Life at SMC

Floral Notes and Bardo: Egg, Apparently

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 existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

A world in which rock-people swirl as if only vapor, the sky answers in snowfall poem, and light allows dust to be messenger of song…


A week of everything — some real, some imagined, some really imagined — up in the cabin — Sambhogakaya — and roaming an enchanted corner of the land.  Offering smoke and reciting, hearing, esoteric verses from inscrutable Trungpa — rather, “from” who? — some say this or that.  And so terrifying — possibilities open as if revealing the core of the earth.  The core of my being, beneath sage brush of comfort, mountain peaks of reassurance, forests of familiarity.

Some uncertain lava sure to devour any versions of myself that I uphold which are not in accord with roaring truth, muse.  Cosmic.  The circumstances of my voice in the sunlight are far more vast than I tend to recognize.  My melodramas will be swept off in a single breath of this wind.

I always kinda knew that the path would open up wider, and that which I’d glimpsed would breathe — hot — in my face, and otherwise on the back of my neck.

Now, several years into the conversation, subtle dance, with lineage — practice, hearing, feeling — things are opening up — but it’s like a growth spurt.  It’s not quite a shock, but a bit sudden.  It’s not quite foreign, but a bit more strangely personal.  A bit more real than before — which is disconcerting.

Perhaps my center of gravity is shifting, and I’m struggling a bit to adjust, find my balance.  Or, also knowing that things will likely always be in flux…  Anyway, it’s one of those bardo periods.

We moved out of the cozy lodge suite with the bathtub just a few days after I returned from retreat — a rather traumatic re-entry in which I tried to say and show a lot of my experience — things that may be better digested than shown while being chewed upon.  I opened my mouth and showed Heather — the nitty gritty of spiritual expansiveness and utter bewliderment.  We rode this moment of blazing ambiguity and eventually came home to one another.  And then, we moved into a new home.  Boxes into the mini-van.  And now, sharing a small bedroom in Manjushri.  Planning to move upstairs into the larger room soon.  One of my main homies, Ryan, is considering moving into Avalokiteshvara — the yurt.  I’ve been trying to sway him like I’m a Realtor.  That lil’ house is sacred and I feel protective.  I want to pass it onto to someone who I feel would be a good successor-inhabitant.  It’s a lineage thing

Meditation and meal times have changed and my routine has been scattered — by the breath.  Yesterday I spoke with Naksang Rinpoche about written symbols, and I’m leaning into the practice of writing.  Tonight I’ll read the epilogue to Jeremy Hayward’s book Warrior King of Shambhala: Remembering Chogyam Trungpa.  This book has provided nice accompaniment to my recent curiosity and exposure to further Shambhala teachings, practices, energies, possibilities.

Saturday, Trungpa Rinpoche’s Parinirvana — we all celebrated in the Stupa — Sadhana of Mahamudra feast.  Yesterday, Easter Sunday.  We dyed eggs previously and Heather organized an Easter egg hunt, which, fortunately, some kids participated in — which wasn’t part of the plan.  I took my first full shower in two weeks and felt re-born.  Showers now in Karma Bathhouse.  This morning I showered again and rang the gong for morning session — first for me this season.

Also, tic season.  I’ve pulled four off of me so far.  The first was in retreat.  I had a lucid dream, and a monster appeared and bit into my thigh.  I woke and grabbed it right off.  I could see clearly that it was terrified.  I whispered blessings and then asked the insects to leave me alone.  I made offerings of peppermint tea on all of the windowsills and at the doorway.  There were no more incidents.  Now though…  Heather has had ticks too. Last night, she was quite upset.  Me too.  Disturbed.  I did tonglen, laying in bed — for her, for us — I forgot about the tics.  So many beings to be amidst — seen, unseen, parasitic, lovely, at any given moment.  Me too.

— April 6, 2015


PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious creature on the path of artistry and meditation, who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the lil’ society include Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill