Life at SMC
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Floral Notes and Bardo: Shatter, Sore, Swelter

A phrase which rolls off the tongue and rumbles our marrow:

Suicide in the community.

A knock on the door from Tseten early in the morning, alerting us: emergency community meeting, 9:30.  I guessed: fire evacuation (again).  No…

People in tears — heavy, heavy.  Slowly, in the meeting, what had occurred was revealed. Together we rode the first wave of the process.  Helpful teachers and mentors who were on the land for ESA were present, fortunately.  Acharya Lobel, Kathy Tolstrup, Greth Patterson. Teachers, chaplains, helping to hold us, helping us to hold ourselves, and to embrace the emptiness — cannot hold anything.

As we went around the room, sharing, it dug in deeper.  Set in like a sweltering fog.

Afterwards, Heather and I spent the day together up at the house — making art, talking, laying on the rug, more art, ikebana, more talking.  A long healthy day.  In the evening, another community gathering.  So much question, soreness.

We’re all along for a big murky ride.  We’re doing it well, I feel.  As a community, as a tradition, we have skillful means for going through things like this.  We can “hold” the intensity.

There is so much more to say about this.  It will come out.  Now, I need to have breakfast and make it to work on time.

— August 25, 2015

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.


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


  1. Rex Presson says

    Travis, this is Rex Presson, Todd Presson’s father. I stumbled across this post in reviewing other SMC articles. I may be presuming, but thought this was regarding Todd’s passing. Wanted you to know I was very touched by your words. I can’t know how Todd’s passing affected all at SMC. But we were comforted by everyone’s compassion when we visited SMC in October. He really liked everyone at SMC.

    • Travis Newbill says

      Hi Rex, thanks for the note. This post is indeed about Todd’s passing. I’m so glad to know that you’ve had a good experience reading it here, and with SMC in general. Todd was/is very well-loved here.

      Continued warmth and good wishes to you and your family.


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