Floral Notes and Bardo: Of Fluidity

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.

So many influences and I can only name a pathetically few.  Many more voices I’d like to know.  My own voice, only echoing…

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Wonderful weekend adventure with Heather and good friend Jonathan — in his truck, we rolled down the hill into Boudler, Denver, and to the 3 day Phish concert camp-out.  The music was so good… and the whole weekend…

Into town for Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanical garden, yummy vegan eats, rendezvous with old friends who traveled from Nashville, lots of good conversation, exploration.

The band as the center of the mandala, and 30,000 folks all interconnected — some quite off balance, some calm and aware, ecstatic, depressed, bored, and all the rest.  All gathered for different particular reasons, but essentially maybe the same.  Maybe having something to do with seeking happiness, good human experience.

Here at Shambhala Mountain Center, it’s the same.  Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is the center of the mandala.  Or, at least, the embodiment of what is truly the center of the mandala.  Something like that…

Anyway, we’re hanging together.  Personally, I’m familiar with a tendency towards comfort-seeking.  But then, if I stay in bed for too long, I want to tear out of the sheets, shave my head, and go swimming.

On Monday, Labor Day, after the full weekend of Phish (so good…), the three of us — J, H, and I — who had really become quite a lovely, loving crew, decided to put a cherry on top.  We went to a baseball game!  We had footlong hotdogs (I had a vegan one… they have vegan footlongs at the ballpark these days!) and beer.  Good stuff.

I woke up the next morning with a heavy cold.  Heather wrote a note to my boss requesting that my absence be excused.

I spent most of the day in a hammock, enjoying fresh air and sunshine.  Did some dharma practice, blew tons of snot out of my head — which weighed about a thousand pounds when I woke up.  Heather brought me meals and generally took very good care of me.  Now she seems to be coming down with the same cold.  It’s dissolving in my body and growing in hers.

This morning I did her dishwashing shift so that she could stay in bed longer.  I missed group meditation, but practiced on my own after the dishes were done.  It’s funny the shape that the path takes — concerts, ballgames, and headcolds.  Washing dishes, connecting in the shrine room and showing up late to work.  Working the weekend to make up hours.  This is the path of fluidity.

– September 4, 2014

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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: Not Normal

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.

Gluten free, vegan french toast, chocolate muffins and not-cow milk, but lots of big, fat cows all over the land.

None of this is normal.

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Meditation time has been moved an hour earlier and I’m off balance.

I was describing my feeling of being so out of routine lately, and how this has really started happening as teachers have been welcoming me into the mahayana.  “Good job,” Zane said.  “Enjoy the rug-being-pulled-out constantly, from now on.”

“Logic is safe,” Joshua told me.  “Sometimes the virtuous thing to do is sleep in.”

I’m seeking balance, still, stability in mid-air.  Studying teachings last night from the Sakyong about finding balance: time at the Shambhala Center, time being a householder, time out in the larger society.  Sometimes one area is receiving more attention than the others, and it’s always shifting.  What is path?  What does it look like?  Not always looking like a shrine room, church, or whatever.  The whole sacred display full of poetry and meaning, and empty, beckoning me forever to dance and play.  Not resisting change, emotions, or any person, and so a joyful presence.  May it be so.

Oh goodness… heading to the Phish concerts — weekend camp-out.  My soul-mouth is watering.  Ahh… Phish!

Each morning and evening I play a Phish song for Heather, as she’s not so familiar.  A couple of weeks ago, at dawn, we hiked up to the top of Marpa Point, overlooking the valley, beautiful dawn, and we listened to Gamehenge.  I had been leading up to it with stories — hints that Gamehenge is the parallel dimension sister-village to Shambhala Mountai Center.  (Truly, this is as close to living in Gamhenge as I could have arranged for myself.)  Anyway, I told her that Icculus lives up on the top of the mountain, and midway through the story, about the time that Icculus shows up in the story, a shirtless summer volunteer came out onto the top of the peak, above us, and howled.

Icculus!

This is a fairytale life, indeed.  I’m sure there are dragons in the air that we can’t see, and that the trees hear me singing.

~~~

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: Soft Carpet and Running Water

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 I woke up in a fancy bed, and over breakfast, considered my good fortune.

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Yesterday we gathered as a community and discussed… cats.

Heather and I have been asked to cat-sit for Director Gayner.  So we’re staying in his house for a few days.  Very fancy!  Soft carpet and running water.

When we awoke this morning, beneath a brocade blanket, Heather asked me to sing a song about “little paws.”  I sing a song for her every morning about whatever she would like to hear a song about.  We’re feeling lucky.

After the Community Meeting yesterday, there was lots of charged conversation.  The open forum meetings tend to inspire communal engagement, rippling outwards into the following days.  We’re thinking that we need more of those.

In other news, coffee has been spilt on my new white shoes.  It happened this morning, just after a group of us did the Shambhala Sadhana together.  I was not angry.

Getting together with my friends and doing this sadhana is a powerfully good experience.  It’s active, social, musical, and meditative.  It’s a collective rousing of good intention.  Very uplifting and inspiring.

In my work, I’m feeling like there are pins lined up before me and I have a bowling ball of love.  Our department is shifting around a bit, and I’m feeling really good about my role.

This weekend, I’m going down to Fort Collins to spend some time with my buddy Matt.  We’re planning on doing the sadhana together on Sunday morning and having gluten-free pancakes and avocados.  And, other than that, just spending time.  I’m looking forward to that.

Then… the following weekend… 11 days from now… I’ll be heading to Dick’s for three nights of Phish.

Ahh…

– August 21, 2014

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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: Ponies, Buis, and Trotting Onward

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.

Routine is fluid, stillness is illusory.

“Logic is safe,” Joshua once told me.

The teachings often emphasize the importance of surrendering agenda, and privacy.  Phish says: The trick is to surrender to the flow.

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Photo by Cait Rotkiewicz

Routine has been delightfully interrupted for the past few days, as Heather and I hosted her parents — Rebbi and Thai Bui —  who came to visit from the Bay Area.

Her parents are beautiful people, and knowing them deepens my appreciation for the miracle of Heather.

We borrowed our friend Yossi’s car to pick them up down in town.  Apparently, the car was damaged somewhere along the way, which has been a painful thing.  The staff “rental car” has recently dissolved.  It’s tough being up here without a car, and it’s not a comfortable thing to borrow cars from friends, so… it seems like we need to buy a car.  Feels like a good step in the direction of full adulthood, or something like that.

Since the beginning, I’ve viewed life at Shambhala Mountain Center as training for life in the world.  It’s a place for “practice.”  It seems like the first phase was living on my own — working, meditating, making art, being okay with loneliness, and so on.  Now I feel like I’m into another phase, in which I’m exploring partnership, family and greater responsibility.  Life with Heather, knowing her family, and talking about getting a car together.  It feels like a natural progression.

Anyway, we picked up the Buis and met up with the Greenleafs (Rebbi’s sister, her husband and kids) and went to  “The Farm,” which is a petting zoo in Fort Collins.  Thai peacefully sketched the animals, the kids went crazy for the goats, I was fond of the fattest sheep and fed him most of my oats, Heather met a perfect little pony, and so on.  Good times!  Afterwards we played in some water fountains downtown.

The following day we went horseback riding with a friend of Shambhala, a real cowboy named Buzz.  We rode off trail, on the hillsides.  I’d never really ridden a horse before, and it was a beautiful experience of communing with the animal, plants, rock, sky, and my own mind and body all at once.  And, I felt deeply, romantically like a cowboy for a while.  I never felt more like a Coloradoan.  Living at Shambhala Mountain Center, I feel like I live in a whole other world — Shambhala rather than Colorado.  So, riding like a cowboy was a great experience.

That evening Heather, Rebbi, Thai, and I, hung out in Heather’s room and made art together.  The next morning, a visit to the Stupa.  A campfire and singing that night.  And, yesterday, before sending them off, we had a nice tea party in the courtyard of Sacred Studies Hall.

This is a wonderful place to host people of the right spirit.  It’s a big perk of living here.  And, the Buis are wonderful people with the right spirit — warm-hearted, gentle, artists.  Being involved with the Buis is a perk of my karma.

– August 19, 2014

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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: Oh to Be Hose

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.

Aching and illuminated, all of us — aching or ignorant, delighted or ignorant… Some bruised moments, touched firmly enough to evoke panic.  All the while, something bigger than the breezes unfolding forever, forever unresolved.  The aspen tress are full of leaves these days.  The smallest ones have the biggest leaves and all of them are fluttering, quaking to be precise, in the shifting winds.

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I was standing in an aspen grove the other day, just standing, and I let myself go into as full of an immersion as I could.  I wish I could be more interwoven, or not think so much about that, rather, delighting in the movement of light and shadow, the sounds of the leaves, the sturdiness and softness of the tree trunk, branches…

Last night marching with the Kasung…  I have ongoing aversion to Kasungship (which is something to work with, I know).  I’m so grateful for the existence of the Kasung, but I don’t feel inspired to be a big-time Kasung.  When I’m serving as Kasung, I feel like I’m doing my duty.  Those aren’t the teachings that really sing to me.

Also, it’s a matter of time.  So much I’m trying to do here, while also not trying to do so much that I can’t ever kick back.  Last night I was resentful of the kasung meeting — I’ve taken a one year oath, so I feel obligated to fulfill that commitment by attending meetings, signing up for shifts, etc.  Not that it isn’t a very cool and often fun thing…

Anyway, the Miami Heat were playing in the NBA Finals and I wanted to watch the game, but instead I had to go to Kasung meeting.  The previous night I went to a class, tonight I’ll be going to a screening of a talk that Trungpa gave in 1974, tomorrow night a study group, then on Friday going down to Boulder for a weekend retreat lead by the Sakyong.

Every night of the week there’s something to do.  Something very good to do!  Something virtuous!  I’m so fortunate!  And, I’m so lazy!  Feeling a bit burdened.  But, really, feeling like something’s got to crack open.  That’s the forward facing attitude.  That’s facing East, always.

I’m subtly searching for genuine motivation — to engage, create, help others, serve the world.

Why not flop?  When I begin flopping with any sort of regularity, I begin to feel very restless.  It’s a self-correcting situation.  It’s becoming more-so.

This afternoon we’re having a Community Meeting, which I will be leading.  The purpose will be to re-establish, re-strengthen the Delek System as we head into summer.

My attitude about the Delek System has shifted a bit, which is part of a broader relaxation. “You don’t need to work so hard.” is what Hope Martin told me when she put her hands on my body and felt how hard I work to be upright, wakeful.

My approach to path, to my roles at Shambhala Mountain Center, has relaxed.  I’m seeking the balance between slouching and striving.  I’m seeking the HOSE.  At times,  Phish gets into a state of creativity which is effortless — as if they are a hose watering a garden of flowers.  The audience the flowers, the music the water, the band the hose.

I want to be a hose.

A hose can be a hose all day without becoming tired of being a hose.

– June 11, 2014

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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: Great Eastern Sunshine Daydream

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.

The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down…

The Golden Road (to Unlimited Devotion) runs through Shambhala Mountain Center…

The Dead and the dharma.  Thus it is.

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(I created an image for this post–a mash-up of the Great Eastern Sun and the Grateful Dead Steal Your Face logo.  I really liked it a lot, because it fit so well here, and also because I know so many Shambhalian-Deadheads who I think would have liked it a lot also.  However, it seemed inappropriate for public display/internet, since it may be too easily misunderstood.  So, instead, here’s Dorian enjoying a moment of psychedelic arising at Elkhorn, on a night the weekend prior to the events described here.)

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Still not quite settled into my house, but I spent a great deal of the weekend setting up the Sakyong’s residence.  At first I felt resentful. Why am I working on this house when mine is in disarray?  I wanted to feel selfless devotion and inspiration.  Eventually I did.

I skipped out of my window cleaning duties for thirty minutes one morning to go online and score Phish tickets right when they went on-sale…  Yea!

Then, back to cleaning and setting up Rinpoche’s household.  Friday evening, a gathering at Elkhorn.  I screened the Grateful Dead Movie.  Fun!  Warm up for Saturday night field-trip:

A group of us went down to Boulder to Dark Star Orchestra concert (Grateful Dead tribute).  We were well hosted by a friend named Lee, who lives in a legendary house on the East-side of the valley (Boulder-town below).

The concert was explosive-color-fun.  Singing and dancing.  Wonderful to be with my SMC peeps in that space, that energy-field.

Back up the mountain Sunday, just in time for lunch, then a talk on diversity from two Acharyas: Eric Spiegel from New York and Marianne Bots from the Netherlands.

I asked about the tension between individual intelligence, individuality, and devotion, or faith, or going along with this Shambhala thing.

Acharya Spiegel’s answer was powerful, and I don’t quite think I can do it justice.  Something about getting a strong enough whiff of familiar truth and lineage that you trust the whole thing enough to go further.  Further.  It’s personal, and quite mysterious.  First you understand the words, and then the meaning.  So…a journey.

I felt a strong connection with Acharya Spiegel.  I think I’ll travel to NYC in May to do Rigden Weekend (the next retreat for me along the progression of the Shambhala Path), which he is leading.  I was going to do it in Boulder with Acharya Hessey, but the dates conflict with a program that we’re hosting here at SMC called “Relationship as a Path of Awakening,” which I’m really excited for after speaking with the teacher — Bruce Tift, a long-time Buddhist in the Shambhala sangha and a psychotherapist.  Since a relationship is happening in my life these days, I feel I ought to do the program to nourish and encourage its “path” potential.

–March 31, 2014

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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: Contemplative Super Bowl Party/Groundhog Day

 

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.

Brighter still, the glow. In the hallway, we were strangers, now your freckles are almost unbearable.

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Before celebrating friendship via Super Bowl party I celebrated Groundhog Day with Heather. It’s an important holiday for her. We had a nice morning walk around the land, to the Stupa. Maple the prairie dog saw her shadow.

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Delicious Colorado beer and all sorts of lovely conversation–dharmic, about being an artist, relationship stuff, society stuff. Friendly talk on all sorts of topics, the game was on in the background. Focusing on the television felt unnatural. It was difficult to do–I’m way out of practice. There were warm bodies in the room, there was no center of attention–especially not the TV. The beer was delicious. The conversation was heartfelt, so enjoyable. Great laughs, and I tried to explain the connection between Phish (my favorite artistic entity) and the Seattle Seahawks, while the Seahawks beat the poo out of our hometown team. I was rooting both for Payton Manning, who was the clear candidate for storybook hero event, but also rooting for Phish. Not so much the Seahawks, but I’m always rooting for Phish.

The Super Bowl party was held at a big house just off the land called Hayagreeva.

Here’s a line that came up in conversation:

“We shit in clean drinking water.”

–February 2

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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: Things I Like, Yum

 

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.

Funky rhythm, sweet peaks. I can taste her all the time. Groggy, high, and love-struck lately.

Heather tasting the snow:

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In other news:

The other night at dinner…it was Erik’s birthday. We didn’t have a cake or candles for him, so we kept suggesting that he make a wish before blowing our minds. Erik is a  mind-blowing sort of guy–super sharp intellect and full of amazing facts and figures. Most importantly, though, he gets a huge kick out of the whole thing. His smile is blinding. He’s fascinated by reality. He wants to know about everything.

He requested that we not sing the traditional birthday song for him, but instead, sing the Shambhala birthday song. He likes that one.

“We wish you a cheerful birthday!
A joyous and cheerful birthday!
To our friend _________
We wish you a long, long, life!”

Unfortunately, none of us at the table could remember the tune on Erik’s birthday–It was a wake up call for us. Now, Heather has initiated a Birthday Committee, which will ensure that people’s birthdays are celebrated in a wonderful way according to their wishes.

Here is a meme featuring Erik:

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Yesterday we passed out surveys, asking people how they would like their birthdays to be celebrated. The first section of the survey was:

“What are three things that you like?”

I’m tempted to share some of the odder responses to the prompt, but taken out of the context of this adorable mountain community, they may not be as hilarious or even seem okay. Anyway…

Here are three of my favorite things:

1. Phish
2. Bubbles
3. Mangoes

–January 30

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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.