“In wildness is the preservation of the world.” ~Henry David Thoreau
Those certainly are words to live by.
Welcome to the Wild Mind Outdoor Community!
We've been around since January 2011 and have evolved from a hiking group interested in mindfulness to a community that seeks to experience nature in a variety of mindful ways. We are open to folks from all walks of life, beginners and experts alike. Our leaders do not necessarily know any more about a given topic than our members; we're just people who enjoy sharing the natural world with others. We welcome the opportunity to teach and/or learn from each other and our events reflect that group-wide engagement and contribution.
What makes us different from other outdoors groups, you ask?
What differentiates us from other outdoor groups is our consistent attentiveness to our surroundings in everything we do - a mindful dedication to nature, to ourselves and to each other that expands and deepens within the group as well as within our individual members. We hike and backpack, bird watch, practice wilderness and survival skills, track animals, and have book discussions, volunteer events, and movie nights - just like a lot of other groups - but the underlying component to all our events is mindfulness and nature connection.
What is mindfulness in the context of this group?
Well to us, it means making a commitment to each other to live fully in the moment. It doesn't necessarily mean silent (although some our events tend to be just that). The best experiences can be shared experiences so, on events that aren’t specifically silent, we spend time discussing interesting birds, plants, trees or animal tracks. In addition, on many events, we like to pay special attention to our senses through sensory awareness exercises. It's amazing what you see, hear, and smell when you focus on those individual senses.
In an effort to further the mindful experience, we refrain from the typical chitchat that prevails in most Meet-up groups. We connect to each other indirectly, through the shared experience, rather than directly to each other. At our events, you are more likely to hear "what bird is that?" or "is that plant edible?" than "where are you from?" or "what do you do for a living?" Many times, we go on a post-event fuel up to learn more about each other.
So what is a "Wild Mind" exactly?
Gary Snyder, an American poet, Zen Buddhist, mountaineer, environmental activist, deep ecology philosopher, and founding member of the Beat Generation, says:
"It means self-organizing. It means elegantly self-disciplined, self-regulating, self-maintained. That's what wilderness is. Nobody has to do the management plan for it. So I say to people, 'let's trust in the self-disciplined elegance of wild mind.' Practically speaking, a life that is vowed to simplicity, appropriate boldness, good humor, gratitude, unstinting work and play, and lots of walking, brings us close to the actually existing world and its wholeness."
We seek to have that life of simplicity, appropriate boldness, good humor, and gratitude; to become closer to the existing world and its wholeness, YET many of us work our desk jobs 40 hours a week and fill our lives with clutter. While not able to live as simply and wholly as we may prefer, we would like this group to provide an outlet to those seeking to having a Wild Mind in whatever way they can. We come from all walks of life, political affiliations, religions, sexual orientations. We are bankers and artists, baristas and academics, and seek to share one common thread: an appreciation for our awesome backyard, Mother Earth.
We are guided by the following values:
1) We have a deep and abiding respect for the natural world. We obey all laws and regulation regarding the use and respect of the areas we visit, such as wilderness regulations. We are committed to "Leave No Trace" principles.
2) We are respectful and inclusive. Everyone is welcome at our events who shares our respect for community and the natural world as well as honor our intent. During our events we will respect others' beliefs, persons and feelings. In addition, we ask that all members respect our leaders and other members by being where you say you'll be (i.e. showing up to events you RSVP "yes" to).
3) We value safety. Everyone involved in our events will have the proper ability, experience and equipment to safely participate.
4) We are dedicated to connecting our individual spiritual experiences to nature. Many of our events will have this as an expressed theme. Our members come from a variety of faiths and backgrounds, and we respect all of them equally. Liability (we don’t want to talk about it, but we gotta!)
And just to put this out there, because we are not professionals but volunteers leading folks through shared experiences, we assume no liability for anything that happens on a meetup, including travel to and from our meeting locations. Our event hosts and organizers do not profess any specialized knowledge, skills or expertise. You are ultimately responsible for your own experience and safety and should be self-sufficient within the group. To assist with this, we try very hard to be as thorough as possible in our event descriptions; please read them and take accurate assessment of how your abilities match up with the event details. And if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to any of our leaders.
So, check us out, see if anything we do interests you, and come on an event. And please feel free to send us an email if you have any questions. Thanks for checking us out! (And reading to the end of this!)
-Jessica, David, Samantha, and all the other Wild Mind leaders and event hosts