Mindfulness in the Mountains: adventure and meditation

Lama Willa Miller, Springfield, NH., rock climbing in Rumney was part of a three-day adventure and meditation program, Mindfulness in the Mountains. Courtesy photo.

Mindfulness in the Mountains, a three-day adventure and meditation program, co-sponsored by Mountain Spirit Institute and the Natural Dharma Fellowship’s Wonderwell Refuge of Springfield N.H., wrapped up a weekend of rock climbing, kayaking and hiking in mid-October.

“I’ve been guiding and leading mountain programs for over 28 years, and this was, by far, one of the most fulfilling and meaningful experiences I’ve had,” MSI founder Randall Richards said. “To hike, climb or kayak and focus as a group on the quiet of the place, through which we traveled, was meaningful for both instructors and participants.”

A pair of instructors led each activity, one focused on outdoor skills, the other focused on teaching various meditation techniques, Richards said.

Eleven participants,  beginners and experienced hikers and kayakers, came from as far away as Florida and New York to hike, rock climb and kayak.

Activities were held in Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee region and in Rumney, N.H.

Wonderwell Refuge’s spiritual leader Lama Willa Miller said: “Buddhism actually has a strong wilderness tradition. Monks, spiritual teachers and meditation practitioners have always gone to the mountaintops and into nature to get a sense of the sacred.”

Participants signed up in advance for an activity, but were allowed to switch to a different sport and focus on the second day of the program.

Rock climbing tended to bring up fear and trust. Hikers focused on meditation in motion and awareness of surroundings and kayakers focused on the metaphor of sky and water in meditative contemplation.

Once back at the Wonderwell, participants came together for group meditation and to share their experiences.

Lama Miller rock climbed both days and said, of her experience: “In Buddhism, we have a meditation practice designed to help with facing one’s fear. Being forty feet up on the rock put’s it right in your face. It’s quite visceral.”

Said participant, Ilene Venizelos of Enfield, NH, “I feel this experience has helped me reconnect more with myself, to the other participants, and to especially to nature.”

MSI and Wonderwell Refuge plan to offer more collaborative programs.

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