Our prayer for Questers and for all

In this yearly time of renewal and looking back I wrote this prayer for the participants of the Vision Quest. But truly it is for everyone, whether you’ve quested or not.

I pray-

That we all remember to participate in our own skins shedding with faith and trust in the wisdom that we’ve accumulated through our own life’s living. That we return many times in our minds eye to our personal spot of sun and rain, still and storm, warm and cold, freedom and confinement, rest and wakefulness, and know with our full bodies that we belong there. May we know and trust that that particular place of intimacy with the earth is ours alone, and though each person has their own as well, we do indeed have our very own place in the mystery where we belong exactly. May we all take our places, and bring forward the gifts of our lives.

Happy Solstice dear friends!

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The Spaces in Between…

Back to Earth’s new Director Phoenix Smith and I are wandering this beautiful Buddhist Retreat Center called Ratna Ling up in Sonoma. It’s decorated with huge colorful prayer flags, thick like blankets and strung with a decorative and celebratory feel that reminds me of christmas lights, my own cultural reference point.

Somewhere near their book bindery and 2 strangely out of place ponies (one of which ran up to us just to snap at my hand and then go back to harassing its hay) is a garden with a golden stupa and a tree strung with hundreds of strands of flags. I sat for a few moments watching the prayer flags move in the wind. I thought about how nice it was to have the space to be empty and watch the wind move the colors.

For a moment I thought of plans, things I want, work tasks…and then a voice, new to the last few months, intervenes gently. It says “wait, protect this space.” The voice seems to come from my own inner peace, which apparently is advocating for itself.

Lately my dreams have been full of beautiful tiny blue vases and trinkets, the impulse to fill the shelves of my new life. When I wake from these dreams I remember that this year of letting go was not so I could turn around and fill the space right back up again.

This year my grandmother died, my partner and I split up, I left 2 women’s groups, decided to step back from BTE in a big way, and that I needed to move out of the city. I find myself now, in December, with a new life beginning to establish in a new place and new commitments- but it’s different.

I want to protect the spaces in between. I don’t want to fill them up anymore. The moments of utter ecstasy and freedom that occur as I fall more and more completely into the yawning spaces left between the wreckages of what is over- I will no longer be giving them up as easily.

I find myself the jealous lover with a secret, wanting to stay in bed a little longer, enjoying the deliciousness of as Rilke says “living my way into the answers.”

“Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
in Letters to a Young Poet

Though it is supremely unpopular to wish anyone ill, I would wish this broken heart/broken open on everyone and testify with the utmost faith that this path of loss and letting go has given me untold riches, not the least of which are the spaces in between.

In between what I know, and what is still becoming.
In between the last love and he who this way comes.
In between who I thought I was and just being.
In between day and night, between first light and dawn, between the wax and the wane, the wane and the wax,
Between this precious day of my life and that unknown day I draw my last breath.

UPCOMING TRIP: Heart of the Sierras Yoga Backpacking with Britt Fohrman

This is one of your last chances to get into the Sierras before the cold of Winter pushes us back to the coast!

In the heart of the Sierra Nevadas lie Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks where the rivers are blue-green, powerful and filled with boulders the size of houses. From the canyon floor to the mountain peaks can be a dramatic 6000-8000 foot climb. These places are vertical, wild, breathtaking and utterly unreachable save by foot- and they are worth every step. You’re invited to join yoga teacher and outdoor enthusiast, Britt Fohrman, for an unforgettable adventure into the heart of dumbfounding grandeur.

Having climbed her first of many 14er’s at age 9, Britt’s a lifelong outdoors-woman with a passion for relaxation, mindfulness, and physical awareness as they relate to life on and off the yoga mat.

This 4 day immersion in nature will be an excellent opportunity to deepen your yoga practice while unwinding within the quiet of the wilderness. The earth, sky and trees of the Sierras will be our studio, as well as our teachers, as we hike, stretch, meditate and breathe our way to balance, joy and ease. We’ll explore the granite peaks, glacial valleys, forests and rivers of this mountain temple. Look forward to invigorating morning and mellow evening yoga sessions tailored to your body’s natural rhythms and inspired by our surroundings.

In addition to yoga and backpacking, we’ll spend our time connecting with the natural world, taking some time for day hikes, swimming and lounging on warm granite. We’ll share laughter, stories and music in the midst of eating delicious food, learning about the earth, watching wildlife and enjoying some quiet personal time amidst the sweet smelling trees and warm sunlight of the Sierras.

Yogis of all ages, levels and outdoor experience are welcome. The hiking will be somewhat mellow, yet you need to be able to carry a pack about 5-7 miles. Back to Earth takes care of all the food and backcountry knowledge, all you need to do is show up, hike, breathe and smile.

*With instructor Britt Fohrman and guide Dashielle Vawter. Regular rate of $575.

Spring Awakening- Joshua Tree National Park

The I-5 is an outstretched arm speeding us into the darkness. We are either the shaft of the arrow or have been attached to the arrow’s head by something greater, either way we’re hurtling directed, headlong, free and ready into unfolding days under a hot sun, in the company of the friendly looking Joshua trees, the orange, golden, and red artfully collected and arranged rocks, and a dream of sky that has promised to us four days without rain.

We ran around the desert singing, playing, crying, being alone, being together, howling as a tribe of coyotes to a sliver moon in a wild hapless joy to be a part of it all- and perhaps a hint of grief for having gone so long without howling, for the lost humanity we live in, and for what we find, and perhaps even for the knowing that we still haven’t remembered completely how to really live seamlessly in this place…so many footprints, so many little broken twigs…

-Dashielle Vawter, Trip Leader