Life at SMC

Floral Notes and Bardo: Not Vacationing — in Florida

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.

I told Joshua that leaving felt like a small death.  He said that arriving would be a Big Death: “The myth of freedom,” he said.  “I hope you have good waves.”

After getting off the plane, the anxiety of seeing people in Florida for the first time since I left was very pronounced.  It had been in the background — hopes and fears about how I may be perceived by them; whether there would be approval, or not, etc.

I’ve not worried for one second about how I would be perceived by Fluff.


I spent the whole plane ride studying dharma.

I’ve not wanted to come back to Florida, and also, I was kind of excited to, because I knew it would be eventful — at least mentally and emotionally.  So far, that has proven to be true.

It’s really been amazing to notice my reaction to the environment and people, and my tendencies to spin stories about how it’s going, how it ought to go — wishing for things to go a certain way because I think that will bring pleasure.

It’s kind of ugly down here.  I’m witnessing my mother in a tough situation and I don’t feel able to fix it.  It’s awful.  And, I’m well aware that there a millions of people on the planet right now who are worse off than she is.  And I don’t feel able to fix that either.

By comparison, I am in a very cushie situation.

Here, the connection to my mother’s pain is unavoidable — but I find myself trying to shut it out.

I think this is happening a lot, all over the place, in my engagement with the world.

Yesterday on the plane, I found myself judging people negatively.  And, the dharma was saying: No.  You really have to understand that you are those people.  You are not better than anyone.  You are here to help alleviate their suffering — that very suffering which is making you so uncomfortable that you want to attack it.  That’s not the way to go about it.  You have to help people relax.

So, I’m down here in Florida practicing.  It’s like the opposite of a vacation.

— May 7, 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.