Floral Notes and Bardo: Summertime Qqueeze

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 living as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

My room is full of flies, I’m surrounded by strangers, I’ve not showered in two days.  I missed breakfast.  We’ve been asked to not ask to go into the kitchen to fetch leftovers anymore.  I meditated for too long this morning and now I’m stressed out.  Gonna be late to work.  No shower again.  Gotta take the shit out to the shit bucket.  Later drive it down the hill.

Decided to hang out last night.

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Phish shows in headphones in the forest behind Manjushri house.  Surrendering to summer-time craziness on the land.  Not a time for introspection.  A time for scattered activity and “hanging in there” and/or maybe “hanging out.”  Not much pacing or rhythmic progress.

Been reading Ethan’s new book and listening to the Phish shows —  Good.

Haven’t been writing the blog because — no time in the morning before heading into the office.  I’ve been prioritizing showers — that’s no way to make art at SMC.  Sufficient sleep, enough time on the cushion to feel like I’m “doing it.”

Meahwhile, so many books on shelves that I can’t believe I’m neglecting to spend time with.  Magical secret books from Trungpa.

Expensive tea in my pot running low.  Got a big bag of cheap maté now.

I’ve been slapped around a bit by the forces which won’t allow me to impose my will on the flow of the seasons, of time.  My agenda is like a panicking turd in a rushing river of gold.  Die.

Michael G. said something like: It’s not about always keeping it together — clean house, practice time, and so on.  The important thing is the ability to come back.  That’s the strength.

That bit has been echoing in mind ever since he shared it with me, one day on the path, during a brief chat about these sorts of things: struggling to keep it together.  Struggling to make it to bed on time.  Struggling to wake up early and do ALL of my little things.

Meanwhile, summertime life at SMC rages on.  Hundreds of happy-faced volunteers and participants, having important bliss-life-magic experiences.  Or else, partying.  Meanwhile, disgruntled SMC artist who can’t find the time, can’t find the time, can’t find the time — struggling to make it to 30 hours each week — where does it go? — how? — How to live a good spacious, joyous life?  How?

Anyway, that’s been the chatter recently.  Last night I went to a BBQ.  Good.  Been giving up.  Good.

Mantra: Sheesh.

Mantra: Whatever.

Sometimes the best I can do.  Better than walking around fuming.  So it goes, and goes, and goes.

Summertime squeeze.

Bug.  It doesn’t matter.

Shall I end on a high, positive note?  Like: This is a fortunate situation.  I feel that I’m burning through lots of obscuration and becoming more real, more relaxed, more authentic.

It’s true!

Even though it sounds like Radiohead’s modern day human robot lament, it’s still true.  And the trick IS to surrender to the flow.

Listening to Phish play, in the forest, in my headphones, grooving — it’s like the most helpful yoga I could do.

— August 5, 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: Everything is 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 living as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

The hum, cranking mechanics of this lumpy old computer is so loud, it’s difficult to hear the voice.  It’s a wounded beast in the choir.  Holy jalopy.

Anyway…

All of these dreams…

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Walking in the woods one day during retreat, singing, it occurred to me — All of These Dreams — that lovely little song may be heard as an ode to the terma phenomena.

Saga Dawa — long ago now.  At dawn I walked through the woods, across the land to the Stupa — made offerings, prayers, prostrations.  Hung a large Gesar flag up in the tress on the hill to the east.  Back to the nest, hung more flags all around the yard with Heather.  She made a few, which are wonderful.  A pink breezy pony flag hanging beside my blue windhorse flag.  Our distinct iconographies, minds, complimenting one another.  The union… 1+1=3.

Golden Key — blissful days with Cynthia Kneen.  Received profound poetry, liquid realization.  Merged with phenomena in deeper ways.  Having acquired new, reliable tools for connecting in ways that I always have (sometimes).

Warrior Assembly — Dipping deeper and deeper into the mystical aspects of Shambhala.  Poisoned by splendor.  Delicious.

Meanwhile, a heartbreakingly wonderful friendship, partnership, companionship — more and more real — Heather and I.  Honest.  Blood and guts, bones, emotion.  Heart, inexplicable circumstance, practicality.  A good deal.

Immediately following two weeks of intensive program, retreat, assembly — a full day of assisting Sensei, a day of email-a-thon catch up in the office, and then another day — 11 hours — assisting Sensei again.  Assisting Sensei in taking down the Warrior Assembly arrangements and creating the Ikebana environment for Scorpion Seal Garchen.

During Warrior Assembly, my job was to help with flowers the whole way through.  Mmm!  A lot of work.  Art work.  At one point I brought this question to the assembly: “Is the contribution of the artist valued in this mandala?  If so, why does there seem to be so much more emphasis and validation for the military?”

I was in the trenches with Sensei.  11pm, 10 hours into the work, sawing branches. Joshua was there too, helping out.  I was terribly cranky, but keeping quiet.  Sensei asked me to report on my current experience.  I told her.

She said: “And if that crankiness could speak, what would it say?”

Me: “I want to go home. I want a break!”

She was nearly 20 hours into her work for that day.  She probably worked nearly as many hours the day before — creating art.  Bringing the environment to life for the assembly, for the practitioner, for the guru to share wakeful mind.

I looked her in the eyes — her eyes are always devastatingly kind, accommodating, friendly — I said:

“I want to be able to offer like you do.  I don’t know how you do it.  I want to be able to offer joyfully, tirelessly, like that.”

She assured me that I shouldn’t be hard on myself, and that I am on a path.  She encouraged me to go home so that I don’t burn out or form a negative association with Ikebana.

I went home laughing about how I simply cannot keep up with that woman twice my age.  Unbelievable.  Promising.

Saturday, the next day — day of rest.  Wonderful.  Cartoons and cereal with Heather, a couple hours of practice, picnic lunch, a hike — then, sweating, back at the house, laying in the grass, feeling cool breeze, sky-gazing, opened a cold bottle of beer, in the shade, delicious, melted into the land, the sky, the air, the tall, fragrant, grass, the south facing slope across the valley which I had just hiked, wrote some poetry, laid, bliss.

Sunday, a full day of connecting with Heather — our seasonal relationship celebration/strengthening, check-in.  Yummy watermelon popsicles on the porch of the gift store (The HUM Depot), friendship-bracelet-weaving, lovely stroll, enchanted aspen grove ceremony, and in the evening, a community solstice celebration event — we all contributed art, words, aspirations to a large prayer flag that will be hung, on an auspicious day, on the hill near the Stupa.

Now, the end of a week of busy-ness.  Much driving — dropping off Heather, who is now in California, arranging for the car-hit-tree damage to be repaired — a million things at work, and arranging for Ethan Nichtern to hold an audience with the SMC Staff.

Meanwhile, we are in a sea of high practitioners, Rinpoche is on the land, and everything is high.

Now I must go to eat!

— June 26, 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: Explore Bananas

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.

Cody is beaming, going to Rainbow gathering.

Last week sitting on a bench in the sun, with Heather, a few days after I’d decided not to attend Kasung Encampment, Cody approached and introduced the idea of me going along with him to the Gathering.

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“Hippe Encampment,” Heather remarked.

Exactly. The idea appealed to me because it was so funny, but what I really need to is settle.

“The seasons are not theoretical here.”

Acharya Lyon said that a while ago, and it haunts me, in a funny way.  Summer is bananas.  There are so many people here and so much going on.  It’s really impossible to keep track, challenging to keep in touch.  It’s a buzzing hive.

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I slept a bit last night, after spending beautiful time with Heather.  This morning, rainbows on our faces, sunlight refracted by crystals hanging in her east-facing window.  Heather’s birthday is this weekend and she’s off to Seattle.  She’s famous in the community for making these extremely beautiful birthday cards for everyone.  I tell her she could go into business with them.

Last night, before heading up to her house, I ran into Mimi, who always has art supplies.  I made a lil’ card for Heather.

This weekend, I’m going to work on a piece of music for her.

I feel the need to sit and meditate for a few days, and also the need to get into artwork.  It’s summer, karma energy, active time.  It’s a wild wave to ride.

— June 27, 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: Into Summertime

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.

Saturday, a mad tea party at my lil’ house followed by naked painting and singing (just the two of us) — solstice celebration, and in the evening, a bath and early to bed.

Sunday morning a pancake party at Erik and Kaleigh’s — barefoot ladies in the kitchen (ha), yummy pu-erh tea and conversation in the living room, and out on the porch, pancakes being served up.  Annabelle brought over a big pot of chai…

Eventually, Cody found his way to the hammock.

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Life is good — summertime in the mountains.

In the morning, one of those mornings, Heather and I stopped by the lake and watched river otters swim around.  They surfaced to check us out, bumped heads with each other.

Yesterday afternoon, Heather and I hiked up to Marpa Point for a picnic and our seasonal relationship-intention check-in.  After our structured (and playful) communication exercise (a dyad), we made friendship bracelets and painted each other’s nails to seal the deal.

While our nails dried, we laid in the sun and laughed about all sorts of things.

— June 23, 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: A Big Joke

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.

Last night, the moon was blazing full, everything aglow and quiet, the only sound — the aspen leaves gently quaking in soft, cool summer breeze.  I was standing on my doorstep, just enjoying, awake for a few minutes in the middle of the night.

Ikebana Program_Apr2014-12Photo by Paul Bennett 

Earlier, a small group of us stood and watched the moon rise up from behind the ridge.  Huge moon.  Orange.  Clear sky.

Kate and I had been discussing dharma for about two hours.  Others came in and out of the conversation, which was inspired by some notions presented in the prologue of Shambhala Principle.

I believe we were on the topic of nonverbal communication, and that being so key:

We’re always communicating.  We’re creating culture with each interaction.  We’re altering reality.

Kate and I had been sitting in the staff Living Room…

Oh, the Staff Living Room is so sweet.  It’s a spot downtown, which in the wintertime is our dining room.  In the past it has been a shrine room.  In fact, it’s one of the oldest buildings on the land.  H.H. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa performed the Black Crown Ceremony in the room.  It’s usually turned into the staff shrine room in the summer time.  This summer, though, a bunch of us lobbied for it to be turned into an uplifted, quiet, common area — for study, tea, quiet conversation.  We have Elkhorn House up the hill, where we can jam, watch movies, party, have fires, and generally hang out and have fun.  This space is serves another purpose.  So nice…

The previous night, a group of us sat together in the Living Room and watched video of a talk that Trungpa Rinpoche gave at Naropa, forty years ago.  The talk was on tantra–the first in a series of fourteen.  We’ll be watching one every week.

We had some discussion afterwards.  One point that kept coming up was about how much of what he was communicating was nonverbal.  Some of us expressed that, more than anything, we were bewildered by the words that he said, but, somehow, something was communicated very clearly.

Watching him, there was no hint of doubt.  And he said:

“There’s an enormous joke behind the whole thing.  A big joke.”

I was at once bewildered and reassured.  It’s not what I think it is, but that’s more than okay.

— June 13, 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: Doing It, Nicely

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.

Arriving back here after my recent trip to New York, I felt at once inspired, refreshed, and overwhelmed.  This whole thing is a huge project: creating enlightened society.  And, there are no guarantees.  Yet, somehow, here at Shambhala Mountain Center, it has sustained for over forty years.  An ever-changing bunch of people, with their confusions and brilliance, have been doing it together for over four decades.

Here we are.

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Expectations for myself.  Good inspiration versus overly-ambitious.

Yesterday at lunch time, the three Dekyongs (two dropped out recently) had a meeting.  Molly laying on a picnic bench, sunbathing.  Oakes and I pulled up chairs beside her and we talked causally for twenty minutes or so.  Good vibes.

The previous Dekyong meeting was an hour long, in a shrine room, in the morning.  Two Dekyongs dropped out after that.

It was too tight, too ambitious.  What is realistic here?  What feels good?  I’m re-approaching my duties here with a bit more gentleness.  Too tight and there is freak out.  To loose — crappy and sluggish.

At dinner time a group of us who are doing Enlightened Society Assembly in July met to discuss how we may approach studying together.  Again, it was casual.  It was not an institutional event — just living and directing our attention towards something productive.

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Earlier I sat at a table while some folks talked very negatively about Shambhala Mountain Center.  It seemed like they were getting some sort of kick out of it.  Is that helpful at all?  What are the consequences of doing that?  It seems like complainers gather like puddles of mud.  Meanwhile, the sky.

–June 6, 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: Here and There

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.

I was away for a week, and it’s a whole new world now.  I even have a new name (a good one!):

Good Highland Prankster

(pictured below with Good Equanimity Sword)

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No one is the same, the land is not the same.  It’s summer time.  So green.  Green: Karma energy — All accomplishing.  In the winter I felt cozy, and now when I try to be cozy I feel restless.  Time to move.  Time to shake it.  Time to sing!

My dear friends Laurie and Todd came here to visit. I say: I would not be here if it weren’t for Todd.  He’s had a lot to do with turning me onto the dharma, Shambhala, etc.  This blog that I write is really just a public version of letters that I’ve been sending to Todd for years now.  And he’s reading this one right now.  Hey dude!

After all these years, and our journey together, it was quite special to host Laurie and Todd here at Shambhala Mountain Center, to show them around, introduce them to the Stupa.  They enjoyed practicing with the community, we had a nice hike around, visited the Kami Shrine, and we hung out and sang around a campfire at my little house in the evening.

A few days later, I flew to New York City, and so did they.  They live there and I’ve been going there to visit them for years.  Usually I visit them.  Now, I live in a place cool enough for them to visit me too!  I always want to live in a place that is visit-worthy, from now on.  Okay…

NYC was amazing as always, and it’s summer time there too.  The parks are lively, music is playing.  Tons of activity everywhere and weather so nice I couldn’t even drag myself inside to check out a museum, not even for an hour.  Living on the mountain, as I do, it is very nourishing to be in the city — especially that one… the city.

Todd and I did Rigden Weekend at the NYC Shambhala Center.  I’ve done most of my Shambhala Training there, and soon the sangha will be moving on from that particular space.  So much has happened there for so many people, including me.

Rigden Weekend is somewhat of a graduation from the first cycle of Shambhala Training, so it was very meaningful to do it there, with Todd.  I saw and hugged teachers who have been so crucial to me on my path: Ethan, Susan, Rachel.  And Acharya Spiegel, who I’ve recently been forming a relationship with, lead the weekend.  It was so powerful.  At the end we took the Shambhala Vow and were given our names.

At the reception afterwards, I offered a toast to the New York City sangha.  They have always been so warm, friendly, welcoming.  They have always accommodated me, done whatever necessary to help me receive my training, progress on the path.  I’m so grateful.  I told them in my toast, that I now live in the most mystical, spiritually charged place that I’ve ever been, and that the dharma is just as alive, just as strong, right there in New York City.

Now I’m back here, and it’s a different world.  This opportunity is rich.  I’m re-engaging, fresh.  So much.  And the theme is: time to be active, time to sing, the sun is shining.

 

–June 5, 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. 

Summer Pasta Salad

Recipe by Terri Huggett, Shambhala Mountain chef extraordinaire.Terry the chef

Light fare doesn’t have to be light on taste. This lovely little recipe is perfect for those August scorchers when lunch is less about re-fueling and more about refreshing. This recipe will serve a whole family, or store well for days when you really can’t stand the idea of a hot stove.

2 Tbsp. salt

1 lb penne paste (gluten-free if desired)

1/2 cup olive oil, or to taste

12 roma tomatoes, stem removed and cut into 1/2 inch dices

2 cups arugula

Zest of 2 lemons, or to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and penne pasta and cook until slightly underdone. Drain and run cold water over pasta to cool. Drain well. Place in a large bowl and stir with olive oil. Add tomatoes, arugula, lemon zest, lemon juice and stir to mix. Add salt and paper to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Serves eight.