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?

Make Your Mark with Barbara Bash

Barbara Bash 4One of the community’s most well-known and talented artists, Barbara Bash is bringing her artistic skills and teaching talent to the Shambhala Mountain Center April 19-21. She will be teaching, “Brush Spirit: The Expressive Art of Calligraphy.” Bash studied Dharma Art with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Chinese pictograms with Ed Young. She also recently wrote and illustrated the True Nature: An Illustrated Journal of Four Seasons in Solitude.

Of her chosen art form, Bash says: “Calligraphy is an inherently sacred activity because it synchronizes mind and body. It is a contemplative practice because it reveals who we are and brings the deep principles of meditation into action and manifestation in the world.” Furthermore, she adds, the practice of writing has been intertwined with religion, including her chosen practice, Buddhism.

“The Medieval monks wrote out texts in their scriptoriums, Buddhist monks copied sutras, Arabic calligraphers created elaborate ornamental designs for the name of Allah,” she explains.

#1 Barbara BashAt this workshop, students will learn three key things, including the strengthening the sense of embodiment in the making of a mark, says Bash. They will work first with the Chinese straight line discipline, which is actually a Tai chi practice, sitting at tables. Then Bash will guide them in bringing this settled and flexible body experience into the creation of large brush strokes while working on the floor.

“Using the whole body brings stability and relaxation into the practice of brush calligraphy,” she says.
As well, students will be illuminating the experience of mind, Bash adds. “’Calligraphy is a picture of the mind,’ according to the Chinese. Working with large brushes opens us to seeing where we are at each moment.”

Finally, students will be using the ancient principles of heaven, earth, and human as the bones of their abstract strokes. “This gives us a way to be held by the process, showing us how to begin, how to follow through, how to resolve and let go–in mark making and in life,” Bash explains.

Bash is looking forward to the workshop. “Being part of the community of a workshop brings me delight,” she says. “Everyone’s strokes are inherently interesting, imperfect and beautiful.  I never get tired of seeing what unfolds in the conversation between humans and brushes!”

Barbara Bash 3

Dathun: Before and After Photos


Inspired by a piece from a few years back in the Shambhala Times, our fabulous marketing associate, Kaleigh Isaacs, and our equally fabulous development associate, Chris Seelie, put together this series of Before and After shots from participants in the winter Dathun.

Really driving home the truth that “nothing is new” the photo collage below is our tribute to the truth of the theme of this past Dathun, that Feeling and Touching and Being (i.e. Shambhala Meditation) — taking time to sit with our hearts and minds for a month is better than a facial and a lot like falling in love.

Scientifically rigorous, this is not; but regard the eyes.

Deborah before dathun  Deboarah after Dathun
Lasette before Dathun retreat  Lassette after Dathun Retreat
David before Dathun retreat David before Dathun retreat
Tim before dathun retreat Tim before dathun retreat
Peter after Dathun retreat Peter after Dathun retreat
Guillermo before dathun retreat Guillermo after Dathun retreat
Marin After Marin after Dathun retreat
David before dathun retreat David after dathun retreat

And lastly we have Tom the Dathün Coordinator, who would certainly call his experience transformative!

We had a lot of fun putting these together and seeing people’s responses. Let us know what you think below in the comments!

To learn more about Dathun click here.


SMC in Vogue

by Christopher Seelie

Allen Ginsberg – 136 Syllables At Rocky Mountain Dharma Center

Tail turned to red sunset on a juniper crown a lone magpie cawks.

Mad at Oryoki in the shrine-room — Thistles blossomed late afternoon.

Put on my shirt and took it off in the sun walking the path to lunch.

A dandelion seed floats above the marsh grass with the mosquitos.

At 4 A.M. the two middleaged men sleeping together holding hands.

In the half-light of dawn a few birds warble under the Pleiades.

Sky reddens behind fir trees, larks twitter, sparrows cheep cheep cheep
cheep cheep.

July 1983

Looks Like Someone at Vogue is Reading Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg was no stranger to the sensation of a Rocky Mountain dawn and the unique peace that comes from sleeping in a tent at Shambhala Mountain Center (called, at the time, Rocky Mountain Dharma Center). His grateful bewilderment must have sparked something in a copywriter at Vogue Magazine, tasked with evoking the richness of autumnal colors in a $850 piece of knitwear.

Rocky Mountain Replay

We haven’t been Rocky Mountain Dharma Center since 2001 and in that time there have been many incarnations of Shambhala Mountain Center. However, like the dandelion seed in Ginsberg poem, the qualities of freshness, and what Pema calls “an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity” spread as far as the wind will take it. Sometimes it’s in a gesture we extend to others, sometimes to ourselves, and sometimes it’s a poem that ends up on a desk far from Marpa Point. It’s a little strange to have the old name pop up in one of the world’s biggest fashion magazine, but when life gives you dandelions, make dandelion wine.

A Lot of New!

Welcome to the new Shambhala Mountain Center blog. We have a lot of “New” happening at SMC right now and wanted to share it with you. Following are some current ways for us all to stay connected.

We are really excited about our new Blog. It’s a way for us to give you a peek at the inside story at SMC as well as include you in the journey of learning what it means to be engaged in making enlightened society possible. So tune in often for delicious recipes, photos, profiles of the wonderful presenters who are joining us, and more!

New Website

Shambhala Mountain New WebsiteThis new Blog is possible because of our new website, launched today. Many thanks to Blue Mandala, Sweet Design, and the many people who have been part of this effort. With the old website, when we wanted to make a change on the homepage, we had to go through a (very nice) guy in Canada. Now, we could change the homepage ourselves everyday if we wanted to. (We don’t.) All this to say that when you are on our website, you can be sure it is the latest, greatest most up-to-date information about SMC out there.

New Catalog, Getaways, Discounts and more!

And before we close the book on what’s New, our most recent catalog for our winter and spring programming is on the way to your local Shambhala Center or to your home (if you are on our mailing list.) Speaking of new, it is full of new things designed to make it easier you to get to the land more often. We have expanded our generosity policy to include all of our programs, and are also offering 25% off our lodging prices in a new “Getaway” option. And beginning in March, we will be hosting an Open House on the first Sunday of every month. The catalog has a 15% discount coupon for all of our Winter-Spring programs, so be sure to pick one up.

Of course, nothing is really new. SMC had a blog in the past and has one again. Everything is connected and interdependent. That is why we are so excited and why we need you to make this new picture complete.

This blog is meant for you. Please help us to build a strong community by commenting below and letting us know what you think and what kinds of things you’d like to see. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you soon.