Conscious Content: mindfulness

The EarthWalkers

By Conscious Adventurist Admin

The EarthWalkers

At the end of the Vietnam war, Lynn and Morris Walker––creators of The EarthWalkers family band––were in the Vietnam jungle performing for U.S. soldiers when it started to pour. The power went out, the soldiers pulled their ponchos over their heads and together used their flashlights to illuminate the  duo. Despite the soaking rain, Lynn and Morris continued to play their instruments and sing.

Years later in a state park near Knoxville, Tennessee, Lynn and Morris found themselves performing for a group of 500 Boy Scouts in an eerily similar scenario. As they sang about eagles, it began to rain, the power went out and the Boy Scouts pulled their parkas over their heads. The group of boys held up their flashlights to see the couple.

“Morris and I looked at each other with the chill of de'ja vous and smiled and kept going,” said Lynn. “We won't forget that night ever.”

Lynn and Morris Walker

The EarthWalkers––a family folk band with an environmental message––grew out of Lynn and Morris’ adventurous experiences. The two folk singers traveled the country performing for public schools, hospitals, prisoners, reform school students and more, delivering a message of environmental stewardship and appreciation for the natural world.

“Morris and I did a lot of traveling around the world and saw that things were not so good environmentally in many countries,” said Lynn. “This was disturbing to us and we felt that music could move mountains and so we wanted to do our little part.”

The Earthwalkers

When they were able, Lynn and Morris brought their two young children, Skye and Amoris, into the band as well, homeschooling them as they traveled around the country living in their Chevy Gladiator van and Silverstreak trailer.

“We were doing the van life way back before it was popular,” said Skye, who now works as a muralist, artist and designer.

The EarthWalkers were on a mission to bring environmental education to children and adults, regardless of class or background. Rather than performing at more traditional music venues, the family sought out places where their message could be understood and developed. Schools assemblies were often their platforms and young children regularly comprised their audience.  

“The kids we performed for really liked us,” said Amoris, a documentary filmmaker and owner of Hot Tea Media. “It was the strangest and most wonderful feeling to have people love you just because you’re on stage playing music.”

The Earthwalkers

While a more “normal” childhood occasionally crossed their minds, Amoris and Skye explained that they experienced so much more within the country and the natural world than many other children were able to.

“ We were able to travel the country and see the natural places most students only read about in books,” said Amoris. “Some of those places had long-term impacts on our lives.”

The Earthwalkers

When her children were very young, Lynn said she recalled reading a psychology study that kids between the ages of six and nine weren’t dreaming about what they wanted to be when they grew up because they didn’t believe there was a future.

“And I thought, we need to do something,” said Lynn. “Is that what we’re doing, taking away the dreams of children?”

By touring the country and teaching their children about art and music while educating others about the environment, Lynn and Morris hoped they could provide a space for dreaming. Both Amoris and Skye expressed that they couldn’t imagine their childhood any other way.

While the family still plays music when they all gather together, Lynn and Morris have moved into video production and writing, while Skye works as a professional artist and Amoris works as a documentary filmmaker and digital content producer.

One thing that hasn’t changed though is their passion for the environmental movement and social justice. Teaching children is still an especially important aspect of the family’s life.

“If you teach the children they will go home and teach their parents,” said Amoris. “They will become the stewards of the earth.”  

 

To learn more about the EarthWalkers, check out their documentary here.

 

 

Anja Semanco

Creative Writer & Journalist

@ansemanco

 

Anja Semanco

Anja is a professional freelance writer living in Boulder, Colorado. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and appears in such places as Terrain.org and Zoomorphic magazine. Keep up with her at anjasemanco.com.

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A Conscious Life with Slackliner Andy Lewis

By Conscious Adventurist Admin

A Conscious Life with Slackliner Andy Lewis

What got you into slacklining?

A love for adventure, travel, problem-solving and a need for an artistic outlet led me to slackline. It was such an easy idea, an easy concept; rig a line and walk across. What slacklining involved into was something I could have never imagined.


Do you recall a defining moment when you knew this is what you’d do for the rest of your life?

There were many moments I recalled that I would probably slackline for the rest of my life. From not being able to go anywhere without a slackline for years, to seeing people of 70 - 80 years of age with the ability to learn slackline, to teaching kids and receiving almost more joy from their joy than my own personal accomplishments. All these small moments led me many times to thinking I would slackline forever. However, there was one day on February 11th that I got a "SLACKLIFE," tattoo, and that moment definitely committed me to a life of balance, teaching, travels and adventure.


What do your parents think of your lifestyle?

My parents, like my friends, and sister, all were very uncertain of my lifestyle at first. I started up with sports fast and just kept going harder and harder and harder, and many many people were just "waiting for me to die."


For instance when I free solo a highline––walking a slackline high off the ground with no safety––the people around me will always go silent, not wanting to think or say anything at the risk of it breaking my focus and killing me. Their hearts pound, their hands sweat, and many will come up to me after and tell me personally they really didn't like how it made them feel. And it’s funny that all that happened while I was in my happy place.  


What did your childhood look like?

My childhood was amazing. It was very cozy with a mom, a dad and a sister. We all hung out all the time, went hiking, biking, to the beach and were taught to have open minds and follow our hearts from a young age. My parents were semi-religious but also very philosophical and even more into the arts. My childhood was immersed in literature, music, art, adventure and exploration. I definitely have to thank my dad and mom for raising me in a way I hope to one day raise my own children.


What goes through your head when you’re highlining?

When I am doing it right it is a meditation that wipes clean all thought except the beauty of the moment being embraced as a whole for then and there. The complete now. Sometimes though I have to give interviews, do tricks, try lines I can't walk, and during those times thoughts are so fast and spontaneous it’s hard to list them all. Tons and tons of things machine gun through your head, and the beauty of conquering that stream of thought into full relaxation and acceptance is part of the beauty of the sport.


How do you practice mindfulness?

I do a lot to practice mindfulness. I have become interested in the idea that the first step to changing the world is to change your world first. When you want to start seeing better food, recycling, protection of the environment, the first step is to manipulate your life around you to see how to do it in a microscale. Once you see the complications that come in your day to day life it is easier to help other people transition to being more mindful too.


What’s coming up next for you?

Next is the month of November which brings on the most beautiful time to have a huge team of people come to Moab, Utah to do the biggest and coolest projects ever seen by man! So needless to say I am super excited. We are hosting some trash bag challenges for Conscious Adventurist, we are hosting a fundraiser for the local police, Bureau of Land Management and state and we are having the largest extreme sports festival meeting in the U.S. and rigging a bunch of highlines. Hopefully I will break my current personal record of 230 meters.

 

 

 

Anja Semanco

Creative Writer & Journalist

@ansemanco

 

Anja Semanco

Anja is a professional freelance writer living in Boulder, Colorado. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and appears in such places as Terrain.org and Zoomorphic magazine. Keep up with her at anjasemanco.com.

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Staying Mindful in the City

By Conscious Adventurist Admin

Staying Mindful in the City

It is early morning. It is a perfect, silent morning which holds the cool air like two cupped hands. The street in front of the porch is perfectly still. The robins sweep the morning beneath their wings as they huddle on the dewy grass, plucking worms from the dirt. The finches gather in quiet bunches in the bushes, engrossed in a soft chatter.

In just three hours, Pittsburgh will come to life. In just three hours the students will emerge from their crummy apartments and trudge to class along the hectic streets of the urban university campus. The commuters will begin their drone along Fifth Avenue and Forbes Avenue. The air will fill with the whirs of sirens and the heavy hum of medivac helicopters landing on the local hospital rooftops.  

But for these three hours, from 6 am to 9 am, I am at perfect peace. I am alone on the front porch with a ceramic mug filled with hot tea and a heavy black Moleskine notebook. These are my hours. This is my time.

When I lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the early hours were my meditations. I spent as much time as I could every morning hauling up the words from the depths and tossing them on the page in any way possible. At the time I didn't know it was a mindfulness practice, but what else would you call the careful and studied observance of your world every single morning?

I am a writer and so I watched and listened and smelled and tasted what every day was like. I wrote it all down. If I could see my breath one morning in September, I wrote that down. If the geese were headed south, honking along in their steady chains, I wrote that down too. If I was stressed or anxious or uncertain about my life, I wrote that down as well. It was a daily mindfulness practice I barely realized I was participating in.

Observe the world, release tension, begin the day.

At the time, I lived with six other people. As soon as the sun broke open over the hills, the commotion began. The day would begin and music was already blasting, friends were laughing, someone was yelling up to the third floor, and this is the way it went each day like so many long and rattled sighs.

The city itself was loud in the way white noise is loud –– always there, humming in the background, barely noticeable until someone turns it off. My mornings writing on the front porch or at my desk by the window were the moments where I could turn the city off. If I listened closely I could hear the blood rushing behind my ears. If I sat long enough, I would notice the sound of the pen scratching over the paper. If I could be disciplined enough to pull myself from my bed before the sun was up and watch the subdued mornings crawl along to hectic afternoons, then I had succeeded.

On days that felt particularly dense and muddled, I would wander off into a nearby park and walk the limestone paths and count my breaths. Five big, slow breaths to descend the stone steps into the park. Four big breaths to get to the little stone bridge. Another couple dozen breaths until the path turned and dropped down into the creek. Several more until the steep hill. A handful of quick breaths ascending and then a deep sigh out upon reaching the top of the trail.

I was breathing and writing and trying so hard to be present, and I barely knew what I was accomplishing. Like so many people, I often felt that I could not be mindful or conscious of my connection to the world if I did not get out of the city and move into the tall mountains and uninhabited forests. I didn't know yet how wrong I was.

Two years ago I moved to Boulder, Colorado and thought now I can begin my life. But two years in and I've learned that no matter how close you are to the mountains and glacial lakes and serene aspen groves, your life begins when you take daily control of it. It doesn't matter where you are. Those mornings with my cup of tea, in a bustling urban center, on the edge of a massive university, were some of the most present and fulfilling mornings of my life.


Anja Semanco

Writer & Explorer

@ansemanco

 

Anja is a professional freelance writer living in Boulder, Colorado. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and appears in such places as Terrain.org and Zoomorphic magazine. She is passionate about the environment and getting women outdoors. 

Anja Semanco

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