Floral Notes and Bardo: New Morning

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.

Swam through, grew gills, sang songs into darkness
witnessed flowers of all sorts
all before breakfast, all wrapped up in dawn

Last night I cherished the sight
of her sleeping peacefully on her back,
purple pony under her arm,
hands folded.

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Out my window now — vast.  Sky is blue, finally — two weeks of heavy mist, rain, snow — like an incubator.  Me in the bardo — left home, time in Boulder running the conference, enjoying time at Marpa House.  Saw Lady Konchuk — got dizzy, nauseous, had to get up from sadhana practice to shit.  Put-put with the crew — Beyond Mindfulness.  Good.  10 hour days of work, hysterical team chemistry.  We reached 28,000 people from 135 countries.  Brought in a bunch of money for SMC.  Good.

Got home, got sick.  Crashed the new car into a tree.

Moved all belongings into palatial upstairs Manjushri — new nest.  Nubble Nest 3.0. Oh — good!  So good.  Fresh.  This morning, feeling my grasping at it.  Possessive.  It’s fleeting.

House and a car.

This is new phase of human-life-education.  Householder.  Living in society, in a house.  Relating to community from here, my seat.  Jeremy lives downstairs — good.  My new homie — dharma, poetry, life.

I had a heartful farewell with Avalokiteshvara — yurt.  Juniper smoke, song, prayer, thanks.

Here I am now.  How… SMC magic unfolding.  Learning how to live life.  I practiced at my home shrine this morning.  Now, writing from my desk, just beside the shrine, sitting on zafu still, desk is low, sipping tea from my new tea pot — beautiful, high quality, fragile — like all of this.

Next week, back into retreat — three weeks.  Now, settling into the new situation, the new phase.  Considering folks in Nepal, considering mother in Florida, the flooded folks in Texas.  These are the pebbles in my shoe.  Remember.  No God Realm vacation.

Vidyadhara said something like: “King without a broken heart is a paper tiger.”

— May 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: Into Earth, Into Possibility, Flower


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.

Image of mystery solidified into realness
Heavy “other” became oppressive
Revolution of skepticism, purification, cynicism
Softening, imagination liberated from captivity
Realness dissolves into possibility

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A healing week, a liberating week — with teacher Marcy Fink, and pepperred by amazing wisdom of wizard Joshua.  Oh, and high lama from Tibet.

Four Dignities, and teachings, exploration of magic, possibilities.  After a retreat a couple of months ago in which I became devastatingly frustrated with the teacher and lost connection, apparently, to the lineage, this — Marcy, Joshua, and the dignities — was restorative.

After the last retreat with the teacher who I found to be inadequate, having gone on solitary retreat, only for the teachings to blossom by surprise — as if someone had slipped acid into my coffee — now, okay, good.

Prancing in the field together, offering fragrant smoke into the sky, discussing with heart, bones, imagination, these teachings, our lives, this earth, the limitless expanse, poetry.  Feasting together, sipping sake, offering dance, poem, song, for each other, for us, delight.  Laying, one afternoon, outside the Stupa, feeling deeply into earth, gazing far into, beyond, sky.  Bliss.  Vultures circling above — death.

The follwing day — Joshua — oh — wild, amazing, heartbreaking, hysterical, ecstatic, living teaching.  In the flesh and spirit.  Laughing into the sky, basking in laughter echoed from Stupa, dancing, skipping, soaring together.  Realizing what all of these teachings are really about — even in glimpses.  Realizing my barriers — okay.  Inside Stupa, all of us with Tibetan instruments, weapons, a sculpture of ego — “mix between 8 1/2 month year old baby and a frog” — in the center. cacophony of sound — like bardo, chaos, world.  Dancers, in turn, embodying the dignities, ritualistically slayed ego-delusion.

A high lama from Tibet visited us on the last day.  I sat right in front, facing him.  In the middle of his talk — on nature of mind, Kalachakra, meditation, Trungpa Rinpoche — he pointed at me and said (through his translator): “This student is meditating well.  I can tell by looking into his eyes.”  Everyone laughed. After the talk I immediately jumped up when we were invited to ask questions.  I asked about vegetarianism — because he is an advocate — and he spoke to the full room about the virtues of vegetarianism:  Eating meat, he said, creates obstacles to awakening bodhichitta, and, among many other reasons for being vegetarian, it is good to not kill other beings unnecessarily, obviously.  It was nice to hear all of this and know that my fellow sangha members were hearing all of this.  The dubious practice of eating meat, to me, is an elephant in the room of Shambhala.

After I took my seat again, he looked at me for a moment and said: “Meditate well.”

Okay.

The retreat was intense, kept me up past my bedtime every night, and it was really staring to catch up with me by the end of the week.  Tired.

Friday morning I went up to do chores at the Stupa.  While I was up there, Joshua wrote me (I typed) a recommendation for an upcoming retreat program.

Do you recommend this student for this retreat?

“Yes. Extraordinary perception of reality.”

Anything else you would like to say about this student?

“Yes. Put him into servitude to save the world.”

That was it.  Good enough!

Satruday a blissfull day of slowness with Hetaher — pillowtalk all morning, yummy lunch, cartoons and games in the afternoon.  Finally listened to the new Sufjan Stevens album while she attended the first session of the second phase of our ongoing peaceful communication training with Greg Heffron.  I was sorry to miss it, but it just wasn’t lining up.

I’m enjoying, recently, moving the my life more in accordance with the flow of things, less grip on my agenda — watching it rain for a few minutes instead of hurrying to next destination, entering into conversation, volunteering time here and there.  Slow down.  Yes.

After Heather walked down the hill to class, I walked a couple of doors down, rang the bell, and asked Michael (Gayner) for some water.  I was all out and trying to nurse myself back to health.  Without hesitation, he began feeding me all good healthy things — fruits, herbs, tinctures, concoctions.  I felt better immediately, sipping roibos while the ginger, honey, pepper, lemon brew was heating up on the stove.  He hooked me up real nice and was so joyful in doing so.

So good.

Like President Reoch handing me a bunch of money to pass along to my Mom in need: real bodhisattva stuff.  Natural.  Genuine.  Feels good.

And now, entering two weeks of mad-creative-work putting on our second big online event: Beyond Mindfulness. the team is in motion.  It’s happening.  Giddy up!

—  May 4, 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: Translucent Owls and Such

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.

Don’t read too loud.  Inner noise and voice.  Voice.  Voice as distinct from “thinking out loud.”  Voice as blossom of invisible beauty.  In these lines, in and out of resonant voice, in and out of ego-overlay chatter, in and out of state of genuine perception/expression.  Cracking jokes versus liberated approach articulated.

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I sense an inclination to write without noticing myself writing.  It’s sneaky.  It’s like coming upon a person in the woods dancing naked, totally free, and not wanting to interrupt.  Also not wanting to look away.  Trungpa talks about giving up privacy altogether.  Today I am not alone in the library as I write.  It’s rare to be alone here — in this snow globe, diorama, play-pen, dharma center.  Center?

There’s always someone around the corner.  Sometimes, avoiding small talk encounters feels like some ancient Atari game, Frogger, or something.  Trying to make it to my sacred writing space is a challenge.  So much noise, business, in the office.  Can’t write there.  So many people in between the meditation hall and the sanctuary library, so many potential disruptions to the silence after sitting that I wish to maintain and bring to the page.  So, I’ve worked to minimize the possibility of interruption.

I fill my Thermos with hot water before I leave the dining hall after eating breakfast, and I grab an empty mug, then I go into my office and grab my big, clunky laptop — and I bring all of this junk with me to the shrine room.  After the ending gong rings, I make sure to be the first one out of the room so that I can slip on my boots and slip out the door without anyone snagging me with commentary or questions of any sort.  I B-line it to the library.  Usually I’m alone in here and it is heaven.  I write for a half hour, then study dharma for an hour, then head into work.  It is ideal.

Later in the day I return to the library to study poetics for an hour, then I head back to the shrine room for evening chants, then back to the library to read a poem, and then off to dinner and into open space — hang out with Heather or other friends, get into recreational activities of various sorts.

Last night Ryan, Jeremy, and I were invited over to Michael’s house (usually I call him, in this blog, Director Gayner, but in real life I call him Michael) for some delicious cocktails and some hanging out.  We watched a movie called Deal Lands about the war and peace between two indigenous tribes in New Zealand.  I liked how their connection to the earth and the invisible spirit realm, spirit of things, spirit in general, was portrayed.  I like how it is an ordinary aspect of their lives — presence of ancestors, spirit, energies of the land.  I sense all of that sort of thing living here, but there’s a lot of push and pull inside me about how to relate with all of it.  Because we are a little snow globe in a culture that has mostly lost (maybe beginning to rediscover now) touch with the living earth, with the living energies of the world, of the human mind, heart.  Of big mind.  There’s more than meets the eye, but materialist worldview cannot see that.  Knowing with the heart.  Speaking with the heart.

I’m wondering recently what I’m doing in this writing.  And, I might have more to say about it later.  For now: I wish for the story of discovering resonance, harmony, to be told — the story takes place in the outer world of Shambhala Mountain Center and the inner world of my mind, feelings.  Here and there flashes of space — the source.  All of this may be summed up by the ancient notion of joining heaven, earth, and humanity.  This is something I’m actively exploring.  It’s what I’m doing in Ikebana, and it seems with the writing as well.

— April 23, 2015

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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: Nada Surf Sang

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.

Slush this morning, knee deep, stepping, slipping, crunching down the trail from the cabin.  Singing dharma songs, admiring stark white snow on the rocky ridges, in morning sun.  Carrying way too much stuff.  Feeling good about being early.  Later, not much later, feeling rushed because some invisible vacuum devours minutes.

(Heather also made a sheep)

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Nada Surf sang: “Always rushing, always late.”

I think that’s a terrible way to live, but I find myself in that way rather often.  Trying to slow down and also accomplish much — marketing, meditation, poetics, community, joy, relationship.  A good, really good, full, sometimes too full, life.

This morning, after devouring my bowl of oatmeal, racing the clock, making a little bagel sandwhich for Heather — because she loves that and it rare that salmon spread and bagels are offered here; and just a few minutes ago — I am in the library now — I had a feeling that if I looked out the window I’d see her, and I did.  So I cracked the window and sang our special call.  She heard and came up to eat breakfast here while I write.  I told her about the bagel, but not the salmon — that’s a surprise.  Now, she’s eating, very pleased, as I type.  Jeremy is downstairs practicing Qigong in the shrine room.

Big, beautiful sacred Sudies shrine room.  I was going to write about that before I got sidetracked with the bagel scene.  He and I practiced together this morning.  Just he and I in that vast, sacred space.  Very lovely, and something I almost take for granted living here.  Someday, I’ll have a little shrine in a bedroom.  Today, I have this amazing room with elaborate wood carvings, and a dear friend to sing the beautiful chants with.

I was fumingly grumpy this morning while rushing around.  Ridiculous.  But that state of discontent is so seductive.  I’m glad to drop it and be a child.  Newborn.

And… it can be really difficult here.  My shower in the cold cavernous bathhouse this morning.  Trecking down the hill in the slush with fifteen pounds of stuff.  Later, I’ll treck back up.  Trying to do all of this on schedule.

There will be particular hassles no matter where I live.

Someone else cooked my oatmeal for me this morning.  Right now, those same people — my friends Yossi and Jesse — are chopping vegetables, cooking food that will be served for lunch in three hours.  I’ll stroll in and make myself a plate.  Beginning Friday, I’ll be in retreat — again — for a week.  Practicing and studying with some community members and a senior Shambhala teacher.  No problem getting time off from work to do it.  No tuition cost.  Easy.

It’s all true — the challenge and the ease.  I’m done saying obvious things now.  Instead I’ll sit in the armchair and study Pema/Shantideva for an hour before heading into the office.

— April 21, 2015

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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: Snow Totoro (Snowtoro?) No Poem


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.

I don’t want to
start this post
with poem

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Yesterday having tea up near the Stupa with dear buddy Frenchy (other people call him that), we discussed artistic engagement as path.  He is just finishing up an MFA in sculpture.  I am tip-toeing towards Naropa writing and poetics MFA program.  To do so I have to devote time every day to reading and writing — in addition to time on the cushion and studying dharma.  Devoting time, daily, as practice, to the arts feels like a departure at this point.  It feels unsanctioned.  I know I’m being a “good boy” if I am meditating and studying dharma.  How about if I’m reading poetry?

This is revealing a tip of iceberg psychological complex that I believe is lurking in my mindstream.  I’d like therapy exploration someday.

Anyway… it snowed a ton.  3 feet.  People were squishing their cars stuck into piles of snow — left and right.  Heather and I sat cozy in the cabin and watched a whole episode of Mark Corwin rescuing Oakes with the plow truck.

So cozy inside.  Snow falling, falling, falling out the window.  Piling up.  Huge heaps.  On Saturday, my first toboggan ride — right out in front of the cabin!  Then, warm drinks, burgers, music, games, yummy times inside the cabin with Heather.  Yesterday, she made an epic Totoro snow sculpture on the dining platform.  It took her three hours.  Now, her face is sun-burnt and her arms are sore.  She says: I’m experiencing physical discomfort.  I don’t like physical discomfort.”

This morning, she also said (her first words of the day):  “I dreamt that I was at the Nutcracker ballet.  Everyone that I’ve ever known was there.  It was beautiful.”

Friday was the heaviest super snow day.  We cancelled all of our weekend programs so the staff-community was hanging out in the dining hall — playing games, later watching a movie.  It was a good warm feeling.

Yesterday, after Stupa chores: Social Meditation. Such a great practice.  We sit in a circle, meditate, then, eye gaze, then, heart-speech-and-listening communication, then, snacks and more casual conversation.  Sharing gaze with friend, I felt all irritation melt away.  I had to refrain from bursting into laughter.

I always have resistance to entering into the gaze, but then, it is like immediate medicine.  That practice is as profound as any practice I’ve done — in the longer group or solitary retreats, or anything.  It brings it all to life — interdependence, non-duality, real love, real compassion, the basis for compassion, the lightness of the whole thing!

We’re planning to do it every Sunday now, like we did last summer.  Very glad for this.

Also, I am making my own kombucha.  Eric transmitted the mother to me.

— April 20, 2015

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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: I Drowned a Tick in Booze


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.

Recently, Heather and I have been helping to water the seedlings for the community garden.  What seedlings am I watering right now — in the cosmic garden?

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Compassion feels sore and self-righteousness is a rush.  I want to strengthen my tendency and love for the former, and decrease my lustful craving for the latter.  Buddhism.

Yesterday I kicked off my new schedule and was able to practice — meditation, writing — and study — buddhadharma, poetics — and do good work in the marketing office, community service, have some lesiure time and get a good night of sleep.  The leisure time was only partly leisurely.

What I really don’t want to write about — and so chose to describe my routine — is the way that I’m feeling about a cultural attitude that I think ought to be examined.

I’ll not be specific here because it seems charged, sensitive, and some actual discussion with human beings in the community may need to come before published contemplation.  Skillful?  Timid?

Shantideva: Be like a log.

In other news, Sasha and I in the shower this morning, and a small mouse in the tub.

This morning — after bragging a bit yesterday about how I told the ticks to leave me alone and they obeyed — a tick jumped onto my leg.  I put it in a Kahlua bottle with a bit of booze in the bottom — left it to die.

I was discussing parasites with a friend recently.  In his view, karmically, ticks and mosquitos cannot get much lower, and so it seems fine to “send them on their way” — my friend said that Trungpa Rinpoche said this about mosquitoes.

I decided to kill his tick to send a message.  To let them know that I’m not messing around here.  After I put it in the bottle, I went outside and, while urinating in the grass, told them again, very sternly, with a few cuss words thrown in, that they must leave Heather and I alone!  I explained that I really don’t want to kill them.  And I attempted to explain that their behavior brings great misery to us.

I don’t think they understand that.  They’re too caught up in their blood-thirsty ways.  They are addicts.  Insane.

Reading Pema/Shantideva this morning.  The teachings describe how we fall under the spell of kleshas — anger, lust, and so on.  The ticks are extremely taken.  Myself and my homies may become tick-ish, but we snap out of it and return to humanness.  We’re fortunate to have that capacity.  Precious human birth.

Strengthening the non-virtuous habits though, leads to greater and greater tickishness — and maybe the Kahlua botlle.

And so in considering my feelings about certain policies and attitudes that are in effect here at SMC, I need to be careful — like I’m walking along the edge of a cliff, as Pema/Shantideva says.  I need to be deeply considerate.  In my actions, and even thoughts, am I chasing the buzz of self-righteousness, or is it compassionate action?

It happens a million times each minute — probably a lot more.  Choosing.

— April 15, 2015

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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: I Showered Today


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.

This morning, my skull was a-buzz, body tagging along, narrator giddy and ignorant.  Empty chair across from me — an invitation to settle.  I don’t need a real god to sit there and watch me.  And, I don’t need a real me to write.

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Strolling down the hill after morning song with Heather, my nose in-and-out of a book — Shantideva/Pema — I got fifteen minutes of reading and studying in on the way down the hill.  Then contemplated a line while in the shower.  I showered today.

As the schedule has shifted, and my location, and everything, my routine –scattered — I haven’t been showering very much.  Apparently it is not as important to me as: breakfast, meditation, writing.  Anyway, my body is clean today, and I have a good feeling about the days ahead.  I planted my flag of routine last night and came up with a good schedule.

Lots of reading, writing, and work to do; lots of beautiful people to know; lots of nature to enjoy… Time to poop.

The springtime is coming on — plump little mice are running around, mating, wooing, ticks are chomping into our flesh, pasque flowers are coming up — the first wildflowers to arrive on the last each year.  My body has been knicked and a bit off balance.

Saturday night a bunch of us sat in the Stupa as Thomas Roberts offered a Tibetan Singing Bowl meditation.  It was very soothing — the Stupa resonant with those gorgeous tones, in and out of harmony, sound and space.

Sunday a field trip down to Fort Collins to get Heather’s tick bite — the nastiest tick bite of the season — checked out.

In the waiting room at urgent care, while “Dude Where’s My Car?” played on the television, while a grandmother became furious because the people at the front desk turned her and her sick granddaughter away in accordance with a new policy, while folks in the chairs beside me played loud videos on their iPhones with the volume up — I read a poem — which I enjoyed in the midst of the raucous, germy, environment.  “The Canyon Wren” — rushing down the river in a raft, being pulled along, spun, splashed, and then the call of a small bird pulls the writers mind into the larger environment.  Songs of all sorts do this for us all of the time.  As Pema Chödrön says — sometimes is takes a Mack truck running into us, and other times it can be the curtains moving gently in soft breeze.

— April 14, 2015

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious creature on the path of artistry and meditation, who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the lil’ society include Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Auspicious Tick?


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.

This morning, on our way down the hill, past the lake, the wind blowing — ripples on the surface — on the dusty trail, a conversation about auspiciousness.

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Last night I arrived back at the cabin — my future official residence on the land — Oh… news yesterday… as I was walking to the bathroom, Molly pulled up and rolled down the window, Patrick (so famous now!) was in the passenger seat and she asked if it was alright for her to show Patrick the yurt — Avalokiteshvara — the most auspicious abode I’ve occupied — anyway, Ryan has been considering moving in.  During Sadhana of Mahamudra on Parinirvana day in the Stupa, he said his mind kept flashing on it.  So, yesterday I told him that someone else may be interested and at dinner he told me: “I’m going to do it.”

Good.

Just then, Greg sat down on the other side of me — myself in between the two of them — and I told Greg the news, and I told Ryan that Greg is way back in the lineage of Avalokiteshvara residents — “Before you were born!” he said.  Which is true — for Ryan.
Okay…

Last night when I arrived back at the cabin, Danny B pulled up out front, came in and fiddled with the heater, and we enjoyed a beer together and talked about sangha, Rinpoche, and then, when Oakes came down from his upstairs room, mostly naked, we all started discussing and freaking out over the reality of insects, especially ticks!  TICKS!  TICKS!  TICKS!  Oakes had just pulled one off.  I’ve pulled off four!

Heather came home and, as is ritual nowadays, we stripped down and thoroughly searched each other’s bodies for those little parasites.  None.

The other night, I rose from bed, flipped on the light, discovered a tick, pulled it off, flicked it outside, and said, very sternly: “NO.  You are not welcome to my body or Heather’s body.  Please, please, leave us alone.  Thank you.”

So, we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

Whatever you meet unexpectedly, join with meditation.

Even a tick.  Auspicious tick stopping my mind, allowing me to remember death, the suffering of others, compassion. Auspicious tick?

— April 9, 2015

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious creature on the path of artistry and meditation, who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the lil’ society include Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Rather than to Get 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 existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

I had to remove those droopy flowers from the shrine.  I don’t know who put them there.  Afterwards, while urinating, I noticed a couple of small rainbows projected onto the wall in front of me.  Thinking “there really are rainbows everywhere,” I glanced over my shoulder and noticed the wall beside me glowing purple — the sun and my sweater mixing, radiating.

Previously:

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Trungpa was in a dream last night, I don’t remember the details.  But, I woke up thinking of Heather, and my mother, and the words — “You’re my peeps.  My closest peeps” — was looping.

I’m feeling a bit more settled today, somehow.  The spiritual growth-spurt concept is simply transforming into more luminous regular old reality.  There will never be regular old reality.  And, I feel some caution about speaking openly about this sort of stuff, a bit concerned that I might freak people out.  And wondering about Right Speech.

There’s a sense that being genuine isn’t about spurting out thoughts, unfiltered, but rather, being in tune with my experience and the environment, and offering what may be helpful, delightful, and so on.

As I was writing above, and getting into the trip, my body was frazzled.  It was total brain splatter.  I noticed, and then spent a moment feeling my way into the body, into the room, and felt more calm.  Feeling more calm now.  Okay.  Is this less exciting?  Am I writing to excite?

Maybe I wrote this yesterday: That the good motivation is to benefit others, the world, rather than to get high, to have heightened experience.  This is one of the main things I came out of retreat with, and so I immediately made lojong cards and have been working with the slogans again.  Meanwhile, the Shambhala magic is being revealed.  Meanwhile, the good ol’ Mahayana is fusing into my marrow.  I am dedicated to creating strong habits of consideration for others, putting others before myself.  I made this commitment almost a year ago now.  The greatest commitment of my life — the Bodhisattva Vow.  Anyway…

This idea of right motivation — benefitting the world, rather than getting high — seems to pervade everything that I may do: meditation, art, love-making, beer drinking… beer drinking?!

I was once in an interview with an Acharya, and he made a joke, imitating someone receiving oral sex and raising a fist dedicating the experience to all sentient beings.  His point was that we still like to get high.  And, vowing not to get high may be a bit much.  Maybe it’s fair to make the aspiration to keep that in check.  To be aware of when I’m getting high and being committed to not letting that get out of hand, to not allowing my pleasure seeking to actually create suffering for others — choosing pleasure over love.

So, that’s not the point.  Of course, I’m part of the world I have vowed to benefit… so a cookie here or there is good!

Okay.  What’s going on at SMC?  The aspens have grown fuzzy little caterpillar seed pods and when the wind blows — the wind blows! — the millions of little fuzz-puffs scatter into the air and fly across the land, across the picnic area — where more and more people are enjoying their meals.  A couple of new volunteer and staff have arrived — the first splashes of what will be a wave of newcomers in the next few weeks as the BIG summertime rolls around.  One new staff member is named Patrick.  He was here this past summer and, arriving yesterday, said nice things about this blog.  Thanked me for writing it.  I told him that now that he is here, he will probably show up in the blog.  Here he is now: Patrick!

— April 6, 2015

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious creature on the path of artistry and meditation, who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the lil’ society include Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Egg, Apparently

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.

A world in which rock-people swirl as if only vapor, the sky answers in snowfall poem, and light allows dust to be messenger of song…

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A week of everything — some real, some imagined, some really imagined — up in the cabin — Sambhogakaya — and roaming an enchanted corner of the land.  Offering smoke and reciting, hearing, esoteric verses from inscrutable Trungpa — rather, “from” who? — some say this or that.  And so terrifying — possibilities open as if revealing the core of the earth.  The core of my being, beneath sage brush of comfort, mountain peaks of reassurance, forests of familiarity.

Some uncertain lava sure to devour any versions of myself that I uphold which are not in accord with roaring truth, muse.  Cosmic.  The circumstances of my voice in the sunlight are far more vast than I tend to recognize.  My melodramas will be swept off in a single breath of this wind.

I always kinda knew that the path would open up wider, and that which I’d glimpsed would breathe — hot — in my face, and otherwise on the back of my neck.

Now, several years into the conversation, subtle dance, with lineage — practice, hearing, feeling — things are opening up — but it’s like a growth spurt.  It’s not quite a shock, but a bit sudden.  It’s not quite foreign, but a bit more strangely personal.  A bit more real than before — which is disconcerting.

Perhaps my center of gravity is shifting, and I’m struggling a bit to adjust, find my balance.  Or, also knowing that things will likely always be in flux…  Anyway, it’s one of those bardo periods.

We moved out of the cozy lodge suite with the bathtub just a few days after I returned from retreat — a rather traumatic re-entry in which I tried to say and show a lot of my experience — things that may be better digested than shown while being chewed upon.  I opened my mouth and showed Heather — the nitty gritty of spiritual expansiveness and utter bewliderment.  We rode this moment of blazing ambiguity and eventually came home to one another.  And then, we moved into a new home.  Boxes into the mini-van.  And now, sharing a small bedroom in Manjushri.  Planning to move upstairs into the larger room soon.  One of my main homies, Ryan, is considering moving into Avalokiteshvara — the yurt.  I’ve been trying to sway him like I’m a Realtor.  That lil’ house is sacred and I feel protective.  I want to pass it onto to someone who I feel would be a good successor-inhabitant.  It’s a lineage thing

Meditation and meal times have changed and my routine has been scattered — by the breath.  Yesterday I spoke with Naksang Rinpoche about written symbols, and I’m leaning into the practice of writing.  Tonight I’ll read the epilogue to Jeremy Hayward’s book Warrior King of Shambhala: Remembering Chogyam Trungpa.  This book has provided nice accompaniment to my recent curiosity and exposure to further Shambhala teachings, practices, energies, possibilities.

Saturday, Trungpa Rinpoche’s Parinirvana — we all celebrated in the Stupa — Sadhana of Mahamudra feast.  Yesterday, Easter Sunday.  We dyed eggs previously and Heather organized an Easter egg hunt, which, fortunately, some kids participated in — which wasn’t part of the plan.  I took my first full shower in two weeks and felt re-born.  Showers now in Karma Bathhouse.  This morning I showered again and rang the gong for morning session — first for me this season.

Also, tic season.  I’ve pulled four off of me so far.  The first was in retreat.  I had a lucid dream, and a monster appeared and bit into my thigh.  I woke and grabbed it right off.  I could see clearly that it was terrified.  I whispered blessings and then asked the insects to leave me alone.  I made offerings of peppermint tea on all of the windowsills and at the doorway.  There were no more incidents.  Now though…  Heather has had ticks too. Last night, she was quite upset.  Me too.  Disturbed.  I did tonglen, laying in bed — for her, for us — I forgot about the tics.  So many beings to be amidst — seen, unseen, parasitic, lovely, at any given moment.  Me too.

— April 6, 2015

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious creature on the path of artistry and meditation, who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the lil’ society include Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill