All posts filed under: Life at SMC

SMC Garden Alchemy: The Life & Times of Zukes & Cukes

By Arli Brundage // Gardening is a meditative practice. The process of preparing garden beds, planting seeds, watering and harvesting is much like the art of mindful living. Gardening reminds us to be intentional. We’re perpetually planting seeds through our actions, though it takes dedication and discipline to cultivate our ideas and actually see the fruit of our labor. Often, we visualize abundant ambitions, though lack the necessary steps to see growth. “Faith, like a mustard seed, moves mountains” is an applicable idiom. It is amazing, edging on miraculous, to place tiny seeds in fertile soil and with the nourishment of sun and water, see them fulfill their destiny. Consider what type of seeds you are planting in your life. Contemplate what daily steps are necessary to see those dreams come to life. Our geodesic dome greenhouse presently houses 4 koi fish, tomato plants in abundance, numerous newly planted cukes and zukes, and hundreds of seedlings, eagerly awaiting to be transplanted into the spaciousness of the garden, after the last frost. The cucumbers and zucchini …

SMC Receives Environmental Stewardship Award

Shambhala Mountain Center has received the 2019 Environmental Stewardship Award by the Larimer County Commissioners for our Healthy Forest Initiative. We are honored and grateful to all who have contributed to this project! The Healthy Forest Initiative was developed in response to over a century of fire suppression on the land. This condition ultimately created an overcrowded, monocultural forest across 125 acres of land. The aim of the Healthy Forest Initiative is to return this land to a more healthy and biodiverse state. To read more about the 2019 Environmental Stewardship Awards: https://northfortynews.com/larimer-county-presents-2019-environmental-stewardship-awards/

How Sydney Bridges became SMC’s Tent Master Extraordinaire

By Whitney Trotta // We all have a unique story—a path that led us to where we are today. This is the story of how Sydney Bridges, the man from England who is a self-taught engineer, with a PhD in Chemistry and Master’s degrees in Computer Science and Public Health, became the Tent Master Extraordinaire at Shambhala Mountain Center. It was a wintry May afternoon (gotta love “spring in the Rockies!”), when I sat down with Syd. I was ready for a long conversation, prepared with a cup of tea (English breakfast, of course), and a pen and paper in hand, ready to record Syd’s story. With a resume like Syd’s, it’s clear he has accomplished a lot. And so I had to ask, What brought a British man with a PhD and engineering experience to SMC? He began the story this way: In 1996, I first became a US resident when I came to work in New Jersey. My job in England had finished, and there was a similar project in New Jersey, and …

5 Things To Know About Meditating for a Whole Week

By Ryan Stagg // At the end of a recent week-long meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center another participant remarked about how difficult it would be to explain her experience back home. “We sat a lot, walked in circles, and didn’t talk much,” she said with a laugh. And yet somehow after a week of performing this simple routine, often in complete silence, we all had smiles on our faces and a clear appreciation for the journey we had just completed. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what, but some transformation had undoubtedly occurred. The atmosphere in the room was simply lighter and more spacious. There is something very radical about choosing to go on a meditation retreat. In many ways it stands in contrast to the speediness and excitement of our everyday lives. It also creates a fundamental shift in our perspective—rather than seeking fulfillment externally, we resolve to sit and look inside, at our own bodies, hearts, and minds. The effects of embracing this contemplative perspective have long been promoted by practitioners and …

Land Stewardship

A Conversation about Caring for the Land

Mac McGoldrick and Laura Booth talk about helping the land heal after a year of construction and forestry projects.  Mac is SMC’s Senior Director of Master Planning and Project Management, and Laura joined his team this spring as the new Land Steward. First of all, welcome to SMC, Laura! Would you mind sharing what made you want to live and work here? Laura: I feel all the work I’ve been doing up until now has led me to this point. It’s really exciting to have a vision and do such important work towards our goals! It’s thrilling to be a part of something that has so much potential.  How did it feel for you both the first time you stepped foot onto the land here at SMC? Laura: Several years ago I came to SMC just for the day to see the Stupa. It was shocking to see such a massive and incredible Stupa hidden away in the middle of the mountains, not that far from Fort Collins. Being at the Stupa was so uplifting. …

Relief and Restoration: SMC, A Surprising Salve

By David Schreier, Member of SMC’s Governing Council // It’s been a tough couple of years. Both my temporal and spiritual worlds have been shaken to the core. First, my temporal world was turned upside down by the new political administration in Washington, D.C. And while it would normally have been a reliable refuge from conventional misery, my spiritual world was then rocked by allegations of clerical misconduct and abuse of power. It’s been hard for me to find much to feel good about in either of these realms these days. I’ve experienced a quality of depression and groundlessness that I’ve never felt before; I’ve felt like a leaf blowing and drifting with nowhere to land. Watching the news has become too much to bear, and it’s been nearly impossible to find my practice mind. It was in this context of sadness that I traveled to Shambhala Mountain Center in early April 2019. The land was transitioning from winter to spring – muddy trails, patches of snow, running streams, and meadows coming back to life. …

Life on the Mountain – One Woman’s View

By Tricia Cominsky, SMC Staff Member // Shambhala Mountain Center officially welcomed my arrival in September of 2017 (unofficially, five years prior, on my first visit to this magical land). As a former corporate ladder-climber and people-pleaser, these 600 acres provided a soft and safe landing place to drop those old personas and masks. As much as I have let go, there has been such abundance to receive. I am grateful to have found true community in our Sangha. They see, love and support me as I am, unconditionally. In return, I do the same for them. There’s been a good amount of showing up for each other over these past eight months. Our little Sangha has held space for each other in every sense. There has been life-changing growth and so many hearts see the monumental changes taking place. As a wise teacher once said; We don’t have to be afraid of who we are. There is such peace and grace in knowing that on the mountain we have the luxury of comforting one …

An Imperfect Place to Call Home: A Letter from the Featured SMC Community Member

By Whitney Trotta // I’ve arrived. When I first set foot on the land here at Shambhala Mountain Center in June 2018, that’s what it felt like. My whole life I’ve wanted to feel like “I’ve found my place,” and could stop searching. I think everywhere just wasn’t perfect enough– too cold, too tropical and humid, too rainy, (ok, apparently weather is super important to me!), I didn’t fit in with the people, or I didn’t have a purpose. I am not trying to claim that SMC is perfect. The weather is nice enough most of the year, but these winter winds can test even the most sane of us (and that’s coming from a Wisconsinite)! And the people, as truly amazing as they are, aren’t perfect, either (me included, of course). But what I have found is that we are in this thing together, and are doing our best to be real about what it means to be human. I guess you could say, I let go of life having to be perfect, and …

Why I’m Grateful to You! #GivingTuesday – a Letter from SMC’s Development Associate, Whitney Trotta

This Tuesday, November 27th is #GivingTuesday, a movement to create an international day of giving. However, I’d like to propose that we change #GivingTuesday into “Gratitude Tuesday.” I’m not the first to propose this, and I’m certainly not against giving (please give generously!), it’s that, to me, gratitude is the real reason for the season. This year, I’m so appreciative of SMC’s patrons. I’ve seen first hand how important your gifts are to keeping SMC going. And, your generosity has given me a special gift. I began my time here at Shambhala Mountain Center as a summer volunteer, supporting the Development Team. Now, I am honored to be on staff as the Development Associate. Living at SMC has given me everything I’ve been looking for: the ability to use my skills for a meaningful purpose, living in community with people on a similar path, room for spiritual growth, and so much beautiful nature! This place is truly special. The most important gift I received since living here was a moment in Shambhala Level I Training …

SMC’s Statement Regarding Allegations of Sexual Misconduct by the Spiritual Leader of Shambhala, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Over the past few weeks our community here in the Colorado mountains has been deeply shaken, as we’ve recently learned that the spiritual leader of Shambhala, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, has engaged in clergy sexual misconduct. What we know about these transgressions comes from the accounts of three women, which were made public on June 28th in the Project Sunshine Phase II report. You can read them here. You can also read the initial June 25th statement from the Sakyong here, and a follow up statement from July 10th here. As far as we know, no one presently living in the SMC community was a victim of sexual misconduct committed by the Sakyong or any other teacher or leader of Shambhala. As the news has spread, and allegations of sexual assault have become public, each of us has had to re-examine our own relationship to the Sakyong and to Shambhala, as an international organization under his leadership. Doubt and uncertainty about our path forward abound, but the staff and leadership at Shambhala Mountain Center make the …