Wild Spirit Adventure

Explore Inner Wilderness. Outside.

Adventures, retreats, and sessions in nature for personal growth and spiritual exploration in the Pacific Northwest and Nationwide.


Dismissing the Thinker

News sources sometimes spin stories about a thinker that focuses on his oddities and controversial stances, causing the masses to form a narrow and judgmental opinion about him. But we know that every person is a product of their environment and experience, among other things... and is often both gifted and limited.

We cannot take the whole of a philosophy and throw it away or envelop it fully, because there are of course going to be flaws and evidence of human limitations, amongst the genius. We should filter it part by part.

Every thinker throughout time has had unique measurements of worth or worthiness placed upon them by the reader, the community, an evaluation of their value and applicability, but let us never completely adopt or dismiss them or their teachings. When we throw out the whole of their work, we throw out some of the treasure too. 

Most humans contain unpopular, misguided, or ignorant views on some topics. Take the politician, the theologian, the philosopher... they are no different. Human just like us. The challenge and the opportunity is in staying open and evaluating and reevaluating. 

One Month, No Plastic

One night, I watched a documentary called "Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch." There are tons of statistics highlighting the problem of disposable plastics. For one, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38.3. (Read this article from Ban the Bottle for some interesting stats.)

I was horrified by our use and abuse of the planet's resources, but the question of my own role in this particular issue was unresolved beyond what I have already am committed to in my quite alternative lifestyle. You see, I'm a mason jar queen, refilling them at the markets with dry goods and household staples. And the bottles I once bought with new laundry detergent and shampoo are refilled during my shopping runs. I'm the type to use vinegar as my kitchen cleanser, refilled from a large multi-gallon container. I don't buy plastic materials generally and do my best to bring my own backpack/bags to the store. So, high on my efforts, I went to bed without making new commitments. How naive I was...

The next day, while food shopping for the most sustainable, ethical, healthy options at my local co-op, I took a look at my shopping cart and noticed containers- plastic, plastic, plastic! Yogurt, almond milk, hummus, the bag around the chopped kale, the wrapper around the tortillas. I was shocked! I thought I was doing such a good job! Wasn't this the most eco-friendly shopping option? Why were so many things in plastic!? Wasn't there something I could do about it? Something hit me and I decided to try not to buy or support the use of any new plastic for (at least) a month.

I ran to the front of the store and grabbed huge mason jars, then filled them with beans, peanut butter, oatmeal, and dried fruit. At least one sea-faring bird or sea turtle will be saved from my heroic efforts, right?

The past month was not without difficulty- there were things I simply didn't buy. I have not yet found a way around the yogurt issue, sadly. But maybe it's all for the best- life without animal products is my ideal. My friend, who committed to this plastic-free month with me, noticed that the caps on almond milk containers are plastic- something I had not even noticed! Plastic pops up everywhere...  I have indeed gained a new awareness from this personal challenge.

It's obvious that the best bet for purchasing foods will be the local farmers markets, where I can get local, organic produce without using plastic containers. In the meantime, I stick to the produce that is not wrapped and I do not put them in plastic produce bags. But there are plenty of other foods that require packaging, so my question for the future is whether to do without them. The question is still out whether recycling produces the outcomes we expect, so I don't want to rely on that. We can agree that avoiding packaging is best. This month has led me to eat more fresh food, which is among the benefits.

My determination to reduce my use of plastic remains firm and I'll continue to do my best.

I am interested in whether others have taken notice of and modified their own use of plastics. Please join the conversation...

Walking Away From Our Phones: Guest Blogger, Max Calabro

Maybe you’re coping with technology better than I am. I have to admit — despite my regular meditation and yoga practices, I struggle with it on a daily basis. I’ve begun to notice that I rarely step more than fifteen or twenty feet away from my phone. And when I do, I feel weird, like something is missing. When I’m writing or working on a project, I compulsively check my phone every ten or fifteen minutes. What if someone wants to contact me? What if I’m forgetting about some appointment, or I miss an email? READ MORE...

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Instant Joy


Here are some ways you can achieve it:

  1. Realize that you actually do have all the conditions, in this moment, in order to be happy
  2. Enjoy your food slowly with all of your senses, sense how good it feels to nourish your self
  3. Practice smile meditation for 5 -10 minutes
  4. Send wishes of loving-kindness to a person who is suffering
  5. Take off your shoes and massage your feet
  6. Practice a walking meditation- for every two slow steps say, "yes." For every two more say, "thank you."
  7. Send a surprise gift to someone
  8. Provide a smile, a word, and a packaged meal to a homeless person
  9. Breathe in and out slowly while standing with a tree, imagine the tree breathing in as you breathe out, and breathing out as you breathe in
  10. Walk barefoot outdoors
  11. Do a body scan and thank each part for what it does for you
  12. Sway with tall grasses and trees in the wind
  13. Drop flower petals on someone's head, of course lovingly and with consent
  14. Compliment a few strangers
  15. Spend quality time with an animal

Writing The Storybook

Today I took a walk in nature. The exercise I practiced was something I call "Writing the Storybook." Simply put, I noticed and recorded the themes that came up over and over in my mind. I traced their deeper meaning, noticing and then letting them go. Just like in meditation, it's best not to judge them or myself for having them, rather, I am fully allowing.

Within the first 10-15 minutes, I found that my thoughts were full of anxiety and fear. I acknowledged that observation, then let it go. Within another 10 minutes, I found that my attention and patterns of thinking had shifted. No longer were the thoughts coming from an anxious place. See the 1 minute video I recorded while I was out there: (Btw, I had trouble with the vid so just kept it steady... when it is not raining so much, I'll bring the "good" camera and do nice, steady, pretty videos. Thanks for understanding...)

Instead, I became fully engaged in nature and felt more peaceful. It was actually that simple. Of course, it's not that easy every day, and the success of this kind of practice grows more and more in time and with consistent devotion.

As I continued, I noticed a decaying leaf.

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It was calling to me, asking me to examine it. When I hear the call, I listen to it... then go and explore the thing that's inviting me to it in nature. There was personal meaning in the leaf, which gave me wisdom and peace to place in my heart-space and more courage with which to face my day. The teaching in this leaf, for me, was that I had built a strong and practical foundation and vision for the future of Wild Spirit Adventure over the past year. This foundation sets the stage for everything to come. It felt like recognition of my hard work, which I accepted and gave thanks for.


A Tea Ceremony

Our Meetup Group met for a Tea Ceremony at Council Crest. We started with walking meditation. At a traditional ceremony, guests would remove their weapons and a fan would replace it. This is why you will see a fan set at each person's place-setting. We entered the sacred space for our ceremony with a symbolic removal of our daggers and replaced them with something nurturing and peaceful, symbolic of the fan a guest is traditionally given. For one participant, he removed the dagger of "fear of falling" and replaced it with the fan of "feeling grounded, safe, and stable." Each person had a unique intention.

We continued practicing in the cold air for a little over an hour. Smile meditation, songs, sitting meditation, mindful speech, and various teachings kept us in a sacred space, although the wind had my teeth chattering by the end. Even though we were chilled, everyone helped to gather our supplies and take things back to the car. I felt happy to have community to share this with.

Meeting people in practice like this is the greatest gift to me. Not only do I hope to benefit the community and the individuals that show up, I engage myself in the very things that are my medicine. Whenever I practice mindfulness while eating and drinking, I feel more connected to everything around me, and to my very life experience. Aliveness and meaning awaken! 


What Shows up

Continuing the experiment I am calling "Nature and Nurture," I'd like to reflect on the themes and experiences that have showed up for me today.

It's interesting how themes sometimes surface for us and repeat. This day, over and over, from the supermarket to the bus stop, to the doctor's office, I found myself face to face with people who had incredible challenges in their current scenario. The burdens on their shoulders were far heavier than what I was personally carrying, although sometimes it feels pretty heavy. Of course, whenever we see a repeating pattern, we might choose to ask what the lesson is. "Why is this theme making itself so apparent to me?" On one hand, I might become sad for the people I saw, and in a few instances, I did.

That day, I was particularly committed to walking and riding my bike mindfully. I took my time in observation of all that showed up in front of me. In that space, one realization was that the message for me in this theme was about perspective. The request was to zoom out from my particular situation and to stop taking myself and my small life so seriously.

Most of us have a tendency to see problems in any or every situation, even though the challenge itself only exists within the environment of privilege, good fortune, and free will. For example, if I get upset that my medical insurance covered a smaller portion of a medical treatment than I'd expected. This happens within the container of having health insurance in the first place, having enough good health to qualify and the financial means to pay the monthly bill. But, we often take things like that for granted.

I did indeed zoom out and responded to those I saw with compassion and kindness, even silently, while wishing them well-being and peace. The mantra which eased my heart and mind was that I had enough conditions in my life at the very moment to be happy and that I could spread that to others.


Breathe With a Tree

I'd like to tell you about my experience in nature, nurturing myself yesterday.

In the morning, I sat in meditation. My practice in sitting was to simply watch the busy mind as it played on the playground of thoughts, and without judgement, to bring it back to the present moment. Sure, it's classic. And it never gets old. With tears accompanying the words, I shared heartfelt feelings with my meditation community and was met with support. Feelings of vulnerability came up and I was warmly received. I came out of the building, a bit emotional, and found a parking ticket on my vehicle but with compassionate communication, the parking enforcement officer tore it up, admitting he gave it to me for something that was not my fault.

Walking along a muddy path in a local Pacific Northwest State Park, I decided I needed a nature-reconnection exercise that was calming, stress-reducing, relaxing. I decided on a very simple breathing meditation I learned from a teacher and colleague, Rabbi Mike Comins of TorahTrek, called "Breathe with a Tree." I sat down and started the practice, feeling connected with my own breathing and physically close to the tree. Exhaling when it’s cold outside, the water vapor in your breath condenses into lots of tiny droplets of liquid water. It's a process is called condensation in scientific terms. It was a beautiful thing to observe happening in slow motion, without distraction. Just as I noticed this happening with my own breath, I looked at a fallen log in front of me...

In a hole in the tree, as the sun warmed the air around it and light illuminated the surrounding moss, the same thing happened with the water that had accumulated inside. The water came up as vapor and became part of the air. Instantly, I felt connected to all that was around me. The cycles of water, going inside of me and everything else, felt cleansing and renewing. It was beautiful.

At night, I danced, which is a profound practice for me and indeed something that's improved my life in extraordinary ways since I discovered it in Los Angeles around 5 years ago. I am sure I'll write much more about it over these two weeks.

And today, I look forward to my time on the trail with my dog, commuting on bike, and spending time in water. I hope you too do something for yourself, to reconnect to nature, to nurture your self. Please share it with me in the comments below!

Holiday Season Calm at the Busy Post Office

I went into a post office during the holiday rush... it was a bit crazy! How exactly did I stay calm? Read and find out. How do we stay peaceful and calm in stressful environments? How do we stay centered and relaxed during the holiday season madness? By noticing our own emotional needs, conveying positivity, and connecting with other people. This blog explores mindfulness, meditation, and connection to one's self and others.

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