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

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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!

Silent Hikes, Meditation and the Coming Year

A silent hike is about the senses. That’s how we know the world, our senses: by sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and thinking about the world, which is how we process what the senses tell us. Thinking about the world is where we spend most of our time, it seems. That leads us to thinking we’re all up in our heads only, and often ignoring where we are, and our senses, and even our bodies. A silent hike gives you a chance to get into all your senses, into your body and heart; as well as your mind.

A silent hike is also about remembering we are on a planet. That’s why I like to do a silent hike in the morning and as close to dawn as possible. Nothing lets you know you are on a planet like witnessing daybreak, as the planet slowly rolls towards the sun. The stars blink out and the bird chorus begins. A silent hike allows you to witness as much life as possible, because we aren’t scaring away our animal neighbors with our voices. They have senses to tell them about the world, and the here and now as well. During a silent hike, we’ll do what we can to witness all we can. We do this to further wake up ourselves to the here and now. Each bird call, shuffle in the grass, everything you sense is calling you to wake up.

Plus, as countless articles are now letting us know, getting outside and in to nature is good for you. People these days have a nature deficit disorder. Forest bathing is healthy. Walking is healthy. Let’s get outside.

But a silent hike isn’t all about quiet and walking. We’ll be headed to a destination. I try to keep the hikes to about a mile to a mile and a half, one way. Once there, we’ll find a place to meditate, for around twenty minutes. No particular lineage or technique is mandatory, all are welcome. People new to meditation are welcome. People with a long history of practice are welcome, and people with no interest to meditate are welcome as well. Maybe you’re only interested in a silent hike, or maybe you practice Miksang, or you’re looking to take photos but want to go with a group. You, too, are welcome. Just be respectful to those meditating, and stay close so we can all go together. When we do return, after meditating, we can go as loud as we want.

If you want to go on a silent hike to meditate, you’ll want to take something to sit on. I travel with a towel, and usually find an incline or a rock to meditate on. I usually look for a view, or I’m near water, or a grove of trees. You have to carry it, so bring what you want. You should know that there will be bugs, gnats, and possibly even mosquitoes. Well, there will be everything possible for where we are. We’ll be outside in the world, and everything annoying, neutral or delightful is part of the practice.

If you want to get on a mailing list to learn about silent hikes, let me know. We may do some camping, and traveling this year. We’ll see what we can build together.

Dens of Predators

From my place, about a thirty minute drive, and then about a mile and half walk down a trail into a creek valley, regularly torn by floods, I can show you dens in the hillsides. Amongst the fallen boulders on the slopes of the eroded banks, I’ve found all kinds of jaw bones and other bone litter in the dark holes dug between and beneath fallen giant rocks in heaping messes. Dens far older than the current inhabitants. There’s alot of them too, all together, more than you could shake a stick at. It’s a little unsettling, being outnumbered by other predators.

Recently, while hiking these banks, taking pictures of rocks, I came across a recent kill. I clambered over the debris of a slide, and there it was, splayed out, an opossum. Whoever killed it, had just done so and had barely started in on breakfast, and couldn’t be far. I’ve seen coyotes, foxes, bobcat, raccoons. I don’t know who lives in the dens, and maybe they change hands often, a new landlord according to happenstance. Though. some dens are by spring fed pools on the sides of cliffs with waterfalls above and below, and you’d think any creature would want to return to such a sweet setup of crawfish and fresh water. Other dens have no view, but are located on deep, well-worn paths. Old game trails with dens like grassy hobbit-holes along the way. My scent is well worn and mixed in with the scents of other lives, I making noise on those trails. Just a thirty minute drive, and there is this little part of the planet, with these many and different lives weathering the thunderstorms and flash floods and constant encroachment of the city and photographers. It breaks my heart, and yet, that is my plan for the morning.

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Space, Sound and Silence

I might drive out into the Hill Country tonight, maybe Pedernales Falls or Enchanted Rock, or even just the side of the road somewhere. I want to try my hand at Night Sky photography again. I learned alot from my failed attempts last weekend, and I’m ready to apply what learned, and try again tonight.

I think I’ve figured out the better settings for what I’m trying to capture, and how to work the parts of the camera I’ve avoided thus far. I mainly live in Aperture Priority mode, or Time Mode. With Night Photography, it’s been all manual, and awkward, and mistakes. It’s been fun to explore the mechanics of the camera again. It’s been cool.

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Orlando, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Basic Goodness

I think it was Fr. Richard Rohr who related these words from a Rabbi, “We put these teachings on your heart, so when it breaks, the teachings fall inside.”

June 11th and 12th, 2016; I took a 2-day class taught by Shastri Betsy Pond at the local Shambhala Center. I loved the class. Saturday was good, full of meditation, teachings and talks with good and generous people. It was so good, I think I went into Sunday with lots of preconceived notions of how it should go, based on my Saturday. Perhaps it would be akin to a conquering hero returning home and I would be that hero.

Sunday morning, I attend to my regular routine (meditation, yoga, prayers), then I was off to the laundromat and then finally off to the second day of the class. When you wake early you can get a lot done before 9AM. I arrived in time for the complimentary breakfast, but it wasn’t too long before I started feeling dislocated, out of place and things spiraled from there. Read More

I Love Everyone, and My Stupid Face

I love everybody, and you’re next.
This is a description Kristen Bell gave about her husband, Rob Bell, and it encapsulates everything I want to express in my walks around town and country. It’s like a motto for my walks.
Prior to that motto, I was shut off, in all the usual ways: underneath my earbuds, below my bad moods, too cool, too depressed, hidden by shame, at arm lengths for fear of pain, absolutely sure no one cared, and more, or even worse. Essentially, I was doing what many other people are doing and thinking around town.

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Fear, Kites and Lightning. No Ben.

I found a Sponge-Bob-Riding-a-Surfboard kite, at a $5 store. It was $2. Shaped like the old, Spy-in-the-Sky kite (where can I find one of those?). I can’t wait to fly it, but it’s been raining all week. So, I sit with my box kite and my new Sponge Bob kite, waiting. Waiting, while kite season, a short season, passes us by, but I’m not bemoaning the rain. I live on the edge of what is essentially a high desert. We love rain here. Plus, Spring is coming, the Equinox is March 20th. I can see it carved inside a big heart, Spring loves Rain. But that’s not exactly what it’s like here. Here, Spring loves Thunderstorms. It’s been rainy for a week, sure, but Spring really means fast, rolling supercell thunderstorms that rip across West Texas towards the East. They come barreling out of the high desert full of dust and fury. I have a mix of old fear and new excitement around these storms.

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