Posts Tagged ‘ecospiritual phsychology’

North Mountain Flutes

23/11/2008

By Brenda Dowst,
MSI Board Member
Pictou, Nova Scotia
The potential for making great connections is everywhere, and I seem particularly attracted other music lovers.  Just before I returned to New Hampshire from Nova Scotia, about a week ago, I met Mike Cheney.  Mike was playing a gorgeous Native American two pipe flute at a local craft fair at his display of some thirty handmade wooden flutes.  We spent about 1/2 hour talking, listening,handling the flutes and learning about his interest in Native American flutes.  Mike lives in what Nova Scotian’s refer to as the “Valley” on the Bay of Fundy.   He is a delightful person, an excellent performer and a superb flute maker.  I gave him our web address and told him about the Chimu Inka’s tour.  He expressed an interest in being associated with Mountain Spirit Institute, and making a connection with the Chimu Inka flute players.  I suggested we exchange links to each of our web sites.  His web address is: www.northmountainflutes.com.  We talked briefly about how to include music on our web site and  Mike suggested a video clip of the Chimu Inka as a beginning.  I wanted to purchase one of his flutes, but just couldn’t make up my mind about which one.  Mike is in the process of producing his first CD, and I can’t wait to hear it.  He is a trained piano player and has a deep understanding of the role that music plays in our health and well being.

This week’s Living on Earth at NPR

23/11/2008
NPR

Living On Earth, Sunday Mornings: NPR

Living on Earth, the brilliant environmental show on Sunday mornings on NPR had some very interesting and relevent pieces today. If you didn’t get a chance to hear the show,  check them out at their website where you may listen to their realplayer or mp3 versions. Here are some of the interviews I found important and worth a listen.

Fire Retardants Stoke Controversy
The wildfires in California have been contained, but controversy over the use of fire retardants continues to blaze. (more…)

Yes Magazine Does it Again, Keeping the Face to the Sunshine

23/11/2008

By Randy Richards
A Native American phrase, “keep your face to the sunshine and you won’t see the shadows”, is apropos for todays’ daily doses of bad news. Edward Griffin who wrote the Creature From Jekyll Island was once asked in a radio interview how he was able to keep such a positive attitude with all the information he had learned and written about over the years regarding the shadows of power in American society and government. He replied that he had made up his mind a long time ago to keep the information separate from his outlook on life. He then mentioned he had learned the hard way, inferring he had a rough time early on. In the interview, he look remarkably at peace and well balanced, unlike some of my friends that can’t sleep at night because of what they know.

Yes Magazine by Positive Futures Network
Yes Magazine by Positive Futures Network

If you’ve not picked up a copy or subscribed to Yes Magazine, I suggest you do so yesterday. We have reprinted one of their articles in one of our newsletters, with the magazine’s gracious permission. The Winter ’09 issue cover story is titled “Sustainable Happiness”, with the subtitle “The Good Life Doesn’t have to Cost the Planet”. Articles include “10 things Science says will make you happy”; “No Gifts? One Family’s Amazing Green Holiday”; “Why is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling?”,  and “Dee Williams Lives Large in 84 Square Feet.” One thing that caught my eye in this issue was the graph on page 20 entitled: “Who Has The Money” Who’s Happier?”. The graph states, “There is no correlation between a country’s per capita GDP and its score on the Happy Planet index”.  “On a bang-for-buck basis, the US is the world’s biggest loser,” states the magazine. You can order a copy and learn more about the magazine at www.yesmagazine.org.

Living Close to the Land, A Lost Art?

22/11/2008
Yoga at the Tipi, North Cascades, Leavenworth, WA

Yoga at the Tipi, North Cascades, Leavenworth, WA

By Randy Richards, Founder
Executive Director
Mountain Spirit Institute
Images: R Richards

Alternative structures are getting more attention these days, especially with the spector of dwindling non-renewable petroleum products for building and heating materials. Simple living is more than an idealist notion. Cody Michaels, a longtime  friend and solo pianist extradonaire, just swung by my town for a performance at our local CoffeeHouse. His performance is a reminder that we actually need to live and  breath outdoors more. He and I went for a walk to the top of a hill overlooking Lake Sunapee just before his gig. We wer just in time to catch the sunset too. It seemed bitterly cold,  (read, There is no bad weather, just bad clothes), but it was worth it. Cody shared his appreciation of the wind whipping through the bare branches, and the artist’s light that cuts through the landscape at an obtuse angle this time of year.
Living outside has become a lost art for the majority of Americans. In my tipi days, I always enjoyed the circular living structure. Occasionally, when a visitor might bring a dog, often times, the a dog would go walk nerveously round and round along the inner walls of the tipi looking for a corner in which to sit. To no avail. Even our domestic pets are used to the square structures in which we all live. 

Home base, warm yurt, Sunapee, NH

Home base, warm yurt, Sunapee, NH

My tipi has been put up every year though,  for the Sunapee SunFest, but I don’t live in it any more. My yurt, now that is a cool structure. It’s toasty warm, and clean living off the grid with solar panels, gravity feed shower, composting toilet and a hand dug well. I’ll write more on yurt living in another post.  I had it up for 5 years in Sunapee, NH on Ryder Corner Road. The different reactions I received from different neighors was worth noting. The old time locals, who grew up on local farms thought it was the best thing, a great addition to the neighborhood.  Ohers were less clear about their feelings of the thing.

Yurt interior w/loft

Yurt interior w/loft

Reactions varied from polite disdain, a blank stare, or possibly a somewhat condescending chuckle. It’s only worth mentioning because as illustrated in the movie “Escape from Suburbia” we may be headed for voluntary simplicity whether we want to or not.  I’m not a Chicken Little thinker, however, watching the aformentioned movie made me sit up and take more notice. It might be worth your time.

A confession is due here. I’m not living as close to the land as I’d like. I’m not growing my own food, (although I do eat from friend’s gardens once in a while.) And I’m not in my yurt. However I forsee my partner and I taking action on this. I’m glad I have the background I do, having lived in my tipi and yurt. As Richard Louv says in his lecture and book “Last Child in the Woods”, my past experiences give me a touchstone, a reference point that helps me know my place in the natural world. My life is still more green than most, but I’ve still got goals to reach. I suggest you do the same. 

Living closely to the earth not only makes sense, it can be much more fun than being in the rut of spending all those non-renewables.

Guiding, The Mountain Life

22/11/2008

Randy Richards, Founder
Executive Director
Mountain Spirit Institute
Images: R Richards

R Richards at ice climbing school site, Mt. Baker, WA

The author, ice climbing site, Mt. Baker, WA

I was rummaging through my images the other day, and came across some pictures of guiding on Mt. Baker and teaching mountaineering instructors on Mt. Hood. What’s the difference between guiding and experiential education in the mountains?  The main difference to me is, experiential ed encourages, or shows people a way to better walk their talk.  It allows them space to try new things, physically, mentally an spiritually, in a new environment. The mountains, and a group of people climbing them,  can provide a vehicle for huge growth. Guiding on Aconcagua, Argentina, and in other areas of South America,  I noticed that groups and individuals , whether facilitated or not, go through huge experiences while at high altitude. If the organization has processes in place that allow growth within the group, both positive and challenging experiences can happen. It’s not guaranteed it will happen but may happen. It’s whether or not they have the OK to express what goes for them is the key.  This determines whether it’s a positive learning experience or not. We all will learn as we go through our life, that’s mandatory, it just depends on how one chooses to receive them these learnings, by blessings or lessons. I prefer blessings at this point in my life. Some individuals, after having prepared for the summits in the high altitudes, still weren’t lucky enough to have made it to the top.  

The Guiding Life

The Guiding Life

They either had a bad summit day, weren’t hadn’t prepared physically, had an unfortunate bout of altitude sickness or some other ailment, or of course, the weather kicked in as it tends to do on high mountains. Guiding, at least through some of my expriences working with certain guide companies,  wasn’t really set up to allow the full range of emotions that can happen in the mountain environment.  Big stuff went down too. Just think  back to the events that surrounded the “summit teams” on Everest during “the big disaster”. I recall John Krakaur’s comment in his book about Everest, that stated, “we were a team in name only”. More about this in another post.
Guiding is a big fun, but for those wanting a bit more depth to their experience, I’ve got a notion. We can delve into more of  who we are, while being out there with others.

Richards and clients, Summit Mr. Baker

Richards and clients, Summit, Mt. Baker

That’s why I started Mountain Spirit. Learning to respect the mountains through knowledge of safe travel, and learn from an exchange with the mountains, the spirit of the place. Our mission at MSI is facilitating connecting to one’s self, with each other and the environment. We’re well past the time where we can simply be observers of our environment, let alone be adventurers for adventure sake. (See my entry on Willie Unsoeld below).
More and more colleges are offering Adventure Education in there Health Department offerings. I was an adjunct faculty for an adventure education department for a brief time. The current state of our world demands that we better use our time and energy wisely if we’re heading to the mountains. I’ve given up downhill ski lifts for this reason. It’s bad enough I drive to the mountains, but at least I’d better use my own human power for my day to reach the top of the mountain.

Training Instructors, Mt. Hood, OR

Training Instructors, Mt. Hood, OR

Willie Unsoeld had it right when he said that we need to  get out there for  “our metaphysical fix”, which does indeed make the world a better place. When we come back we can be better contributors to society. I know, I’m a healthier, more well rounded person for my years in the backcountry.
So what’s this about “walking our talk”? There are countless guided groups, who are well cared for in the mountains,  as are spiritual groups that do shamanic work high in the Andes. Do the latter go there mostly to say they worked with a shaman in the Peruvian Andes? Does their study and knowledge help them to better interact in their immediate day to day lives?  Do they chop wood and carry water. I often wonder.

Summit Sunset Silhouette, Mt. Baker

Summit Sunset Silhouette, Mt. Baker

I’ll close with an oft quoted saying from Sun Bear, “If it doesn’t grow corn, I don’t want to hear about it.” Climbing mountains is certainly not growing corn in the literal sense, but if you approach it right, (read: right livelihood), than I believe you are indeed making the world a better place. Do the pilgrimage, just don’t use too much gas getting there.

Cell phone tower taken down in Piura for causing health problems

22/11/2008

by Jobana Soto, Living In Peru.com
Piura, Peru

Citizens of Piura, Peru discuss a Cell Towerc creating health issues.

Citizens of Piura, Peru discuss a Cell Tower creating health issues.

After one year of protests and complaints, Telefónica Móviles began the dismantling yesterday of one of its antenna towers located illegally in the small town of AA.HH., a poor region in Piura.

The order of the dismantling came after countless complaints by locals citing health problems like migraines, believed to be caused by the metallic structure.

In September, locals met with Telefónica Móviles and the company’s contractor, Ametra, to assure the community that November 18 will begin the removal of the tower.

But November 18 came and went, with no signs of the tower being taken down, prompting a massive protest in the AA.HH. region. Mayor of the municipal of Piura, César Palacios Castro, assured locals on Tuesday that the tower will be “put to its knees.”

Locals expect the tower to be out of their town by the end of this month.
Article by Jobana Soto: http://www.livinginperu.com/news/7893

M.S.I. Board Members Randy Richards & Cindy Heath take Discussions on the Road (and Mountains), to Canada

15/11/2008
MSI Board member Cindy Heath with her dog Stanley on Mt. Orford, Quebec, Canada

Board member Cindy Heath & Stanley

As board members and staff, we’re discovering that rountinely getting out in the mountains, and preferably, out of the country lays a good groundwork for productive discussions. Plus it’s fun. Heck, one of our board members lives in Nova Scotia.

R Richards, in Quebec, CA

R Richards, in Quebec, CA

Mountain Spirit Institute board members Randy Richards and Cindy Heath took a spontanious road trip, and quick hike up Mt. Orford in Canada, near the town of Magog, Quebec on November 13th. The two brainstormed development strategies, and also managed to take in some views from the summit of the moderate adirondack. Cindy’s dog, Stanley, broke trail most of the way. All in all, it was a productive use of time, plus we had the opportunity to practice our language skills again, which is most important.

Bald Eagle Above the Shores of Lake Sunapee

15/11/2008
Outdoor Escapes NH

Image: Outdoor Escapes NH

I was headed south in the Boston Whaler on Lake Sunapee the other day, on my way to Newbury with a mile to go. I was headed for the ol’ Dick Durrance Trail, which takes off steeply on the eastern shoulder of Mt. Sunapee. It’s a good short steep hike. It’s a great little rountine, to go by boat (it’s incredibly efficient on gas), walk across Route 103 to the trailhead, and start up. On my way there, just south of the State Beach, I spied a bald eagle who was circling about 80 feet off the water. He must have been fishing. I slowed, turned off the motor and watched him circle a few hundred feet from the boat. He just kept circling for about 15 minutes. This image is similar to the scene I saw, but was taken on Squam Lake. Image: Courtesy of Outdoor Escapes New Hampshire.

The author en route in bald eagle territory, headed for a hike on the Dick Durrance Trail.

The author en route in bald eagle territory, headed for a hike on the Dick Durrance Trail.