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,


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,

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,


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.



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:
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.



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,


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
Ojai Foundation (Adam is the CEO of Ojai)
Alana's yoga studio
Danny's site

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


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,


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,


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,