Posts Tagged ‘New Hampshire’

Mindfulness in the Mountains Program Runs a Second Year

29/08/2013

Buddhist Refuge and Mountain Spirit Institute Collaborate again on Mindfulness Program
By R. Richards, Mountain Spirit Founder

Lama Willa Miller Collaborates with Mountain Spirit on Mindfulness in Mtns Program

Lama Willa Miller Collaborates with Mountain Spirit on Mindfulness in Mtns Program

Mindfulness in the Mountains, a 3-day adventure and meditation program, will be co-sponsored again for a second year in a row by Mountain Spirit Institute and the Natural Dharma Fellowship’s Wonderwell Refuge of Springfield NH, with a four day program of rock climbing, kayaking and hiking starting on Thursday, September 12th and lasting through the weekend.

Says Mountain Spirit Institute founder, Randall Richards, “A pair of instructors will lead each activity, one focusing on outdoor skills, the other on teaching various meditation techniques. Both instructors however,  will offer their knowledge and background in both meditation and outdoor skills.  There will be quite a bit crossover between the co-leaders. Each instructor team shares exercises in both meditation and outdoor skills.

Kayaks on last year's program

Kayaks on last year’s program

They expect participants, to come for hiking, rock climbing and kayaking from different parts of the eastern U.S. as well as farther afield. The program will be held in the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee region.

Richards says of last year’s 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.” (more…)

Mindfulness in the Mountains #2

30/10/2012

 Gunshots in the Wilderness
#2 in a Series – Mindfulness in the Mountains

The mist clears, the gunshots arrive

It seemed that spirit was working with us on this day on the water, during Mountain Spirit Institute‘s recent program with The Natural Dharma Fellowship Buddhist retreat center based at Wonderwell Refuge in Springfield, NH.  The six of us slowly paddled our kayaks through the mist on Grafton Pond. There was no one else to be seen on this drizzly Sunday morning, when normally 20-40 cars might be unloading their boats. It’s for good reason this place is popular. Actually a one-and-half-mile lake with a wilderness feel, complete with some 44 islands and great views of Cardigan Mountain to the north, this place has become overly popular with weekend warriors. We didn’t even have Grafton Pond on the schedule, knowing that private mediation and crowds weren’t conducive for contemplation in the wilds of New Hampshire. But there were no other cars to be seen on this day. Just us.

The weather forecast called for a short break in the rainy downpours between 10am and 2pm. Right on schedule, the rain stopped, and all was quiet, for the time being. We paddled  quietly to the southwest arm of the pond. The first exercise we gave our  participants was to drift in the big bay, slowly exploring the shoreline with presence of mind, quietly and slowly paddling from their kayaks.

All was idyllic, no rain, no people, just peace. Then,  like a tear in the fabric, gunshots from 3 miles away broke the silence. As we were each far apart from each other, we were not comparing notes about the noise until we reconvened one hour later. The shots rang regularly every three to five minutes apart.
We asked our participants, (not only on this day, but also at the end of the program), what their takeaways were from the experience. My co-facilitator, Tara Moon, shared that “the gun shots were” for her,  “like punctuation marks, reminders to stay present” . Unlike her, my first reaction was to swear at the offending firearms person, granted, under my breath. But as the hour drew on, I too accepted the state of the lake, complete with echoes of the gunshots heard on the water’s edge.

MSI Founder R. Richards on Mindfulness in the Mountains Program, Grafton Pond, NH
Image: Tara Moon

What has been most powerful though, has been the extension of this lesson learned, the transference of the experience, and how it has stuck with me in “my life away from the wilderness”, back in civilization. The gunshots are, to me,  like any disturbance that comes into my life, whether it’s an unkind comment that comes my way, or a bank that has overcharged me.  What I do between these disturbances is my business,  my responsibility. It is up to me to keep the calm, to remain in balance.

I also presented a metaphor of the lake and its waves during our kayaking program to illustrate, (from Eckhart Tolle’s example) that our lives are like not just the waves on the surface of the lake, but the whole lake. The waves might sometimes be windy and rough, but that is only part of the lake. Going down deep, where the water is undisturbed, or moved ever so slightly, is similar to staying focused on the goal of presence.
I love facilitating groups in the mountains and wilderness. I learn as much, or more than the students, and this case proved that again.

Contact us if you’d like to know more about the Mindfulness in the Mountains program, as well as our other programs in Peru, upcoming programs in France and New Zealand.

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…)

Back Writing Again..& Upcoming Programs and Special Events

06/07/2012

Holistic Outdoor Connections
Since 1998

Although I’ve had a backlog of ideas and material for MSI’s blog, and have even shot some footage for video posts (stay tuned), our family has been busy with a major move of late. Nevertheless, it’s time to start writing again.  Plus, we have some upcoming programs that may be of interest!:

  • Adventure Educator’s Symposium July 22: Share,learn and apply best practices of processing & facilitation. Open to students, teachers and outdoor educators. No charge.
  • Reconnecting with Nature Hike July 24: Hike to a mountain-top, relax with a short meditation and a powerful reading.
  • Getting Outside! Nature Deficit Disorder July 25, 7pm: How do you view nature? Do you find it hard to get nature time? Technology got ya?
  • Solo July 28: 1 day retreat in a beautiful setting to unplug.
  • Solo Overnight Aug 25/6: Saturday morning head out to a private spot, supervised retreat, minimal gear.
  • Mindfulness in the Mountains Oct 13/14: Co-sponsored with Natural Dharma Fellowship, come explore the adventure within through Rock Climbing / Hike / Kayak.
  • Rock Climbing as Metaphor for Life: By appt. For families up to four.

Stay tuned for more info or to contact us,  and please visit us at mtnspirit.org
Cheers,

R. Richards

MSI Hosts Adventure Educator’s Sharing Symposium

06/07/2012

Learn and Share at MSI’s Symposium
Image: Participants in North Cascades, WA

Mountain Spirit Institute invites educators and interns to attend, share, and learn at the
Adventure Educator’s Sharing Symposium

WHERE: A Quiet, Rural Setting in the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region
WHEN: Sunday, July 22nd, 2012
WHO: Open to Students, Teachers and Outdoor Educators and Interns..See more below.
COST: No charge. The Adventure Education Sharing Symposium is provided as a professional service by Mountain Spirit Institute, its staff, and its donors. If you wish, you are invited to make a contribution to the Mountain Spirit Institute scholarship fund.

WHAT: Experiential educators and adventure facilitators have creative and involving ways to help people bring the adventure home—to make connections between adventure experiences and our lives back at home, work or school. This symposium unites adventure programmers to share, learn, and apply some of our best practices regarding processing, facilitation, and transfer of learning in adventure education.

The Adventure Educator’s Sharing Symposium is responsive to the training and needs of each participant. By sharing, demonstrating, and talking about the processing and facilitation techniques we use in our various settings, the content, outcomes, and much of the structure of this day is co-created by participants, but with a little guidance toward the primary goal of an expanded tools-of-the trade repertoire for all participants. So, take an active role in your own learning and share your knowledge with others. (more…)

One Hell of a Paddle

30/04/2012

Expedition 2012: From  Vermont to James Bay by Canoe
Paddling Forward, Giving Back

Expedition 2012's Route

By R.Richards
Family friend, Tom Bloch is one of ten crew members of Expedition 2012, an epic 1,200 mile canoe trip from Lake Dunmore Vermont to James Bay in Northern Canada, which is underway as we post this.

The expedition is an effort to support the Keewaydin Foundation in its ongoing mission to preserve “the Keewaydin Way”, and extend its benefits to an ever-greater range of today’s youth. The Foundation has three summer camps: Keewaydin Temagami (Ontario, Canada), Keewaydin Dunmore (Salisbury, Vermont), and Songadeewin of Keewaydin (Salisbury, Vermont).

To accomplish their goal, Expedition 2012 is committed to establish a new scholarship endowment for the Foundation. Expedition 2012 is using the extended wilderness canoe trip, which is a tradition at Keewaydin’s as a fundraising platform,  . They are paddling the long route over the course of 65 days in wood and canvas boats hand-crafted by the expedition members. During the course of this project, expedition members are additionally dedicated to environmental advocacy towards the preservation of the wilderness we hold dear. To learn more about the progress of the expedition, and to follow the the paddlers go here, or head over to  their blog

Keewaydin states on their website, “To live for a summer in a world largely unstructured and shaped only by nature itself… this is an adventure few are privileged to know.” and adds, “Through these programs, Keewaydin builds strong, independent character while exposing young men and women to a bygone lifestyle. Since 1893, Keewaydin has withstood the temptation of change, holding firm to what is dear of the past and leaving it untouched. Keewaydin’s simplicity and special link to the undisturbed wilderness set our programs apart from traditional camp experiences. This is the Keewaydin Way.” To learn more about the camp, visit their website.

The map, drawn up by Johnny Clore, shows the full itinerary of Expedition 2012 from Lake Dunmore down Otter Creek to Lake Champlain, then down the Richelieu River to the St. Lawrence Seaway.  From Montreal, we’ll head upstream on the Ottawa River for over three hundred miles and cut west for our resupply at Temagami by following the fabled “Trip In.”  From there the route leads over a swift succession of smaller lakes and rivers to the Abitibi River, where we will restock and head for the bay at Moosonee. Resupply locations are indicated with yellow stars. Click the “Itinerary” tab on the left to get a more detailed look at our itinerary.

Tom Bloch, On Expedition 2012

Tom Bloch has written a personal mission statement and essay, as have the other members of the team), which starts out…”I never went to summer camp.  Instead of big canvas tents and shiny green canoes, my childhood summers were filled with soccer camps and family hiking trips.  Now, here’s the shocker: I turned out just fine.  As of my college graduation last May, I was a reasonably well-adjusted, mild-mannered young man with sensible career aspirations and even a few healthy hobbies.  The world is rife with friendly, successful people who have never paddled a canoe.  In light of this, what is the value of Keewaydin?  Why this grand expedition? Read the rest of Tom’s entry here..

SOLO, After All These Years

03/02/2012

Dr. Frank Hubbell started SOLO, (Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities) in the mid-’70’s and is still going strong. I was recently at SOLO’s base in New Hampshire, renewing my Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician qualifications and thought I’d share some footage of the place that many outdoor professionals know so well. SOLO offers a wide variety of programs.  I met some interesting folks attending this re-cert, and will post an interview or two here in the coming days.

From their website: SOLO took root in the early 1970s and grew out of the vision of its founders Frank Hubbell and Lee Frizzell (husband and wife). As Frank recalls, pre-hospital care was in its infancy, and an organized EMS system didn’t exist yet in New Hampshire. The concept of providing emergency care to the sick and injured revolved around what is today referred to as the “Golden Hour.” “As skiers, climbers, and EMTs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, we would respond to the call for injured hikers and climbers,” Frank remembers. “It very quickly became apparent that the skills that we had learned as “street EMTs” did not work in the wilderness environment. We had to learn how to provide care outside the golden hour. But, that information was not available—we had to learn it through experience.” Frank’s frustration with the lack of an appropriate “wilderness” standard led to the creation of one of the first, if not the first, wilderness emergency medicine courses in the country. By 1975, a basic “Mountain/Woods First Aid” course was taken on the road by Frank, and taught to the few folks who could see its value.. Read more..

In addition to SOLO, there are also a number of organizations offering Wilderness First Responder and EMT trainings. I’ll probably cover a few of them in this blog at some point

Hello. We’re back… but not in U.S.

27/12/2010

Greetings from Australia, Mate.
By R. Richards

Caution in Australia...

Sorry we’ve been a bit out of touch. We’ve been busy packing up our New Hampshire home, updating our programs’ webpages and heading to the Southern Hemisphere for a while. We’ve been on the eastern coast of Australia for the Holidays, and will be headed to New Zealand on January 10th.

We’ve got an exciting  drumming program in Jamaica with master drumming instructor Bob Bloom, and a Personal Sustainability program called Creating a Sustainable Lifestyle in Vermont this spring in the northern hemisphere.

This is my first time in AU, and my first impressions are that the people are very generous, sincere and welcoming. the power of the continent is overwhelming. My first time sitting down to meditate, I clearly heard the words, “It’s about time you showed up.” I take this to mean, not only arriving in Australia but taking the time to sit down since my arrival and sit quietly with the place. More on this in an upcoming post.

Anyway, expect to see posts more regularly from here on out. We’ll be posting from New Zealand of course. Rumors have it that board member Bob Stremba might even come down for a visit and recon some program areas with me.

Sydney Stopover

We had a stopover in Sydney for a week seeing Amanda’s friends, (my newly found friends), before heading north to stay with family for the holidays. A very expensive city but such generous people with a welcoming attitude. It’s Amanda’s ol’ stomping ground, and she still has to show me around a bit, when we head back there on our way to New Zealand.  We happened to arrive just as Oprah Winfrey was shooting a week-long segment of her show here. As it turned out, she was welcomed with opened arms, along with 300 of her audience members. I mention her because of some of the good work she’s doing, such as bringing Eckhart Tolle’s message to a broader audience, and encouraging more conscious living. The people and government of Australia were happy to have her here. The coverage will be invaluable for Australia’s tourism exposure.

The continent is proving itself to be powerful and beautiful. Although I’ve only seen a portion of it, I can feel its power taking hold.

Snatam Kaur MSI Fundraiser, A Success

03/09/2010

Snatam Kaur &....

We’ve just had an amazing Mountain Spirit Institute fund raising concert:  Snatam Kaur, Guru Ganesha Singh and Ramesh Kannan played at the Lebanon Opera House, New Hampshire, USA.

GuruGanesha Singh

Not only are we grateful for their music, but for who they are as people. We were fortunate that they made time in their schedule to come to central New Hampshire, and we responded with an enthusiastic audience, (301), and lots of willing volunteers who did everything from move gear, provide flowers, to cook wonderful meals. Thank you Snatam, GuruGanesha, Ramesh, Shanti, Sopurkh, and Japreet!

Snatam Kaur & Family/Band at Lake Sunapee/MSI

As we prepped for the fundraiser by printing brochures, prepping our booth, and coordinating volunteers, Snatam’s band rehearsed in our living room, here in Sunapee, NH, which was really tough duty for us, not.

I learned a lot about what music is meant to be, a spiritual communion – with good discussions about why Snatam and her band do what they do. Also I talked with Ramesh Kannan, and discovered that a book I’d bought in a Durango bookstore, is one of his favorites, on the treatise of the spiritual nature of making music. The book is called The Music Lesson, A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music.

Ramesh Kannan

Stay tuned for some wonderful footage, pending the band’s approval of course. Meanwhile here are some pix.  Again a BIG THANK YOU to all the volunteers, support team, Snatam’s family, band members, the Lebanon Opera House, and especially to our sponsors who made this fundraiser possible.

Randy Richards,
Founder
Mountain Spirit Institute

Companies Doing Good

18/06/2010

Ragged Mountain Equipment Leads the Way in Giving for the Environment

Donating for the Environment

Ragged Mountain Equipment in Intervale, NH is doing good work. When I was climbing in the North Conway area, Rob Nadler and Cort Hansen were just starting the store in a small space behind the Intervale post office. They made their own chalk bags, ice axe leashes and a few polypro pullovers. Since then, they’ve grown the business to one of the best outdoor and retail outlets in the nation. They might not be the biggest, but in my opinion, one of the best. There’s always a good feeling when you go into their store.

In line with their values, there now contributing .50 cents from every sale of a Ragged Mountain made product over $25.00 retail cost  to the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust (USVLT).

USVLT’s mission is to protect the cultural and scenic values of the Upper Saco River Valley by preserving land for farming, forestry, recreation and education.  Founded in 2000, USVLT has helped preserve nearly 4,000 acres of open space here in the area.  The same program is being used by some of the restaurants and B&B’s in the valley.

Says Cort, “I think we are the only retail/manufacturer doing this at this time.  I think it is a great program to raise the awareness of local land conservation issues. ”  He adds, “The customer has the choice at the register to opt out and save $.50.  Very few have done so.”

Every garment has a hang tag explaining their mission.  Says Cort, “We are in the process of expanding hang tags to all our existing inventory which is a major task I can inform you.  New styles come through with the tags already on them.”

They’re up to more good. Adds Cort, “We also enrolled the Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring Foundation in the program as well.  All ski trail passes sold here at the Touring Center include a $.50 contribution the USVLT.  We are the only XC ski touring center participating in this program currently.  I think this is vital to making all nordic skiers aware that almost 100% of the valley XC trails use private land which is not protected from development or alternative uses.”
Climber Henry Barber approached Ragged Mountain late last fall about their participating in this this program.

If you’d like to donate and help owners Rob and Cort with this worthwhile project, contact Cort at cort(at)raggedmountain.com