Sunday, July 30, 2017

Big Sur and Esalen Open

Big Sur Opens (to humans)

Many parts of Big Sur and Esalen have recently opened to the public again. The only way in to the center of Big Sur is by car over Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd, or by taking a shuttle, hiking a trail around the bridge construction, and picking up the shuttle (or an electric bike) to get to your destination on the south side. The bridge that slid this winter has new steel I-beams arriving to span Pfeiffer Gulch. Soon enough the crowds of visitors will be returning. And, while it has been a challenge for many individuals, the community, and businesses — the quite peace that I once knew Big Sur to be was welcomed back during this time of limited human access.

The whole event brings to mind this story:
 "One day a student came to her master and asked how can you be happy with the reality of impermanence?” The master motioned to a glass at his side. “Do you see this glass?” he asked. “I love this glass. It holds water admirably. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. Yet for me, this glass is already broken. When the wind knocks it over or my elbow knocks it off the shelf and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ But when I understand that this glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.”

This story reminds me how change is a constant. I am especially aware of the transient nature of things in wilderness. This year has been about many changes and transitions, often different than what I wanted, sometimes exactly what I had hoped for. Highway 1 will open. Highway 1 will close again at some point in the future. Gravity works and these wild mountains are moving and will continue to move for some time.

I don't always, but when I do let myself be comfortable understanding the "glass is already broken" I feel in my heart and bones that every moment is precious.

Wildy,

Steven

P.S. I will be posting my new dates for spring and early summer of 2018 soon. In the meantime, I hope you can feel this wild moment as precious...

Friday, June 30, 2017

Gravity Works: Big Sur Goes Wild

Mud Creek Slide, Big Sur

The Santa Lucia Mountains of Big Sur rise quickly from the ocean. In geologic time they are rising fast. This means they will constantly be giving way to gravity. When these steep mountain sides are weighted with water, and underground waterways are running through rock and soil faults in a heavy rainy season, we can assume there will be slides. In human time, this means that: we have seen, are now seeing, and will see slides that close access to these mountains by cars. As beautiful as it is to drive and as much as I need it for getting supplies and groceries, Highway 1 was really quite a human-made assault to these mountains. Don't get me wrong, these mountains would be sliding regardless, and the construction of Highway 1 quickens the pace in many places.

Businesses and most of the people that live in Big Sur have been hit hard by the effects of the slide. On the other hand, the wilds of Big Sur are recovering and getting a much needed rest in many places where human impact has done its damage. A palpable calm has returned to many places.

For half a year we have been living in a mixed blessing. Many friends have lost their jobs, neighbors that weren't really prepared for Big Sur living have moved away or temporarily left, many business are struggling to survive. The Soberanes Fire of last summer (the most expensive fire in U.S. history) along with the heavy, and much needed, rains that closed the road has filtered who really wants to live here and/or can seem to find a way to live here. At the same time it feel like a blessing to the larger-than-human community as well as the human community itself. Friendships have grown deeper, generosity has shown it welcome face in unexpected places, and time to reassess what is really important have led to a quality of richness that can't be bought.

These awe-inspiring mountains meeting the sea keep reminding us of our place in the bigger nature of things. Lessons of, who-is-really-in-control, humility, and resilience seem to be the norm. Still, I continue to fall in love with this wild and rugged coast.

Wildly,

Steven

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Nature of Zen: Tassajara Zen Mountain Center


The Nature of Zen on the pathless path 
Click on photo to enlarge

I am profoundly grateful to open Tassajara's guest season with my co-leader and Abiding Teacher at Tassajara — Leslie James! The Big Sur coastal mountains have had quite a year. With Esalen closed due to Highway 1 being closed, this was my first workshop of my Big Sur season — what a great way to begin!

Here is how we described the retreat in the online description:
In this retreat, we will explore nature and the essence of Zen awakening through periods of meditation, group discussions, and day hikes exploring the wilderness back country around Tassajara. Rugged mountains graced with spring wildflowers provide inspiration to cultivate and nurture awareness: Listen deeply to the silence of nature and discover how Zen mindfulness practice deepens our lives. This wonderful doorway to the heart of mountain Zen is satisfying for both beginners and experienced practitioners.

I would say we did all of the above and much more. I have deep appreciation for how fully the group as a whole showed up for everything the entire retreat had to offer. 

Here are the links I recall being asked to post:
Retreat Photos
Tassajara Photos
This Cup Is Already Broken by Ajahn Chah
Hokusai Says by Roger Keyes
Meal Chant Stew by Steven Harper (a Tassajara story published on Bro. David's website)
Poems to Live By (poems I often read in retreat & workshops)

Special thanks go out to Leslie James for more than I can name, to Tjarn and Adam for their skill, heart, and generosity of spirit, to everyone and everything, seen and unseen, that makes Tassajara happen and supported our being there.

Two Claps, Deep Bow,
Steven

Friday, February 10, 2017

Workshops & Retreats for 2017

McWay Falls, Big Sur

Most of my 2017 public workshops have been scheduled and are up on my website. Many have already booked full! Take a look to see what might call to you: 2017 Workshops & Retreats.

Many, if not most, of us are starved for genuine contact with and experience of wild nature. Wildness brings us to aliveness in a manner few other environments can — nourishment for the unnameable terrain deep within.

I invite you to join me on a journey and let yourself be touched by the healing beauty of wild nature. In the meantime, as we head more fully into spring, may we all find moments of pure delight, simply being, and deep gratitude in our unique unfolding lives.

Warmest regards from the Big Sur,

Steven

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Season Blessings

Click on image to enlarge

In the spirit of the season may we all know our heart’s capacity
for love and follow our authentic calling for life.
 
May the fluidity of water run through you taking you on a
buoyant ride to the ocean home.
 
May fire burn bright and inviting, warming
you and your loved ones.
 
May air breathe you bringing brilliant vigor to
your luminous spirit.
 
May the earth let you know your full belonging to the world
and in the whole of your being.
 
May space allow for the grace of silence and gratitude
for all you are gifted.
 
May we all swim in the elemental nature of wondrous
aliveness in the years to come—full of presence.
 
May the mystery of that which cannot be spoken touch our
every thought and action—letting life live through us.
 
Big Love from the Big Sur,
Kai, Steven, Janna, and Kes

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Outside In — Dan Cray

Dan Cray took a workshop with me a couple of years back. Some of the pieces on his album, Outside In, were inspired from hikes in Big Sur. Above you can listen to NPR's Fresh Air review of the album. It is always inspiring for me to see and hear others inspired by Big Sur. Many of the other pieces were inspired by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, another mountain range I love. As I listen to all of the "meandering melodies" I imagine that I can tell which are Big Sur and which are Sierra influenced... after a day of listening to Dan, thought it might be fun to share.

You can find more of Dan's music here: Dan Cray
Listen to: Outside In

With a Listening Heart,

Steven

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Let Life Through You

...there is no end to seeing

Every year I pick a poem to work with as a place of inquiry and curiosity, a poem I can aspire to live into some day... this has been my poem of the year:

Hokusai Says
by Roger Keyes

Hokusai says look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
Hokusai says says there is no end to seeing

He says look forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat
yourself as long as it is interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.

He says keep praying.

He says every one of us is a child,
every one of us is ancient
every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find
a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive --
shells, buildings, people, fish,
mountains, trees, wood is alive.
Water is alive.

Everything has its own life.

Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn't matter if you draw,
or write books. It doesn't matter
if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn't matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your veranda
or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.

It matters that you feel.

It matters that you notice.

It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
is life living through you.

He says don't be afraid.
Don't be afraid.

Love, feel, let life take you by the hand.

Let life live through you.

~ Roger Keyes

 For more poems: Poems to Live By

With great humility,
Steven

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Waters of the Sur

Freshwater creek through coast redwoods

Esalen Institute asked me to write a piece for the latest print catalog about the waters of Big Sur. They published a shorter version on the inside cover page of the current catalog.

Here is the full version which is published on Esalen's website:

Waters of the Sur

To be in Big Sur is to swim in the diversity of how water shows itself on earth. Water is one of the very few compounds that we see in all of its forms — solid, liquid, and gas — perhaps the key reason for life on this third planet from the sun. Here the water element offers itself so freely that there is no other choice but to be touched by it in sound, smell, sight, movement, and yes, in every breath.

Here, we find water pushed up from deep in the earth by such great pressure that when it finally emerges to meet air, it is laden with minerals and geothermal heat —gifted to us as hot springs. Here, a fresh water creek that begins almost 4,000 feet above sea level in the Big Sur mountains makes its long, steep journey through rock layers, spring upon spring, fork upon fork, and becomes Hot Springs Creek, which runs through Esalen before finally making its way home to the sea.

Here, we receive water offerings in the forms of rain, fog, and even snow. Even on a cloudless day the air is heavy with gaseous water and every breath of clear air is filled with water in it vaporous form. Here, we behold the salty ocean, mother of all biological life. Ocean waves sing their constant songs, which can remind us of our own pulsing hearts. By weight the average human is approximately 70% water. Each ocean wave’s rhythmic touch – a forceful crash or gentle caress – reminds us that we, too, are water-bodies.

To be in Big Sur is to be touched by water, to deeply feel our liquid body and the community of this larger water-body that we live in each moment. Here, we participate in a fluid and animate world while knowing our ancient belonging. This watery foundation is a fertile bed for the many seeds, the tending, weeding, blossoming, and fruition of all that Esalen has brought forth and will bring forth into each individual and our collective, ever-changing world.

~ Steven Harper, 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Way of Nature: Esalen, September 2016

Way of Nature on the pathless path

What an amazing way to finish my 2016 wilderness programs at Esalen. We had 8000 acres and the third largest watershed that flow directly out of the Santa Lucia Mountain range into the Pacific to ourselves. The Soberanes Fire which threatened to cancel the workshop turned into a gift of less tourist, a smaller group, more wilds, and new adventures.

I appreciate everyone's willing to flow with all of the unknowns that each day brought and pay attention to what each of us most deeply needed from our experience. We got lucky with the wind and smoke, and individuals were able to take days off to be at Esalen when they felt called. We could have gone for another week just exploring Big Creek.

Here are some links:

Photos (will add some more when I can)
Poems to Live By: poems I read from for our time together

Big thanks to Gary and Alita for showing up on short notice. An deep gratitude for those of you that did not get scared away from the fire. We were blessed with a unique experience and a first time trail.

The Sobranes Fire continues to burn and I can hear the drone of helicopters as I write. I will post some photos of the fire and write a blog post about the fire sometime soon... I hope.

Grateful and Humble before the power of the wilds,

Steven

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Big Sur Wilderness Experience: Esalen, July 2016

Big Sur Wilderness Experience... Getting Wild

Well here I am finally posting for our group. The Sobranes Fire which had start shortly before our group continues to be burning. From the end of the workshop for the next 25 days I was working every day in some manner in fire preparation or coordination. The fire is past being a direct danger to my neighborhood. I will make a separate post about the fire and perhaps add a link to photos from the fire.

In the mean time... I want to thank you all for showing up and willing to be flexible as we created each day based on park closures, smoke, individual needs, and the like. I appreciate how I felt everyone taking care of themselves and honoring why we came on this journey in the first place, all the while weaving a community along the way. I hope you are each deeply nourished by our time together and our time in the wilds of Big Sur. May whatever nourished you grow in your life, may you absorb it fully, may this nourishment radiate out to others. May whatever good came from our time together benefit each of us — may it benefit all our relations.

Here are some links:
Photos (you are welcome to download any of the photos)
Rainer's Photos (remarkable photos of our week)
Hokusai Says
Poems to Live By (you will find all of the poems I read plus more!)
Sobranes Fire (Post and photos to come)

If anyone in the group has photos you took and uploaded to a site, please let me know and I will add a link to this post.

Heartfelt gratitude for Kai, John, and Susan for holding such incredible support for me and each one of us as we found our way along the path.

Gatefully,

Steven

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Walk on the Wild Side: Esalen July 2016

"The mountains are call and I must go." ~John Muir

Walking or "sauntering" on the wild side following the pathless path with John Muir and others as inspiration for leading an authentic life we were blessed with condors sighting, moments of silence, natural hot springs, sea lion encounter on the beach, bonzai redwoods, perfect hiking weather, and much more.

"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found was really going in." ~John Muir

For much of my life these words of Muir have been my experience. In wild nature I can find solace and something of the mystery of this life that is of the terrain where words don't travel well — yet almost all of us have experienced. Many, if not most of my milestone decision in my life were made (or were gifted to me) in wilderness.

I felt each of us individually and as a group, willing to go out into wilderness to go in to the wild aliveness of our inner world. I hope we each had moments of clarity, peace, belonging, beauty, feeling our heart's calling, mystery, and that we somehow let these moments guide our lives. May we take many threads of our experience and weave them into the tapestry of the life we are living now.

Here are some links:
Photos
Cyprian Consiglio (the Wednesday night singer and prior of the Hermitage in Big Sur)
Amy's KayOss Designs (time to change my wardrobe)
Jenny's "Open Admissions" podcast on iTunes, take a listen!
Hilary's website and books
Jen's Instagram: jenmountainsmith
Kevin's website
Rachael's Hand On

I know we had a wealth of talent and wisdom in everyone in our group. I am deeply touched by your showing up for each other and for showing up to step into the wilds.

Love,

Steven 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fathers and Sons: Esalen June 2016

Fathers and Sons in the wilds of Big Sur

What a remarkable way to spend Fathers Day weekend together. I am touched by the depth of dialogue and intimacy shared between fathers and sons and within the context of the group itself. I am inspired to see so many men together with their father and son(s) in celebration and in willingness to cultivate and grow their relationships as we change and grow.

A special thanks to Ryan and Adam for coming along as brothers to assist Kai, Kes, myself and the rest of our group.

My wish is that each of us continue to cultivate and do the sometimes necessary clearing to keep our relationship responsive and alive. After all...
"It is a wise child that knows his own father." ~ Homer
"It is a wise father that knows his own child." ~ William Shakespeare

May we all be wise. Gratitude for each and everyone of you for choosing to show up.

Here are some links of a few photos: Fathers & Sons

Warmest of regards from the Sur,

Steven

Simply Wild at Esalen, June 12-17, 2016

 
Simply Wild: Experiencing Nature

We were blessed with near perfect hiking weather. The Big Sur weather was in full cooperation for a remarkable week of being outdoors.

Once again I am touched by how a wide range of age and backgrounds can come together and form a community on the wild path. From our youth, to our elders, and everyone in between we wove together a fabric of connection with wilderness and with each other.

Special mystical moments in the hidden warm springs, exhilaration of swimming in cold clean wild water, magical flying grass spiraling upwards, and the many unnameable moments that we experienced individually and collectively. And, yes, we were there for the historic opening of the new Esalen Lodge, Kitchen, Bookstore, Office, and Meeting Rooms!

Big thanks and a deep bow to Adam and Alana for their leadership and presence!

Here are some links (with more to come):
Hokusai Says (poem I read the last day)
Poems to Live By
Photos 
Ojai Foundation (Adam is the CEO of Ojai)
Alana's yoga studio
Danny's site

From the Big Sur... Love to y'all,

Steven

Monday, May 02, 2016

Nature of Zen: Tassajara, April 2016

Tassajara Opens for the 2016 Guest Season

For most of the year Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is a monastery — the oldest Zen Buddhist monastery outside of Asia. For four months of the year it opens it gates to guests.

I love leading retreats here. Tassajara is deep in the Santa Lucia Mountain surrounded by wilderness. They have the long standing Buddhist practice that you can choose to participate in, or not, and all are welcomed. The natural hot springs that the place was historically built around is the hottest in the mountain range. Their mindful practice of cooking great meals provide for good nourishment of body, mind, and heart.

For many year now I have had the opportunity to offer the first retreat, or one of the first retreats, of the season. The mountains turning green, wild flowers in full display, and the freshness of the place itself offers a remarkable place and support to come into more aliveness and awareness of life... and prioritize what may really be important in our heart of hearts.

Deep thanks to all who showed up for this recent retreat. May you all be well, happy and at peace.

Here are some links of photos of Tassajara:
Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

Love to you all,

Steven

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

BSWE at Esalen, April 2016

Confluence Falls BCR

What a great way to start my 2016 workshop and retreat season. This spring workshop is one of the ways I mark time. This program may be the longest running workshop offered at Esalen.

Mostly I want to express my gratitude to the group that came together for this milestone workshop. Special appreciations go out to Stacy, Tjarn, and Noël for their remarkable attention and generous support given in all directions.

Here are some links:
Poem to Live By
Photos  (I never got a whole group photo, so if anyone has one please send me one)
Stacy Carlson and her book Among the Wonderful (another book on the way!)
Glenn's Site
Katheryn's Site

I hope you are able weave threads of our experience together into the fabric of you other life — wherever and whatever that may be.

Two Claps, One Bow,

Steven

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2016 Workshop & Retreats

Big Sur: Ocean Fog and Mountains

Most of my 2016 workshops have been scheduled and are up on my website. Many have already booked full! Take a look to see what might call to you: 2016 Workshops & Retreats.

Many, if not most, of us are starved for genuine contact with and experience of wild nature. Wildness brings us to aliveness in a manner few other environments can — nourishment for the unnameable terrain deep within.

I invite you to join me on a journey and let yourself be touched by the healing beauty of wild nature. In the meantime, as we head more fully into spring, may we all find moments of pure delight, simply being, and deep gratitude in our unique unfolding lives.

Warmest regards from the Big Sur,

Steven

Friday, December 25, 2015

Season Blessings

Click on image to see in larger size

Wishing each and everyone of us happiness and moments of raw wild beauty in the coming year…

In the midst of the fullness of our busy lives—space.
In the midst of the constant chatter of daily life—silence.
May we all recognize the moments when less is more—know
simplicity as blessing.
May we let ourselves be touched by our heart's capacity
to open—giving and receiving.
May we be blessed with freedom from suffering—know kindness in all of it's expressions.
May we tune in—listen deeply to the pulsing beat—and
live the life that no one else can live.

Kai, Kes, Janna, and Steven

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Wild Inquiry

Community of Wild Ones

Poet Gary Snyder says, "The wild requires that we learn the terrain, nod to all of the plants and animals and birds, ford the streams and cross the ridges, and tell a good story when we get back home."

Whether an outer journey into the wilds or a deep dive into the unknown terrain of the inner wilds — the wild requires we tell a good story when we get back home — and not necessarily with words.

What personal experience of the wild 'requires' creative expression to grow more fully into your life? What wildness has been patiently waiting for a 'nod' of recognition and inclusion? What wild terrain must we learn so we can step more fully into life and all that we don't know?

Here's to us all being a bit more curious about all that is wild.

Wholeheartedly Yours,

Steven

Monday, October 05, 2015

Way of Nature: Esalen, September 2015

Way of Nature: Way in the Wilds

Gratitude is the first word that comes to heart and mind. This was my last wilderness workshop for the year — and what a sweet way to end the season. Perfect weather, a community filled with kindness, and a willingness to step in fully, all came together to create a deeply nourishing experience.

Special thanks go out to Joe for the remarkable way he step in. Noël for the excellent lunches and for the support she has given this season in assisting many workshops. And, all of the extras that showed up to add to the mix, Fletcher, Sidney, and Janna.

Wishing that each of us is having an easy time weaving the deep threads of our experience into our daily life. Here is a link to a poem to remind us, everything is animate, everything is participate, everything is waiting for us: Everything is Waiting for You

Links of Interest and Request
Photos
Poems to Live By
Bro. David Steindl-Rast: Gratefulness
Redwoods 
NOLS (where I taught for years)

Please send any photo collection links and I will add them here.

With a bow in deep gratitude to you all,

Steven

Friday, August 28, 2015

Big Sur Wilderness Experience: Esalen, August 2015

 BSWE: In the wilds of the Sur

I would say we had near perfect hiking weather and some great opportunities for nourishing ourselves with food for radical aliveness... or whatever else we would like to call it. Thanks to each of you for doing the hokey pokey, putting your whole self in, and shaking it all about. After all... "That's what it's all about."

Remember Noël will be coming around to check in on all of you to make sure your integration into your other world is being tended... ;-)

Links of Interest:
Photos
Photos by Gordon
Gerardo's Sketches: many good reminders!
Poem to Live By

Gerardo's website
Eric's website
Scarlit's website
Forest's website 
Leslie's website
Did I miss any?

Heartfelt regards from the Big Sur,

Steven

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Nature of Movement: Esalen, July 2015

Moving in Nature

The wilderness of Big Sur allowed us to imprint the collective wisdom of this alive and wild coast in our bodies. The ancient redwood-forested canyons, dramatic meeting of earth and sea, and soft grassy hills reminded us of the presence, wisdom, and deep sense of belonging that live in each of us.

I feel deep gratitude for the leap of trust each of us made into the inner and outer wilds — with our personal and collective relationship with ourselves, community, and the terrain beyond words.

May the experiences of the wilds walk with us. May we weave threads from this wild world into the fabric of our 'other' world. May we plant seeds that grow to fruition. May we share all that we were touched by as ripples that grow out into the ocean of all our relations.

Here are some links of interest:
Photos
Poems to Live By (you will find most of the poems I read, plus more)
Sarah & Chris' Photos
Angela's website
Monika's website
Mal's website
Daniel Bianchetta's photo site (the man that took our group photo on the oval
Words (by request, published stories & articles)
Tribal Ground Circle
Please send your photo sites and I will add links here.

Love from the Sur,

Steven

P.S. Once again, special thanks to Angela and Kai for holding space and ground for all of us!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Tribal Ground Circle Study Group: Going Wild, July 2015

TGC Study Group Going Wild

Thank you all for the warm welcome and the shared time in the wilds. As a group that has been together so long exploring Gestalt awareness I found it such a rich pleasure to be with you as we took a deep dive into the wilds. I am blessed to be a part of this community!

Photos of the Day

If you are not familiar with the work of Tribal Ground Circle, here are some links:
Tribal Ground Circle
Christine Price & Tribal Ground
Dorothy Charles & Relational Gestalt Practice

Warm Hugs,

Steven

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Simply Wild: Esalen, June 2015

Simply Wild!

What a remarkable community we built during our time in the wilds. I continue to be impressed by how simply spending time, often in silence, attending to the unfolding moments builds not only connection to place, but connection to others. I can thank us all for our courage to be open, intimate, and show up for ourselves, each other, and "this one wild and precious" place we call Big Sur. We co-created this together. May the simple and wild threads of our deepest moments weave seamlessly into the fabric of our lives.

Some requested links:
Photos
Poems to Live By many poems I read, plus much more...
Trees of Big Sur and the Central Coast of California
Tribal Ground Circle: workshops & training with Christine Price
NOLS: the school that both Angela and I taught for and still have deep roots
Forest Bathing or Shinrin-yoku (森林浴)
The Way of Wilderness: an article that is published in "Ecopsychology"
Angela's website
Jonathan's website 

As you read this now, I invite you to pause for a moment as though you have just heard the ringing of the bell on the trail... and for the next three breaths... I invite you to open your awareness and attend to whatever arises. May we all be "idle and blessed."

With a warm heart, two claps, deep bow,

Steven

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fathers & Sons: Esalen, June 2015

Celebrating Father's Day in the Tradition of the Old Ways

What a gift to be together. Fathers and sons of all ages and generations. There seems to be something primal about walking in silence in wilderness in the company of men—young and old—fathers with sons—passing on and deepening the skillful family lineages and traditions while letting go of the ones that no longer serve, creating new traditions filled with aliveness and authentic connection. I feel a deep appreciation for our collective willingness to deepen our relationships and build upon the foundations of what works with the underlying intimacy of love.

The wonderful convergence of birthdays, Father's Day, the Summer Solstice supported our time. I hope we each continue to deepen and build the relationships we each have, and perhaps the benefit will ripple out into other parts of our lives and the greater world. This type of investment has a life long pay back of value that does not die.

Here are some links:
Photos: Some group and individual photos you are welcome to download
Charles Varni Ceramics
V Bar V Heritage Site the native site where  Charles took inspiration from to create the tiles 

Gratitude to my sons Kai and Kes for their willingness and capacity to keep showing up so fully. Gratitude for the many gifts we gave each other in story, presence, and especially the tiles that Charles so thoughtfully made for each of us. Gratitude for each of you for participating and celebrating in our time together.

Heartfelt regards to each of you,

Steven

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Art of Pilgrimage: Ojai, June 2015

Part of our Pilgrimage group along the Sespe River

Here is another version/translation of the Zen story that I told out on the path from the "Book of Serenity"

Zen Teacher Earth Treasury asked the monk Dharma Eye as he was leaving the monastery, "Where are you going?"
Dharma Eye said, "I am going on pilgrimage."
Earth Treasury said, "What is the purpose of pilgrimage?"
Dharma Eye said, "I don't know."
Earth Treasury said, "Not knowing is most intimate."
Dharma Eye was greatly awakened at these words.

Here are some links:
Photos: most of these photos are from Alana (sorry we never managed to get a whole group photo)
Exploring Pilgrimage by request, draft notes on pilgrimage 
Meal Chant Stew Since Bro. David Steindl-Rast's quotes kept coming up, an article about gratefulness 
Walking Water Pilgrimage: a project and a short film that Laura Whitney's husband Jim made and appears on the homepage
Walking Water definition of what pilgrimage might be.
Inner Wild An organization that Shannon is a part of
The Traveling School where Shannon is president of the board
The Ojai Foundation check out their other offerings!

We were blessed with such a wonderful variety of weather. From pea-soup thick fog,  needed rain, to clear star-filled nights, to hot sun with little shade... not to mention the external weather. I hope each of us is able to bring something embodied back to our other lives as a gift to self and others. I am filled with gratitude and hope to see you all again along the wild path.

Special thanks to Adam for his encouragement to come down to Ojai and for co-leading with me. Gratitude to Alana for support and photos along the way. Thanks for all of you for choosing to show up and do the hokey pokey—putting your whole self in and shaking all about. Deep bow to all of the seen and unseen conditions that supported our being together on the path.

I invite you to pause for a moment as though you have just heard the ringing of the bell... and for the next three breaths... I invite you to open your awareness and attend to whatever arises. May we all live "most intimately."

Deep gratitude filled bow,

Steven

Monday, May 25, 2015

Walk on the Wild Side: Esalen, May 2015

Walking Wild in Big Creek

"I am well again, I came to life in the cool winds and crystal waters of the mountains..."
~ John Muir

What walks with us from the wilds of Big Sur to our other lives? This is the question I ask myself and almost all individuals and groups to hold gently as an open question in their lives. Patiently weave the threads of somatically felt moments that have heart and meaning into the fabric of our daily life. Even in the middle of the busiest city, as Mary Oliver suggests, "there is still somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted." Are we willing to hear the shouting at least as a whisper, and let the whispers inform our moment to moment choices along the path? May we listen deeply. May the wilds (inside and out) keep calling us into authentic aliveness.

Here are some links that were requested and some just for fun:
Photos
Kings of the Kelp: California Sea Otters by Steven
Elusive Wild Beauty: Mountain Lions by Steven
Meal Chant Stew by Steven published on Bro. David Steindl-Rast's site
Big Creek Reserve (if you are inclined to support some of the places we visited)
Jeff Myers Art
Ojai Foundation (where Adam is Executive Director and retreat leader)
New Leadership Adventure (Adam's new project, site to be launched soon)
Art of Pilgrimage at Ojai Foundation with Adam & Steven

About Muir
How Muir Are You?
John Muir: Wikipedia
John Muir: Nature's Visionary by Gretel Ehrlich (my favorite book about Muir)

"The mountain are calling and I must go"
~ John Muir

Walking Wildly,

Steven

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Nature of Zen: Tassajara, May 2015

Tassajara Jizo

Here is the story that Leslie used in one or our discussions:

As the Buddha was walking with the congregation, he pointed to the ground with his finger and said, "This spot is good to build a sanctuary." Indra, Emperor of the gods, took a blade of grass, stuck it in the ground and said, "The sanctuary is built." The Buddha smiled.
~ from the Book of Serenity

Walking with our group this last weekend at Tassajara for moments I could feel sanctuaries being built in every moment—each of us planting blades of grass, building santuary, and smiling. As I told the group, I mark time by my seasonal return to Tassajara. Coming over the road crossing Chew's Ridge and descending into Tassajara Creek is a threshold and the journey is a pilgrimage. Thank you for conspiring (from latin, meaning breathing together) to build sanctuary. May something of our time together journey with you into your other life.

Here are some links that may be of interest:
Tassajara Photos
Robin's Photos
Steven's Photos: form this retreat (I took the fewest ever!)
Mindful by Mary Oliver
Coulter Pines
Meal Chant Stew: this is an article I wrote about the Tassajara meal chant and how I changed the language to align with my own experience and use. It came up as a topic in our group discussion.

Thanks to the staff at Tassajara in supporting us at the very beginning of the guest season. Special thanks to Benson, Tjarn, and especially Leslie—and of course the wilds of the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Gassho (Deep Bow) to each of us...

Steven

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Big Sur Wilderness Experience: Esalen, April 2015

Crossing Bridges Into the Wilds

What a way to begin my 2015 wilderness workshop season! I am so deeply grateful for how everyone showed up in such a sweet way with themselves, each other, and the wilds. Special thanks go to Stacy and Tjarn — I believe we were all blessed to have their gentle leadership, support, and attention on the path. And, of course, the wilds of Big Sur was a great teacher, offering up good medicine for diving deeper, nourishing soul food, and inspirational seeds to plant and grow in our other worlds.

Here are some links I hope will serve:
Photos
Doug Overman's Photos 
Poems to Live By
Among the Wonderful by Stacy Carlson (or better yet, ask your local bookseller to order it)
Stacy Carlson
Redwoods yet more about these amazing trees
Meal Chant Stew A short piece on gratefulness

And, I am sure you have all hand written your seed quality(s), and are finding ways to plant what was given as gift in this wild world and grow it in your other world—whatever, wherever that may be. May it be so...

Two claps, deep bow to each of you,

Steven

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Shinrin-yoku — Forest Bathing

Group Partaking in Shinrin-yoku

Forest Bathing, called Shinrin-yoku (森林浴), as I understand it, is the Japanese concept of spending time in nature to re-embody our deep connection to nature, to find balance, heal, and make whole again ourselves and our fundamental relationship to nature—both inner and outer.

In Japan there are 44 'accredited' Shinrin Yoku forests... a novel social construct, as I believe any forest will do for Forest Bathing—certified or not. John Muir reminds us, "Every body needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul."

There is mounting scientific studies and evidence that supports the practice of Forest Bathing, or what I prefer to call Wild Nature Bathing. Our physiological and neuro-psychological systems are affected in numerous ways that science is just scratching the surface in it's understanding.

Don't take the wisdom of Japanese culture or western science's word—get out and bathe in wild nature—feel for yourself the potential of Shinrin-yoku.

Wishing you wholesome Forest Bathing from the Big Sur,

Steven

Friday, January 30, 2015

Get Wild

Wilds of Big Sur

Many, if not most, of us are starved for genuine contact with and experience of wild nature. Wildness brings us to aliveness in manner few other environments can—nourishment for the unnameable terrain deep within.

Now is the time to grow our connection, understanding, and relationship with the natural world. I invite you to join me on a journey and let yourself be touched by the healing beauty of wild nature.

Most of my 2015 workshops have been scheduled and are up on my website. Some have already booked full! July through October dates are up, but not yet open for enrollment. Take a look to see what might call to you: 2015 Workshops & Retreats.

In the meantime, I am wishing for each of us that the new year is off to a good start and is filled with moments of pure delight and simply being.

Here is a link to inspire your inner wild journey: Poems to Live By

Warmest regards from the Big Sur,

Steven