Floral Notes and Bardo: Good-life Immersion


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.

A week of staff retreat–so, so good…


Meditation in the mornings, talks from our teachers, a beautiful lahsang on day one, cooking meals for each other.  In the afternoons–activities: music group, art, nature, physical movement, study…

So, peeps chose a track, grouped up, and got deep into those activities.  Some of us peeps got into music.  I facilitated the group and encouraged deep listening, space exploration, improvisation…  edgy spots, sweet spots, unexpected things.   And after we bravely improvised together, becoming braver as the days went on, we’d spend some time just hanging out with some tunes–Irish tunes, Brazilian jazz tunes…  everyone in the group was coming from a different place, musically, and so the improv was interesting and also the hangout section was lots of fun and varied.

The first night of the retreat we held council practice for the whole community.  People sharing from the heart in a sacred space.  I felt such deep love for everyone.  It set the tone for the rest of the retreat.

Such immersion into what it is to live here.  Time spent together–practicing, playing, just being together.  Lots of spontaneous, long conversations.  People staying after meals just to hang…  Ahh, so good.  Time with the land.  Time enjoying living in this amazing situation together, free from the day-to-day complexities and stresses that go along with trying to keep the thing afloat, and progress towards greater operations.  Of course (of course!), the greatest operation is ever-happening.  This was a nice reminder of that.

In the evenings there were various activities–dancing, movies…  Nathaniel and I hosted a sound bath.  People laying on cushions in the center of the shrine room–heads together in the center, huge speakers all around, dimmed lights, and an hour and forty minutes of washy, lush, beautiful music curated by Nathaniel, who has exceptional taste.  I offered a bit of my music into the mix, which he blended nicely.

Milarepa Day on day 6.  Oh, wow!  A full day of reciting, singing, chanting “The Rain of Wisdom“–spontaneous songs of our Kagyu forefathers.  So, so, beautiful.  So deep.  We began at 9am and went until after 10pm.  A very rich, traditional Buddhist day.  We drank chai  and nettle tea on breaks.  Sho mo! What a joyful, good experience!

The next day we went to the Great Stupa for Sadhana of Mahamudra.  I was so glad for how everything lined up/unfolded.  We spent a lot of time planning and preparing for the retreat, and then it seemed the magical forces kicked in and carried it to better places than we could have imagined.

We ended with a feast at which we practiced the Shambhala Sadhana, dined, and had libations, toasts, and made offerings.  The music group performed, others sang and shared things about their experience throughout the retreat, the art group had everyone throw colorful paper airplanes…

Rejoicing the Container: Our friend Tara–who was here and then left–asked us to put this nice thing into place: a box which collects ‘thank yous’–to people, from people.  We did so and offered the thank yous at the feast.  Everyone read one from the box.  Touching.

So… Ahh!  Such a deeply beautiful immersion into the magic of living here together.  That’s the thesis.  That was the intention and it really hit nicely.  So grateful.  Now onwards into the springtime…

–March 24, 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. 

Ringu Tulku on His Upcoming Retreat: Confusion Arising as Wisdom

Ringu TulkuWorld traveler and renown Tibetan Buddhist Master of the Kagyu Order, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche is bringing his wisdom to the Shambhala Mountain Center April 19-21. He will be teaching from his new book, “Confusion Arises as Wisdom,” a commentary on Gampopa’s, “Great Teachings to the Assembly.” Ringu Tulku recently answered a few questions for us about the retreat.

SMC: How has confusion arisen as wisdom in your own life?
RT: Well, I do not claim that confusion has arisen as wisdom in my life. I was just trying to explain the teachings of the great master Gampopa. These are a collection of his pith instructions that he gave to his disciples on many occasions. Therefore these are called his teachings to the assembly of his students. These teachings were recommended by the 16th Karmapa and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to be translated when the text will be found. I found the text and started to teach from them and found them to be very useful.

SMC: What inspired you to write this book?
RT: Actually I taught this book because of the instruction by Karmapa and Trungpa Rinpoche and then I was asked to teach at several places. This particular book is, I think, a transcript of teachings that I gave in Spain.

SMC: And now, what is inspiring you to teach from this book?
RT: I find the instructions very clear, precise, and inclusive. I was also asked to teach it here.

SMC: Are there certain things you will focus on during this retreat?
RT: I am not sure yet whether I will start from the beginning or choose some sections. I will first meet the people who have come and then decide.

SMC: Is there anything I’m not asking you that you want to share with us about yourself, the retreat, or Shambhala Mountain Center?
RT: I am sure there are countless questions one can ask, but I think it does not really matter.

Ringu Tulku was born in East Tibet and fled to India in 1959. He studied with many outstanding masters, including Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpoche and the Gyalwang Karmapa, and was awarded the titles of Khenpo and Lopön Chenpo. Since 1990, Ringu Tulku has traveled worldwide. Rinpoche is extremely knowledgeable, and with his excellent command of English, he is able to transmit the most complex teachings in a remarkably accessible way, infused with his characteristic warmth and sense of humor. Read more on their website, or sign up for the retreat on SMC’s website.