All posts filed under: Life at SMC

Spread-your-wings, oh beautiful Jaybird!

Photo: © 2016 Richard A. Swaback   Spread-your-wings, oh beautiful Jaybird!           Placing seed outside my window        Bringing close to view      Amazing birds!    Winter at SMC.   Nuthatches, Juncos, Mountain Chickadees  Magpies, Woodpeckers, to name a few. Arrive before daybreak Stellar’s Jays. Skittish merest reflection in my window glass  and    Off,       off          with rounded wing,              seeking shelter                 in  Ponderosa branches. — Richard Swaback . . About the Author .  Naturalist, photographer, creative person, Richard “Dickie” Swaback, long time resident at Shambhala Mountain Center, is fascinated by the inhabitants of the natural world, large and small, whether it be microorganisms, plants, insects, mammals, birds or amphibians that reside at SMC. “Dickie’s” curiosity knows no bounds as he explores the dynamic interrelations of life at SMC . He recently published a 30-page booklet “Biodiversity at Shambhala Mountain Center”, a brief photo essay of some of the life …

Offering

Hello world, I wrote this poem last fall as a rumination on death and life, impermanence and transition. Now as I prepare to leave SMC for new journeys, it seems fitting to share.   gathering up the courage to say goodbye to good friends gathering up the pink in the clouds as it swells into peach and then dusty blue gathering up the things i need for today in my old pack. pulling together the sound the wind makes through tall dry grasses golden ice of late october the dreams of morning hearing scratching in the wall or floor gathering up the swollen parts of my heart for you to hold the honey and peanut butter, avocados and incense smoke to coax you, tether you back into this world for a moment stuck on cobwebs in the rafters for just a sound, a smell of this Earth i gather up deer bones from the mountainside and trees and the dry, cold dirt i lay them next to mine, bound together, hinged to hold us for as long …

Your Virtual Guide to the Perimeter Trail

There is something undeniably magical about the land at Shambhala Mountain Center. Literally and figuratively, it is the heart and foundation of the experience here. The powerful energy of the land can be experienced by simply being; in meditation, yoga or contemplation — but walking and exploring this area is meaningful in its own way, offering a chance to shift gears and restore the precious connection to our wild, natural environment. A great opportunity to experience the land is via the Perimeter Trail (also known as the Shambhala Mountain Trail), a roughly 5-mile loop that circles around the 600-acre property of SMC. The trail is lovingly maintained by the Land Crew, and takes you through a diverse range of landscapes — from meadows, to marshes, forests, and rocky vistas. Along the way you can expect encounters with ancient rock formations, mysterious shrines, and the occasional moose. There is a largely untouched and highly diverse ecosystem to discover—home to countless wildflowers, pines, aspens, and juniper; coyotes, moose, deer, salamanders, and hummingbirds. After living here for over a year, I’ve finally completed the full Perimeter Trail …

A Weekend in Space

Last summer I had the pleasure of participating in SMC’s Contemplative Astronomy program: Big Sky, Big Mind, led by astronomer Andrea Schweitzer, Ph.d , and Jim Tolstrup, Executive Director of the High Plains Environmental Center and former SMC Land Steward. The program was an engaging variety of practical lessons about our universe, (ranging from night sky constellation viewing to kinesthetic astronomy, in which we examined the spatial relationships of our solar system and the earth’s rotation using inflatable planets), and spiritual explorations of our relationship to the stars, as individuals and as a culture — through nighttime meditation, discussions, and a presentation by Jim on ancient Lakota star knowledge. As a space nerd myself, proudly sporting my NASA t-shirt, I was ecstatic to be part of this program. It significantly expanded my understanding of the glorious night sky but also deepened my sense of connection to the magic of our existence on this planet, by exploring how the pull of the sun’s gravity on Earth affects our daily life and perception of seasons, time, and direction …

Floral Notes and Bardo: To the Wheel

At a picnic table the other night, hearing about how some students of Trungpa gave up on their art because of internal conflict between devotion and self-expression. And this conflict lives on in mentor(s) of mine. Something about how we may be reifying ego, solidifying samsara, by expressing mind… if we are not a buddha. I was rolling with rebellion, and feeling so lonely, after that conversation. At home, I flipped open to a talk Ginsberg gave at the first Naropa Institute summer: “We’re all enlightened. Fuck that bullshit enlightenment. There is no enlightenment. If we’re going to start waiting to be enlightened to write poetry…” I felt at ease because Uncle Allen was devoted to the whole thing, all of it: guru and poesy alike. I feel his tender hand on my shoulder. I’m bewildered in our collective gaze. I’m dropping consonants out of nowhere into blue soup — home to birds. I know dew drops on: tip of tongue, to be given atop iris petals to friendly faeries, family. And to tell of …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Crystal as Lotus

This morning I abandoned “other” projects and felt lighter. Only bringing the SMC beauty into being. She’s gone, I’ve wept. Shadow mood yesterday after too much low-alcohol beer the night before, after three hours of driving on farm roads — reviewing recordings — after dropping her off at the terminal, weeping, after having too much food to celebrate (?) together — last meal sort of thing. When we were pulling off the land friends came out from their offices and put dandelions in our windshield wipers, hugged Heather, skipped and danced and waved behind the car as we pulled off. The previous morning Joshua approached our breakfast table and encouraged Heather to design some things for the gift store. He expressed warm appreciation for who and how she is, how she dresses, her overall aesthetic and creative way. He wept. He said: “The more of you in the world, the better.” The previous night we had an amazing banquet to honor Heather and Sophie — land steward, who was also leaving. Toasts, feast, beauty, hugs, …

water writing: homage

By Katharine Kaufman Shibata Sensei is so old that it takes two people to prop him upright. Yoshiko holds his left side. She is the daughter of Zen master, Kobun Chino. We are here, at the home-made Zendo, in a small dip in the Santa Cruz mountains, because it’s the 10th anniversary of Kobun’s death. Kobun’s expression of being came from the natural depth of what it is to be human and nature. Every body has it. He told me not to speak of it so much, as if my saying the words, original nature, chipped something away from the type of beauty that is also truth. When my friend Janet Solyntjes hosted him at Naropa College she did all these things for him. She registered students for the class, drove him where he wanted to go and made sure he had a place to stay where the sound of the refrigerator was only a quiet hum. In the end he thanked her for the glass of water she gave him to drink once, before …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Slip Slidin’ Away

Sadness as this moment, world we’ve built, slips away.  Two weeks from today, Heather leaves the land.  I’ll stay, and we’ll move to Boulder together August 1, after I come out of Sacred World Assembly — a big retreat that feels like graduation. I’ll stay on with SMC, working part-time, doing the blog, email, marketing thing while I study poetry, grad school. I’m going to sing some songs, I think.  Last night, it was raining on the cabin — oh the cabin, which was hell a year ago, overrun with mice, no toilet.  This time around mice haven’t been so bad and we’ve got a little camping toilet in the closet.  It’s still a bit of a chore to clean it out, but… legit. This perch: The northeast corner of the room is my zone.  We have sheets hung from the ceiling that roll down and up.  When down, they form a princess bed situation for Heather, and for me, a meditation-secret-movements, sacred space. I’ve got a window that looks out across the valley to …

Celebrating the Garden Project

We spent this past snowy May Day morning celebrating an incredible act of generosity that has made a real impact on our community culture here at Shambhala Mountain Center — the sponsorship of the SMC Garden Project by the Aida & Mike Feldman Philanthropic Trust & the Feldman Family. This grant allowed us to build a geodesic dome greenhouse last September, which has provided over 2,000 pounds of food (mostly greens), and also allowed us to purchase a bright red Massey Ferguson tractor, which has helped our land & forestry crews immensely. We gathered with Sonia Feldman (granddaughter of Aida and Mike) and Larry Rich from the foundation, along with members of the SMC community and governing council for brunch festivities: beautiful foods prepared with the microgreens grown in the greenhouse, speeches & toasts to the shared experience, and a tour of the greenhouse. Watch the slideshow below to see how this project came together! Our deep gratitude goes out to the Feldman Family Foundation for giving our aspirations the chance to become physical reality, and for supporting our …