether we feel we are artistic or not!  We begin by learning traditional, harmonic forms. Engaging with Ikebana as a contemplative practice awakens the unconditional beauty of  our world,  inspiring a way of living.

Below are some words from our wonderful teacher, Alexandra Shenpen, Sensei and some images of arrangements created by introductory students.

On structure and improvisation:
“Forms tame us, helping us to wear-out our artistic ego, so that what comes through is fresh and awake, an expression of  what’s already there — both in ourselves and in nature.  This is a wonderful ground for later improvisation.   In other words, structure provides a language of flowers — and from that language, not only can the poetry of botanical materials communicate more vividly, but one can begin to play.  Ultimately, the plants speak for themselves, if we understand their presence in space.”

DSCN0137

“Ikebana, as a non-verbal art form, allows us to let go of  thoughts and judgments that can cloud the way we see the world.  By  really looking at a branch, a twig, a flower, we can discover how to look , that we  might truly see, and fully appreciate what’s there.  The flowers and branches find their own place harmoniously.  When we begin to taste that  experience, isness–things as they are–renews our real heart.  Ultimately, when we are experiencing the vivid inseparability of form and emptiness, we feel very alive,  in touch with ourselves and phenomena.  It quite goes beyond words.  Art  embodying that is very helpful to have in the world.”

P1080116

Flower as guest:
“Human beings have a universal soft spot for plant life, for the beauty of nature. Just holding or looking at a flower touches that soft spot. Once flower or branch has been cut, it is no longer being sustained by its own way of growing. It is in our care. Being considerate of the flower’s needs comes naturally when our soft spot is open.”

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

“Every Choice is an Artistic Choice” — Ernie Porps/Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
“Ikebana can be a positively dangerous contemplative art ——     it can change your life! It becomes harder to not notice. Our natural instinct is to be awake and care for our world  —  noticing,  appreciating, and engaging aesthetically. How we get dressed, or how the dishes go in the dish rack — becomes more of an ongoing creative  process, rather than just something to put up with.”

DSCN0160 C

“Ikebana/Kado honours the sense of above, below, and in between- – –  below is not lesser than above and above is not greater than below, and in between is not “not as good as” or “better than” something else. Those are human neuroses which are rampant in the world and in ourselves. Some liberation from that takes place when we create a living piece.   We come to recognize that each element has its own place, creating a harmonious whole.    This really interrupts our conventional way of thinking about things.”

~~~

Finally, a testimonial from David, a student of Shenpen, Sensei:

“Whether to choose this blossom, or that branch has been an absolutely safe place to be daring. The most dreadful consequence has been total collapse (of my flower arrangement) – something I have found I can live with! After a year I am beginning to bring this development of felt-sense into my larger world. I find it easier to move with confidence and trust myself. Who would have ever thought that arranging flowers could have such potential for informing my life? The fresh perky blooms are rubbing off!”

Alexandra Shenpen, Sensei will be leading Ikebana/Kado: The Contemplative Art & Way of Flowers, April 18-20, 2014. To learn more, CLICK HERE

Floral Notes and Bardo: Renunciation/Blossom

 

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.

Wet behind the ear, mind-flower shedding petals and onto my shoulder, cool
petals, living still, still connected to earth. Petals from the flower-song, becoming smaller. And not separate from fresh blossoms.

IMG_1307

Valentine’s Day–We handed out flowers from the previous night’s Ikebana class and the haikus that Heather, Tara and I made for all the members of the community. We invaded lunch-time with glittery wishes and cheer. People seemed to enjoy it.

Just before lunch a group of staff gathered at the Stupa to film a Shambhala Day greeting from SMC. Nice weather, cheerfulness…

A super-love day between and Heather and I and… and this is really key for me… it seemed like that situation was connected to a larger one. Like… romantic love and communal love feeding one another. That’s how we both experienced it. I hope it’s true.

Yesterday, in the sweat lodge, I prayed that I not become too addicted to pleasure and comfort.

I am here to help others.

Got that? (speaking to myself)

Every morning I say to myself in the mirror:

It’s not about me. It’s not about me. It’s not about me.

I was given the Buddhist refuge name:

Ngejung Tachok

which means

Renunciation Steed

What is there to renounce? Trungpa Rinpoche says: “What the warrior renounces is anything in his experience that is a barrier between himself and others. In other words, renunciation is making yourself more available, more gentle and open to others.”

So, if I begin using a situation, a person, a drug, whatever, to hide out–that has to go. Maybe not the person or the situation, but that way of engaging…indulging.

Trungpa also says:

“You can make a distinction: you can discriminate between indulging and appreciating”

I’ve avoided intimate relationships for a while because I was scared of getting so sucked-in that I wouldn’t be able to feel or connect with the rest of the world.

That’s something I’m trying to be aware of this time around. It can’t turn into a mush-fest. Susan Piver says: “Love without mindfulness is goo.” Right.

With that said, Valentine’s Day was very sweet and romantic, and more creative and joyous than gooey. Good.

–February 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.