All posts filed under: Life at SMC

SMC Update February 16, 2020

Dear friends, We’re nearly two years into a process of reckoning in the Shambhala community. We’ve learned of patterns of abuse of power, sexual misconduct, and harassment that have been a thread in the fabric of Shambhala culture. It is as heartbreaking as it is necessary to acknowledge and learn from this. Shambhala Mountain Center will turn 50 in 2021. In order to honor and hold responsibility for the 50 years of profound teachers and dedicated practitioners who have worked, volunteered, practiced and studied at our retreat center, we need to be willing to recognize and address these challenges. There is deep work for us to do. So far, we’ve updated and improved our Code of Ethics with the help of ethicist and therapist Dr. Cedar Barstow, instituted a grievance procedure, and launched a cycle of staff trainings on power, harassment, abuse, and bystander intervention led by Dr. Barstow, SAVA (Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center), and The Blue Bench. While these initiatives are a necessary start, they need to be integrated with an ongoing inquiry …

How We Practice

By Noel Smith, Director of Practice, Education, Culture and Community at Shambhala Mountain Center // As the snow starts to fall and the days grow shorter, the season simply demands a change of pace. The hectic-ness of the summer has fallen away just like the golden leaves have fallen off of the aspens. Even down in the city, the normal speed naturally starts to slow as the weather demands.  Up here on the land, many of us go deeper with practice and study this time of year. Over the next few months, the ability and opportunity for deep practice and self-reflection becomes a more central theme—seemingly involuntarily! What better to do on a cold winter day than connect with your mind and heart through practice, and curl up with a good dharma book? “Practice” is an incredibly personal experience, and within the framework of creating a good human society, group practice is a crucial ingredient as well. Supporting folks’ individual practice inspirations, while also fostering opportunities for people to come together to feel the power …

Birthing / Deathing

By Kathy Kinkaid // When my mother died, I felt as if she had birthed me again. Being a care-giver to aging parents can put you in a strange place.  I had in many ways become the mother of my mother right up until the end of her life.  It was in that process that so many life experiences appeared to be weaving together in a mysterious way. This is something women have done for many years – cared for the dying / birthed new life. I’d often wondered if death were not a sort of birth / birth a sort of death.  I mean, when we are born, we are immediately in a strange land. We had been so comfortable as a water creature only to find ourselves now breathing air.  This is a repeating pattern in life. When I married, I changed my name & realized I was no longer who I had been. The shift was an inside job, mostly & felt quite surprisingly drastic.  We do the same type of thing when we …

“SMC had a baby!” An interview with Kristen and John about having a baby at SMC

By Whitney Trotta // It was a lovely summer afternoon in the mountains at SMC. The rain had passed through earlier, and with the sun back out, it was only a little wet sitting down on the bench beneath some Ponderosa Pines. Kristen and John graciously agreed to be interviewed the week before they were due. I was curious about how they felt about raising a child at Shambhala Mountain Center—and what got them here in the first place! Whether you know John and Kristen personally or not, you’ll enjoy getting to know them here. Whitney: Tell me about your first time at SMC! John: It was a weekend in July 2000. Noel, myself and another friend were on an exodus trip from Madison, Wisconsin to Northern California. We had a friend volunteering here (at SMC) for the summer and stopped in just to visit him. We stayed a couple of days—it was great! We continued on our way, and as the summer panned out, California did not pan out. So my buddy said “Hey, …

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. …