Archive for the ‘Power of Place’ Category

Fulfilling our Mission, and Our Passion

15/08/2020

House Astro - Copy

Before lock-down, here on the South Island of New Zealand, we were quite busy renting out our accommodation to AirBnB guests from all over the world. We enjoyed meeting people from Italy to the US, from China to India. Since lock-down, we’ve been gettingIMG_8761 - Copy copy bookings from individuals and families here in New Zealand, who want a “digital detox”, or to reset their perspective on life. There’s a huge demand for going within, and reconnecting with one’s self, with others and with nature. Humbly, I think we do that well here at Mountain Spirit. We’ve been at it for a while and are excited to share our space and experience. Amanda offers wonderful and centering YinYoga classes. Randall offers re-connection through “solo’s”, sailing and other experiential activities. Randall worked with Outward Bound for many years, then a mountain guide in South America for Alpine Ascents International, leading climbers up peaks in Peru, Argentina and Ecuador and has landed in New Zealand. Amanda has studied yoga most of her life, and spent some months in India practicing and learning. She most recently has been training under Sarah Powers. Come join IMG_8794 copyus if you’re so inclined to dive into your inner world. We’re at mtnspirit.nz

 

 

 

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Sunrise Magic at Mountain Spirit, NZ

27/07/2020

For a brief moment, sunrise rays touch Cardrona Mountain above Wanaka, then vanish. As seen through some of our tipi poles this morning. Early bird catches the shot, or it’s gone.

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…

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.

NZ Crown Jewels for Sale to the Highest Bidder

22/01/2019

Half a Million Hectares, Sold
From Stuff.co.nz
New Zealanders have paid $65m to get rid of some of our most treasured landscapes, through an obscure process critics have described as a vast wave of privatization. Wealthy foreigners are snapping up valuable land once owned by the public, who in some cases paid to dispose of it. As gated estates and manicured golf courses spread through our wild places,  Charlie Mitchell investigates for Stuff.co.nz: Who owns the high country? Read more here…

Damper Bay, Paddock and Glendu Bay

Not far from the site of a new development for the very wealthy, golf course included. Here’s a shot prior to all that.

 

Editor’s Note: A bit of disclosure – My wife is South African, and I’m a Yank, and we bought an existing house and small bit of land in Hawea. So I’m guilty by association only in that I’m American. I believe in living lightly. We have an off-the-grid home and retreat centre, with gravity fed water and a small house. The scale and rate at which foreigners are snapping up New Zealand’s high country is appalling, and appears to be changing the very values of the country, by gentrification.

XC Ski Instructors Talk About Nordic Nirvana

31/01/2013

Deborah Sellars

Deborah Sellars

Deb Sellars and Molly Morgan, part of the ski instructor team (with Randy Richards) for the upcoming Nordic Nirvana program, talk about their background and the concept of blending XC Skiing and the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and presence while skiing in nature.

Molly Morgan

Molly Morgan

Mountain Spirit Institute is collaborating with Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH to offer a special weekend, based at the refuge, of XC skiing (possibly snowshoeing depending upon conditions) on Feb. 8,9,10th. For more info see  Mountain Spirit Institute’s and Wonderwell Mountain Refuge’s webpages on the program.

Mindfulness in the Mountains – First Adventure/Meditation Program a Success

20/10/2012

First Adventure/Meditation Program Deemed Success by Participants and Facilitators
This is the first in a series of posts called Mindfulness in the Mountains

Lama Willa Miller, of Wonderwell Refuge climbs at Rumney

Kayak, Hike, Rock Climb with Presence

Mindfulness in the Mountains, a 3-day adventure and meditation program, co-sponsored by Mountain Spirit Institute and the Natural Dharma Fellowship’s Wonderwell Refuge of Springfield NH, just wrapped up a weekend of rock climbing, kayaking and hiking on Sunday, Oct 14th.

Says Mountain Spirit Institute founder, Randall Richards, “A pair of instructors led each activity, one focused on outdoor skills, the other focused on teaching various meditation techniques. Both instructors, however,  were encouraged to offer their knowledge and background in both aspects of the program.  Consequently, there was quite a bit crossover between the co-leaders. Each instructor team shared exercises in both meditation and outdoor skills.

Eleven participants, both beginners and experienced hikers and kayakers came from as far away as Florida and New York to hike, rock climb and kayak in both the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee region and Rumney, NH.

Richards said of the program, “I’ve been guiding and leading mountain programs for over 28 years, and this was, by far, one of the most fulfilling and meaningful experiences I’ve had.” He added, “To hike, climb or kayak, and focus, as a group, on the quiet of the place through which we traveled, was meaningful for both instructors and participants.”

Ilene Venizelos & Randy Richards walk the granite slabs above Lake Solitude, Mt. Sunapee, NH

Wonderwell Refuge’s spiritual leader, Lama Willa Miller and Richards, and former MSI director Ken Wylie came up with the program idea shortly after the Refuge’s open house which introduced the community to the center early last spring.  Miller states that “Buddhism actually has a strong wilderness tradition,”  adding,  “Monks, spiritual teachers and meditation practitioners have always gone to the mountaintops and into nature to get a sense of the sacred.” Lama Miller gave a video interview last spring on this blog where one can learn more about the philosophy of the program.

The participants signed up in advance for an activity but were also allowed to switch to a different sport on the second day of the weekend program, which allowed them a different focus. Rock climbing, for example, tended to bring up fear and trust. Hikers focused on meditation in motion and awareness of surroundings, while the kayakers focused on the metaphor of sky and water in meditative contemplation.

Once back at the refuge’s large meditation room in Springfield, the participants from each group came together and sat on big orange meditation cushions arranged in a circle on the large wooden floor. The old fireplace blazed, warming the room. They started with a short guided meditation, then both participants and instructors talked about their experiences of what happened for them during the day – the high and low points, and what heartfelt experiences if any, that they may have had.

Lama Miller rock climbed both days. She said of her experience, “In Buddhism, we have a meditation practice designed to help with facing one’s fear. Being forty feet up on the rock put’s it right in your face.  It’s quite visceral.

Said participant, Ilene Venizelos of Enfield, NH, “I feel this experience has helped me reconnect more with  myself, to the other participants, and to especially to nature.” Responded Richards, “Well, that’s good to hear!” adding, “What you’ve just said were some of our stated goals and outcomes for the program.”

You can learn more about Wonderwell at www.wonderwellrefuge.org and Mountain Spirit Institute at www.mtnspirit.org . Both are non-profit organizations which plan on offering more outdoor/meditation collaborative programs.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series: Mindfulness in the Mountains

6 things to Commemorate Indigenous Peoples on Columbus Day

09/10/2012

6 things You Can Do to Commemorate Indigenous Peoples on Columbus Day (Or any day of thereafter)

Christopher Columbus arrived as an immigrant to “the New World.” He did not “discover” America. Today, let’s remember and celebrate the People who were here first!

1.  Learn about the American Precolonial Roots of Democracy. American democracy was founded on the principles of The Great Law of Peace founded by The Haudenosaunne People (Iroquois) in the Northeast. Read more.

2.  Watch 1492 set the record straight about Columbus and the Doctrine of Discovery.

3.   Learn about Native America’s endangered languages and what is being done to revitalize them. Send an E-postcard in Euchee. Visit ourmothertounges.org
Engage your friends and family and raise awareness about endangered languages by sending an e-postcard with a Native language audio greeting.

4.  Make Your Voice Heard about Indigenous Peoples’ Rights.
Support the community of Santa Cruz Barillas, Guatemala in their opposition to a hydroelectric dam being built on their sacred river. Send an email today!

Read the rest of this post…

Mindfulness in The Mountains

30/07/2012

Mountain Spirit Institute is collaborating with  The Natural Dharma Fellowship of Cambridge Mass, and their retreat center in Springfield, New Hampshire (Wonderwell Refuge) to offer Mindfulness in the Mountains, Oct 12th-14th in the Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Region.

Mountains as Mediation – Going Back to Our Roots

Led by a unique team of experienced world-class outdoor adventurers, guides, instructors, and experienced meditators, this weekend will provide room for exploring the layers of self-knowledge possible through adventuring in our natural environment. During the weekend, lovers of nature and those interested in hiking, rock climbing and kayaking will come together to adventure without and within.

To get an idea what see the interview of Lama Willa Miller by R. Richards below:

Read more on the program at our  MSI and Wonderwell’s Webpages, and stay tuned for more details posted on this blog.

What Gives You Hope?

26/07/2012

Grafton Pond, NH

“The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world. 
Alfred Lord Tennyson

I started Mountain Spirit Institute in 1998 when we led our first trip to Peru, with the basic mission “to facilitate a deeper connection to the natural environment, each other and ourselves.”  Since then it has become ever more apparent how we need “nature time” more than ever. It’s good to see people out on the trail, and in kayaks these days, but National Park use is down in the U.S, and technology competes for the breath of fresh air. We just offered a presentation last night in a small town in New Hampshire called “Get Outside While You Still Can.” The piece below echoes a lot of what we covered in our presentation, and why we started MSI.

 By Eric Utne,
Founder, The Utne Reader

As I’ve said in this column before, I’m afraid it may be too late to avoid the devastating effects of global climate change. (more…)