This July’s running of our homegrown Feathered Pipe Foundation program marks our fourth year sharing an offline pause. Today, our board president offers reflections from, and about, those shepherding The Mindful Unplug Experience.
It’s easier than ever these days to surrender to unbounded time shackled to screens that capture our attention and put our senses to sleep. But there’s another sort of surrender — the one that invites us to reclaim our power over where we put our attention. It helps us rediscover our built-in capacity to soften life’s sharp edges and revives reverence and gratitude for what we can see, hear, taste, touch, and love. Instead of putting us to sleep, it wakes us from slumber, bringing consciousness and mindfulness to what we’ve become unconscious of and mindless about.
The Mindful Unplug blossomed from a seed of an idea that a handful of longtime Ranch enthusiasts dreamed up in late 2015. “Let’s fashion a Feathered Pipe mindfulness and sensory enlivenment program from scratch.” The concept was simple: unplugging in a sacred, nature-drenched, enchanted setting is an opportunity for a healthy reset of our stressed, digitally-deluged lives.
Each summer we uncover new reasons and strategies for taking a conscious pause from the confines of our devices. We relish the whimsy of the Ranch, and one another, to experience the delights of our interior and exterior landscapes without filters. We weave a calming balance of scheduled activities into stretches of unstructured time for you to settle into your natural rhythm. Nourishing and resilience-enhancing practices woven into the week’s choreography include: accessible-to-everyone yoga, user-friendly meditation, nature strolls, mindful sight and sound sensory enlivenment, investigation of how wisdom traditions apply to real life today, and cultivation of the vital life skill of restorative, conscious relaxation.
What Our Guides Plug into The Unplug
One of our guides at the Unplug, longtime Ranch friend and professional photographer Zane Williams, is putting down his camera more these days to appreciate his reality unmediated through a lens and share with others the revelation of truly seeing and sensing their world. I asked Zane to share his reflection on what makes The Mindful Unplug a worthy experience. He offered this:
“David Abram writes in The Spell of the Sensuous, ‘Today we participate almost exclusively with other humans and with our own human-made technologies. It is a precarious situation, given our age-old reciprocity with the many-voiced landscape. We still need that which is other than ourselves and our own creations.’ Our week at the Mindful Unplug addresses this issue, this challenge. Feathered Pipe Ranch will provide the many-voiced landscape. It will be our journey to find balance and harmony of voice — from within, with other attendees, with various animal voices present, and with the seeming inanimate landscape itself. What a rich adventure!”
This summer, in addition to morning movement and meditation class with yours truly and creative afternoon and evening sensory awareness practices with Zane, for the first time at The Mindful Unplug our gifted friend Matthew Marsolek of Drum Brothers is sharing participatory sound, rhythm awareness, and voice practices. These include an introduction to West African hand drumming and simple, guided exercises to open and free the voice as a prelude to a song circle that features chants and songs gathered from Matthew’s travels abroad and studies in world music.
The skilled duo of Annie Moyer and Amir Tahami will share, respectively, dharma talks and restorative practices. Amir blends his extensive background in yoga therapy with soothing restorative postures, while Annie demystifies and shares perennial truths from teachings in the world’s most enduring and beloved texts.
Here is Annie’s take on how dharma talks plug into the Unplug:
“Trying to sit down with an ancient text during lunch hour, or in the ten spare minutes before the kids get home from school, or while the dishes sit in the sink, or Netflix beckons, the words can get mushy. The march of life can drown out the call of wisdom. But temporarily removing the everyday-ness of life is the perfect chance to shine a light on universal truths, and that’s what we do together at The Mindful Unplug. I take an everyday approach to unpacking these truths, and I share them with the hope that we bring the wisdom back to everyday-ness and that its light brightens us . . . during lunch hour, with the kids, at the sink, before and after show binges, and in everything large and small in between daybreak and the next sleep.”
Ready to RSVP ‘Yes’ to Unplugging?
Is this your summer to surrender to The Mindful Unplug Experience? If so, we’ll meet you with open arms and willing hearts.
P.S. Feathered Pipe Foundation is offering a limited number of $500 partial scholarships for all 2019 hosted summer programs (excluding rental programs)! If you or someone you know is desiring to attend one of our retreats but struggling with the financial means, apply here.