Farewell and a Time of Transition

This is the time of year when the days grow warmer and the Shambhala community begins to scatter for the summer, attending programs and retreats, spending time with friends and family, spending time outside the walls of our center. Taking the time to close the center for two weeks, from June 23-July 6, gives our community a chance to catch its collective breath after a very busy spring.

For me, it is a transition period which lends itself to reflection on these past three years at the Shambhala Center. I feel that we have come a long way and made some incredible strides as a community. The Sakyong’s visit was both a culmination and a launching point, and our Governing Council is now hard at work overseeing the search for the person to lead the community forward from this point. With the help of the Council, this new Executive Director will be in a fantastic position to join with you all to explore the question, “What can Shambhala offer to the city of Boston?” and to take action.

There are many notable developments over these past few years that I would like to highlight at this time. Thematically, we have very much been working with the evolution of Shambhala’s vision and mission since the Sakyong returned from his year-long retreat in early 2011. This inspiration has led us as a global community on a journey of clarifying who we are as a lineage, establishing deeper roots and a more resolute focus on our core principles. It has also led us toward more active engagement with society as a whole.

Here in Boston, we made a shift in 2012 to a new governance structure that Shambhala Centers all over the world have been implementing, called Kalapa Governance, and became one of a handful of centers piloting the Policy Governance method. Our Governing Council created the center’s very first “Ends” Policies, or statements of organizational purpose and vision, which were shared this past Shambhala Day. These will be further interpreted, developed, and worked with by the next Executive Director and the leadership team.

We made an incredible physical transformation of our entire center over the course of the past two years as part of “Operation Uplift” and “Operation Next Level”, which included the community room, both meditation halls, the Kalapa Suite, the stairwell, and the front of the building as well. Our center now can radiate vibrancy and brilliance not only in its teachings but also through its physical environment.

We’ve begun to explore new territory in our programming, expanding our offerings beyond the core path to also include more enriching community events as well as public programs that combine our core principles with a particular discipline or field. We also have re-visioned some of our ongoing regular offerings, including adding “Learn to Meditate”, introducing the new “Shambhala Gatherings” and “Welcome to Shambhala”, and developing what promises to be a powerful new diversity-inspired initiative that is about to be introduced. We held an innovative new local teacher training with the Kalapa Acharya, Adam Lobel, that will continue to have an impact in the years ahead.

We have also continued to develop emerging leaders who will carry Shambhala forward into the future, both through our dynamic Thirties and Under group as well as through the strength of the training and mentoring that happens both formally and informally within the community.

Our community continues to grow and thrive. Since the end of summer 2011, we have welcomed forty-five new members into the center. We have explored various expansion initiatives, continuing the search for a second center and experimenting with space-sharing with downtown yoga studios. The Sakyong again emphasized the importance of moving the center downtown when he was here in April, so that initiative is going to be an important part of the new Executive Director’s role as well.

We have developed a Societal Health and Well-Being council that looks after our community wellness. We continue to have a vibrant LGBT group and Heart of Recovery offering, and also to explore ways to make the center accessible to families and children through various community events and programs. Additionally, we continue to have a committed core of people working to educate and support community members on End of Life Care choices and processes.

Our Dorje Kasung squad continues to serve diligently, supporting and protecting the well-being and safety of our community and program participants, offering protection of the teachings themselves, and offering profound training to those who are inspired by the Kasung path.

We couldn’t have achieved any of this without the incredible dedication, generosity, service and energy of each and every one of you. Everyone has made a powerful and unique contribution to our continued development as a Shambhala Center these past three years and I am so appreciative of what you all have offered.

I will conclude my tenure as Executive Director this week. I feel very clear that the work that I came here to do is complete, and that it is time for me to turn my focus fully to the next phase of my life. There will be a few areas specifically covered on an interim basis. We have the good fortune of having a stellar team running the center and overseeing various aspects of our daily operations and community life, and none of that will be altered by this transition period.

Thank you all for your wonderful support during my tenure. It has been an honor to serve on behalf of the Sakyong.