Guden tag dear community and big smiles from Germany! :)) We have officially arrived, ich bin angekommen, and are off to a wonderful start to our project!

While other posts can cover the community magic of the two centers we have visited, I can’t help but share some of the more fun and funny side stories and excursions on our trip so far.

Where to begin?! First off, we departed our temporary work-life as the resident practitioners at A Quiet Place Molalla, (in northwest Oregon), in a haste but with boundless warmth in our hearts. Our experience there was one of great joy, along with unbelievable generosity from the Quiet Place community and the wider Sangha in Oregon. Practicing with the community there set a beautiful tone and a gas tank full of gratitude for us to go out into the world to discover community … Thank you to everyone that was part of our Oregon chapter.

After packing every inch of David’s 2005 Hyundai Accent, we made the 5-hour car trip to Bellingham, WA, to say one final farewell, (and multiple hugs) to my parents, to leave the rest of our belongings at my Dad’s house (not the first time in my life), and to pack for the next 8 + months of our international mindfulness tour. Astonishing that I can survive 8 months with just one bag!!

Just a shuttle, plane trip, and a train ride away we found ourselves on the bustling streets of New York City. While en route to our first community on the East Coast, we squeezed in a short and last visit with my Brother who I won’t be seeing for the next whole year.

Being in New York is a bit like visiting the circus, there is so much to look at and be amazed by, and so many sensations being roused.

Looking up at the tall sky scrapers is like peering up at the trapeze artists standing on high on their miniature platforms, in sheer awe at the height they and these structures can take. Very occasionally even New Yorkers will take a brief pause in midst of their busy lives to pay respect to the high rises that make this city so famous.

And the New York metro is a clown circus during rush hour. Everyone going every which way, complete and udder madness if you’re not used to it, resembling a true daily life circus, yet somehow there is a system to it all.

After this brief and intense city visit, (including a wonderful stay with my Bro and his partner), we made our first ‘official’ stop on our world tour project: Morning Sun Mindfulness Community. As we entered the serene peace and quiet of the forest, this calm blanket began to ground us once again in the energy of mindfulness.

Morning Sun, situated in southwest New Hampshire, spans 250 acres of forest which includes protected land that cannot be developed or built on. The combination of natural beauty, depth of practice offered by the community, and tremendous warmth and ease, makes it a shining example of the kind of community where I hope to put down roots someday. After a beautiful yet quick farewell to the Morning Sun crew, we bussed it to Logan International Airport in Boston for our red-eye flight to Frankfurt.

Being averse to airplane food and a bit of a health food snob, I always prepare plenty of wholesome snacks to munch on during these long transcontinental flights. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to bake the organic purple sweet potatoes I had bought several days earlier from the Coop in Keene, a college town close to Morning Sun. I couldn’t bear to let these prized taters go to the wayside so I brought them along in hopes that somewhere in the Airport we would find a microwave to cook them. No such luck.

Disappointed, but still determined, I went from food vendor to food vendor, persistently and hopefully inquiring about their cooking capabilities. I feared that either we would be eating raw sweet potatoes in flight, or that these precious tubers would find their way to German soil. I was dissatisfied with either scenario.

Finally, a ray of sunshine appeared as I spotted a Sparro’s Pizza and went to try my luck. After explaining my situation with the sweet potatoes, this kind, unassuming Sweet Potato Bodhisattva not only took pity on sweet little me and my sweet sweet potatoes, but generously wrapped each potato lovingly in aluminum foil, placing them carefully on a pan at the back of the fire roasting oven.

Success!! Not a minute to spare before our plane departed, I ran back to retrieve my prized sweet potatoes, which were roasted to perfection. As others grudgingly opened their prepackaged snacks and peanut bags, we smiled at our freshly roasted spuds, enjoying every bite of prized nourishment. Deep bows to the kind staff at Sparro’s for their supreme generosity and kindness.

We arrived in Frankfurt at 11 am local time and a day later than when we left. Germany welcomed us with splendidly clear skies which apparently had been the first time in weeks. Only days prior, snow and frost still covered parts of the country. Somehow, we helped bring the sunshine and have been enjoying the first appearances of spring ever since.

I am already loving Germany! The countryside landscape is absolutely stunning and everything seems to come out of a fairytale. Rolling hills, open meadows with wild flowers and herbs, enchanting little cottage like homes, chapels on hilltops and all sorts of cafes and bakeries. And everything is so well maintained here! I can definitely feel the German work ethic coming through in the manicured gardens and lawns, and all-around cleanliness that Germany offers.

We had an entire day to kill in Frankfurt before a night bus to our first Euro community destination. We decided it would be much nicer to roam around outside and enjoy the beautiful sunshine than cooped up in some museum, however many stars they have on Trip Advisor. We elected to try our luck at the Frankfurt Zoo. At just 10 Euros a pop this zoo is a steal!

I have not visited the zoo since learning the practice so was surprised at what a mindfulness practice it can be. Nothing can bring you more fully into the present moment than being up close to animals, especially remarkably enormous ones like a rhino or hippopotamus as they are feeding. You can feel the tremendous power of these amazing creatures, and sense their deep presence just by being around them. But the most unforgettable encounter was our visit to the great apes.

Observing the gorillas and bonobos, I was so keenly aware that they are our ancestors. Their mannerisms, facial expressions, and hands resemble our own. After many minutes of simply watching these incredible creatures, I realized we were the only people left in the exhibition.

As I turned the corner to visit the gorillas once more before the zoo closed, I saw a female gorilla with her tiny baby on her back. She was pacing back and forth near the window and for a brief minute she stopped and I peered into her eyes. The intensity and depth of her stare was almost startling and I quickly got into a crouched position so she would not feel threatened. Or perhaps it was an instinctual reaction out of respect for this great being. Either way, I felt in total awe of her presence.

After a short while, David joined me along with the zoo keeper. She informed us that this female had had twins recently but that one of them had not survived. The other, also sick after birth was nursed back to health by this woman. Every day, the zoo keeper would show the baby to her mother so she would know her baby was alright. Eventually when the gorilla baby was strong enough, she was returned, literally from human arms to her gorilla mother’s arms, and to the gorilla pack.

Since then, every time the zoo keeper goes near, the mother gorilla comes out to show her baby to the zoo keeper, so she knows that her baby is alright. We were there to witness this incredible human-animal connection.

Fully aware of the sensations in my body, my breath moving in and out of my lungs, I delicately walked away from the great ape exhibit, enjoying every step, every breath and feeling truly grateful to be alive. (What a great fortune to have been born a human, and to fully witness this miracle of life.)

Guden tag dear community and big smiles from Germany! :)

We have officially arrived, ich bin angekommen, and are off to a wonderful start to our project!

While other posts can cover the community magic of the two centers we have visited, I can’t help but share some of the more fun and funny side stories and excursions on our trip so far.

Where to begin?! First off, we departed our temporary work-life as the resident practitioners at A Quiet Place Molalla, (in northwest Oregon), in a haste but with boundless warmth in our hearts. Our experience there was one of great joy, along with unbelievable generosity from the Quiet Place community and the wider Sangha in Oregon. Practicing with the community there set a beautiful tone and a gas tank full of gratitude for us to go out into the world to discover community … Thank you to everyone that was part of our Oregon chapter.

After packing every inch of David’s 2005 Hyundai Accent, we made the 5-hour car trip to Bellingham, WA, to say one final farewell, (and multiple hugs) to my parents, to leave the rest of our belongings at my Dad’s house (not the first time in my life), and to pack for the next 8 + months of our international mindfulness tour. Astonishing that I can survive 8 months with just one bag!!

Just a shuttle, plane trip, and a train ride away we found ourselves on the bustling streets of New York City. While en route to our first community on the East Coast, we squeezed in a short and last visit with my Brother who I won’t be seeing for the next whole year.

Being in New York is a bit like visiting the circus, there is so much to look at and be amazed by, and so many sensations being roused.

Looking up at the tall sky scrapers is like peering up at the trapeze artists standing on high on their miniature platforms, in sheer awe at the height they and these structures can take. Very occasionally even New Yorkers will take a brief pause in midst of their busy lives to pay respect to the high rises that make this city so famous.

And the New York metro is a clown circus during rush hour. Everyone going every which way, complete and udder madness if you’re not used to it, resembling a true daily life circus, yet somehow there is a system to it all.

After this brief and intense city visit, (including a wonderful stay with my Bro and his partner), we made our first ‘official’ stop on our world tour project: Morning Sun Mindfulness Community. As we entered the serene peace and quiet of the forest, this calm blanket began to ground us once again in the energy of mindfulness.

Morning Sun, situated in southwest New Hampshire, spans 250 acres of forest which includes protected land that cannot be developed or built on. The combination of natural beauty, depth of practice offered by the community, and tremendous warmth and ease, makes it a shining example of the kind of community where I hope to put down roots someday. After a beautiful yet quick farewell to the Morning Sun crew, we bussed it to Logan International Airport in Boston for our red-eye flight to Frankfurt.

Being averse to airplane food and a bit of a health food snob, I always prepare plenty of wholesome snacks to munch on during these long transcontinental flights. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to bake the organic purple sweet potatoes I had bought several days earlier from the Coop in Keene, a college town close to Morning Sun. I couldn’t bear to let these prized taters go to the wayside so I brought them along in hopes that somewhere in the Airport we would find a microwave to cook them. No such luck.

Disappointed, but still determined, I went from food vendor to food vendor, persistently and hopefully inquiring about their cooking capabilities. I feared that either we would be eating raw sweet potatoes in flight, or that these precious tubers would find their way to German soil. I was dissatisfied with either scenario.

Finally, a ray of sunshine appeared as I spotted a Sparro’s Pizza and went to try my luck. After explaining my situation with the sweet potatoes, this kind, unassuming Sweet Potato Bodhisattva not only took pity on sweet little me and my sweet sweet potatoes, but generously wrapped each potato lovingly in aluminum foil, placing them carefully on a pan at the back of the fire roasting oven.

Success!! Not a minute to spare before our plane departed, I ran back to retrieve my prized sweet potatoes, which were roasted to perfection. As others grudgingly opened their prepackaged snacks and peanut bags, we smiled at our freshly roasted spuds, enjoying every bite of prized nourishment. Deep bows to the kind staff at Sparro’s for their supreme generosity and kindness.

We arrived in Frankfurt at 11 am local time and a day later than when we left. Germany welcomed us with splendidly clear skies which apparently had been the first time in weeks. Only days prior, snow and frost still covered parts of the country. Somehow, we helped bring the sunshine and have been enjoying the first appearances of spring ever since.

I am already loving Germany! The countryside landscape is absolutely stunning and everything seems to come out of a fairytale. Rolling hills, open meadows with wild flowers and herbs, enchanting little cottage like homes, chapels on hilltops and all sorts of cafes and bakeries. And everything is so well maintained here! I can definitely feel the German work ethic coming through in the manicured gardens and lawns, and all-around cleanliness that Germany offers.

We had an entire day to kill in Frankfurt before a night bus to our first Euro community destination. We decided it would be much nicer to roam around outside and enjoy the beautiful sunshine than cooped up in some museum, however many stars they have on Trip Advisor. We elected to try our luck at the Frankfurt Zoo. At just 10 Euros a pop this zoo is a steal!

I have not visited the zoo since learning the practice so was surprised at what a mindfulness practice it can be. Nothing can bring you more fully into the present moment than being up close to animals, especially remarkably enormous ones like a rhino or hippopotamus as they are feeding. You can feel the tremendous power of these amazing creatures, and sense their deep presence just by being around them. But the most unforgettable encounter was our visit to the great apes.

Observing the gorillas and bonobos, I was so keenly aware that they are our ancestors. Their mannerisms, facial expressions, and hands resemble our own. After many minutes of simply watching these incredible creatures, I realized we were the only people left in the exhibition.

As I turned the corner to visit the gorillas once more before the zoo closed, I saw a female gorilla with her tiny baby on her back. She was pacing back and forth near the window and for a brief minute she stopped and I peered into her eyes. The intensity and depth of her stare was almost startling and I quickly got into a crouched position so she would not feel threatened. Or perhaps it was an instinctual reaction out of respect for this great being. Either way, I felt in total awe of her presence.

After a short while, David joined me along with the zoo keeper. She informed us that this female had had twins recently but that one of them had not survived. The other, also sick after birth was nursed back to health by this woman. Every day, the zoo keeper would show the baby to her mother so she would know her baby was alright. Eventually when the gorilla baby was strong enough, she was returned, literally from human arms to her gorilla mother’s arms, and to the gorilla pack.

Since then, every time the zoo keeper goes near, the mother gorilla comes out to show her baby to the zoo keeper, so she knows that her baby is alright. We were there to witness this incredible human-animal connection.

Fully aware of the sensations in my body, my breath moving in and out of my lungs, I delicately walked away from the great ape exhibit, enjoying every step, every breath and feeling truly grateful to be alive. (What a great fortune to have been born a human, and to fully witness this miracle of life.)

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