Monthly Archives: May 2013

Thoughts on Western Renunciation

Clouds heavy with rain and an eerie mist have given today an introspective energy and I wanted to share some new thoughts and musings.

As I mentioned in the last blog, I’ve been reading Living with the Himalayan Masters, a collection of Swami Rama’s adventures compiled by his disciple Swami Ajaya.

The book is almost like a collection of biblical parables. The chapters are short, and center upon one or another extremely interesting story from Swamiji’s life. (How one person could experience so many interesting things is beyond me.) He does not bother with hyperbole or poetic language — it is not uncommon for him to reduce a period of two years into one sentence. At the end of these concise yet revealing stories, he tends to finish by expressing the wisdom and lessons learned from that particular scenario. The reader gets the fun and exciting stories of the highlights of a Himalayan renunciate’s life in tandem with profound knowledge transmissions gained from his direct experience. So it’s quite addicting.

…But also slightly poisonous.

“Why poisonous?”, you might ask. Surely a little bit of light-hearted spiritual literature can do nothing but good, bringing a deeper knowledge of yogic tradition and a glimpse into the romantic side of the renunciate lifestyle. But that latter part is a bit of a problem for me. The quasi-escapist notions of wandering the Himalayas, dreaming of spending years in disciplined practice, and sacrificing all physical and emotional attachments for spiritual awakening all seem like a pretty damn good idea. The poison – this beautiful poison – lies in the fact that things are alright at this moment and leaving it all behind would be so very, very hard.

This is not the first time I’ve considered the renunciate lifestyle. When I was 18, I left home quite abruptly and drove to Oregon without a plan. I ended up discovering a hybrid sort of community that is best described as a “spiritual development center”, and spent the better part of a year practicing meditation and studying Yogic philosophy. I took to the practices so well and with such zeal that I felt I might make a good sannyasi (Yogic monk/renunciate). However, life circumstances brought me back in university, where I vowed to complete my degree once and for all before moving onwards. Now I am once again feeling the pull of some sort of devoutly spiritual lifestyle.

It is extremely easy to “forget” about spiritual aspirations when engulfed in the world of youthful university lifestyle. Parties happen, substances happen, music festivals happen, and slowly but surely practices become chipped away. Now that I am able to spend my days in a karma yoga flow, and spending more time per day in meditation, I am being reminded of that which I love so deeply. I am deeply grateful to the amazing people at Sea to Sky Retreat Center for holding such a sacred space. The influence of community is not to be underestimated. No man is an island. Just like water eroding enormous mountains to the ground imperceptibly over time, so is the influence of those we surround ourselves with. I will be the first to admit that my friends are amazing people, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have such beautiful beings in my life. To all of my friends, I love you. I am in no way implying that my life has been negatively influenced by those whom I choose to interact with; rather, a long-brewing realization is starting to crystallize within me: I truly desire to devote my lifestyle to one of single-pointedness, fixation upon a single direction. It is becoming clearer and clearer that this direction will be spirituality. After experiencing and learning for myself the importance of sangha (community), should I be striving to live a lifestyle in which I am interacting with others who share this goal? Swami Rama says:

I have a firm conviction that no one can be enlightened by anyone else, but sages inspire and give inner strength without which self-enlightenment is impossible. In today’s world, human beings do not have any examples to follow. There is no one to inspire them, and that is why enlightenment seems to be so difficult. Great sages are the source of inspiration and enlightenment.

I don’t live in a world where I can walk to a straw hut outside of the city to have audience with a wise old hermit. Quite honestly, I don’t even know if these sages are to be found anywhere in Eastern Asia anymore! I mean, this book was written in 1978 — India has been westernizing, modernizing and capitalism-ing for over forty years since Swami Rama wandered the Himalayas. But his advice in the above quote need not be interpreted so literally. Taken more generally, Swami Rama is advocating here to spend time with spiritual role models and those who are travelling the same path as you so as to stay inspired and challenged.

Is renunciation possible in the west?

As I mentioned, I am not living in India. Canada and the United States are not known for a rich history of wandering sadhus and hermits. Homeless beggars do not get their bowls filled by citizens here. Renunciation is (or was, at least) honoured in India as a noble path. Here, our society is motivated by free-market economics, and if you are without material possessions and reliant on others’ goodwill to survive, you are an abject failure and deserve nothing. I don’t see any way to clearly discern purposeful renunciation with a “failure to thrive”, and thus do not expect that a hypothetical western renunciate would receive special treatment for any reason.

Even if one was to renounce all worldly goods, grab a bowl and a walking stick and begin trekking, things would be more difficult than in the East. We are young. Spiritual civilization basically began in ancient India — there are thousands of years of wisdom teachings and spiritual paths to be handed down in dozens of languages. In other words, there are more teachers, the sages which Swami Rama speaks about. Renouncing in the West is truly blazing one’s own path. In the Rocky Mountains, there will not be that guru in a cave which you seek. Perhaps a bear. This land has a rich history of Native American spirituality, but a systematic genocide by our predecessors has all but erased that. Now we have nothing ancient.

It would seem that running to the East is the only way to renounce in the traditional sense. But wait — that’s not traditional at all! I am not from Bhutan. I do not speak Nepali. The Himalayas are not my backyard. To travel across the world to chase the stories of a different generation is a romantic idea, but I should not be deluded into thinking there is tradition in this decision. On the other hand, the notion of a westerner travelling to the East for a “spiritual journey” is so common as to be cliched these days, meaning that a hypothetical caucasian renunciate would not be so out of place wandering around. More familiarity and friendliness from the locals would go a long way. And language? Well, English is (was?) India’s official language (thanks to British Colonialism), which seems nice in theory. The small villages, especially those surrounding the Himalayas, are full of many local dialects. Learning the language would be an essential task.

Shedding the big attachments

Renouncing, by definition, involves leaving behind all material possessions. The car, the tent, the drum, etc. All things. Meh – no problem! What are things, anyways? The physical aspect is the easy part, though. What about the emotional attachments?

Yogic sannyasi renunciates take a vow to forget their past lives, and are told not to talk about the past life before their renunciation. They even get a new name — they have been born again into a new section of life. Could you leave your significant other behind? How about your mom and dad? Your brothers and sisters? All your friends? Could you do this forever? I don’t know if I could. There’s not much to write on this, but a lot to think about.

The romantic notion of renunciation is also the most superficial aspect. Although wandering between secluded mountain caves and developing esoteric powers from deep meditation is all well and good, there is much hardship. Much. It is truly a difficult path. The lowest rung of Mazlow’s hierarchy — our most basic needs — are dependent upon the flow of the cosmos. With even the slightest doubt in the earnestness of one’s path, it could quickly become dangerous. Unflinching determination and clarity on the goal — tuning fully in to one’s dharma — results in all vital needs being fulfilled. Or so I am told.


Many people have reached enlightenment without needing to subscribe to the lifestyle of the renunciate. (Adyashanti, Gabriel Cousens and Eckhart Tolle come to mind.) For that matter, renouncing is not a pre-requisite for any spiritual attainments. This is vitally important to keep in mind when considering such a drastic path. As always, there is a spectrum of options. One rung down the ladder of austerity is a monk in a monastery. In such a situation, there is minimal material attachment, but food and shelter are not a daily concern. On the other hand, the environment is geographically constricted, and usually goes in tandem with quasi-religious ceremony and ritual, and the daily schedule must be followed (as opposed to created by you). It obviously makes more sense to stay within society while striving to deepen one’s practices, although this task is no easier than any other route to awakening. There is also the route of householder — working in the world while striving to stay unattached to it. The idea of working a job and having a family while successfully practicing non-attachment and selflessness in one’s actions seems incredibly daunting. To me, it almost seems harder than the sannyasi lifestyle!

Hmm. Lots to ponder.

This kind of stuff has been ruminating in my head lately, but I don’t think I’ll be dropping out of school or selling Luna the wondervan anytime soon. (i.e; Don’t worry, mom.) Despite the urgency I am feeling about doing things right now, I am fairly certain I will survive if I wait one more year before doing anything drastic. Hopefully. But I will be moving forward throughout the summer and paying attention to how I could see myself pursuing spirituality in a major way.

– The Silly Sadhaka


Karma Yoga at Sea to Sky Retreat Center

It was awfully hard to leave the wonders of the hotsprings, but we somehow managed to peel our relaxed bodies out of pools and back into Luna for the continuation of our journey. Then we had a unexpected one-day stopover in Revelstoke when Luna decided to reject her alternator. Finally, after a mildly stressful drive through the epic mountain passes of Highway 99 — which Luna actually did quite commendably — we arrived at the Sea to Sky Retreat Center in Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia.

Wow -- The view from the lakeside at SSRC. Cloudburst Mountain + Daisy Lake + Tibetan flag.

Wow — The view from the lakeside dock at SSRC. Cloudburst Mountain + Daisy Lake + Tibetan flag.

The way of life here is one of Karma Yoga.

Here, our work becomes a spiritual practice of selfless service. We are challenged to remain mindful of the task at hand and to stay in the present moment. Mundane tasks — take, for example, the quintessential ashramic event of chopping wood — become unexpected opportunities to tune into the Self. In the distracted wood chopper, the ego swings this way and that, thoughts roil and churn through the mind. The task is a chore, laborious and uninspiring. The axe swings through the air as the wood chopper thinks of what he wants to eat for dinner. In this manner, thoughts unsynchronized with the task at hand, neither the chopping nor the thinking is done to the fullest potential. Both are unsatisfying and the wood chopper is discontented.

The mindful wood chopper is chopping wood with body and mind. The mind is focused intently on the physical act of aiming the blow and moving the axe in a smooth arc. Chopping wood becomes the object of meditation — just as the breath is during seated practice. The mindful wood chopper trains himself in selflessness, thinking, “I am chopping wood so that the people who dwell here are able to warm and comfort their bodies during winter’s cold. I hope that all beings who suffer coldness of body or spirit find contentedness.” In this way the act of chopping wood transcends “chore” and turns into a beautiful opportunity for awareness of Self and selfless service.


The big staircase leading up to our lodging. Note that the steps are set upon one huge tree trunk!

The big staircase leading up to our lodging. Note that the steps are set upon one huge tree trunk!

In real life (outside of the wisdom texts), mindfulness is a constant challenge. It is a great assurance to know that all of the staff here at SSRC are vigilantly striving for mindfulness with limited success. This is not an easy task and nobody will ever say it is! But the location is ripe for encouraging spiritual reflection. The intimate connection with Canada’s thriving rainforest ecosystems acts as community within itself. I feel peaceful here, surrounded by seemingly infinite lifeforms, and it all acts as a continual reminder to keep present in the moment.

The main house of the center, with a kitchen, lounge and bedrooms.

The main house of the center, with a big kitchen, living room and bedrooms.

Nature is our friend. Nature is humanity. And to combine a human spiritual community with the sentient depth of the forest is a potent combination. The pictures on this post capture a few of the facilities on the property at Sea to Sky Retreat Center as well as the natural features of this land. Daisy Lake is totally astounding with Cloudburst mountain behind it. To the south is the Tantalus mountain range, looking rugged and aloof.

Heavy afternoon rainclouds crowd in upon the majesty of Cloudburst Mtn.

Heavy afternoon rainclouds crowd in upon the majesty of Cloudburst Mtn.

So far this place is really great.

There is an ideal work ethic here; it seems to be a blend of personal initiative and responsibility with structure and form. Every day, I know what I have to do and how to do it, but am given the ability to accomplish tasks with a bit of creativity. The staff here are totally open to suggestion and comments about how to build, clean and maintain the facilities and every opinion is considered — this builds confidence and trust within the center.

I was surprised that there are no scheduled meditations here at the center. It truly is karma yoga and the entirety of the spiritual practices here are work-based. One must do their meditation practices independently. Personally, I find immense value in group meditation. There is a saying that my acharya once passed on to me: To truly grow together as a functional community, the members must eat together, work together and meditate together. I don’t think a busy schedule is a valid excuse for not sitting every day. Perhaps I have been biased by my previous experience within community — but I think it’s a good bias!

The center's secondary house, fully equipped for quite a few people. Tucked away gently amidst the forest.

The center’s secondary house, fully equipped for quite a few people. Tucked away gently amidst the forest.

Sustainability and Spirituality

The Sea to Sky Retreat Center is a very low-impact center environmentally. A microhydro system from a strong mountain stream powers the electricity for the whole center. All water consumed here comes from up the hillside from a spring. The buildings are small and efficient, without wasted space. Buddhists from across Canada have volunteered and even donated money into the center, meaning that there is very little expenditures needed to cover labour and work costs. There is even a extensive library of spiritual literature, donated entirely by members of the sangha over time.

A lack of reliance on industrial and metropolitan influences has preserved a delicate and simple energy on this land. The creation of electricity on-site and the local water source provides a deep grounding trust in the giving nature of the land, bringing all people here closer to the source of creation. It is a humbling experience to be surrounded by the rainforest, drinking water from up the hill, warming up by a fire made from an local tree, reading by a lamp powered by water.

The pathway to our lodging crosses this beautiful mountain stream. This same stream is also, via a micro-hydro system, the source of the center's electrical power.

The pathway to our lodging crosses this beautiful mountain stream. This same stream is also, via a micro-hydro system, the source of the center’s electrical power.

Speaking of reading, I have begun reading Living with the Himalayan Masters, a compilation of Swami Rama’s writings and lectures regarding his time as a sage wandering the sacred mountains of northern Asia. THIS IS A MUST-READ! (Do not read if a spontaneous journey to the other side of the world for a few years might do irreparable damage to your life.) To read about the majestic Himalayas is even better when I can look across the lake at our very own mountain range and dream of wandering the hillsides with a staff and a robe…

I may have had a previous life of a renunciate. Or maybe it’ll be this life. Who knows 🙂

We have about 25 people coming in today for an 8-day long Yoga Teacher Training, so the next week will be full-on retreat engagement mode. I like the daily flow during retreats – there are very specific roles we all must do, and it keeps me busy. But not too busy. I will continue to find time for morning sadhana, hopefully evening as well. I keep on thinking of inspiring thoughts I’d like to share on this blog, but when I sit down to write they flutter away.

I have a question: Have any of you experienced mindful labour like the ideal karma yoga I described above?



Luna broke down! Also, Revelstoke is awesome.

The title says it all, folks.

We lost all power about 40km away from Revelstoke, BC. No cell phone reception, of course.

The first car to come into sight pulled over and the driver — a cool dude indeed — took my AMA information and drove into town to call a tow truck for us. The truck was here within an hour.

Loading Luna onto the tow truck.

Loading Luna onto the tow truck.

As I said to my partner last night: This is now officially a legitimate roadtrip.

Luna looking sad through the side mirror of the tow truck. But what beautiful forest!

Luna looking sad through the side mirror of the tow truck. But what beautiful forest!

We spent the night in the van in front of an auto repair shop, 50ft from the loudest train track on earth. Seriously – the shop was right across from the exact area that the locomotives stop, back up, and rumble around with their gargantuan engines.

The issue? The alternator failed. The shop got us in right away and we should be rolling out within the hour. Not too bad!

This is a great place to get stranded – Revelstoke is beautiful, serene and full of awesome people! I’d live here, for sure.

Next stop: The Sea to Sky Retreat Center near Whistler, BC!

Healing powers of the forest – cedars, hummingbirds, hotsprings and hippies

I thought I’d do a quick update while I encroach upon this lovely cafe’s hospitality. Question and Answer style.

Q: How is Luna Doing?

A: She is still alive, even after some very hairy abandoned forestry roads leading to certain springs. We were pushing her the maximum limit of her sagging suspension and iffy transmission. I have discovered there is a certain amount of discomfort and nervousness that accompanies driving this van. A perpetual “what if..?”

But she has made it everywhere so far! We just got back from a gnarly hotspring visit involving a 15km long, intensely potholed ex-logging road that took about 45m to drive. I was holding my breath as we traipsed over some very perilous terrain and climbed into some serious altitude (snow!). But Luna is a champ!


Luna happily resting after an exhausting climb.


The cooking set-up for breakfast today. Kale salad with millet, sauerkraut and flax 🙂 

The shelving set-up in the back has been working really well. It’s a great space for cooking meals and storing food. I created this van as a single-person RV, so having both of us in here is a bit chaotic. In a few days we’ll be at a Buddhist retreat center on the west coast and they are providing a bed, so no worries.


The weather has been epic. 30C+ on this day meant we needed to rig up a shanty-style shade structure.

The window covers have been partially successful. Warning to all people using Reflectix covers – they expand slightly in the heat. Because of this, a few of the covers don’t slot nicely into the windows anymore and we’ve had to use duct tape to hold them up. I think I want to totally remove the cardboard and use velcro to hold the reflective stuff in place by itself (this will be a future project). However, the heat blockage is excellent – after all day in the scorching sun, the soft-shell coolers in the van are still holding veggies nice and cool.

On that note: Kale is a surprisingly robust travel food! After the broccoli was almost dead and the bok choy looking wilted, the kale was krisp and krunchy. Take note, fellow travellers. Take note.


Luna on her first ferry ride.

She even had the chance to ride a boat – one of multiple ferries she’ll be riding during the summer adventures. No seasickness.

Q: How are the hotsprings?

A: Amazing! We’ve set up a home base at a sacred spring in interior BC. This place is awe-inspiring. I won’t mention spring names here, but you can see for yourself in the following pictures.


Top view of the three pools in a row


The big pool and a lovely view of the surrounding cedar forest.

The majestic cedars make this place feel like a cathedral. It’s one of those places you find yourself whispering without knowing why. The water trickles out from a tree root and fills the top pool with hot, hot bliss. There is lots of lithium, magnesium, calcium and barely any sulphur in these springs.


The top pool, with hot water falling down into subsequent pools.

The people here are devoted to the springs. We have a new friend in the form of an old, retired hippie who has been frequenting these springs since 1969. (That’s forty-four years!) When we asked him if they’ve changed at all, he just grinned: “Nope.” I don’t know about you, but that’s MY idea of a quality retreat. Unchanged and preserved in all its sanctity. I met a beautiful woman who spent an hour cleaning up discarded beer cans and candles from careless spring-goers, carefully creating a cedar bough and bark altar before quietly walking away. Clothing is not necessary in these springs, leading to more authentic and pure interaction with fellow spring enthusiasts. It is a tranquil and healing place.

Yesterday, we drove a short distance (and a crazy road) to a different set of springs with a distinctly different flavour.


The carefully made tub, filled directly from the nearby spring.

These springs are right on a river. We were about a day late to the party – the melting snow raised the river to the point that it flooded the riverside hot pools, forcing us to move inland a bit and enjoy the tub that had been built. Not a terrible alternative at all! Luxurious yet still firmly rustic — and, of course, there was nothing in that tub but untreated spring water. We met a man who works four months per year and drives across North America for the other eight, visiting springs, camping on beaches and enjoying the world. These sort of people are incredibly inspirational. The extraordinary community of gentle and creative souls is another reason why hot springs are important in my life. It was also an honour to be visited by a hummingbird, whizzing and zipping around the springs in search of something.

Those springs were nice, but our loyalty lies with the first springs nestled in their rich cedar forest. The energy there is more subtle and the patrons tend to bring more mindfulness into their conduct.

Q: How is life going?

A: Fun! Intense! Healing! Serious! Playful!

The springs tend to act like a spiritual accelerator. I find that the detoxification process brings up emotional as well as physical toxins, leading to a lot of emotional ups and downs. We are meditating twice daily — trying to find the most heavenly locations (and succeeding) — which of course further exaggerates the process. It’s a rollercoaster!


A nearby mountain framed by cedar boughs. Mmm.

But it is impossible to resist the calming and grounding influence of these cedars. And the mountains. And the lakes. And the deer, elk and bears. The eagles, owls, crows and swallows. It’s too much to stand up too — one must return to the root, the source of human existence!

To summarize – we are doing very well. Growth is happening. Life is happening. Sleep has been warm, we are eating well and — OH YEAH, I forgot to mention, the massive amount of herbs and supplements has been amazing! We are drinking crazy teas and loving life.

OK – time to get going. Peace out everyone!

PS: Here is a picture of a stegosaurus with sunglasses eating a massive dill pickle. While reading the paper.

a stegosaurus with sunglasses eating a massive dill pickle.

a stegosaurus with sunglasses eating a massive dill pickle.

Hotsprings Ho! So begins a summer of vandwelling, camping, volunteering and meditation.

Today’s the big day.

I’ll be back home in four months (before leaving for another four months). Somehow, within two weeks, I decided to get a vehicle, acquired a vehicle, converted it to a mobile bedroom, finished up the semester and got my proverbial together for a quest. Yay!

Luna is in pretty good shape, and seems pretty happy to have a name now. She is fully packed and ready to go!

Luna all packed up. Ski box was a saving grace!

Luna all packed up. Ski box was a saving grace!

Naturally, order and cleanliness only degrade from this point.

Naturally, order and cleanliness only degrade from this point.

This trip would be a lot different without the ski box. I have all my camping stuff up there and some extra blankets (in case a spontaneous picnic or craft session erupts). I even had room for my trust walking stick.

You might notice the corner of a djembe in one of these pictures. That will be a bit clunky as it doesn’t really slot into place anywhere, but I figure it’s a small price to pay for having percussive awesomeness available on demand. The didgeridoo slides right behind the seats. I am going to try to learn to play them both at the same time during the summer at some point. I just need to dream up some sort of stand for hands-free didg’ playing.

The kitchen and library combo.

The kitchen and library combo.

I am also totally aware that practicality, use and experience will change the layout of everything over the course of the summer. Perhaps the books will be impractical here and might need to go under the bed. It sure looks cute right now though. I can say I have a library on board! — In addition to the apothecary and esoteric item exhibit, of course. Quite an interesting rig, this one.

Hopefully the last repair Luna needs for the summer:





Remember the mission statement here, folks: “Cheap, and in a hurry“. Pretty much anything done with duct tape suits my purposes. Just you wait – I’ll bet it’s still in one piece in September.

So, I’m off! Driving the Trans-Canada into BC for a week of healing hot springs adventures.

I will not be blogging for this week. (I would, of course, not recommend anyone touches an electronic device while taking in the healing waters.) No big deal – I’m sure my massive hoards of followers can survive the electronic silence as they eagerly anticipate hearing from me. Never fear, non-existent fan base! I’ll be updating with some pictures before leaving for phase two: Volunteering at a Tibetan Buddhist retreat center for three weeks of Karma Yoga.

Lots of love from the Silly Sadhaka 🙂

Be in Peace!

Luna the healing energy vortex : 20+ herbs, essential oils, vitamins, crystals, sage…

The van is named: May I re-introduce you to Luna.

I have to give credit where it is due: My mom pretty much named it. I did my best at asking my friends for input and advice, thinking it would be nice to solicit clever university-student wisdom and thoughtfulness. Here are some highlights from that unfortunate facebook census:

  • Pork Chopper
  • Rollin Basket
  • Wheelin Rudy
  • Southern Alberta Advantage
  • The Hop on Can’t Stop
  • Goldie Hawn
  • Elm Golden Moon
  • Excaliber
  • Oh Henry

I love my friends. But damn, those are weird names. Will those be the upcoming names of our generation’s “hippie children”? Gone are the days of Soulflower, Autumn and Daisy. No. My kid is Pork Chopper.

Anyways, she’s Luna now. Luna is a Roman goddess, the divine embodiment of the moon, carrying all the qualities traditionally associated with moon energy. She also provides safety in travel (excellent) and, more specifically, is a protector of charioteers. (source.) Here’s hoping that this van grows into her name.

Luna is chock-full of healing powers!

The big journey begins soon – only one more day! My partner and I will be traveling to our favourite hot springs in the interior BC for a week of rest and healing. Anyone who’s soaked in natural springs can attest to their deep restorative power. Combine this with a tranquil cedar forest, outdoor tenting and simple, fresh food, and you have a recipe for a good time. We’re also bringing a natural pharmacy of sorts along for the ride.


About 20 different herbs and spices should be enough for a wide variety of tonics and infusions. A lot of common seasoning herbs (read: under-estimated) are actually quite potent for healing work. We’re bringing the ubiquitous rosemary, thyme and marjoram along for their powerful antibacterial/antiseptic/antiviral properties. They should help kick out any foreign bacteria and keep the system nice and clean. Elder flower, red clove, nettle and burdock are all bitters renowned for their detoxifying properties and should really activate the liver to help cleanse to blood and expel toxins. We also have a ton of mint, licorice and chicory to aid digestion and soothe the intestinal tract. Echinacea is a intense detoxifier and immune-booster that I find extremely effective. Plus, there’s this random tin of some herb that is really tasty, but I have no idea what it is. Hopefully not poisonous.

And that’s just the herbs! Luna will also have an arsenal of essential oils, including juniper berry, tea tree and cedar amongst others — excellent to mix into carrier oils and to apply topically for desired effects. Or just to smell happily. Our little mobile apothecary is also going to have a goodly amount of dietary supplements (3-6-9 oil, spuralina, multi-V, etc). I have no idea why this is so exciting. I think it’s because normally when I’ve gone camping/travelling in the past I’ve had to make sacrifices as to how I am going to eat. But having the extra cargo space of a van (versus a backpack) opens up a whole new realm of luxury.

“But surely,” you say, inquiringly, “Surely you don’t have that much excess space in your vehicle. After all, I saw the photos of the interior space. How can you afford to cart around non-essentials?”

I suppose the answer lies in defining what is essential. For me, health is essential. Physical nutrition is very important, but I think that it is equally important to pay attention to the “subtle nutrients” we are “feeding” our emotional and spiritual bodies as well. For example, there is not a lot of legitimate research that validates the effects of essential oils that so many claim have helped them overcome illness X. Yet, the oils help people. And they have an effect. Perhaps not at a measurable level, but just because science has not yet advanced to the point that we can quantify data from more subtle planes of existence does not mean such treatments should be discounted. Yes, users should know that what they are doing has no scientific merit per se. And that’s OK. It should not leave this person open to ridicule from skeptics, nor should it give them the right to proclaim alternative therapy X as the be-all-end-all. Moderation in all things. If it works, it works. Mind your own business. (I’ve been reading a lot of skeptic blogs lately and they peeve me to no end.)

This is a segway to what many would call another space waster: Luna’s new shelving unit has a drawer of my favourite stuff.


Bedside drawer contains fun healing stuff that I use for meditation, reiki, shamanic stuff and intuitive whatevers. Sage, Paulo Santo, a bunch of crystals, a bunch more crystals, a singing bowl… you know, that kind of stuff. For me, these are items that carry a certain energy. Opening up these boxes is like walking into a church. I feel a sacred energy descend upon me when I smell the dried sage and when I roll a quartz into the palm of my hand. These are allies that help me focus. They are tools of a different sort of trade — not to imply that I am a master tradesman by any means, though! I simply tend to keep things around me that make me feel centered and calm, and over the years certain objects have consistently done so. Thus the select few have been rewarded with a VIP placement in Luna’s special drawer.

And, last but not least… Roll your clothing!

A solid piece of advice given to me a year ago, and passed now onto you: When you’re on a big trip, don’t fold your clothes — roll them instead.


This applies for any sort of bag that opens wide. Notice how the rolled clothing allows me to select from 8 different pants/shirts without having to touch anything. The folded clothes on the right have to by physically flipped through in order to get to a desired shirt. Over time, this adds up to unorganized, messy piles of semi-folded clothes, while the rolled clothing simply stays rolled until needed. This method also saves space — not by a huge margin, but it’s noticeable.

Hoping to get one more in before taking off for a (non-internet) break at the hot springs!