Author Archive

Mindfulness And Meditation To Become Part Of The Curriculum In 370 Schools In England

14/07/2019

By Fino Menezes
BrightVibes.com

i2In 370 schools across England, children will be taught how to meditate, techniques for muscle relaxation, and breathing exercises for mindfulness. The program is being conducted under a mental health study that the British government is running up until 2021.

Dealing with new and complex emotions can be mitigated by meditation and mindfulness.  When children act out by kicking and screaming, very often it is simply because they don’t understand. Read More….

Over-Tourism – Now What Do We Do?

13/07/2019
003 Smllr

Dexter and Genelle Richards at Dexter’s Inn circa 1940  ©randallrichards

I grew up in tourism. My parents started a ski lodge, Dexter’s Inn,  in the 1940’s in Sunapee, New Hampshire. I’ve been in and out of tourism over the years, and in different shades of it, from ski instruction, to experiential education, high-altitude mountain guiding,  a guide on the Inka Trail to Machu Pichu, back in the days when you didn’t see a lot of people, and no permits required (referring to the Inka Trail only).

We now own Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters and Mountain Spirit NZ in the Southern Lakes District of New Zealand. So we’re officially back in the industry. However the industry seems uber-industrial.
Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  So when is enough, enough? And what do we do now?
Here are some rumblings about our, small, but very fast-growing communities, Wanaka and Queenstown, New Zealand.
First an article from CNN: in which Queenstown is listed, among other areas in the world, as a trouble spot, with over 3 million visitors per year…

Destination trouble: Can overtourism be stopped in its tracks?
(CNN) — We first hear about these places when we’re kids. Famous destinations full of wondrous architecture, spectacular scenery or ancient mysteries that fire our imaginations and fill us with yearning.
We dream, we grow, we save up all our money and one day we finally get to visit — only to discover, read more…

20190705_115036[1]

Queenstown, New Zealand , image©Randall Richards

Next, our local Wanaka Stakeholder Group’s Protect Wanaka Facebook page, a firebrand in its own right (and I mean that as a compliment), weighs in: “Queenstown has been named in CNN Travel’s global list of locations that are currently plagued by ‘Overtourism’, read more…

The Wanaka Sun
The Disadvantages of Tourism
By Allison McLean (journalist@thewanakasun.co.nz)

“Tourism is noted as New Zealand’s top export earner and the cornerstone of its economy. It sustains and grows local communities and reportedly employs one in seven New Zealanders, according to Tourism New Zealand. Many locals consider this sword to be double edged, noting the accumulated waste, erosion of land and consumption of fossil fuels from tourism that put the country’s land and greatest asset at risk. read more…

 – – – –

Just as shifting our paradigm on how our family uses plastics during Plastic Free July, we’re in the process of shifting how we think of tourism, and how we contribute to the problem or clean up the mess. Whether as suppliers or tourists, we all need a re-think. A saying I heard the other day made me chuckle, and again was a paradigm shifter:
“I’m not stuck in traffic, I am traffic”
Responsible tourism is the future, not simply the bottom line. Here’s New Zealand’s webpage on the subject, as well as another great page on NZ Sustainable Tourism Tourism Industry Aotearoa, TIA’s page.  And acompany, Responsible Travel has had some new global initiatives.  Lake Wanaka Tourism has published a sustainable tourism page.

Unfortunately I see Wanaka and Queenstown going the way of Park City, Vail, or other towns in the Alps, that just got too big, and now deal with smog, traffic and overgrowth, but that’s another subject, I suppose.  Although we, too, are new here, one redeeming attribute is we’ve always tried to live a small footprint, including buying existing houses rather than building anew, living off the grid when possible etc. .

Tell me what you think. Respectful comments welcome.

Neuroscience Study Shows Gratitude Pays Off, Rewires Your Brain

12/07/2019
DSC_0138

Mountain Spirit New Zealand

Half-way through my Outward Bound career, I starting introducing the concept of gratefulness by asking my students to name five things for which they were grateful. The five things didn’t have to be from their wilderness trip, it could be anything.  It was an eye opener to see how some of them had a difficulty finding things in which to be grateful. They were just out of practice. So was I. These days, it’s been a daily question in our family, sometimes at the dinner table or while driving. It puts things in perspective, and not only for our 8yr-old.

Echkart Tolle states in his book Power of Now, “When you honor, acknowledge, and fully accept your present reality — where you are, who you are, what you are doing right now — when you fully accept what you have got, you are grateful for what you have got, grateful for what is, grateful for Being. Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is true prosperity. It cannot come in the future. Then, in time, that prosperity manifests for you in various ways.” (There’s more of this excerpt here.)

If quotes from Tolle aren’t convincing enough, a recent UCLA study should give you something to think about…

Neuroscience Reveals: This Is How Gratitude Literally Rewires Your Brain to Be Happier
From: Real Life Pharmacy
By Justin Brown

We often hear about the power of gratitude for creating a more positive and happy mental state. But did you know that gratitude literally transforms your brain?

According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly expressing gratitude literally changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps the gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier.

When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. Read more….

www.realfarmacy.com

 

Rocketman – Sir Elton John’s Life Story – 5 Stars

18/06/2019

RocketmanI just saw Rocketman tonight, and had to write a few words.  Sir Elton walks the talk. The movie is a statement of compassion, strength, endurance, and is an inspiration on many levels. This movie has the message of being grateful for what we have in our lives, and, to get to the business of living our lives.  Get those songs recorded, tell your loved ones how much you love them. Life is short – show up and be there…

Where am I going with this? Elton John did what it took to pull himself up. He checked himself into rehab and chose life.  He’s done the work, and it shows, and the world is better for it.

I had no idea about his life story, but wow – what a story of love, of perseverance, of forgiveness, of friendship. If you want a life lesson you’ll never forget, definitely see the film with the following caveat: The film has explicit sex scenes, which are not my cup of tea*, so buyer beware.

There are some great interviews but here is one in particular where Elton John makes some comments that reveal his altruistic,  strong character, and resilient nature. Actor Taron Egerton and Giles Martin are also in this roundtable interview on Apple Music.  There’s another good interview, believe it or not, on ET. As an aside, Elton John and Taron Egerton sing Tiny Dancer at the 75th Aides Foundation Fundraiser.
Through it all, you get that he’s just a real person wanting to do good in the world, and is not afraid to candidly share his life story with us. Good on ya Sir Elton John.

* Author’s note:  My practice is that I  don’t watch movies with explicit sex scenes, violence. There are rare cases when the message furthers the overall mission of the movie, and this is probably one of them.

Children need microbes — not antibiotics — to develop immunity, scientists say

17/06/2019

By Brandie Weikle
Special to The Star

20190617 Children Need MicrobesYes, it’s important to wash your hands. It’s critical during cold and flu season and especially if you visit someone at the hospital.The problem is — in the West at least — parents have taken the business of keeping clean way too far.
New science shows that blasting away tiny organisms called microbes with our hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps and liberal doses of antibiotics is having a profoundly negative impact on our kids’ immune systems, read more..

 

Another Example of Meditation in Action

07/06/2019
Programs-Services-a_06

Image Credit: hlfinc.org

By Holistic Life Foundation
School Sends Kids to Meditation Instead of Detention, with Amazing Results

Traditionally when children act up in school, they would get detention or they get suspended. An elementary school in Baltimore has a far healthier approach, read more…

For more info: www.hlfinc.org

Learning Presence from Wilderness

07/06/2019

Outward Bound recently published a piece entitled  How to Learn Mindfulness from the Wilderness. I’ve been meditating since my early teens, and grew up spending most of my after-school hours in the woods and mountains of New Hampshire and later working for Outward Bound as an instructor and staff trainer. I’d spend weeks and months in the backcountry without site of a car or airplane in stunning mountains. After a week, the students and I were just starting to adjust to the quieter pace. After two weeks, we were in the groove and were in no rush to return to “civilization”.  Teaching out there helped me see more of the quiet mind in myself, and in others. It was a moving experience to see others sink into themselves, the environment and to connect more with each other.  So read on.. and enjoy this wonderful piece on connection, mindfulness and wilderness.
It motivated me to start Mountain Spirit USA in 1989 and then Mountain Spirit New Zealand with my wife on the South Island.
mtndharma-pondside-med
How to Learn Mindfulness from the Wilderness.
By Outward Bound Blog
On July 4, 1845, a 28-year old left his comfortable station in life and retreated to the woods. For the next two years, two months and two days, he lived in a cabin that he built himself, surviving on what he could gather with his own hands. His only companions were the books he brought, the birds on his window sill and the ruminations of his own mind. He lived alone and simply, recording his experience as he went along. His experiment was published under the title Walden and as you might know already read more…

Doing Good – A Myanmar Floating Hospital

06/02/2019

Maurice Machoud is doing good work, really good work. He’s a retired Swiss chemist and has had a 15 year dream to convert a luxury barge in Myanmar, into a floating hospital. And it’s happening! Marurice was a recent client of ours on Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters, where we went out for an afternoon sail. Learn more about his dream and his project below. (Image of the Floating Hospital to be added soon.)

 

 

Mountain Spirit New Zealand – A Video Snapshot

26/01/2019

Check out our new video which gives you an overview of what we’re up to, our goals and dreams to make Mountain Spirit a place where people can connect to nature, themselves and each other. The video was done by “The Master” *Ashley Leung. Ash did the ground work, all editing and production. Keep the good work Ash! Randall did the aerial footage, and Ash made magic with it.

*We feel very fortunate to have Ashley, his wife Autumn and their new daughter as family friends. We miss them them and look forward to their return to New Zealand.

Turning Down the Family Business

26/01/2019

Decisions on the Life Path
Felix is from Bavaria. He had a choice to make – Follow in his father’s footsteps, or follow his heart. Learn what he and his fiance decided to do!