The Feathered Pipe Ranch is a world-renowned retreat center that hosts weeklong yoga and wellness workshops from June through September, and as of this recording, we are smack in the middle of the season. Every retreat is full of amazing people traveling from all parts of the country and even the world—yesterday I met a woman who traveled all the way from Brazil.
This year feels like a true reunion of humanity. People are open, vulnerable, eager to learn and willing to lean into friendship and healing. At least that’s what I’ve experienced in speaking with guests. A real presence that leaves me optimistic for our collective futures.
To celebrate midseason, we’re airing the “Best of Season Two” episode, a taster to hear pieces of all 12 episodes from our second podcast season, and invite you to go back and visit the ones that you missed over the last six months. Based on the analytics, I’m seeing that many new people are still finding and listening to season two, which is really incredible since most of the conversations really are timeless and worth checking out even while the podcast team takes the summer hiatus.
The Dandelion Effect Podcast is a gentle reminder that inspiring and extraordinary people are out there doing good in the world. These conversations explore a range of topics including generational healing, veteran’s mental health, the law of attraction, food as a love language, sustainable building, ethical technology and mindfulness, energy medicine, adventure travel, and much more.
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Amory Lovins (00:01):
A lot of us stir and strive in a spirit I call applied hope, which is not some airy theoretical hope. It’s not glandular optimism, which is another kind of fatalism where you treat the future as fate not choice and don’t take responsibility for creating the world you want. Applied hope is a very deliberate choice of heart and head to do each day the things, make the choices that will create a world worth being hopeful about. Frances Moore (Frankie) Lappé said that, “Hope is a stance, not an assessment.” And Raymond Williams said, “To be truly radical is to make hope possible, not spare convincing.” And then that great activist Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary, use words.”
Andy Vantrease (01:06):
Welcome to the Dandelion Effect podcast, a space for organic conversation about the magic of living a connected life. Just like the natural world around us, we are all linked through an intricate web, a never ending ripple that spans across the globe. Here we explore the ideas that our guests carry through the world. Remember who and what inspired them along the way, and uncover the seeds that help them blossom into their unique version of this human experience. This podcast is a production of the Feathered Pipe Foundation, whose mission is to help people find their direction through access to programs and experiences that support healing, education, community, and empowerment.
Hi everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Dandelion Effect podcast. I’m your host, Andy Vantress, and I’m coming to you today from the Feathered Pipe Ranch in Helen Montana, where I have been lucky enough to spend my summers for the last several years. The Feathered Pipe Ranch is a world renowned retreat center that hosts week long yoga and wellness workshops from June through September. And as of this recording, we are smack in the middle of the season. Every retreat so far has been full of amazing people from all parts of the country and even all over the world. Yesterday I met a woman who traveled all the way from Brazil to come here. This year really feels like a true reunion of humanity. People are open, vulnerable, eager to learn, and really willing to lean into friendship and healing. At least that’s my perspective from what I’ve experienced in speaking with guests this summer.
A real presence that leaves me optimistic for our collective futures, especially after the last few years of hardship and challenge and confusion. There’s a lot of beauty that has come out of that, and we’re seeing that unfold in real time here at the ranch this summer. To celebrate mid-season, we are airing the best of season two episode, a taster to hear pieces of all 12 episodes from our second podcast season. And a little reminder for you to go back and visit the ones that you missed over the last six months. Based on the analytics I’m seeing that many new people are still finding and listening to season two, which is incredible because most of the conversations really are timeless and they’re worth checking out even while the podcast team takes the summer hiatus for us to really be here at the ranch with people.
These conversations that you’ll hear in today’s episode explore range of topics including generational healing, veterans mental health, the law of attraction, food as a love language, sustainable building, ethical technology and mindfulness, energy medicine, adventure, travel, and so much more. Please enjoy the different voices you hear and the stories that are told. And if you’re moved by any particular clip, you can find contact information for the guests in their specific episode show notes. So without further ado, enjoy this episode and we’ll see you on the other side.
Episode one, Judith Hanson, Lasater, internationally known yoga teacher, author, and the first teacher to host a retreat at the Feathered Pipe Ranch in 1975, excerpt from Trusting the Body’s Wisdom to Guide Us Home.
Judith Hanson Lasater (04:24):
Thinking is a useful tool. I hope I can do it well. But what yoga talks about, what the “problem” is, is that we believe our thoughts. What yoga teaches is that we want not to identify with them: “I am Judith. I am a yoga teacher. I live in San Francisco. I am a mother. I have nine grandchildren. I live on such and such a street. I like this. I’m good at that. I’m not good at that.” You know, thinking about, instead of the experience of.So, let’s try this little experiment: Sit up well, so you’re sitting in front of your sitting bones, not on your tailbone, then you’d be slouching. If it’s safe for you to do this now, hearing us, sit in front of your sitting bones, and slightly drop your head. Go to the geographic center of your brain. Now release the root of your tongue. [Silence for 10 seconds.] I’m guessing that you moved slightly when I said, “Release the root of the tongue,” you moved immediately into a space of silence where thought was minimal. Is that true?
Andy Vantrease (04:24):
Mm hmm. Something big shifted when I moved my tongue, yes.
Judith Hanson Lasater (04:24):
So that is consciousness, pure consciousness, which is behind thinking. And that’s what being present means: recognizing and remembering. So first, let me say something about the neurology of the tongue and the brain. The tongue and the brain are very connected neurologically. The parts of our brain that are reading, speaking and thinking are very connected to the tongue. Now, there are a lot of people running around loose where that’s not true—their tongue is not connected to their brain. [laughter]Have you ever seen—or maybe you were this kid—children when they learn to write? You look at them and it’s so cute, their tongue is sticking out of their mouth, and they’re writing with their tongue? They’re making the letters with the tongue.
Andy Vantrease (04:24):
I have family members that do this thing with their tongue when they’re writing or when they’re like, really concentrated on something. It’s not quite sticking out, but it’s out and they’re like biting it.
Judith Hanson Lasater (04:24):
Yeah, so neurologically thinking, speaking, and the tongue—they’re very, very, very intimately connected neurologically. So I have found that just going to the center of my brain, the geographic center of my brain, anatomical center, and then dropping down a level and releasing the root of my tongue, which I always find is tense. Then there’s the lotus of the heart. And then there’s the deep, rich belly, where, if you tune into it, you can feel the heartbeat of life itself. Because you’re not living in the universe; the universe is living through you. The life force is living through you.
Andy Vantrease (08:00):
Episode two, Tom Ryan, one of our resident elders, world’s best father and caretaker of the Feathered Pipe Ranch from 1975 to 2008, excerpt from A Life Built on the Law of Attraction. As an elder to those of us who are trying to stay connected with the original mission and preserve the essence of it, and do that in a way that fits with the times. You know, moving things online, doing things like this podcast, upgrading facilities to have to compare to this retreat industry that exists now that didn’t exist when you guys first started. How does it feel to now be in this position that you are in? What’s that experience like?
Tom Ryan (08:49):
Well, I think in a sense, it has arrived, and it’s just continuing to grow into what it is. I’ll go back to my first summer here: India and I were on the boat (that old boat that’s still at the Ranch) in the lake one afternoon. India’s telling me, “I don’t know how I’m going to pay you for being here. We don’t have much money.” I said to her, “I have a nice place to live, food to eat, and a lot of people to be with. I’m in great shape. I don’t need that.” I said, “Let’s just see if we can put this place on the map.” And I said that if we do—fine, and if we fall on our face in attempt to do it, hopefully we can walk out of here with a quarter in our pocket and say we had a great time.
Then I remember when she was on her deathbed, and I went to visit her. I told her, I says, “India, we did it. It’s on the map—it was just voted as the number one retreat center in the country. So, you can go in peace.” And she did.
So that’s a big reflection right there as to where we are, from where we started. I think there’s a song about it: “We’ve come a long ways.” We did. And it’s nice to see the people who are here now, working at the Ranch and trying to keep it going and improving and upgrading. The energy that these people have, they’re here because they want to be here, and that helps. I mean, a lot of people have a job that they’re going to because they need some money, and I’m sure that these people also need the money. But they’re here because they want to be here. Everybody seems to mesh together nicely.
Andy Vantrease (11:16):
So o given that you’ve lived at a yoga center and conscious living center for a majority of your life (almost the last 50 years), there’s so much along the way that I’m sure that you’ve picked up. I’m curious of what you would say today is your spiritual practice or your sacred practices or the things that keep you connected and…
Tom Ryan (11:16):
Andy Vantrease (11:16):
Sane, and you know, just keep you thriving and engaged in life.
Tom Ryan (11:16):
My biggest thing is being thankful. I mean, I go through my house when I’m here by myself, and I look at different segments of this house and know how it came together. Or I look out the windows and see what’s out there. I just give thanks to the power that made all this possible, made me being here possible. I was raised as a Catholic until I had a foul experience with the Catholic Church and walked away from it. And coming to the Ranch, there’s a lot of spiritual awareness here. India brought Hinduism here. I never knew anything about Hinduism, and now I know a little bit about Hinduism, and I know of Sai Baba, and have been in his presence as close as I am to you right now. And Buddhism. Those are probably my two closest touchstones to any spirituality at this point.
I don’t have any particular practice that I follow. I just live in this place. I feel I live in a cathedral. The whole place, I mean, I look out the window at the snow-capped mountains around me. I don’t see anybody else’s house or wires or roads, anything. So, it’s what God, or that energy or that force, put here. That’s what I get to enjoy every day, to look at that with thanks every day. Thank you for being here. Thank you for this house. Thank you for these people that I get to associate with. Everything. It’s just a big thank you. Just give thanks for what you have.
Andy Vantrease (13:54):
Episode three, Claudia Krevat, Columbian, chef, writer, educator, and ambassador for Ola Montana, excerpt from We are One at the Table.
You know, one of the things that I asked people is “Who influenced you?” And I know that Mama Esco was a big influence on you. And you also had an English teacher a little bit later in life that was a big influence. Two really powerful and wise women that seem to give you wisdom, give you attention, give you love and care and in different ways and introduce you to things. So tell me a little bit about those two women.
Claudia Krevat (18:30):
So Mama Esco, Maria Escorcia, was the “cocinera,” the cook in the house. She’s this black lady, you know, as old as history. I don’t know, she looked ancient to me. And the color of her skin, I remember from looking at eggplants, was like eggplant; it was shiny black with like a purplish tint in it. She had white curly hair and it was always wild. And she was extremely skinny, and the white uniforms never fit her—they were too big—so she would take her red dust cloth and she would wrap it around. So, at six o’clock in the morning or something, you would see her sweeping the little tile area, smoking her cigarette, and she had this transistor radio that was as old as she was. And then she would use like Reynolds wrap. Because the antenna was broken and she would create an antennae to create better reception.
Andy Vantrease (18:30):
And what type of music was she playing?
Claudia Krevat (18:30):
Oh, she was playing Cumbia. Cumbia is Colombian Afro music, which is pretty much all drums. And then it has a flute. So it’s a combination of music of culture: the flute is the native the indigenous; the drums are the African influence, and pollera is the Spanish skirt, like the flamenco dancers. So it’s a blend.You know, Mama Esco came to my life at a very important time for my formation. She came at a time where I was questioning a lot about my parents’ separation, more than I had before. And my aunt had five sons, so not that she didn’t love me, but she was focusing on those five boys because some of them had a lot of issues going on.
Andy Vantrease (18:30):
Yeah, five boys, my gosh, you’re busy.
Claudia Krevat (18:30):
And then she was also involved in all these benefits. You know, she was always helping the poor people with some organizations, working in little hospitals in the pueblos. So Mama Esco, you know, I just tended to go to the kitchen. Because I liked food and I guess, you know, I was finding comfort in eating, right? I never saw it as an eating disorder or anything like that. I just like being there. I like the atmosphere there. I like how she allowed me to explore and how she told me stories.
One of the things that she taught me was that to cook you must feel, and that you must use your senses, and that the rice speaks to me. The rice is telling me when I must throw the water in because we sauté our rice, like when we make pila, we don’t put the water and then the rice. You take the Caldera, which is that pot that I served you the rice with, and we put the oil and a clove of garlic, and we let it get sizzling hot, then we throw in the rice and we stir it and we let it cook. Then it gets to a point where it’s going, “Waterrrr!” So she taught me like, I could be somewhere in the house and I’m keeping an eye on what the food on the stove is telling me to do. So she taught me that, and how to use the smell, right? When is the coconut really getting to that point where you need to lower it down because it’s caramelizing and it smells sweeter than it did at the beginning.
And then she talks about love. That was like the last sense that you got to put in and good thoughts. And then you got to have music. And it’s just got to be a wonderful experience. So that’s how I cook. That’s how I learned, and it made me happy so I continue.
Andy Vantrease (18:36):
Episode four, Jessica Bugbee, US Army Combat Veteran Wellness Director at Hudson Valley National Center for Veteran Reintegration, and co-founder of Tribe excerpt from the Way of the Female Warrior.
Jessica Bugbee (18:52):
Just irony, but my very first mission out of the gate, there was a mass casualty, and someone handed me a baby, and the parent was also standing right there, screaming. I just remember having that out-of-body experience, you know. And then I just took that deep breath—ahhh—and told myself, “Okay.” And that’s where everything just kind of clicked into place. From that point on, for about 10-12 years, I worked pretty flawlessly. I knew very well how to do that.
I believe that I could operate in such a way that no one could see that I was living in that space of fight-or-flight. I had such a façade. I think that’s why it made me so good around the men because I had a poker face. I was very laser focused. I saw death. I saw life and I saw death, like, in a moment—and it really did something to me. And sometimes I didn’t understand how some people could not get their act together or not have certain things, you know. If they weren’t on point, and they didn’t know their stuff, I couldn’t understand it. I was a hard ass to people at times. I could be quite judgmental about certain things.
When I was a sergeant and leading soldiers, my nickname was “The Standard.” And I didn’t know that for quite some time, until someone had let the cat out of the bag, I guess. It was like, “Huh, okay, The Standard,” but really, it was like, not funny, you know? Wow, that’s got to be a lot of pressure for someone. I did that to even my romantic partners. And talking about living consciously—when you start to sit back and look at the pressure you put on other people, the expectations you put on other people, especially when we’re all like struggling in this, this place, this warzone. I try not to live my life in regret. But I do wish that I could go back and be a kinder, gentler, spiritual being during that time. But I suppose maybe somebody would have died. Maybe I would have died, you know.
Andy Vantrease (21:36):
Episode five, Rodney Yee, internationally recognized yoga teacher, author and co-founder of UZIT, Urban Zen Integrative Therapy excerpt from Honoring Ancestry and Exploring the Beginner’s Mind.
Rodney Yee (21:51):
Well, like I told you, the first time I did yoga, I immediately felt something like a liberation and such a contentment that I hadn’t felt before. It was like, what is it about this practice that’s allowing me to at least temporarily let go of some of the everyday habitual burdens that probably stay with me because I’m holding them there. In other words, the story is not happening anymore. What’s happening is I’m talking to you right now over Zoom, we’re both in our respective places, and there’s all kinds of things happening now. But there is also, as Thich Nhat Hanh would say—and we should give some bow and honor to him since he just passed away—that when you look at a rose, you’re also looking at the sun. You’re also looking at the cloud and the rain and the earth that produced that rose. That’s all actually in the body of the rose in the present moment.”
So, in some ways, all of my ancestry and all my future children are present within me right now. For me to use the tools of yoga to help that come to the surface then at least it can be recognized. It doesn’t need to be fixed. It’s sort of like, this is who I am, and to see myself more clearly, in any given moment, allows there to be some incredible liberation. Everybody thinks they have to get rid of it or have to surgically remove it. They think of liberation as being something that gets rid of things. But maybe getting rid of actually takes place through a sense of receiving it and accepting it and being with. For instance, I feel like Asana is a little bit like baking a pot. When you throw a pot, it’s not very strong, but then when you fire it, it becomes a strong vessel. Then when you glaze it and fire it again, it becomes stronger. To me, there’s an alchemy that’s taking place in Asana and pranayama and meditation. Let’s just pretend Asana is the first making of the pot, and pranayama is the first firing of the pot. Meditation is then the glazing of the pot, and Samadhi is just the using of the pot.
So, it’s like, I am the pot and it’s being utilized for service.
Andy Vantrease (23:53):
Episode six, Bob Quinn, Montana based, scientist, farmer, author, and entrepreneur, excerpt from The High Cost of Cheap Food.
Bob Quinn (24:04):
People who have trouble eating wheat, there are four things that you can do to really stack the deck in your favor: One is eat organic. So, it’s not just the breeding; it’s also the residue of pesticides and herbicides that are on the grain. That, for some people, is the main problem. Not for all, but for some. So, if you eat organic, you can eliminate that. If you eat heirloom or ancient wheat, you can eliminate the change that was made in the breeding program. That’s when it really kicked in the whole idea of abundant cheap food after World War II. This country, after they saw what happened in Europe, had no interest in us ever going hungry. So, there was a big push to have cheap, abundant food.
Andy Vantrease (24:46):
How do you know which are the old grains? I mean, what are some of the names of them, or how do people find them?
Bob Quinn (24:52):
You have to ask. So, the ancient wheats are Einkorn, emmer—sometimes called farro—spelt, but you have to make sure it’s not modern spelt that has been crossed with modern grain, but an ancient heirloom type spelt. You have to ask about that. And of course, our khorasan wheat is in that group. And then any wheats that are from pre-World War II, so Turkey Red or from Canada, the Red Fife. Some of those other ones are not so common, but you can find them. And a lot of people can tell in eating the grains if they have trouble or not, especially those that go to Europe and they say, “Well, I can eat the bread in Europe, but I can’t eat it in America.” Well, then that tells me. First of all, their wheat hasn’t had the amount of breeding ours has because their bread is different. Generally, they’re not really trying to make air bread like we do. They do a lot of sourdough, their loaves are much more compacted, and that’s just their tradition. So, they don’t have that kind of problem.
The third thing you can do is eat whole grain instead of just white flour. White flour products, you’re throwing away a third of the nutrition, so there’s things in there that can help with your digestion, like the fiber and additional protein and vitamins that go out to the pigs with the bran. I tell people, the pigs are eating better than we are! And then the last thing that I’ve already mentioned, is looking for sourdough instead of fast-rising yeast. Fast-rising operations have only time to digest the sugar and turn that into carbon dioxide, and they don’t even get to working on the starch or the proteins or gluten at all. They’re just acting for less than an hour even; sourdough goes for 24 hours or 48 or even up to 72 hours. 95% of all the gluten is gone with a 72-hour fermentation. It’s like pre-digestion, so when your body eats that bread, it’s already half-digested for you, you could say. And people can tell the difference. So, if you do all four of those things, you’re about 85 to 95% assured that you’re going to be able to eat wheat without any problem anymore. But we don’t know who the 5% or 10% are, so you just have to try it and experiment yourself. And this is non-celiac. Celiac is only 1% of the population, but for some of those people, it’s life and death.
Andy Vantrease (27:04):
Episode seven, Linda Kinsey, member of the A’aninin Nation and Native Connections director for Helena Indian Alliance, excerpt from Healing Historical Trauma.
Linda Kinsey (27:17):
Fast forward to now at, at our, uh, ceremonies, our spiritual ceremonies that we have, we have three major ones, sometimes, sometimes two, sometimes only one in the summertime. And it attracts so many natives from all over the place, especially our own people. And so we have that very profound, um, spiritual understanding and gifts and practices, and a lot of it is centered around that Feathered Pipe. You know, that Feathered Pipe has been with our people throughout all of those tragedies. Um, you know, the coming over here, the movement, the epidemics, the poverty, the loss of language, the loss of pretty much, um, you know, traditions and spiritual practices. But that’s been with us. And so I still, um, have that strong sense that there’s something to that. Mm-hmm.
Andy Vantrease (28:07):
<affirmative> Can you explain a bit what a pipe represents for some of the listeners that are non-native, that maybe have not heard of what this is? It’s a relic, but you just explained it as something that is one of the reasons that people have been able to carry on. Is there anything that you want to share, or can share about what a pipe is, what it represents, and then anything about the Feathered Pipe itself?
Linda Kinsey (30:55):
It’s part of what we would call a creation story. We have two creation stories, and this one is surrounding the Feathered Pipe and how it came to be with our people. In the sense of that particular relic, or the Feathered Pipe, it’s really supernatural…faith in history and understanding of supernatural events. That whole story came to us from a dream that a young boy had. It was through a dream and instructions through what we would call grandfathers, or guardian angels. Our ancestors who are no longer with us gave him instructions on that pipe—on how to use it, what it meant, and how to pray with it. With what we would call pipes nowadays, if you want to talk about ceremonial pipes, there’s pipes that probably look like Native American pipes and are objects just for show. People don’t use them. But there’s truly other pipes that are really regarded as very sacred to that keeper, or to that family or tribe, that are used. It’s not really the pipe itself…the tangible item, like the stem in the bowl is usually made from pipestone, or some kind of hard rock, but it’s the medicine that you put into the pipe to use for smoking or sharing.
A lot of times we hear about stories on peacekeeping. I guess in English we would call it a “peace pipe,” that was used in the treaty days. The Indians would sit down and have a pipe ceremony. That tobacco is what we would use as that herb in that pipe, along with a mixture of other medicines they’d want to use. It’s what we would call our chief medicine. It’s really ironic because modern day tobacco is very toxic and very harmful. Smoking is not recommended for your good health. But the tobacco leaf and plant itself is for a lot of Native Plains tribes what we would refer to as our chief medicine. And it’s a communicator when used, and prayed with, and thought of with intention on that herb.
Andy Vantrease (30:58):
Episode eight, Amory Lovins, physicist, co-founder of Rocky Mountain Institute, currently RMI, an author of 31 books, excerpt from Taoism and the Art of Creating a Sustainable Future.
Amory Lovins (31:14):
The reason I was able to reframe the energy problem was there was no place you could study it. I didn’t know that much about it, so I had nothing to unlearn. Therefore, I was able to practice, and I’ve cultivated ever since, what in Eastern tradition is called beginner’s mind, original mind, child mind—where you let go of all assumptions and preconceptions, and therefore can take a completely fresh view. In those days, for example, the energy problem was thought to be, “Where do we get more energy? More of any kind from any source at any price.” I started, instead, at the other end by asking, “What do you want energy for? What are you trying to do with it?” You don’t really want lumps of coal, raw kilowatt hours, barrels of sticky black goo. You’re actually trying to get hot showers and cold beer and comfort and mobility, and to bake bread, and smelted aluminum and so on. For each of those so-called end uses, which had not been previously examined, how much energy of what kind or quality, at what scale, from what source, will do the job in the cheapest way?
Andy Vantrease (31:14):
This was a revolutionary inversion of what problem we were trying to solve. It turned out to give far better foresight, and it’s now very widely adopted. But when I followed that logic, of course, it led to a completely different sort of energy vision, where you’d bring a lot more work out of the energy we had. That was the cheapest thing to do. And then increasingly get it from renewable sources that would be the right size and quality for the job, and socially compatible and acceptable and accessible.
Episode nine, VJ Supera, world traveler, purveyor of ancient textiles, beads and jewelry and older sister of Feathered Pipe founder India Supera excerpt from The Magic of Living Without a Map.
I’d love to hear about your most memorable or jungly trip. Is there any that you’ve been writing about? Mount Kailash seems to be a big one.
VJ Supera (37:44):
I might’ve sent you a copy of it. I kind of wrote it out a little bit. I think I was probably in my 50’s then. Even though I was older, I was still young enough to go off on a cryptic message and find a Tajik who spoke broken English.
Andy Vantrease (37:44):
That’s the one I was going to ask you about!
VJ Supera (37:44):
That’s one of my all-time faves. I don’t know why. I was in Peshawar, and I had finished up my shipment and everything. India and I had a really old friend there, Colonel Khushwaqt-ul-Mulk. He was from the royal family of Chitral. India met him in ’68, and I met him in ’88. She gave me a cryptic message to find the Colonel when I went to Peshawar for my first trip. I used to stay with him, and he knew everything about adventure. I was with him, and I always used to carry a map of Central Asia with me—a really jungly one, because I always wanted to go travel in Central Asia. This is before it was opened up. But he said no, go to Chitral. He had heard there was a Tajik who spoke broken English, and have that Tajik take me to Tajikistan.
So, I went up there with that cryptic message in mind. On my cargo Jeep going up, there was just cargo Jeeps that carry stuff, I met this guy named Dominique. He was Italian, but he had a business in England where he took people out on horseback rides in those parts of the world, Sanskaar or anywhere like that. He was up there too, and we just made friends. He was going to meet his guy who was bringing the horses back from another camp. Anyway, as it turned out, Colonel told me to find his subedar, the man that takes care of the lands, and tell him to find me the Tajik. When I found the subedar, he said, “Do you have a note from the Colonel?” I didn’t have one. So, he said, “That Tajik’s gone back to Tajikistan.” But when I was in town for a few days by the fort, I was visiting Colonel’s wife. He could tell that I knew some people. I love this thing where me and Dominique are cooking at night, and he squats by our fire, and he says, “His name’s Abdul, and he’s in Choonch.” He knew then that he could give me that information.
Then I told Abdul, “Let’s ride the horses up next day, do you mind?” and we rode them up there. We found a Tajik, but he said he didn’t speak any broken English, and he didn’t want to travel with me because he didn’t know me, and the Taliban were giving trouble. So, Dominique and I came back, and I was really dejected and sad. And then Dominique said, “Well go to Swat, I know an apple seller there.” I said, “No, I’m not going to go off on another cryptic message.” A few days later I said, “Maybe there’s another Tajik who speaks broken English. Let’s go back to that chai shop and see if we can find him.”
But then I met this Mr. Beg, who was Colonel’s old driver. He was up there too, and he spoke pretty good English. I waited in the chai shop while he and Dominique went off to find Abdul and bring him back. It was the same Abdul, but now Abdul said he would take me. We were in this backroom and it was just my favorite, because there were big jerry cans of kerosene, there were hides, there was a slate table, and I was like, “Oh my god, I’m putting my first caravan together. What do we need?”
Mr. Beg said he’d go along with us, so I was trying to figure out how much to give Abdul, but Mr. Beg had to go shopping for sugar and tea and flour. How much flour do we need? How much sugar do we need? We didn’t even have the horses yet. We’d have to carry packs. I went up to Mr. Beg, that was a little farther up the road in a cargo Jeep, and then we had to leave at two in the morning to go way at the end of the road before the Wakhan Corridor starts. We packed my luggage up in plastic sheeting, so it looked tribal with a lot of ropes around it, and I wore some men’s clothes just in case. He did find us some porters to carry our stuff at first, so we went out with them. And there was one of those horrible bridges I called D-minus, where there was no place to hold on and nothing on the bottom. You’re crossing these rivers—and it’s a good thing you don’t know these things when you start out an adventure. You’d never go.
Andy Vantrease (37:46):
Episode 10. Dave Morin, entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist, and chairman of Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, excerpt from Seeking Balance in the Age of Technology.
Dave Morin (38:01):
One of the things people don’t realize is that your brain has no chance. Facebook is a 10 million computer computer. There are 10 million computers and data centers around the world that run Google and run Facebook. I think Google is actually 100 million computers now. And your one brain has no chance against these mega computers that are incredibly smart.
The whole fundamental problem of the internet right now is that we haven’t discovered a business model that is a humane business model. Internet has been around for 29 years since I was a child, when Mosaic launched, and I was playing with Mosaic in my grandfather’s room. The dream has always been this utopia where everybody can publish, and everybody can find a community. You can find the 1,000 people that are into what you’re into.
That’s the thing that I’ve always loved the most about the internet, because when I was a kid in that room in Montana, I could find other ski racers. I could find people that were into the music that I like. I could find other kids with ADD. I didn’t feel so alone. Those are the great things about the internet. But the problem is, up until this point, we haven’t discovered a business model that’s not advertising. Because of advertising, when you have a 10-million-person computer at the center of a billion people using a system, the system will always be smarter than any individual one person. If you think of it, it’s very simple—the computer knows what everyone is doing. There’s an asymmetry. It’s like the computer is smarter than any one person.
I think it comes back to the point that I was making earlier around—be on offense, not defense. I always say this to entrepreneurs that I work with, “Design your life first, and then let the company eat the rest of it.” When building a new company, or a new family, all available time will be taken. Design the balance into your actual schedule. If you’re married, make sure you’re doing date nights, once or twice a week. If you’re a parent, make sure you’re taking time for yourself probably every day, whatever your workout is. Make sure that you’re prioritizing when you’re going to eat. There’s all these things that are part of living a holistically healthy life, that the internet will consume all of if you don’t design in the stuff that’s healthy first. That applies to being a founder or entrepreneur, or just trying to live a more healthy life.
Andy Vantrease (40:40):
Episode 11, Tim Sloffer, high school math teacher, winner of the Lilly Creative Grant for Indiana teachers and our longest visiting guest in 2021, excerpt from a Teacher’s Guide to Lifelong Learning.
Tim Sloffer (40:55):
All the groups are so unique and interesting. I kind of learned that as I was there, just the flow of the week and how it goes with the guests. There’s that feeling-out period, and then there’s the time to explore the Ranch, and maybe an activity where you go out and do something. By the end of the week, everybody’s just in tears because they’re going to miss everybody so much. And you keep going through that flow over and over again.
Andy Vantrease (40:55):
Yeah, you were probably on an emotional rollercoaster, making all these new friends and then they leave and you’re still there. Then more friends, and then they leave and you’re still there. That’s how we feel as staff.
Tim Sloffer (40:55):
Yeah, there were a lot of discussions that were intense things, dealing with trauma and how that presents in the body. It was neat stuff to talk about and to learn about. Then I did the Iyengar Yoga with Marla Apt—that was the next one. I didn’t have a lot of yoga experience, but that was very different than any experience I’ve ever had with yoga. I really liked it, but it was so intense. It was two sessions a day, and each session was multiple hours. I just remember, towards the end of the week, going into that evening session thinking, “I don’t know if I can do it again.” But that’s about the time they let you do a restorative pose so you can kind of rest up. I think that’s the week that Heidi told me, “You don’t have to do at all. It’s okay.” That’s probably the other biggest thing that I’ve taken away—when Heidi brought that point home with me about listening to your body, and how you don’t have to push. In fact, that was a big thing about yoga, and how it’s okay to challenge yourself but you don’t have to push. My experience with athletics and the physical aspect of my life has always been about pushing harder. And I think that’s been what has gotten me to the point where I do deal with some injuries, because it’s always like, “You just got to push harder.”
Andy Vantrease (40:55):
That’s such a mainstream narrative to anybody coming from an athletic background who has usually been taught that mindset of “No pain, no gain. Push through it.” It’s such an interesting dynamic, because your body is the vehicle with which you’re doing the sport, but you’re almost told to not listen to it. That’s such great advice from Heidi. And that type of advice from yoga teachers, in my experience with yoga, is always really helpful too, because I think it even helps those of us who are people pleasers or want to be the “good student.” There’s even part of it where, if the teacher, coach, or somebody who is in some form of authority is telling me to do something, I’m going to try my best to do that. And with yoga, that same thing that happened to you also happened to me where I started to actually be taught to listen to myself. That has been a practice that has really helped me in a lot of other areas of life
Episode 12, Donna Eden, author, gifted energy healer and international teacher of the Eden Method, excerpt from Self-healing with Energy Medicine.
Donna Eden (44:25):
I saw a few doctors, and nobody could really help me, and neither could he. Nobody knew what they could do with multiple sclerosis. And I was getting worse and worse. I had a hard time walking, and then I had a heart attack at 27 because all my organs were breaking down. First of all, my mother was never worried. She always said, “Heal yourself, for goodness sakes. Just heal yourself. What are you thinking, you would go to somebody else? Heal yourself.” And really, my mother got herself completely well, a second time. When I was 16, she got TB again. This time, there was no chance she would ever walk out of that hospital again. And she decided, “Okay, I have to heal myself.” And she did. Anyway, that’s also what I did. When I had the fifth specialist say to me, “There’s nothing that we can do for you. All your organs are breaking down so quickly. You’ve got kids. Find homes for them. Find a way.”
Andy Vantrease (44:25):
Didn’t one of them give you an estimate of nine months to live?
Donna Eden (44:25):
Yes. And somebody else gave me maybe up to two years, but that was the most. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel frightened when that fifth doctor said that. I heard Mama saying, “Heal yourself.” I thought, “I’ll go home, and I’ll heal myself.” I did not have a brain to tell me what to do. I just started laying my hands on myself in different places and noticing what happened then. Every time I did something, what happened then? I wanted to get my legs stronger so I could really get around the house easier and not have to be in a wheelchair, so that’s what I did. I just started working on my legs. But what was interesting was the multiple sclerosis didn’t heal first. The first thing that happened was all my allergies went away. All of them. And it was amazing. I was eating bread, potatoes, and string beans, for God’s sake! I loved it so much.
Andy Vantrease (44:25):
Yeah, everything probably tasted amazing.
Donna Eden (44:25):
It was so wonderful. And eating all that food, I kept losing weight. I realized my metabolism had been turned off all those years. Probably if my body tried to metabolize something that was poison, it would have killed me. I think there was some intelligence that I knew was inside of me. I also had asthma really bad, and my asthma went away. And then my multiple sclerosis started going away. I had buzzing all over my body, all over my face, everywhere. You know that feeling when your foot or hands fall asleep? That’s what I felt everywhere. Sometimes I couldn’t talk because the buzzing was too much, so I couldn’t move my mouth. And that went away. I was getting more and more excited about everything. I was obnoxious when I was well because I wanted to tell everybody so badly.
Andy Vantrease (44:25):
Yeah, it’s just such a contagious feeling of, “I cannot believe that this just happened, and I have to shout it from the rooftops!”
Donna Eden (44:25):
Yeah, that’s exactly it. And that’s what I did—I’d drag people into my house. I’d see somebody on the street, and I would say, “Here, let me tell you what you can do for that!” And they didn’t know how I knew that they had it. Nobody was aware that I was seeing their energy, but I could see if they had cancer, or whatever it was. And so, I just started teaching classes. In the beginning, my very first class was five bucks for the whole weekend. I wanted a whole lot of room to make mistakes, because I knew I couldn’t find my words, but I knew I had something that I could tell them about and share. In the beginning, I didn’t think I was teaching. I thought, “I’m just sharing with people what they can do for themselves.”
Andy Vantrease (47:43):
That’s a wrap. The best of season two mashup is complete. I don’t know about you, but hearing all 12 episodes from this spring really reminded me what incredibly widespread community we have here at the Feathered Pipe. This season was special because we not only talked to people associated with the ranch, but we branched out to guests who have personal and professional missions that align with ours. Guests like Chef Claudia, Dave Morin, and Bob Quinn. They’re new friends of ours that came into our sphere as a direct result of the Dandelion Effect happening in real life.
As this community grows, our knowledge expands and so do our options and ideas for how to contribute to the world in a positive and uplifting way. Thank you to everyone who came on the show, who courageously shared their truths with me and for everyone who has been listening, sharing the episodes, telling friends about the podcast, and donating to the Feathered Pipe Foundation to keep this project going. We love you. We appreciate you and we truly couldn’t do this without you.
A special thank you to Matthew Marsolek and the Drum Brothers, whose music you hear at the beginning and end of this podcast, as well as Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen, who first turned us on to the phenomenon of the Dandelion Effect and how ideas move through the world.
This podcast is a production of the Feathered Pipe Foundation, a 501c3 dedicated to healing, education, community and empowerment. If you’d like to help support this project, please visit FeatheredPipe.com/gratitude or leave a review on Apple podcasts and share with your friends. Be sure to tune in to our next episode in two weeks. We cannot wait to share another amazing conversation with you. Until then, have a beautiful day.