Life at SMC

Floral Notes and Bardo: Snow Totoro (Snowtoro?) No Poem

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.

I don’t want to
start this post
with poem


Yesterday having tea up near the Stupa with dear buddy Frenchy (other people call him that), we discussed artistic engagement as path.  He is just finishing up an MFA in sculpture.  I am tip-toeing towards Naropa writing and poetics MFA program.  To do so I have to devote time every day to reading and writing — in addition to time on the cushion and studying dharma.  Devoting time, daily, as practice, to the arts feels like a departure at this point.  It feels unsanctioned.  I know I’m being a “good boy” if I am meditating and studying dharma.  How about if I’m reading poetry?

This is revealing a tip of iceberg psychological complex that I believe is lurking in my mindstream.  I’d like therapy exploration someday.

Anyway… it snowed a ton.  3 feet.  People were squishing their cars stuck into piles of snow — left and right.  Heather and I sat cozy in the cabin and watched a whole episode of Mark Corwin rescuing Oakes with the plow truck.

So cozy inside.  Snow falling, falling, falling out the window.  Piling up.  Huge heaps.  On Saturday, my first toboggan ride — right out in front of the cabin!  Then, warm drinks, burgers, music, games, yummy times inside the cabin with Heather.  Yesterday, she made an epic Totoro snow sculpture on the dining platform.  It took her three hours.  Now, her face is sun-burnt and her arms are sore.  She says: I’m experiencing physical discomfort.  I don’t like physical discomfort.”

This morning, she also said (her first words of the day):  “I dreamt that I was at the Nutcracker ballet.  Everyone that I’ve ever known was there.  It was beautiful.”

Friday was the heaviest super snow day.  We cancelled all of our weekend programs so the staff-community was hanging out in the dining hall — playing games, later watching a movie.  It was a good warm feeling.

Yesterday, after Stupa chores: Social Meditation. Such a great practice.  We sit in a circle, meditate, then, eye gaze, then, heart-speech-and-listening communication, then, snacks and more casual conversation.  Sharing gaze with friend, I felt all irritation melt away.  I had to refrain from bursting into laughter.

I always have resistance to entering into the gaze, but then, it is like immediate medicine.  That practice is as profound as any practice I’ve done — in the longer group or solitary retreats, or anything.  It brings it all to life — interdependence, non-duality, real love, real compassion, the basis for compassion, the lightness of the whole thing!

We’re planning to do it every Sunday now, like we did last summer.  Very glad for this.

Also, I am making my own kombucha.  Eric transmitted the mother to me.

— April 20, 2015


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