Beginning in 2006, my wife Jordan and I began traveling in Latin America, exploring options for establishing a deep connection with the peoples of third world countries with an eye toward establishing a lifestyle built around service to under served populations. We explored Latin America, living with host families in Mexico while studying Spanish. We had lots of interesting encounters with some amazing people. We felt ourselves being drawn into a much larger world than our safe Tampa lifestyle could provide.Without consciously planning it, we were about to enroll in a 4-year, graduate-level course of study into cross cultural issues, sustainable community development, international aid and public health. The journey would go from Peru to Swaziland, Africa and on to Southeast Asia. We would learn more than we ever could have imagined about ourselves and our beautiful and very complex home country of America. Nothing like an extended period away to clear one's perspective of home.
In 2008, I closed my psychotherapy practice, we got rid of all our stuff and headed back to Peru to test our wings living in a developing country. During the next seven months, we lived with a practicing Shaman in a small ecological village in the Sacred Valley of the Incas near Cusco. We traveled and volunteered in other areas of Peru and took two amazing treks up to Machu Picchu and one to the top of an active volcano. We spent a week in the jungles of the Peruvian Amazon. In Ecuador we spent a month on the Galapagoes Islands - what amazing places!
Before closing my practice, we had begun the application process for becoming volunteers in Peace Corps. We completed all the paperwork that I had begun during a 3-week stay at a Spiritual healing center in Brazil. We made it through all the telephone interviews and the medical clearance process and in late June of 2009 we headed to Swaziland, Africa to serve as "HIV/AIDS Educators" while living in a rural community on a traditional homestead...we were not in Kansas as anymore :-)
We were excited that this door of opportunity had opened up for us and felt blessed by the opportunity to serve in Peace Corps. We learned a great deal about ourselves as we integrated into this rural African culture. We found many opportunities to deepen our spiritual practice as many mirrors were being held up before us. It was an amazing trip! We wrote about our experiences in Swaziland and posted videos and photos on our blog. This was one of the three PC missions - sharing our host culture with those back home. We hope you find these posts interesting and encouraging of, to use Joseph Campbell's phrase, "following your bliss" to your own life's adventure.
September of 2011: I completed my PC service and after a few months sitting and serving at a meditation center near Cape Town, I headed to Thailand to backpack around the country, sitting and serving at several Vipassana retreat centers, and exploring the northwest corner of Cambodia and the mountains and rivers of Laos. I returned to the US and went to work getting a small cabin ready to live in for awhile - solar panels, septic tank, chopping some firewood... In September of 2012, Jordan completed her third year with PC, came back to the US and we settled into the little cabin to began the process of getting back into the American culture - not an easy thing to do after four years living in the developing world...
Louisville, KY January 2012/13: With the support of the stillness that comes with our Vipassana practice, we confirmed our earlier inclination to move to Louisville, KY and to make it our home. Jordan is investing herself in social work and I have established a private practice focused on providing Mindfulness Based Integral Psychotherapy and Life Coaching and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs. We are exited about having such a neat city for living out this next phase of our lives.
2013 and beyond - Our Volunteer Work and Community Outreach Continues at Home: Regardless of where we are in the world, we continue to draw from our Peace Corps and other experiences living in poor rural communities. We will remain on the lookout for situations where a little money can make a meaningful impact. Following the golden rule of sustainable development, “help first those who have found a way to help themselves.” Based on our past experiences, we expect to encounter situations where a few dollars can make a significant difference in the lives of those struggling in one way or the other, here at home. (read an interesting blog posting on this topic)
Flowing Dharma (our 501.c.3) will be the financial vehicle for this aspect of our work. In the coming years, along with our own efforts to share the Dharma and provide support small but meaningful community projects, we will seek out organizations that are doing a good job of sharing the Buddha’s teachings, in whatever tradition, with those living in their community. We plan to carefully and strategically place a few dollars into the hands of those already making these teachings available to everyone regardless of financial standing. From our perspective, this is an excellent example of sustainable community development. As one’s mind and heart are cleared of greed, hatred and delusion, new and varied possibilities present themselves that otherwise would have remained obscured. Possibilities arise in a still and peaceful mind for income generation, food production, home security, education, health maintenance, among others. Living in peace and dignity may not require wealth but I suspect it does require a level of mental and spiritual clarity – qualities cultivated through a disciplined meditation practice. Flowing Dharma is committed to helping people find a path to clarity of mind and heart.
Jordan and I invite you to share in this work by making a financial contribution to Flowing Dharma. All donations are tax deductible and will be used in their entirety to support this work - unlike most others, there is zero overhead in this NGO. Along with information about our 501.c.3, you will find a PayPal link at the bottom of this page that makes donating fast and easy just click here Thank you for your support!
May Life continue to bless and keep you and yours safe, peaceful and prosperous during these challenging times.