Academic Festival at Columbia University

imagesAs an alumni of Columbia University’s Teacher’s College a thousand years ago, I was asked to participate in their 125 year anniversary with a day long celebration of learning and reconnecting.   Ok maybe it wasn’t a thousand years ago but 26 years ago seems like that to me.  You Can Get There From Here: Pathways to Wellness was the title of my concurrent session which along with my fellow panelists, we explored a variety of approaches to physical and emotional well-being and the implications of emerging research in movement science.

Wellness is not linear so the part of my wellness I shared and brought to the table is spirituality, which means something different to everyone.  For me, it means that there is something greater than the concrete world we live in.  Life is a challenge and we all have to deal with and overcome adversity in some form or another.  STAT trips challenge you physically to hike to the top of macchu Picchu in Peru or Pico Duarte in the Dominican or Mont Ventoux in France. photo These physical challenges serve as a metaphor for obstacles we face in life.  We practice yoga to go inward (or else it’s just gym) and it teaches us that life is repetitive and has pattern like the seasons.

Participating on this panel provided an opportunity to reflect on these past 18 years of leading adventurous trips for women and how the journeys impacted their lives.  My talking stick ceremony where we sit in a circle together and share our thoughts and feelings is a powerful and unifying practice whose origins stem from the very beginning of human time. It’s a profound and simple way of talking and listening and bonding the group together for an esoteric experience because the benefits or the lessons usually appear or are revealed in retrospect when you return to your home life.  Dreams have the potential to become reality when you put it out into the Universe.  I give women an opportunity to come out and play sometimes out of their comfort zone, go to incredible sacred places around the world, bond with other amazing women, create ever-lasting friendships and memories but also to exercise and challenge themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually, all the while encouraging them to be themselves.  But more importantly, encouraging them to be the best self they can be.  And therein lies the gratitude, with a heightened sense of awareness, they return home to family, friends, even employers in the life they chose.  Gratitude is the benchmark for life…taking time out to be grateful for the life we have and everyone in it.

3 thoughts on “Academic Festival at Columbia University

  1. Erin, you have put to words EXACTLY how I feel and why I love and MUST go on your trips. I never knew how to articulate the feelings and the strong desire to join you on these expeditions. Your words are beautiful and so true. Thank you for all you do. xox

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