Road Trip 2017: Colorado

Later this month, I’m heading out on the open road. The first out of state road trip in quite some time. I’m ready and excited. Well, it is a bit off and on, really. I’m excited and a bit unsure sometimes. But I’m going either way.

I’ve never seen the Rockies. That will be fixed on this road trip, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen proper mountains, and I mean to drive deep into them. Alone.

I’m studying the maps, my Lonely Planet Guide for Colorado, and Google; looking for the places to go. A bit worried about the warnings to not hike alone. I’ve also had advice not to worry about that advice, or to just hike popular trails. We’ll see what I do. I’m happy to meet people on the trail and hook up with a team or something.

My most northern point will be the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. Essentially, this trip is a pilgrimage to that Stupa. I was real reticent to go on this road trip, until this destination was added. Then it was like, now I have to go. Sincerely. It will be wonderful to see this Stupa and the Shambhala Mountain Center.

I’ll also take a weekend class at the Denver Shambhala Center with Shastri Nick Kranz. I’m excited about this class as well. I like the Shastri, and well, this is the originating reason for the trip. This is the best chance this year I have to take this class, with this teacher, and my heart says it is the right thing to do.

I hope to go to the Rocky Mountain National Park, Red Rocks, Fort Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs, etc.

I’m excited. The adventure begins soon. But I am nervous. I’ve never traveled so far, by car, alone. It’s a lot of driving, by yourself, especially that west Texas, high desert to Amarillo. That part of the trip is about an 8 hour drive alone.

I also had the feeling, quite a few times, that I’m not coming back.

I’m not certain how to understand this. Perhaps I mean, working with the nervousness and fear will be transformative. I am adventuring outside my comfort zone, into a lot of unknowns, and thereby when I get back, I’ll be different? Maybe? Or maybe this is some subliminal nod to the cliche that travel changes you, if you’re open to it.  Or maybe, because of some sort of death/rebirth metaphor, or maybe this is just more fear for me to work with, and will lead to a realization of the true self, especially upon seeing a building that promises liberation upon seeing (Stupa)? I’m not sure. I’ll have plenty of time to think about it on the road.

It could be that I will fall in love with Colorado. I don’t see how I could love another state more than Texas. But mountains. Mountains!

We’ll see. I’m up for the journey.

waxing crescent

lonely for whalesong
and the touch of volcano

clouds at sunset

Contemplation, Earth as Witness

I enjoy meditation outside, in the shade and dappled light of a canopy of trees, preferably near a stream, creek or river. For me, it’s good, restorative and invigorating. There’s plenty of research that backs up the goodness of forests, walks and outdoor meditation. I encourage you to search for these articles and studies, but even more than the research, I encourage you to do them, to try them for yourself. To taste is to know. Get outside and see if you can gain the testimony of the Earth, or as it is in the story of the Buddha, Earth as Witness. See if you can divine what that phrase means to you while you are outside. That phrase, Earth as Witness, is even in the Old Testament. Moses calls upon the Earth as witness, along with Heaven. I like to contemplate what these stories are getting at while I’m out in the wild. Why is the Earth’s testimony unassailable? What does this mean, to me?

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Light and Lightness and Love

My life is full of struggle and victory.

I found my dreams, they were eclipsed by old habits, which I quit about a week ago. If I ever told you, which I have to many people over many years, that I don’t remember my dreams, let me tell you, they are back and vivid af. If last night is any indication, some of those dreams are quite angry. No worries. It all reminds me of a line from the movie, Jacob’s Ladder, which uses a quote from Meister Eckhart (A favorite Christian mystic of mine), and I’ll paraphrase poorly, when you stop fighting your monsters, you find they were really angels all along, helping to set you free. One of last night’s many dreams was a nightmare about “something” trying to get in. Turning knobs, unlocking locks and pushing against doors. If I don’t wake up from fear, next time, I will invite it in.

I am interested in lucid dreaming
slightly less
than lucid living.

The hard realization from the weekend is how much I lied to myself about those habits. How hard I worked on their behalf, like an over-priced lawyer. I was good too.

But the heart wins and wants what it wants. My heart wants more clarity. More experiences. More fullness of it all. Everything.

Better days, my friends, filled with more light, and lightness, and love.

Comfort from the Book, Milarepa

I’m reading, “Milarepa: Lessons from the Life & Songs of Tibet’s Great Yogi” by Chogyam Trungpa, and Edited by Judith L. Lief. I’m really enjoying it.

Yesterday I read passages that brought me comfort:

“…one’s first meeting with aloneness is a meeting with one’s real ego, without any clothing…The feeling of loneliness is that the ego has no one to comfort it, no one to act as moral support.

One of the differences between this stage and earlier stages is that there is less aggression. There is no blame and no hatred. The aloneness is simply the feeling of being nowhere, not even lost. Obviously, there is tremendous sadness that there is nothing around you that you can hang on to. But it is your own ego acting as the voice of that sadness and loneliness. You cannot blame it on anybody or get angry. There is no point of reference, no source of communication.

…taking part in a retreat is a way to express that aloneness, that loneliness, that desolate quality…Cooking, sleeping, or walking might become a source of entertainment. There is little to do, so you are thankful that they provide something. But even that comes back to square one.

Eventually, you tend to get somewhat disillusioned with all that. You see that those retreat experiences are not exactly feelings of wretchedness, but there is a very faint and subtle feeling that you are falling in love with something. At the beginning of retreat you were irritated by the insects around you, but you begin to wish you could invite them for a party or for dinner. You begin to feel appreciation. A subtle romanticism is happening, completely due to the experience of there being nothing to entertain yourself with, so that everything comes back to you. Read More

Sidewalk Swimming

For years now, I’ve been working on not holding-in my stomach. I used to do it at all times, hoping that by holding it in, my stomach would look more flat, a bad habit I began around the age of 10 when I decided my belly poked out way too much. Any time I found myself holding in my stomach, for hours, at school, I was so happy, thinking I’m really getting it now, I’ve almost contorted enough to be average.

That kind of deep, long distance training takes time to unknot. The fascia and muscle memory needs to unlearn every reason I once gave my body to tighten, to not breathe fully, to be less than my full, relaxed self. I wish I could be with my 10 year old self, and tell that little guy to relax. It’s going to be OK. On a side note, I think that was what I was waiting for someone to tell me when I was a little me, “it’s going to be ok.”

I’ve made progress on the holding my stomach in, error. I’m pretty good at telling myself it’ll be ok, too. I felt corpulent and beautiful in my full belly this morning, and even a bit bawdy as I walked the city sidewalks. I was wearing a bit of a tight shirt, but I was still in my full body, breathing without shame. All the practice of letting it go working. Moving as only I can along this planet. Swimming through the morning rush and humidity. I love swimming. I have mammals returning to the ocean moments when I swim. Long moments, almost all my time, spent underwater being a whale, dolphin, or even a manatee moving through the deep. This morning, simply moving along the sidewalk, I was gliding, reminding me of those fluid moments underwater.

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The Wayfaring Newsletter: Sign Up!

I’ve done some silent hikes with friends and acquaintances, and now I’m ready to open them up to everyone.

Click here to signup for the newsletter!

These silent hikes include mindful hiking, a short meditation, and a good bit of group fun. Swimming will also be part of the fun soon, and I hope to plan some camping trips and other adventures this year.

I’ve lived in the Austin, Tx area for close to thirty years, and I know some good places to hike, some sweet swimming holes, good camping and many places to meditate outside. It’s good to go as a group. I’ll share some special places, and maybe even some of my more sacred spots. Most of all, I want to do what I can to get people outside and into life outdoors.

If you practice Miksang, or like taking photos, this is a good opportunity for you as well. I’ll likely take photos along the way too.

No certain lineage is promoted in the meditation, and all are welcome, whether you want to meditate, contemplate or just get outside and be in nature for the numerous health benefits we now know comes with regular outdoor activity. Consider this a chance for forest bathing. Atleast grove bathing. Bare minimum, creek and river bathing.

I’m also considering walking in your neighborhood, and park events for your favorite little people & you, with mindful games and activities. I’ve put together the best games I’ve collected over the years, and we’ll all have a great time while playing, connecting and building life long memories.

Are you in the Austin, Tx area and want to be kept up to date on Silent Hikes, Sits, Mindful Park Events, and other adventures this coming Spring and Summer? Behold. The Email list. Sign up!

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You’ll also get special content, book recommendations, etc.

Please, sign up for the list, and let’s get outside, get connected and stay awake!