Portland News Magazine

Reporting on Portland Deleks

August 19th, 2013 by John David Smith

This just in from Candace Staughton:

Hello everyone,

In my role as Societal Health and Well Being Director for our center, I’ve been asked to be a panelist on a Shambhala Online webinar on Saturday 8/24 about Deleks.

Because many Shambhala centers don’t have neighborhod groups (also called deleks in Shambhala), this is a way to inform the members of around the world about deleks, what they are, how they work, and what their value is to a Shambhala Center.

Each of the panelists has been asked to prepare a 6 minute presentation on:

– what’s going on with deleks at your Center
– what’s working well that others could learn from?

As I prepare my presentation I’d love to get input from everyone in our community.  Can you send me your thoughts about the two bullet points above. Based on your experience with our deleks, what do you think I should highlight about our experience here in Portland?

Please send me your thoughts by Wed at the latest so I have time to compile people’s ideas and present as many of them as I can within the time constraints of six minutes 🙂

Also, if you want to plan on attending, click on the following link at 10am Pacific on Saturday Aug 24: http://shambhalainternational.adobeconnect.com/delegs2013/

Thanks everyone!

Shambhala Principle Affinity Circles launched

August 18th, 2013 by John David Smith

As a follow-on to the Sakyong’s recent book on The Shambhala Principle, Affinity Circles are being formed with online opportunities, launched recently: http://affinitycircles.shambhalanetwork.org/

Here is a preliminary  list of local Shambhalians involved in Affinity Circles:


  • Ann Cason (family care)
  • Abbey Pleviak (arts)
  • Trime Persinger (Snake River) (prison outreach)

Circle Members:

  • Willa Rabinovitch (arts)
  • Marc Otto (arts)
  • Lisa Stanley (arts)
  • Mark Douglass (environmental action)
  • Dan Rubin (social work)
  • David Parker (research)
  • Jack Bodner (shifting culture and global values)
  • Julianna Heath (social work)

Remodeling OUR own barn

August 11th, 2013 by John David Smith

Photo by https://secure.flickr.com/photos/misserion/

The Oregon landscape is dotted with barns that we appreciate because they are beautiful as well as functional.  They also represent a collective effort because of their magnitude: people had to come together to raise a barn in just a few days.  But every barn needs to be replaced or remodeled occasionally.

You are invited to help us with this month’s electronic barn-raising!  This is one of those occasions where a lot of different skills and kinds of contributions are called for. As mentioned last month, we are about to migrate from our existing website to a new one. The analogy is that our website is a bit like the center of our homestead, where we store some of our accumulated riches, and where we contribute to the digital landscape in Portland.  And it will take a group effort to complete the migration.

There are many reasons for doing this migration (aka renovation).  The new site will have a lot of features that the old one did not.  It will look better (the website is the first contact that many people have with our Shambhala Center).  But a crucial reason for migrating to the new site is that it will allow the different areas and groups in our community to edit and take responsibility for one or more pages — to be visible and say their piece.  We’re working toward a more distributed model of community and this is one aspect of that evolution.

We need to complete the migration by Labor Day, September 2, 2013.  Of course the site will be evolving after that date, reflecting our community’s growth.  But we are taking up a slot in the “migration queue” and we need to make the migration as orderly and focused as possible.  So getting it done like one of the barn-raising efforts of the past makes a lot of sense.

Here are some of the skills that are going to be needed for this project:

  • Knowledge of the Shambhala community, our activities and programs

  • Writing and editing skills

  • Cut, paste, and simple formatting in a text editor

  • Group coordination and scheduling

Do you have some of these skills and some time to contribute?  Drop me a line at john (dot) smith (at) Portland (dot) Shambhala (dot) org!

I imagine that barn raising in Oregon’s rural past involved pot luck suppers and dances, but that part hasn’t been planned out for our electronic barn-raising yet.  Got ideas?

Camille Gwendolyn Talbot McCoy

July 25th, 2013 by John David Smith

Camillle-004Camille Gwendolyn Talbot McCoy was born 6.9.13 at 7:05am.


Camille and her Mom

She was three weeks early but a very healthy 6 lbs. and 14 oz. She is 5 and a half weeks now!

Camille and her Dad

Camille and her Dad

If you are interested in meeting Camille at our home Kim can send you email invitations to our meal calendar.  Write kimkmccoy (at) gmail …

Got an idea for a program or event?

July 17th, 2013 by John David Smith

We want your input for programs and activities at the Portland Shambhala Center!

As we plan the Calendar for 2014 we’d love to hear from you about the kind of activities, programs, and events you might like to see offered in the coming year.

  • Have you participated in a wonderful program or activity at another Shambhala Center that you’d love to see offered here in Portland?
  • Are you curious about a topic that you think would be inspiring, thought provoking, etc.?
  • Have you experienced a great Shambhala teacher you’d love to see teach in Portland in 2014?

shambhala-light-bulbWhile we can’t guarantee that our community has the resources to implement everyone’s wonderful ideas, we do want to receive input as we consider how to make decisions about what we might offer in the coming year.

Please send your ideas, inspiration, thoughts and more to us at: [email protected]

If on the other hand you want to send us a full proposal for a program or event, let us know and we’ll send you the proposal form.

The Calendaring Group

Lisa Stanley, Center Director
Michael McCormick, Practice and Education Director
Candace Stoughton, Director of Societal Health and Well-being

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

Hello from Gampo Abbey

May 30th, 2013 by John David Smith
Photo of Gampo Abbey Stupa from Wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

Ruth Hampton (whose most recent job at the Portland Shambhala Center involved teaching kids at our Kid’s Club) writes:

Hello Portland Shambhala Sangha!

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been here at Gampo Abbey for 7 weeks.  Almost 2 full months! Time is going quickly, and somehow the long days of practice fly by.  I am so very glad that I made the choice to come here, and I am so thankful for all of you that helped support me in the process of getting here.  Our center in Portland is doing wonderful things, all of which prepared me well for this new adventure. I miss the morning shamatha sits that we have there!

What can I say?!  For starters, the wilderness surrounding the Abbey is absolutely beautiful and is incredibly nurturing to be in it.  I am so grateful for my daily walks and time to reflect outdoors.  Almost every evening there is a breathtaking sunset over the ocean that gives an amazing display of color and bigger perspective.  The Abbey itself it quite comfortable, and I am enjoying being with the community here.  I am working in the kitchen, and I love my job as one of the cooks.  The Shambhala Buddhist path creates a vibrant community of people who work diligently and gently at waking up to the present moment.

The amount of practice time has been very helpful in enriching my practice and letting me go deeper.  It is amazing how seated practice can reveal so much about yourself, and then within that revealing there is the opportunity to truly learn how to just let things be as they are. There are many things I thought I knew about myself, and the more I sit, the more I see things clearly.  It isn’t always easy to see how my mind works, but the teachings give good guidance on listening to my heart and being kind to myself with whatever happens.

There is a small group of us who have been doing a study group of the refuge practice from the little book that they give you when you take refuge.  It’s been a fantastic practice to contemplate taking refuge in the Three Jewels, as well as learning what we truly take refuge in ( self, people who support our sense of self, material objects, exercise, practice, etc).

On a personal level of study, I have been exploring basic Buddhist philosophy and have been studying the Five Skandas.  That has been very helpful in deepening the understanding of what seated meditation practice is about and what we are exercising as we do it.  I have a very supportive MI and also a novice monk who support me in my studies.  The wealth of knowledge here is great, and the library is quite extensive.

I don’t want to keep you with too long of an email.  We are currently low in the number of men who are residents, and we also need someone to fill the facilities position.  It’s a paid position, and there will be a posting listed on the website.  If you know of anyone, man or woman who is interested in coming, please send them along.  This is an AMAZING opportunity for a practitioner, and one that a person couldn’t regret.  The community here would be a great place for any of our Portland sangha to come and call a new home.  If you’ve ever thought of coming here and somehow there is space in your life to come…Please Do It!  🙂

Again, thank you all so much for your support and kindness for getting me here.  I have limited email addresses.  Would someone be willing to pass this along to the participants that I was with in the last Shambhala levels 1 and 2, as well as the teachers?

Well, the han is calling and morning chants are about to begin.

Best wishes to you all and I think of you!!  Stay committed to your practice, be gentle with yourself, and listen to your heart.

In the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,

Mindfulness of (Portland Shambhala) email

May 12th, 2013 by John David Smith

Much of our community’s communication depends on email, a medium that is a lot more chaotic than we’d like.

We've figured out how to organize shoes in the entry-hallway

Our emails (and other communications) should be at least as orderly and user-friendly as the shoe rack in the Shambhala Center’s entry-hallway.

You get too much email, right?  There’s something about email as a medium that just seems to multiply: email list subscriptions, offers, and invitations easily crowd out stuff we really want.

On the other hand there’s the email you do want that doesn’t arrive.  “They” forgot to write back or they are ignoring you, or you sent them a message but it got lost in their SPAM folder!  A recent example is relevant: I sent out an announcement about the Kalalpa Ikebana Class to the Shambhala Center Newsletter list, but our new Director, Lisa Stanley, who happens to be teaching the class, never got it.  When she figured out that she wasn’t even on list of recipients, it took me a long time to figure out why.  (Hint: you actually have to request it to be on our Newsletter the list!)

Communications goals

We’re trying to overhaul how we do email at the Shambhala Center, to try to make our communications more mindful.  I’ve been thinking about sending out an email message to the community about reducing email volume and insuring that you get on the right Shambhala  Center email lists.   Wait, stop!  Another email?  What are we doing?

Here are the broad goals that have emerged about our Center’s communications:

  • Make our community more visible to itself (and by extension more transparent to the outside world)
  • Avoid SPAM: send fewer broadcast emails about classes, events and other goings-on (and carefully target the rest)
  • Make it super clear: who it’s from, and what you have to do to send or receive specific kinds of emails (for members as well as event organizers)

What follows is my thinking about how we can do this.  I’d love to hear about what you think (either in a comment on this blog or in a message to me).

Community blog

This blog is the best place where we can see ourselves as a community (apart from meeting at the Shambhala Center– or wherever we meet away from it).  It’s the place for more extensive communications, with more detail, more context, more questions, and more voices.  It doesn’t clutter up anybody’s in-box, so we can say as much as needs to be said.  I’ve been recruiting people to write for it  during the past several months.  So far Caitlin Bargenquast, Marc Otto, Melanya Helene, and Willa Rabinovitch have signed up.  They haven’t posted here yet, so we need to urge them to get to it.  Better yet, would you be up for writing the occasional blog post about our community?

Broadcast emails

We’re still working out the details, but the plan is to limit broadcast emails to our entire email list to:

  • A weekly schedule update: pithy with links to registration pages or details on “how to connect,” “when it’s happening,” and “where to show up”
  • A monthly forecast with program and event descriptions so people can “save the date” well in advance
  • The occasional exception

We will use the “large” email list that we have been using all along for the weekly and monthly email messages.

Community Newsletter emails

We will be using the Shambhala Database (referred to as “the SDB”) to send out the Newsletter emails as well as the occasional members-only message.  (You can fill out a membership form online or in person at the Shambhala Center.)

Signing up to be on the Newsletter list is easy.  If you are a member or have ever registered for a class at the Shambhala Center, you have an account so you can edit your subscriptions and update any other information, such as email address, here:


Once you’ve logged on to the SDB (help for lost passwords, etc., is provided) you’ll see a link on the left-hand side of the page for  My subscriptions. Don’t be distracted by all the email lists for Shambhala retreat centers in Colorado, Nova Scotia, France, or Italy, or the other “miscellaneous topics” like family.  Look for the tick-box for Newsletter for Portland under Your center & affiliations.

Cancelling our Vaishaka Day Celebration

April 29th, 2013 by John David Smith

Our new Practice and Education Director, Michael McCormick, writes:

Vaishakha Day is the day that Buddhists commemorate the birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana of the Buddha.  It is undeniably significant.  The Portland Shambhala Center has scheduled this commemoration for May 25 this year.  In the last couple of years, it has been celebrated by a small contingent of our sangha.  This year we have been unable to find someone to organize and lead the  event.  After much beating of the bushes, including asking people who have been rumored, inaccurately, to have led the event in the past, the Center’s Council has reluctantly let go of holding the event this year.  The Buddha taught us that letting go is good, right?  It certainly makes sense when there are no bodies to make something happen.  If, however, you come to value this commemoration enough to bring it to fruition by next spring, let me know.  We can only gain by appreciating our teachers.

Ikebana Practitioners outing to a Japanese Gardens Exhibit

April 12th, 2013 by John David Smith

On Saturday April 6th, eight Ikebana Practitioners from the Portland Shambhala Meditation Center met at the Japanese Gardens to view the Saga Goya School of Ikebana’s annual Exhibition. Thank you to Joan Sears for taking and sharing these pictures.


An arrangement by a student of the Saga Goya School.


Hana Matsuri – The Flower Festival Celebrating the Birth of Buddha

We experienced and participated in the beauty and elegance of this special
exhibition that featured an authentic Buddhist prayer ceremony in honor
of the birth of Buddha.


An arrangement by a student of the Saga Goya School.


Back left to right: Jan Rogerson, Elizabeth Craig, Nic Petersen, Jonathan Beck
Front left to right: Anne Emmett, Amy Aycrigg, Candace Stoughton