Life at SMC

Floral Notes and Bardo: Death in a Head Cold

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Forgotten flower, unsung ditties — forlorn in peace, for nights and days in the mist.


Just getting over this…cold?  Seems like that word doesn’t quite do it justice.  It was an experience, a journey.  I was feeling it during the baseball game, while chowing a footlong vegan hotdog and having a beer, celebrating Labor Day.  The next day my head was full of snot and I stayed in bed — until I went out to lay in the hammock, which didn’t go smoothly.

As I was tryig to shimmy my way into the sleeping bag, in the hammock, so that I could rest as a warm little bundle in the fresh mountian air for hours, the hammock turned on me — turned me over — bodyslammed me onto the ground, onto a small tree-stump which bruised my ribs.

A few days later the cold had evolved into a nasty, endless fit of coughs, and each one felt like a punch into those sore ribs.  Exhausting.

I feel like I went twelve rounds with the universe and am now coming out the other side, purified.

Heather has had the cold also, and so we’ve been in this alternate reality together.  Kooky stuff one of those nights when I had NyQuil

And, one of those afternoons, feeling shitty, I sat out on the porch and read through a beautiful contemplation that the Sakyong wrote for bodhisattvas under the weather.

I thought about death a lot in the early days of the cold and felt appreciative for my life.  Last night, the first night of good sleep — without the Quil — in a while, I was awake with anxiety for a bit related to my life here, and how I’m feeling so behind and out of it.  A feeling of lots of catching up and work to do.

Having been here for a year, I feel less motivated to “prove myself.”  I believe that was part of it before.  A feeling of complacency has been present.  Last night, I was feeling sick about it.  And, I’m sensing the beginnings of a new groove based on deeper compassion, more true and stable love.

“This place will work on you.  Let it.” — I can’t remember who said that.

— September 10, 2014


PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill