Summer Solstice Healing Retreat 2022 – SSHR

SSHR 2022

Sauna at Breitenbush

The incredible wet sauna which is a world treasure.

I’m just back from this year’s Summer Solstice Healing Retreat (SSHR) at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon. This was my 27th year. I started going in 1995 (thank you, Shelley Glendenning) after I had recently relocated to Seattle, WA. I wanted to talk about this year’s event and also what makes retreats so valuable.

First off, one of the main things that are valuable about a healing retreat is sharing with one another things we know about healing. This post was inspired by a short talk I had with a friend about getting a good night’s sleep. I recommended to him my trick of using construction headphones whenever needed. I go into more detail about the headphones and offer my personal life tips in an 11-part series I created a couple of years ago. And that’s how the whole weekend went. I’d bring up some ailment or issue and someone would likely be the right person to answer a question, provide a book reference or know someone at the workshop to talk to.

home in the meadow

Home in the meadow

SSHR is structured so there is plenty of time to soak in the hot tubs, hot spring pools, and wet sauna. That is a great combination with the delicious vegetarian fare and the sound of the rushing Breitenbush river flowing by. Then there are the workshops put on by participants for one another. This year I participated in a few workshops and offered one of my own. Mine was an introduction to co-counseling which I’ve been doing for over 30 years. I gave a short explanation of what co-counseling is and how it got started, we practiced co-counseling a little bit and then I answered participants’ questions. Here are a couple of the workshops I participated in and I’ll fill in the references further as I figure out contact information for the different teachers.

  1. Leah Tarleton – The Nourished Sensitive led a lovely workshop on nutrition in the River Yurt – there were some great book recommendations and the woman teaching is an RD and had a great mixture of life experience and ideas for weight loss (an issue for me) and how to make eating more fun and interesting. She finished the workshop with a taste experience featuring Honey Mama’s chocolate – having us talk about the differences between different tastes and textures
  2. Evelin Dacker did a great talk called “Let’s Talk about Sex” which was an introduction to her STARS talk. I’ll let that link serve as an explanation of what the workshop was about. If you’ve never heard about the talk it’s a great guide for conversations to have with new partners.
  3. I chanted kirtan with Natavar Knudson in the North Wing of the lodge. We tried to keep things safe all weekend by having masks on when indoors. I played the drum and Natavar ably led us on various chants using his harmonium. He has been doing this for years and his talent is really high level and rich.
  4. Odyssey offered an interesting workshop on erotic hypnosis. Often I find hypnosis workshops kind of hypnotizing 🙂 And I often find myself in a state between sleeping and awake and this one was no different. I think I get the idea, though, and it is a mighty interesting one.

Personally, I took the weekend to take a break from coffee and a downshift from sugar. Actually, I didn’t have any meat except a little bit of beef jerky that someone offered me. It was also a lovely chance for a tech fast – there is no wi-fi available to guests at Breitenbush – so no phone or laptop for 4 days – yeah. This year I could actually feel the distance from the internet hour by hour as my fingers played the guitar or I soaked – and all the work I do in the world had to take a break!

Part of the weekend is also Karma Yoga we all do. Here is a crew headed to remove scotch broom – an invasive that grows well in disturbed areas of forest.

Very important to these gatherings is also the reunion aspect. There’s a chance to reconnect with people you have known for years and also to meet new people. I’ve been feeling for a while that I don’t have enough baby energy in my life – and boy were my prayers answered on that score. There was a 2-year-old girl who I spent the weekend playing peekaboo with and having all sorts of interactions with. There’s nothing like a 2-year-old to bring your attention to the present moment. And she was full of so much joy – bringing a smile to my head and heart all weekend long.

Then there’s all the catching up with one another. Giving each other health updates and sharing stories of those who we know in common and what’s up in their lives. It can have the feeling of a big family reunion. This year there were only 160 people in attendance, but many years there are 4-500 people – so there were many people missing from our celebration and lots of connections and information to share. Being an extrovert I know a lot of people and that means a lot of stories and updates 🙂 And we also talk about those who are no longer with us like Amira and Ben Bochner. We sang Altar of Love a couple of times – a song that Ben introduced to many of us. Amira used to love this song – Light you Up!

Over the years there have been varying amounts of musicians participating. We had a pretty small group this year and so the number of musicians was also smaller than usual. Luckily, I had the company of Kieran McManus to keep me company. Kieran’s a great person to jam with – not only does he know some wonderful songs, but he’s also an incredible lead player. I think we both upped our game during the pandemic – so, it’s a joy to play together whenever we get the chance as he’s also relocated to Bend, Oregon which is a ways from Portland. We both had many opportunities to play for everyone which added to the healing for everyone. Singing together is one of my favorite things to do – so I suppose it was healing for me and others at the same time.

A lot of people are probably wondering how Breitenbush is doing. Speaking of healing. The place has been under the duress of closing during Covid and then a wildfire rushed through and took out over 70 structures. There are huge patches of forest that are gone and all of the guest cabins and some very precious places are no longer there – like the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary was a lovely building that many of us have come to love over the years. Many workshops were held there, yoga, chanting, and just people doing their own personal retreats. Personally, I sang inside the Sanctuary dozens of times. I never thought this building would ever be gone.

The Breitenbush Sanctuary

The Breitenbush Sanctuary

If you’re curious to see what the result of the forest fires and tree removal look like now – John Holley’s blog is a treasure trove. It also goes back through the years better than any collection of photos around.

There were lots of elements to this year’s SSHR that I could go into – this could be a much longer post. There’s a lovely group ritual to welcome the solstice and a no-talent talent show. During this year’s show and also at the campfire along the flood plain I made up some one-of-a-kind songs that I’ve been doing for years. The first song highlighted the carrots and beets which are usually on the menu at every meal (including salad), but which had been missing for our first couple of meals. What was funny is that the meal which followed my song suddenly there appeared beets and carrots and people came up to me sharing that they loved the song and thanking me for bringing the beets and carrots 🙂  The second song I made up had some fun elements that came to me at the moment – I talked about the VIP treatment we were all receiving (having our cars parked and a bottle of champagne for each tent – all of which was not true, but was funny at the moment). Actually, I spent the weekend in a cold and damp tent – and part of the song focused on how – next year I’m going to upgrade to fancier digs. This also is probably not true, but we’ll see – there are now some nicer tents that are canvas and already set up and have a bed inside them. That’s part of the change at Breitenbush – new housing is in the works and already well underway!  Ah, the chance to sing together around a fire in the woods – priceless. We even saw stars for one brief moment.

The giveaway circle at the end of the weekend is also a fun element that is repeated each year. Everyone puts something into the circle and we take turns finding a new treasure. After that, we hold hands in a circle, sing songs, and then say our farewells until we meet again.

I am so grateful for this year’s celebration. It’s usually the start of my Summer and is such a great way to be reminded of the beauty of the world. Good food, dance, soaking, singing, and being together. What more does one need?  My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone at Breitenbush who worked hard to put this event on and also our Breitenbush Counsel which has been collaborating to make SSHR the best ever for many years! I wish you some time at Breitenbush or a similar place with good friends to celebrate our time on this planet together.

Love, Albert

Albert and Kieran McManus Closing Circle 2022 – photo by Kaya Singer

Do you have a community, group of friends, or family that you love?

First you get the vaccine then you get the concertsGet yourself and your loved ones vaccinated as soon as possible.

The sooner you get yourself, friends and family vaccinated, the sooner you and they will feel safer and more at ease being together. If we each do this here’s what’s coming:

  • A healthier community, group of friends, family for you
  • Safer gatherings
  • Safer cities and towns

Every summer I’ve been attending multiple music and dance festivals. These will happen again sooner if we all get vaccinated. if everyone around you is vaccinated you’ll be much safer from this disease. I want that for me. I want that for you. 

I’m finding inspiration from the Covid Corps.  We don’t have to wait for the government to lead on this, though. We can take charge of our health and the health of our communities. Please join me – feel free to leave comments below if you have ideas to share.  Spread the word to your community, family and friends – Get Vaccinated ASAP!

Part 2 – once you’re vaccinated, please let everyone know. This will help encourage your friends and family to take this step. Be loud and proud about it. Show a picture of you getting vaccinated – that seems to do the trick.

MasksTo our health!

Albert Kaufman
Portland, Oregon 97215
The United States

here are pics for your social media accounts! C’mon – join me!

I got my Covid 19 Vaccine

I got my Covid 19 Vaccine

I got my Covid 19 Vaccine

If you or someone you know is feeling hesitant, listen to Rachel Maddow’s take.  She gets it. She has a good, compassionate message.

Getting Rid of Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers – GLBs – A Variety Pack of Ideas

How to organize your community to ban gas-powered leaf blowers:

Gas-powered leaf-blowers (GLBs) are noisy and polluting tools. There are better alternatives such as electric leaf blowers. Here are some ways our local Portland group, Quiet Clean PDX has gone about trying to encourage people and companies to switch away from using GLBs so we can have a quieter and less polluted urban environment. Feel free to use any of these methods where you live.  

postcard front - no logo - glb

 

Aging in Place: Improving our Chances

Aging in Place

As you may know I’ve been living cellphone-free for the past 2.5 years. Just recently, I rejoined the cellphone world mostly to be better connected with my girlfriend who was tired of having a hard time reaching me. And just as I made this life change I received an invitation to review the CarelineTM Home Safety Telephone System from VTech via the BOOMbox Network, a group I’ve written for in the past.  [Read more…]

Bright Earth Foods

Bright Earth Foods

Here’s a note I sent to a friend about Bright Earth Foods and why I’m working with them.

Bright Earth Foods

I ran into a group of people called Bright Earth Foods a while back.  Every time I interacted with them it was positive.  I kept waiting for some kind of yucky multi-level marketing pitch, but generally, they just want to offer their food.

https://www.brightearthfoods.com/

So, over the years I’d see them or one of their guys at a health food co-op demo’ing something.  Then, they were there at Beloved last year and I spent more time with one of their reps.  A guy named Brian.  He was serving people shots of noni juice and blue green algae.  So, you know me.  I try to eat and drink healthy, and I’m getting there, but BEF’s stuff is a shot in the arm of goodness. I’m telling you this because they’ve asked me to help them out (after much asking and pleading on my part 🙂 with their social networking.  Right now I’m doing it for some money ($300 for 3 months and $200 store credit).  I also have a link where if someone buys stuff I get a commission and also they have an affiliate program which is pretty easy, and same thing – if someone signs up and shares the link and a person buys something I get something and the other person does, too.

So, it definitely works like multi-level marketing, except there’s no huge salesforce involved.  Instead, it’s a bunch of super-positive people who have big hearts and a concern for health and the planet.  And I am enjoying them on many levels.

So, all that to say, if it’s something you are interested in, let me know.  Or you can sign up to be my affiliate here.

https://tinyurl.com/brightearthfoods

End of pitch/introduction for Bright Earth Foods.

How to start your day the Eecole way with a nutritious, delicious smoothie!

green smoothieHow to start your day the Eecole way with a nutritious, delicious smoothie!

Blend together
1 cup organic frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, banana recommended)
1 cup Hemp or Almond milk (cover the rest of the fruit with water)
1 TBS flax seeds (ground)
4 TBS Hemp Protein Powder
1 TBS almond butter
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp spirulina
1/2 tsp tumeric
A pinch of salt

Blend and serve – best enjoyed right after the smoothie is blended.

Why this smoothie is good for you: This is a great balanced smoothie with lots of protein to tide you over until lunch. Cinnamon helps control blood sugar, tumeric is a great anti-inflammatory, and all of that hemp serves up a dose of omega-3’s that keep your cholesterol in check.

1.21.13 – ingredients we’ve been adding: cucumber, tahini sub for almond butter (or, peanut butter), meyer lemon, baby bok choi, maca powder

Thanks to Eecole Copen of Belly Love for this recipe!

More recent update from Eecole 12.14.14

Smoothie Ingredients