Portland News Magazine

Life.Art.Being: Integrative Arts Summer Festival

June 21st, 2013 by Caitlin_Bargenquast

Hello Dear Sangha and Friends

Today I get to wear my Arts Council Chair cap (we’ve decided it is glittery and a crown and definitely has garuda feathers sprouting out at jaunty angles) and spread the news about a fantastic arts opportunity coming up July 15-20, 2013!  I am so excited to announce the inaugural Life.Art.Being: Integrative Arts Summer Festival.  This is also the first official collaboration between the Portland Shambhala Center and the Be Space movement + expressive arts studio.

This week-long immersion is intended to be a retreat from the body+mind that speeds through summer all too quickly.  The container will be dedicated to creating beauty and practicing presence with the self, the body, the other, and the mystery.  Movement artist and Naropa alum Elizabeth Russell (with whom we all fell in love at our Spring 2013 Shambhala Arts Festival) has curated an incredible line up of artists to contribute.  Feast your eyes on the rich schedule here and dive in for all or part of the week.

The lineup includes Dharma Art, Authentic Movement, Contemplative Dance Practice, a Warrior Artistry panel and more inspiring community events. The week will include not only practice but also exploration of the personal and social context for our creative practices.
   Tuesday and Thursday evenings will be held at the Portland Shambhala Center, with Lisa Stanley starting the week off with a Dharma Arts Talk.  I am thrilled to be participating as moderator for the Thursday night panel of local artists discussing contemplative movement practices and their applications to diverse fields of work.

I will also be facilitating the Wednesday night writing practice at Be Space.  For those of you who got a taste of “Action Writing” at our Spring Arts Fest (read some of the amazing poems generated here )  we will again relate to our streams of consciousness through the body and let it directly inform our written words.  We will get wild with huge pieces of paper, “shovel” with lines, and play with feedback.  This is a perfect opportunity for dancers and movers who fear the line, and for writers interested in loosening up habit and hesitation.

Of course, mine is just one of many offerings!

I look forward to exploring, playing, and cultivating beauty with all of you!

Many Blessings,
Caitlin Bargenquast

Birth of Camille Gwendolyn Talbot McCoy

June 15th, 2013 by John David Smith

Camille Gwendolyn Talbot McCoy

Camille Gwendolyn Talbot McCoy was born on Sunday June 9th at 7:05. She is amazing! We just got home with her last night (Wednesday, June 12) and are in complete bliss.


Kim McCoy, Jason Talbot, and Camille

John Kozel moving to Portland from Burlington, Vermont

June 15th, 2013 by John David Smith

It’s always great to hear from a relative you didn’t know about.  John Kozel introduces himself and describes his plans for moving here:


Adam, John and Makar the beagle

Greetings Portland Sangha!

The motivation of this blog post is two-fold: First, as a means of introducing myself, and second, to ask for a small measure of guidance and assistance from the Portland Shambhala community.

My name is John Kozel – I currently reside in Burlington, VT. Excitingly, however, my partner Adam and I will be moving to Portland at the beginning of September along with our beagle Makar. I will be starting a masters program at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, and Adam is currently looking for work with community-based organizations, preferably ones catering to Portland’s LGBTQA community. Makar will be along to smell flowers and distract passers-by with his charm. (I am on the right-side of this photograph).

My connection to Shambhala began in 2008 with a brief stint as a development intern at Shambhala Mountain Center, followed by a 2.5 year residency at Karme Choling as a member of core staff, working sequentially as painter, registrant, and development coordinator. Upon leaving Karme Choling I moved to Burlington to complete a bachelor’s degree at the University of Vermont. During my time here I helped to form a weekly meditation discussion group for young people at the Shambhala Center which I have been guiding for the past year. I am a Shambhala Guide and practice a great deal of qi gong.

If Portland is anything like Burlington, finding a reasonably priced apartment or house to rent through the internet can be a veritable trial – the best deals always seem to pass through direct connection – which gets me to the second aspect of this blog entry: Adam and I are looking for some help in finding an apartment, preferably in the Northeast or Southeast areas of the city, two bedrooms, that allows dogs, and is reasonably priced for an indebted grad student and a non-prof community activist. If anyone there at the Portland Shambhala Center has ideas, recommendations, or connections you would like to share, we would be genuinely grateful!

Thanks for reading. I am immensely excited to be moving to Portland and to be joining with the Shambhala sangha there. I look forward to sharing time, space, and practice with many of you come September.

My very best,

John Kozel
j.e.kozel (at) gmail.com

Seattle Weekthun Report on hard-boiled eggs and enlightened silliness

June 10th, 2013 by John David Smith

portlanders-channel-dignitiesFour of us from Portland participated in the Vajrayana Weekthün with Acharya Susan Chapman in Seattle a few weeks ago.   We tried to channel the four dignities in the kitchen one day during  work period.  Right to left  are: Dragon lady Jay Stewart, Garuda Nora Nichols, Lion Michael McCormick, and Tiger John Smith.

I was determined to share some notes  about us, about our time there, and about the Seattle practice situation.  So here goes.  It was wonderful that there were people from all up and down the West coast — from the Bay Area to Alaska.  One thing you realize is that a week of practice is very rich from a meditation perspective, but it’s also an opportunity to learn about other things as well.  For example, Nora recalls:

“I finally found out how to cook hard-boiled eggs so that they peel, which is going to help a lot for preparing breakfast at our center. This is Martha in Seattle’s technique and it worked for all the times we had boiled eggs at the weekthun: Put the eggs in a pan with cold water and turn on burner. When they start to boil turn burner off and let them sit covered for 20 min and then put them in COLD water…even with ice and cold packs and then when they are completely cold take them out of the water and they will peel. The first one I peeled was a little hard but after 15 minutes they all peeled perfectly.”


Martha Silverspring gave a demonstration on how to make a white torma. Notice Paul Belserene, either taking notes on his smartphone or multi-tasking.

I was impressed with how the bookkeeping got done right during the last afternoon of the retreat:


This was an enjoyable “gathering of the receipts from the Weekthun” ceremony. On the left is Alice Kelly, the weeks’ coordinator, Director Tom Gaylord is in the middle doing the heavy lifting, and former Director Marcia Oberg is sitting on the right advising on various matters great and small.

One notable practice achievement for me was to reach a new level of silliness during the celebration at the end.  I’ve always felt like Shambhalians are admirable in their ability to let go and be completely fearless after a long period of practice and I’ve always felt quite inadequate in that department.  So in honor of all the discussion about hard boiled eggs and the teachings about “the enemies of the four directions,” I came up with this silliness:

Aspiration On the Heels of Shambhala (or on “the peels of Shambhala” if you will)

 On arising as Merchants:
  • May all your classes fill up
  • May your center’s Facebook page be littered with hundreds of  “likes”
  • May the generosity of your sangha blow you away
  • And, may all hard boiled eggs you serve at all your programs peel easily

On arising as Relatives:

  • May your family’s grapevine tell the truth and your backchannel whisper compassion
  • May our children living near or far flourish as warriors
  • May the doors of Shambhala be flung wide open
  • And, may all the hard boiled eggshells not litter your carpet
On arising as Professionals:
  • May your center’s books pass muster and NOT need cooking
  • May all your rotas be appealing and all-accomplishing
  • May your all your committee meetings be perfumed with basic goodness
  • And, may all the hard boiled eggs of Shambhala peel well

On arising as Entertainers:

  • May all your toasts be brief, colorful and inspiring
  • May all the gardens throughout the mandala be as productive and spectacular as Seattle’s
  • May a multitude of poets come out of the walls
  • And, may all us hard boiled Shambhalians have a soft center

Warriors Cry at Weddings

June 2nd, 2013 by Caitlin_Bargenquast

syllable_ki1-296x300I tend to cry at weddings.  There is a feeling of bearing witness to incredible on-the-spot bravery that the couple radiates out into their community as they proclaim their love and intentions for building a shared life together.   It is so tender it melts my heart and leaves me feeling in awe. Last month I had the absolute pleasure of attending one of my dear friend’s weddings in upstate New York. She and I met some years ago while studying together in an ensemble-driven, interdisciplinary BFA in Performance program at Naropa University. We supported one another through our training, whether it was sitting a Shambhala Level I for the first time, or scripting solo thesis shows as we graduated from our rigorous curriculum. She also happens to be one of my queer big sisters, and had a big hand in helping me to mature in my own social-sexual identity as an ally and unique sex-relationship-people loving individual. Both on and off the stage, and on and off the cushion, we have supported one another in warriorship and practicing fearless action in even the most emotionally charged environments. It was my honor to accept when she invited me to be a part of her wedding, and not just to sit there crying, but to lead the Warrior Cry as part of the ceremony.

It was a profound experience for me to stand up for her and her bride as a friend and Sangha member, and call upon our connection to the Mukpo lineage to raise drala or windhorse. I had to move through doubt at my ability to speak well about such a sacred practice and principles, and connect with confidence not only in myself but in the gathered group. Present were people not only from all over this country, but family from Ireland as well. They had quite likely never heard any of the lingo so familiar to us in the Shambhala tradition, let alone felt comfortable singing Tibetan syllables composed for journeys over the highest mountain peaks on the planet, all while in a country field in upstate New York. However, on that gorgeous afternoon in late April, there I was talking about a lineage of awakened hearts, and the radical possibility that if we connect to our own basically good, awake natures, we can radiate out into culture at large, manifesting Enlightened Society, of which this queer couple in 2013 is surely a part. I drew the parallel that we were with these two brave and loving women on a mountain peak of their relationship, and we could support them by connecting to the natural, sacred energy of life, and offer it to them through our presence, and the chant I was about to lead.

I was prepared to be one of maybe half a dozen people taking part in the actual Warrior Cry. I planned to do it with my whole heart, even if I were the only voice. But when I asked the attendees to stand and join me, a beautiful and touching thing happened. Every single person of the almost two hundred people gathered did. As I led the Warrior Cry call-and-response style, the energy of the combined voices echoed off the trees at the far end of the field, and radiated into the environment.  Or perhaps it was we who were radiating into the environment, connecting Heaven and Earth. My senses were heightened, the colors of tulips and grass, sun and shade bold, alongside standing bodies, hearts beating.  The experience opened my heart, and showed me that though we may describe these principles in a language from a certain tradition, they truly are universal. As one dear aunt from Ireland told me as we all shared in feasting and dancing late into that Spring night, “Caitlin thank you. ’twas just beautiful. I don’t know a single word we were saying, but I felt it, and it was just lovely, just lovely.”