Sunday, December 31, 2017

Reflections: 2017

Ancient Portals

The oldest human remains were discovered this year in Morocco surprising anthropologist. The find pushes back Homo sapiens from 200,000 years ago to 300,000. The 100,000 years difference is challenging previous understanding of both the time and place of human evolution. Like many inquiries each new find or answer only posses more questions and more mysteries to be pondered, or simply lived with.

In reflecting on 2017 Morocco comes to foreground. Not only did I lead a retreat there with close friends, but I had time and space to travel and be. There is a long history of mixing cultures in places like Marrakech where you can find yourself in a narrow passageway in the old medina and feel transported back 1000 years ago. My time in the western Sahara dessert with the Berber people goes even further back. Morocco gave me time and a place to reflect on what makes a life of wellbeing and welldoing — one of aliveness. I don't have clear answers, but I think I may have better quest-tions stirring my curiosity and creativity.

The following are links to photo sets of my time there along with a Jackson Browne song about something fine he found in Morocco.

You can browse the photos or play them as a slide show:
Morocco Travel
Morocco: Textures, Passages, Colors
TWP Morocco

Something Fine: Jackson Browne

May the year 2017 come to a peaceful close and I look forward to seeing you in the new year.

Big Wild Love,


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Giving Gratitude

Big Thanks from the Big Sur

"To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
~ Ralph Waldon Emerson
I am continuing to learn to be grateful for the almost unseen, unnoticed occurrences that present themselves daily, moment to moment. Today, I am aware of feeling grateful for all of the ways my life has been touched by the many "small" and "daily" presentations that create this rich life of ours.

With heartfelt gratitude,


Giving Thanks: Meal Chant Stew

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Cone Peak, Santa Lucia Firs, and Family

Cone Peak

Cone Peak stands out along the Big Sur coast, and for that matter the coast of the continuous states of the US as the fastest gradient rises from ocean to peak. This means an incredible amount of plant and animal diversity in a small area.

In addition it stands out as one of the locations in these mountains that lives the Santa Lucia Fir. Considered by many as the rarest fir in the world and only occurs naturally in the Santa Lucia Mountains of Big Sur. Here is a link to more about this unique species: Santa Lucia Fir

My son and I climbed Cone Peak last week. This spot has probably the best views of the range. More important than the hike, the rare fir (and other plants), the incredible veiws, the clean air, was the time with my son. Worth every step and every moment.

Here is to encouraging us all to getting out into the wilds with our loved ones.



Thursday, September 21, 2017

Way of Nature: Esalen, September 2017

Sea Cave, Big Sur

"You didn't come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here." ~ Alan Watts

Heartfelt gratitude for all of you chose to be present for the week, and in presence for all that unfolded. I am touched by the courage I witnessed. The courage to be curious, open, playful, vulnerable, to take the first step... close in, to be truly student of wild nature, and the mystery of the unfolding event of life.

Here are links that were requested and others I hope you find useful:
Poems to Live By links to poems I read and more
Gratefulness from friend & co-leader Bro. David

Angela's Links and references from here talk:
You are the Placebo by Dr. Joe Dispenza
Wired for Healing by Annie Hopper
Healing Back Pain by Dr. John Sarno

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)

Warm Big Sur Blessing to All,


P.S. Wishing you balance as our planet makes its way around the sun on this Equinox, September 22.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Big Sur Wilderness Experience: Esalen, August 2017

On the Path: Gamboa Point with Dolan Ridge in the background

So good to be back on the trail with a group after such a long closure of Big Sur and Esalen. We were treated well by the weather as well as the whales putting on shows. This was a special time — to have so few people in Big Sur and at Esalen. The places felt more wild and more space for the voice of Big Sur to come through.

Again, I want to thank you all for choosing to show up. Here's to the beneficial ripples of the week continuing to move all of our lives to greater wholeness and aliveness.

Here are some requested links:
Hokusai Says (the poem I read the first day)
Trees of the Santa Lucia Mountains
Gratefulness: Meal Chant Stew

There is a tradition on the Big Sur coast that goes back to the early non-native settlers. At gatherings they would make a toast saying, "Here's kindness." It was not, "Here is to kindness," it was, "Here is kindness."

Here's Kindness,


P.S. Cup of Kindness (written in Big Creek, and sung by one of Big Creek's past caretakers. The song was inspired by the traditional toast)

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.



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.



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,

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,


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