Floral Notes and Bardo: Bliss in the Thick of It?

By Travis Newbill

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.

Slipped a clean foot, new sock, into a old shoe… which was soaked by last night’s cold rain.


Oh, summer afternoons in the hammock… bits of sweetness…


The narrative has been: Shambhala Mountain Center is a micro-cosm of the larger world, society, whatever.  All the components of modern life are here (except for indoor plumbing in some cases): job, house, spiritual practice, community, romantic partner, money, politics, and all the rest.  And the great journey of a long stay at SMC is driven by the question of: how to do it?  And, not just that, but:

How to do it well?  How to do it fully?

And, I have been asking that big old HOW a lot — in my journal in the morning, on this blog, in my head.  And, I’m tired of asking, on some level.  Tired of trying to find the material formula: arrange life like this, schedule it like this, or something.

But, on another level, the claustrophobia of overly-full, perhaps overly-ambitious, daily life, has been wearing itself out and opening into a soft nowness, which is humorous, apparent, obvious.

The question: how to really do it?

These teachings, Shambhala, claim to be about actually recognizing the awakened mind, discovering sacredness, in everything — in the muck of modern life, everywhere.


The question: is that for real?  Can I really, genuinely, have that experience?  Can the circumstances of my life, which I often find oppressive (while having some sense that it is my craving for more — time, comfort, etc. — which is actually oppressive) actually open up into joy?

Rather than the teachings being some kind of tranquilizer, which might help me to cope with my dreadful life, full of obligations (that I lay on myself), might the material of my life actually be the teaching which allows me to become liberated from all sense of struggle?

In the thick of it, might I discover buttery gold bliss?

I think so.

That seems to happen.

Okay… and so the journey is: how to get good at that so it can happen with more frequency, stability, and potency.

Shambhala Mountain Center: the contemplative container which provides the opportunity to learn to live in the modern world (without a toilet in the house).

— August 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

One thought on “Floral Notes and Bardo: Bliss in the Thick of It?”

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