Friday, December 21, 2018

Season Blessings on the Solstice


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 re-member to pause in this moment—breathing in presence
May we be blessed with freedom from suffering—know kindness, compassion, and empathy
May we live close to the mystery—letting life live through us.
May we tune in—listen deeply to the pulsing beat—and
live the life that no one else can live.

With Gratitude from the Big Sur,
Kes, Kai, Janna, and Steven

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Center of the Universe

Pico Blanco, Big Sur (graphite on paper)
click on image to enlarge

By some accounts, by both Rumsen and Esselen native peoples of the Santa Lucia Mountains, Pico Blanco is said to be the center of creation — where everything came into being.

Every culture has it's own unique creation story. Every culture, community, or wisdom tradition has some story about how the world was created and how we humans, along with others, came to be. It is one critical ways we define ourselves as a group.

We as individuals have our own 'creation' stories, about who we are, how we came to be, what we do, and more. These stories, for better or worse, define us. We can use them to narrow or expand our sense of who we are and what we can or can't be and do.

I am curious these days about the stories I have told and currently tell myself about who I be. They range from quite limiting and narrow, to expansive and open to a range of possibilities. At this point in my life I am finding it is a good time to question the stories, especially those that lurk in the shadowy, barely conscious, parts of my being and examine where they came from and if they serve me.

Perhaps one of the reasons I feel so at ease in wild nature, is I tend to shed the skin of the stories of self and more easily slip into the experience of just being, without a story. I love a good story as much as anyone. I also love when the stories fade to black and there is no separation, no words — just being.

In curiosity and wonder

Steven

Monday, October 15, 2018

Nature of Movement: Esalen, October 2108

Nature of Movement: Embodiment and the Wilds
click on image to enlarge

Throughout the ages and across cultural traditions, nature has inspired the human spirit. The wilderness of Big Sur allows 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 remind us of the presence, wisdom, and deep sense of belonging that live in each of us.

Requested and suggested links:
Photos: All are downloadable
Poems to Live By
Voices of Esalen Podcast with Steven (telling even more stories)
Meditation Timer App (I use this daily on my phone)
Meal Chant Stew an article by me on Bro. David's site: Gratefulness
Adam's websites: Open Circle, Mysore Yoga

I have only gratitude for each and everyone of you. Ours was the last of my Esalen workshops for 2018, and what a wonderful way to bring the season to a close. My gratitude runs deep to each of you and collectively for deciding to physically show up and furthermore to show up with awareness. Without you I would not have the opportunity to keep learning in this manner of walking the wild path.

Breath... Gravity... Balance (of awareness field)... may we all keep finding our ways along this wondrous and wild path.

Deep bow to you — to you and Big Sur,

Steven

Ana y Mario: Because you know Bro. David you might enjoy this poem: Contemplation of a Monk or listening to me read it to him via the internet: Contemplation of a Monk

Friday, October 05, 2018

Way of Nature: Esalen, September 2018

Still clear pool at the confluence of everthing!
Click on image to enlarge

"If you trust in Nature, in what is simple in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge."
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

May we each find ourselves able to move between the conceptual and perceptual, the perceptual to the conceptual, knowing our world and that this world is much grander and awesome than we can fully perceive or fully imagine. May the mystery live close to our hearts and never leave us alone.

Here are links both requested and suggested:
Photos (anyone get a group photo?)
Poems to Live By
Voices of Esalen Podcast (interview with me, if you want more stories)
Tassajara Zen Center
Nature of Zen at Tassajara
Big Creek Reserve & Big Creek Reserve Donation
California Condors
Bramble Outdoor (Trevor's outdoor equipment company)

Let me know if any of you have photos you have uploaded to a site and I will add a link here.

In Wildness,

Steven

Now sweet one,
Be wise.
Cast all you votes for dancing.
~ Hafiz

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Walk on the Wild Side: Esalen, September 2018

Walk on the Wild Side
click on photo to enlarge

I sit here at my computer feeling back into the week and the full range of weather, personalities, experiences and feel deeply grateful. Thank you for showing up to be "full in" for yourselves, each other, our group, Big Sur. So many nuggets of true gold — peak experiences as well as space for an authentic range of emotions to rise to the surface — as we sauntered along with these mountains, this place, this moment as our holy land.

So much "walks with me." Play is my gold nugget of the week and I am reminded of Suzuki Roshi's words, "What we are doing here is so important we better not take it too seriously." I hope we are all finding ways to weave the true gold into the fabric of daily life.

Here are the many (record breaking) requested links that I hope help in the process of weaving. The photos from both sites are downloadable:
Steven's Photos
John's Photos
Poems to Live By
Tribal Ground: Christine Price
Voice of Esalen: Podcast Interview with Steven: In case you want stories
Tassajara Zen Center & Nature of Zen at Tassajara
Gratefulness: Bro. David's site and an article they published on their site: Meal Chant Stew
The Hermitage
John Muir: Nature's Visionary my favorite book about his life (there are many)
For Fun: How Muir are you? 
More about Redwoods

Big love from the Big Sur,

Steven

P.S. One more for inspiration: Don't Go Back to Sleep

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Big Sur Wilderness Experience: Esalen, August 2018

 Experiencing Big Sur Wildness
click on image to enlarge

Delicious... the first word that comes to mind as I feel back into our week together. I so appreciate each and every one of you and how we entered so fully into our time together. I hope the ripples continue to stir you to the core and that you ripple out to benefit all beings.

Here are some requested links to keep the waves in motion:
Poems to Live By: Poems from the trail and more...
Ventana Wilderness Alliance: Trails and Trail conditions for the Big Sur & Santa Lucia's
Voices of Esalen: Interview with Steven (if you haven't heard enough stories!)
Mountain Sea Adventures: Cat's (Caitlin's)website
The Joy System: Joy's website

Special gratitude to my remarkable assistants and wilderness medicine sisters Joy and Cat. And, a deep bow and heartfelt gratitude to each of you for showing up so we can dive in the the wilds — alone & together. May we weave many threads of our time together into the fabric of our lives.

Wildly,

Steven

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Blue Mind: How The Light Gets In

"There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light get in"
~ Leonard Cohen

Inspired by reading a book called Blue Mind by Wallace Nichols, I have taken again to regular morning swims (sometimes a quick dip) in the Pacific Ocean at a beach near our home. I've been going simple without my wet suit, making it part of my morning ritual. Some days it is sunny, windy, foggy, thick fog, big waves, small waves, the sand changes, the tides change — I change. Some days it is "perfect" other days it is not quite "perfect" in my mind.

Which brings me to a Leonard Cohen song/poem called Anthem. The part that sticks in my head is:
"Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in"

I am reminded to let go of my idea of perfection — what I have to offer, and what is offered to me. When I stand in a place of great equanimity it is usually more interesting... and some light gets in. Here are some photos of the changing days at the same beach each morning — clear and foggy

Blue Mind: How The Light Get In

 Wishing you Light,

Steven

P.S. Happy Birthday Dad! What a blessing to have had you as my father.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Big Sur Wilderness Experience: Esalen, July 2018

Big Sur Wild Ones
(Click on image to enlarge)

Once again I continue to be in awe of how wild nature so wonderfully invites us into ourselves, into connection with others, and in interconnectedness with the — other than —  perhaps greater than, human world.

And, once again, I am touched by the courage to choose vulnerability, authenticity, and risk heart-felt connection with self, others, and place — Big Sur.

Here are some requested links to help weave the threads of the wilds into you daily life:
Photos (I took very few, but got a few good group photos)
Carla's Stunning Photos
Poems to Live By
Voices of Esalen: Podcast Interview of Steve (if you want more stories about Esalen)
Tick Encounter (my favorite tick site from the University of Rhode Island)
Tribal Ground (Chris Price's Gestalt Awareness Practice)
Dick Price Celebration: This is a video I put together around 8 years ago for what would have been Dick's 80th birthday. Even though it is on Facebook, and they try to get you to sign-in or join, you can get around this by clicking, "Not Now" hidden at the bottom of options. I have added this here because of the number of people expressed curiosity about Dick... perhaps because of my story at the warm springs.
Joy's Site

If I missed anyone's site let me know and I will add it...

May you live the life that no one else can live.

Heartfelt Gratitude from the Sur,

Steven

P.S. Meal Chant Stew (a story of gratitude)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Fathers & Sons: Esalen: June 2018

Father's & Sons: Celebrating Father's Day
Click to enlarge photo

This workshop has become one in which I mark the passage of time, the growth of my sons, the passing of my father, the changes in my own life. Each Father's Day weekend we have offered this workshop, originally with 3 generations, my father, me, and my sons. As time progresses I find myself more humble and grateful for the long lineage that brings me here today.

This year was the smallest group we've probably ever had. This allowed for more time with each other, as a group, and perhaps for windows of more intimacy. I was touched to have so many returning fathers and sons, as well as welcome a new family into our group.

Links:
Photos
Poems to Live By
Meal Chant Stew (a story of gratitude and family)
Adam's Sites:
Adam
Open Circle
Yoga
Kes's Site

Voices of Esalen Podcast: Lastly, host Sam Stern invited Kai in to our interview to assist in asking questions and feeding me lines. Many parts turn into telling not only Esalen stories, but family stories, even father and son stories. I hope you enjoy.

May we all be blessed with resilient, healthy, and evolving relationships with our fathers and sons!

Heartfelt Blessing from the Big Sur,

Steven

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Simply Wild: Esalen, June 2018

Simply Wild and on the Path

How sweetly we came together, appreciating our differences, recognizing our similarities, and choosing to be in connection. Most groups come together... when groups take a life of their own this gives me great hope for the human condition and the state of wild nature. Thank you all for your grace, courage, and intimacy.

Here are many links requested and from side conversations:
Photos (many of these are from Alyson, they are all downloadable)
Kristin's Photo Set (some great photos)
Poems to Live By
Ticks (my favorite)
Big Creek Donation page
Tribal Ground (Chris Price & Gestalt Awareness Practice)
Ecopsychology
Voices of Esalen Podcast: Sam interviews Steve

Our Group:
Kristin's EVOL^ Films
Alyson's Site
Jet Pens: Larry's Site
Steve's Art Work (by request from a side conversation on the trail)
If I missed anyone, send your site along and I will add it

Deep gratitude from the wilds of the Big Sur,

Steven

Friday, May 25, 2018

Nature & Contemplation: Esalen, May 2018

Nature and Contemplation
click on photo to enlarge
"The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."
~ Henry Miller

As I sit to write this post and feel back into the week I notice some quality of hope — to see and feel wild beauty being appreciated and loved. Perhaps we can find our way to reclaiming the wild beauty that lives in each of us, collectively, and all around us.

One important measure of a healthy ecosystem is diversity. We had a diverse range of interests and places of curiosity. I appreciated how were able to "listen" and follow a sense of "organismic self-regulation" and each find our unique ways in the context of a group as support. I see this reflected in the number of record breaking links requested for this post. And, a first time ever book tour into the wilds of the Esalen bookstore. There were many other firsts... all to be celebrated. 

Here are many links, some of which were personal requests, others for the group:
Photos
Lelani's Photos of our time together (make sure you see all of the sets)
Poems to Live By (poems I used in our workshop, plus many more.
Voices of Esalen Podcast: Interview with Steven (More stories, with Kai as one of the guest hosts)
Gratefulness.org: Bro. David Steindt-Rast's website

Some of Steve's writing related to our workshop or requested:
Waters of the Sur by Steven Harper for Esalen
Ecopsychology: Way of Wilderness  by Steven Harper
Published writings by Steven Harper

Noël & Fletcher:
Wildtender Tending Inner & Outer Wilderness
Gnome Life Records
Cold Spring Fletcher's latest.

Ticks My favorite of the many sites on ticks

I will end here with this poem of encouragement:

Don't Go Back To Sleep
 
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

~ Rumi translated by Coleman Barks
From Essential Rumi

With Heartfelt Wildness,

Steven

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Big Sur Wilderness Experience: Esalen April 29-May 4 2018

Big Sur Wild Ones
click on photo to enlarge

WOW! What a way to start my 40th year of leading workshops at Esalen. What to say?

Perhaps silence is best. Humor me... take a moment to feel your feet on the ground... hara, heart, head in alignment... receive a fuller breath than normal all of the way to the top of the lungs, and an extended slightly audible exhale. Open awareness...

May you feel fully the seed qualities that are walking with you from our time together in wild nature of the Big Sur.

Here are some links that were requested by the group or from side conversations:
Photos: You should be able to view photos and download any you wish.
Poems to Live By: I read: Mindfulness, Morning Poem, Hokusai Says, and others
Voices of Esalen: Podcast interview with Steven: Direct, Sound Cloud, iTunes
Gratefulness: Meal Chant Stew

Trails in Big Sur:
Hiking in Big Sur
Ventana Wilderness Alliance

Ticks: There are many sites on ticks this is one of the best. Read to be informed and educated, not to scare yourself.

Gratitude to Big Sur, Esalen Institute, all of our teachers and ancestors — may we share the beauty freely.

Big hug from the Big Sur,

Steven

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Nature of Zen: Tassajara Zen Center, April 2018

Nature of Zen: Tassajara
click on photo to enlarge

"But do not ask me where I am going, As I travel in this limitless world, Where every step I take is my home."
~ Dogen Zenji (founder of Soto Zen)

In every step and every moment we can find our home — our deep belonging of interbeing. Gratitude to all of you that showed up to step on the pathless path and wander and wonder in the wilds of the inner and outer intimate terrain of Nature.

Here are some links:
Group Photos
Henry's Photos
Meal Chant Stew (an article about Tassajara, the meal chant, gratitude, and more)
Hokusai Says
Poems to Live By
Voices of Esalen: A recent podcast interview.
Among the Wonderful by our own Stacy Carlson

May we find home in every step and may every step benefit all our relations.

Two Claps, One Bow,

Steven

P.S. Special thanks to Leslie James for making herself available to us all.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Voices of Esalen: Steven Harper - Stories of Esalen, Wilderness, and Life in Big Sur

Dick Price: Co-founder of Esalen Institute (photo by Joyce Lyke)

2018 will mark my 40th year of offering workshops at Esalen. I have been blessed to be able to offer well over 300 workshops during this time at Esalen on a range of subjects, with outstanding co-leaders, and awesome (yes, awesome) participants.

As part of this milestone Esalen recently recorded an interview for their podcast series "Voices of Esalen." Sam Stern, the podcast host, invited my oldest son Kai in to participate in the interviewing. If you have some time to listen here are some links to the podcast depending on how you prefer to listen:

iTunes: Steven Harper: Voices of Esalen
SoundCloud: Steven Harper: Voices of Esalen

It was a bit strange to hear my own voice and a surprise to hear what stories emerged from the questions that were asked. I expect at least half of the stories I told resembled consensual reality.

If you are interested in what I am offering this year: 2018 Workshops and Retreats

Gratefully,

Steven

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Workshops & Retreats for 2018

Big Sur

Most of my 2018 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: 2018 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