Posts Tagged ‘Rock Climbing’

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 – 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

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.

Mountain Spirit Inst. Offers Programs/Events

12/07/2012

Mountain Spirit Institute Offers Upcoming Programs and Special Events

Mountain Spirit Institute of the Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Region and Queenstown New Zealand area, is offering programs this summer and fall in New Hampshire, based on its mission to “help people reconnect with the environment, each other and a deeper connection to one’s self”.

The first program, on July 22nd ,  is an Adventure Educator’s Sharing Symposium open to teachers, students and outdoor educators who would like to share, learn and apply best practices of group processing and facilitation, especially with a holistic approach. There is no charge, as MSI is offering this as a public service.

Mountain Spirit will also be offering a Reconnection with Nature Hike on July 24th where there will be hiking to a local mountaintop, and participants will have a chance to relax with a short meditation and powerful nature reading. Again, there is no charge, as MSI is offering this as a public service.

On July 28th there will be a one-day Solo retreat starting at eight in the morning with a basic orientation and safety talk. Participants will then be shown their own “solo spot” where they will spend the day with minimal gear and distractions. There is a nominal program fee for this event.  There will also be an Overnight Solo on August 24th and 25th  where participants spend the night under a tarp in a beautiful local setting.  The goal for Solo’s are to reconnect, unplug, contemplate and be present in nature with few distractions with the safety net of experienced facilitators and guides. Solos will also be offered as an on-demand basis.

Lama Miller

Mountain Spirit Institute is collaborating with Lama Willa Miller of the Wonderwell Refuge, in Springfield NH on an outdoor adventure program called Mindfulness in the Mountains. The Natural Dharma Fellowship has a retreat center, where the program will be based for the weekend of Oct 12-14th.

MSI will offer again its MSI Film Series, one of which will be Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. This remarkable film follows two men, one an Australian and other an American truck driver, on their amazing path to recovering their health through juicing and healthy lifestyle choices . There will be some testimonials and discussion after the film. They do what their website calls a “reboot of your body”.

Rock Climbing will be offered to parent/children pairs, as well as families up to four, on the local crags in the region by appointment.

Mountain Spirit Institute is an insured non-profit educational organization started in 1998. Their first program was a cultural immersion trip to Peru. All of the summer and fall programs will be facilitated and managed by internationally recognized guides and facilitators. For more information on any of these programs or on Mountain Spirit Institute,  visit their website at www.mtnspirit.org or call 603-763-2668

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

Buddhism & Mindfulness in the Mountains: Part II

03/04/2012

A walk in the woods at Wonderwell Refuge

By R. Richards,
Lama* Willa Miller, head of a Tibetan sect of Buddhism, based in Cambridge Mass, continues the interview on the new Wonderwell Refuge, the importance of being in nature, as well as her own early influences and experiences being in the wilderness with her father in Idaho.  We also talked about Richard Louv’s concept of Nature Deficit Disorder, a term the author coined in his book, The Last Child in the Woods.
The early teachings of Buddhism emphasized the refuge of wilderness, the mountain top, the cave. Lama Miller sees this as a return to the traditional ways of Buddhism by encouraging her visitors to the refuge, to get out on mindfulness walks in nature.  See Part I here.
*(Lama: A title given in Tibetan Buddhism to a venerated spiritual master, a monk/priest of high rank)
Mountain Spirit Institute is planning a collaborative effort with The Wonderwell Refuge to offer a Mindfulness in the Mountains retreat in the fall of 2012.

The meditation hall at Wonderwell Refuge, Springfield, New Hampshire

Buddhism & Mindfulness in the Mountains

01/04/2012

Lama Willa Miller, the spiritual leader of a Natural Dharma Fellowship branch in Massachusetts, talks about a new refuge center, and the importance of mindfulness in the mountains. Part 1

Lama Willa Miller

By R. Richards
Mountain Spirit Institute
The Dartmouth Lake Sunapee region of New Hampshire, USA has the good fortune of seeing a new Tibetan Buddhist Refuge open in the tiny town of Springfield. After a recent open house, we learned about what Lama Willa Miller, the leader of the  Cambridge Mass based branch of The Natural Dharma Fellowship, has in mind for the new retreat center called Wonderwell, as well as the link between Buddhism and the mountains. Learn more, check out this first in series of interviews we conducted on location. See Part II

Nature’s Seven Doctors in New Zeland

29/03/2011

A book for the ages

Hanging out at the Telemark Inn and Llama Farm (Newry, Maine)  years ago, when I was a ranch hand, and pack guide, I came across a little book on Steve Crone’s bookshelf called “Nature’s Seven Doctors” by Kirschner and White. This little volume espoused the basics of how simple living and paying attention the basics keeps one healthy.

After the Christchurch Earthquake and all, I guess the readjustment and stress of an unplanned move had me melancholy the last few days. I went with the flow, in line with Tolle, was in accepting and allowing my state to be, I  just didn’t feel at the top of my game. Even though we’ve found ourselves in a beautiful place, 7 hours south of the quake zone, it’s still been an adjustment of sorts.

Today I got it together and climbed to the top of the cliff outside our new rental home, sat for a short meditatino, and ran back down the trail, and on my way back to the house,  jumped in Lake Wikatipu on lake’s southern beach. The run and dip did me good, and I’ve been reminded all day of Kirschner and White’s book.   I’ve been feeling like new person all day.

The Seven Doctors are: (I usually can do this from memory, let’s see..) Fresh air, fresh water, fresh food, rest, mental/spiritual development, adequate exercise and adequate sleep.  Nothing to remember really, it’s common sense.

A view of Kingston, NZ from the top of Shirttail Cliffs

Learning the Ropes without a Rope

17/01/2010

Robi Brendon in Zürs backcountry, Austria

A Ski Mountaineering Adventure
By Randall Richards

Mountaineering, and ski mountaineering mishaps that don’t kill you are chalked up to experience – a learning experience. I had one such experience in Lech and Zürs Austria when working for Strolz Boots G.m.B.H. I was still a greenhorn in the Alps. The Alps was a whole other ball game than the mountains of the western U.S. This was my first year in the Alps

I was just graduated from the University of Utah where I’d spent three years getting a basic, but great  mountaineering education through the U of U recreation department with such climbers and teachers as Harold Goodro and Dennis Turville.  It’s here where I cut my teeth, the Wasatch Range, in beginning rock climbing and mountaineering, snow shelter building and backcountry emergency medicine classes. Harold was the consummate old mountain man.

The author getting "mountain experience", Austria

In the late seventies, he was involved in teaching all the classes, and would observe other instructors manage the top rope sites. But he was always hands-on.  On another day in my education there,  I remember ascending Stairs Gulch with other Utah students under the tutilage of Dennis Turville. Our little group of neophytes were wide-eyed at one point on the ascent, when a few auto-sized blocks of snow and ice came tumbling down the slabs, bowling for students. Two in the group, by running this way and that, managed to avoid being mowed over. Dennis seemed somewhat nonplussed by the event, but that might have just been my perception at the time. Later on the narrow ridge which divides Big and Little Cottonwood, we carefully picked our way up to the summit of Dromedary Peak. Our eyes were still bugging out of our heads for the rest of the day due to exposed terrain and our lack of experience.  We were quickly getting our mountain legs.

Fast forward to the Lectaler Alps in Western Austria. I usually had most of the day to explore the wild mountains above and around Zürs, St. Christophe and Lech on skis and out of bounds, having to report at the Strolz ski boot shop in Lech around 3pm.  It was my first experience where the ski area trails and the high backcountry merged into one big ski experience. I went nuts, cutting it up, (more…)