Floral Notes and Bardo: And, who knows? But living…

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.

Green blades of grass are popping up from the ground.


Last night a deep discussion on death and impermanence in class with Greg — Fearlessness in Everyday life.  Afterwards, with Heather, connecting in presence, communicating, acknowledging a disconnect in… view, personality, life-approach, interests.  Acknowledging the possibility of splitting as well as the possibility of not.  Impermanence is not theoretical here.  None of the teachings are.  This whole place is a living, breathing, dharma lesson.  Teachings in 3D.  Maybe 4D.  I can taste the dharma here.  It rubs my shoulders and smacks me on the head.  Walking away from her, I felt relief — in imagining passing, freedom.  Now… What is freedom?   Solitude — free of mirrors?  Free to only dive into dharma?  What is dharma?  Sitting on a cushion and reading books?  I know that my work here, my whole life here, is the path of dharma.  I may be here for ten years.  This morning in meditation, I was contemplating impermanence.  I recalled my brother singing “All Things Must Pass” to our dad while he was dying of cancer.  There seems to be enough room — in my life, heart, mind — to let that happen.  Clinging is clear to see here, and its futility.  Beauty in arising, beauty in dwelling, beauty in passing.  And, who knows?  But living with the reality of impermanence…

— April 10, 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. 

Pelicans and Programs, Passing Through


As usual springtime in Colorado has been a battle between winter and summer with blithely absurd weather predictions like “Snowy, High of 57” which should mean “Rainy” but actually means that it will snow and then climb up to 57 degrees, or vise versa. Some first-timers to SMC came in the middle of such a snow storm. These American White Pelicans stopped for a rest from their migration. While they are seen regularly in the lakes around Fort Collins at this time of year, we have been very lucky to have them visit us for a day or two.

Pelicans in lake with duck

Shambhala Mountain Center is a constant, physical reminder that we are at home in the world, regardless of a moment’s inconvenience or a freak snow storm. Our pelican friends are not the only ones practicing patience. At SMC, a cloud will come over the mountain ridge, like a bad mood, spitting sleet, and pass through the valley but this barely dampens our sunny valley. This is the perfect place for Anthony Lawlor’s Dwelling in the Sacred program to examine the qualities of place and placement that wake us up and instruct.

Pelicans with pronounced bill bumps

Pelicans spend most of the year in coastal regions, but the American White Pelican migrates inland to the midwest and western mountains (us!) in order to breed. The bumps on their bills tell us that they are in mating season. The bumps will actually fall off their bills once the mating season is over.

Bumps, lumps, and other awkward parts rise and settle constantly whether you’re a bird, beast, or flower. Chogyam Trunpa Rinpoche compared the cultivation of fearlessness to a reindeer growing horns. At first soft, rubber, awkward–very unlike horns–until the reindeer realizes that it should have horns. So too a person going beyond fear comes to realize that they should feel tender and open. Such change is nothing to fear. If you have seen a friend change over the course of a meditation practice, you know this.

setting up a tent in the snow

In this season of transitions, we are preparing for lots to come and depart. The summer Set-Up crew has arrived to populate our valley with tent villages. We’ve hosted programs on major life transitions and will be hosting more teachers who are familiar with the work of transitioning.



We will probably even host more migratory birds.

Hummingbird at feeder

What kind of transition has helped you wake up to this miraculous world we share?