Floral Notes and Bardo: Like a Donair, Like an Illusion

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.

It’s this way everywhere:
You can’t hide from yourself, and if you try, you will only dig yourself deeper into the muck.


Above is a picture of me eating a “heretical tofu ‘donair.'”  Food and photo by Adam Mitchell of Halifax.


SMC is commonly referred to as a “pressure cooker,” meaning that everything seems to happen in an intensified way — up and down, pleasure and pain.  Mental and emotional displays are especially vivid, punchy, heart-opening.

It’s quite an opportunity for purification, because, not only is the experience quite potent, but there is lots of support that helps one move through it, process it, in a positive way.  Another term commonly used to describe SMC is “karmic accelerator” — meaning pretty much the same thing.  The stuff of ourselves has to be experienced.  The consequences of our past actions will come to some sort of fruition.  That happens here, rapidly and in a big way.

Stuff from my past has been coming up for me recently.  Stuff that comes up every so often.  I don’t know what to do with it.  Something triggers a series of events in my memory, and then they are just there.  I don’t want to hide anything about myself from anyone, but the stuff also seems irrelevant.  I beat myself up a bit, feel ashamed about the whole thing.

So, I’m wondering about authenticity, fundamental worthiness, self-absorption…  How and when to just “drop it.”  I feel myself turning an inquisitive eye towards the experience, rather than shutting it out.  It’s really not easy, but it doesn’t feel quite as stuck as it has previously.

I’m feeling extra motivated to practice.  I’m spending time with the Stupa.  I’m making supplications to the energies that I’m in the midst of that I may connect with intuitive guidance, and that confusion may dawn as wisdom.

It’s rich, messy, and beautiful — Like a donair.

— April 29, 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. 



Summer Dathun Participants Share Their Experience After 30 Days of Meditating

Senior teacher Samten Kobelt will be leading 2013-2014 Winter Dathun from December 13-January 10.

Noble Aspiration, Noble Effort, Beautiful Fruition

Dathun is not a magic pill or a makeover. Still, the before and after photos can be quite striking. And though the photos themselves speak volumes, the featured practitioners have words worth sharing as well. Below, 2013 Summer Dathun participants share their aspirations when entering Dathun, as well as their experience 30 days later.  Please stay tuned throughout the coming weeks as we offer further glimpses into the heart of Dathun. Next week, photographer Karen O’Hern describes the process used to capture these images.

Dathun blog 1

Dathun blog 2


As was mentioned above,  in a blog post next week, Karen O’Hern will reveal the process in which these portraits come to be. For now, we’d like to leave you with a little snippet:

 “Prior to taking their portrait, I explained that this would not be what they were used to when having their picture taken. This was about capturing them in an authentic and genuine state of being, and recording their state at this point and time.”

Rainy Days, Buoyant Hearts: “Overall Okayness”


By Travis Newbill

It was Monday around noon when the rains began, and for the next several days there was barely a gap between chilly downpours long enough to close and reopen an umbrella. By the fourth day, it was no longer just rainy weather, or even an unusual streak. By the fourth day, and throughout the rest of the week, it was an adventure.

The deer were out of sight, as were the sun, moon, and stars. Beneath the heavy blanket of grey clouds, the people of SMC remained relatively cheerful in spite of the rather oppressive weight of the wetness.

While sludging through muddy terrain or huddled together in the shelter of the dining tent, folks exchanged comforting smiles and expressions of shared bewilderment. Meanwhile, as the rain was unrelenting, so has been the human exertion on the saturated ground–SMC staffers and volunteers have been working tirelessly to ensure the well-being of the community and the preservation of our land and facilities.

DSC_8893When asked about their experience of the rainy days and to describe the general atmosphere, peoples’ sentiments have ranged from “very down” to “fun,” with most falling into the median category of “overall okayness.”

“We are safe, and for the most part happy and somewhat dry. We have been taking care of each other on the land and making sure that everyone can find a dry place to sleep,” said one staffer.

Another appreciated the teaching quality inherent in the situation:

“I’m sure it was very different for different people. I myself had a lovely time, but I am very odd. I think it’s good to cope with a little adversity from time to time–you know, get your feet wet. I actually had a wonderful, dharmic experience.”

For yet another, the fragrance of the flooded bottom level of Rigden Lodge came to mind:

“A distinctive broccoli-esque aroma pervades the area, but we’ll have it cleared out soon.”

Despite the damage that SMC has sustained–both to our facilities and our finances, as we had to cancel last weekend’s programs–many people are primarily concerned for those in other nearby areas of Colorado, where the impact of the rain and resulting flooding has been calamitous to a tragic extent.

As one staffer put it:

“I actually feel somewhat disconnected from the real damage, which I’m hearing about from people in places like Boulder. My boots are wet, but we’ve been pretty much fine.”

Rainbow2As work to mend damaged roads, buildings, and belongings continues at SMC, our hearts remain with our friends nearby as they cope with severely challenging circumstances. And we remain grateful that we have made it through as intact as we have. Additionally, we are so very touched to have received the messages of concern from many of you regarding our well-being here.

If next summer brings a period of rain more lasting than this one has been, you are all invited to join us in the Stupa, two by two, to ride it out until rainbows grace the sky.