founder with purpose

making a difference to bring about a progressive change in the society

insights by social friendly

it is a great pleasure and privilege to be featured this week in the ‘founders with purpose’ series of social friendly. 

portrait photo: remo eisner fotografie
photo: daniel pittet

“I see how many people in the highly developed west have lost this connection over the course of modernization; how the urbanized, “developed” lifestyle has led to loss of orientation and meaning, loss of the deep sense of knowing where we belong and why we are here. we modernized people are now gradually realizing this lack and how important it is to regain, re-access and recapture this inner home. so we are coming back to spaces like the himalayas, in search for pristine places of nature; wishing to experience the original sense of living in connection, in contact, in close relationship with nature.”
monika schaffner​, founder, connecting spaces & mindwalk

in their series of “founders with purpose”, digital media catalysts and creative consultants social friendly feature founders who are making a difference and doing their bit to bring about a progressive change in the society.

full article: http://bit.ly/2nHKgrp

reconnect with nature

feeling the call – a longing to reconnect with nature

more and more people around the world are hearing the call, their longing to reconnect with nature. it is apparent in the numbers: the growing amount of people visiting mountains, outdoor shops booming.

as a global community, we are beginning to perceive this gap: a void of purpose, a hole in ourselves where the meaning of life would sit. and from there stems the desire, the urge to investigate, explore and understand the question of who we are, why we are here and what we are meant to do in this life.

passo d’agnel | swiss alps | connecting with nature’s beauty

chukung ri | chomolungma | a viewpoint out to the world, as close as you can get, physically as a trekker, to the hightest point on earth (5600 m asl)

mindwalks offer a framework for you to follow this call into mountain space. mindwalks invite you to explore the beauty of pristine nature, to experience the energy of the elements, tp let go of your turning thoughts and whatever runs your mind in your daily life. to merge into nature and reconnect.

and as you reconnect with nature, you reconnect with the elements, of which you are essentially made of, the foundation of your life. as you merge with the essence of who you are – your elemental being – the answers start coming up, surfacing from deep inside you.

I offer mindwalks in the swiss alps, as elemental 3-4 day camping hikes, where we carry all we need for this timespan on our back. we go into the essence of life, where there is only you, the earth you walk on, the water you drink, the food you eat, the wind to carry away your everyday thoughts, the sun to warm you and the stars to inspire you.

and I offer mindwalks in the himalayan spaces where – in addition to the beauty and power of connecting to nature as such – comes the element of altitude. in the high altitude air there is a clarity resembling that of a crystal, which supports you even more strongly, lucidly in pursuing your life’s questions and understanding the answers.

the himalaya mandala mindwalk project has been visionned to me during a magnificant sunrise morning on pikey peak. over a span of 4 years, in 8 individual stages, we will traverse the himalaya range from east to west, in a journey of inner discovery & reflection. the intention is to symbolically lay a trace of light through this magnificent mountain range. thereby creating awareness, calling attention to the value, the preciousness of these powerful sanctuaries of nature, which are of the highest elevations of the world and as such hold a very important global significance.

makalu base camp | mindwalk sherpani col 2020

view out valley | rolwaling | mindwalk yalung la 2021

the himalayan spaces are today very rapidly falling prey to materialist, consumerist, capitalist tendencies, as the local communities strive to attaining the western standards of globalisation, loosing their ancient heritage as they go. while masses of tourists (both domestic and foreign) start coming in, looking precisely for these ancient vlaues, which they in their homes have already lost.

its the time now to safeguard what is there while embracing the positive elements of change. intending to bring well-being, wealth, abundance, harmony, peace for all those who live there, those who may come back, and those who come there as guests.

defending the sacred

the big change we want to see in society has to happen first inside of us

sabine lichtenfels, co-founder tamera

this summer, I had the privilege to join the defend the sacred conference in tamera/portugal. a confluence of global changemakers and activists from around the world: “leaders of indigenous communities, social movements and systemic alternatives reflected on their experiences at the nexus of activism and spirituality and shared prospects for a global culture of cooperation”.

lisbon – beautiful city of hope

waiting for the fullmoon to rise

it was an empowering experience of coming home to my people. not that I had previously known any of them, but they share with me the same language and understanding on the current societal system we live in and on what is needed to move towards its positive transformation.

deeply inspired & nourished, I take with me

  • the encouraging sense of being part of a growing global network
  • the experience of forces of positive change evolving
  • the knowlege on liveable solutions starting from very deep within each of us and our relationships with each other and life on this planet.

the central highlight to me was our contribution to an arial art action on the hightest point of portugal. to stand against the plans of a nation-wide lithium extraction program, which would destroy not only vast landscapes but the resources and life-forms within them. the action was a greater statement and call to the global community to take care of our planet, invest into regenerative circular solutions; ask before taking, and listen before acting.

photos by volken tokmak – spectral Q

the arial art act created a tremendous energy of human connection with earth & sky, as we sat on the warm earth: tiny specks all together making up the great symbol of the tree of life, open to the clear blue sunny sky above us.

as the ceremony was over and people dispersed, I sensed into the earth and felt a great sigh going through her. as if she had for the first time in her life experienced a true touch on her skin, one of truly being seen, truly respected, truly valued.

photo: carlos gonzalez

I also sensed the global relevance of our standing together for life: there was a wave of resonance radiating beneath the surface to all corners of the earth – other mountain regions and sanctuaries carrying the sacred foundation of life. it seemed that they too, heard and sensed this momentum. a shift in perception, a hope for the beginning of the turning – to a new social system of love instead of fear, peace instead of war, respect instead of destruction.

hohgant | swiss alps | a silent jewel of nature, protected space of healing. sanctuary of the earth spirits, celebrating the beauty of life. 

jebel shams mountains | oman | representation of primordial masculine energy, awakening to respect the feminine in her graceful dance.

chomolungma | himalayas | majestic mountains, origin source of water & life. abode of the goddess & the spirits of high spaces.

himalaya mandala mindwalk

excited to announce my project closest to my heart

HIMALAYA MANDALA MINDWALK

in a series of 8 mindwalk tours in 4 years, we will cross the great himalayan range from nepal’s east to west. a conscious meeting with the beautiful landscape and its cultural heritage, in a mindful journey on the great himalayan trail.

each tour is dedicated to one of the asthamangala, the 8 auspicious tibetan buddhist symbols, an invitation and inspiration to reflect on our human values and the essence of who we are and why we are here.

laying a trail of consciousness as we trek in awake and mindful state, open to experiencing the moment – inside and outside ourselves, connecting with nature’s beauty and the cultural depth of its inhabitants’ heritages.

re-valuating the global relevance of the beauty & heritage of the himalayan landscapes

we will travel through the rich diversity of himalayan landscapes and cultures, in varying lengths and degrees of physical fitness and hiking skills. the tours can be booked seperately or as a package. details and updates on the tours will be available here

the first tour will start a year from now: on 20 April 2020. see a preview to PART I here!

my friends at highlandecotrek will guide us in preparation and on the way.

beyul rolwaling

in the early morning, we went to visit rimpoche

I was interested to learn from an active local leader about the state and plans of holistic development in beyul rolwaling.

my sherpa friend had brought organic cherry saplings they hoped to plant for an increased market value income in the valley – a good introduction to meeting the highest religious man and well respected leader of the valley, himself concerned with sustainable development. the encounter was meaningful, interesting, a privilege and honor to visit the high lama in his own house.

yet at the same time, the course of our talk revealed to me images of a future my heart wishes not to accept:

a future with a road connection to beding (or most probably even those few km higher to na) bringing in masses of visitors eager to see the great glacial lake of tsho rolpa. a series of hydropower plants tapping tama kosi’s vibrant tributary, barging into the sensitive alpine ecosystem to harvest its powerful turquoise waters originating in the glaciers of this sacred valley.

a development scenario like many I have experienced in nepal these past decades, as valley by valley, ridge by ridge, roads, dams and other concrete structures are cut into their steep rockfaced walls. bulldozers eat away hungrily at nature’s skin, bringing down their forests, rocks and flowers. bringing in dust, noise, waste, the masses of humans who no longer wish to walk their pilgrimages, preferring the ease of a bumpy transportation to reach their destiny within a day. the valley’s riches covered in dust, plastics thrown away carelessly through bus windows and along the last bit of foot track, and an overcrowded holy sanctuary who has lost its powerful silence and its awe of the elemental magic.

anger welled up inside me at the blindness, the ignorance of human beings, the greed of people in power, at the disconnection of the human race with nature, the do-ability of whatever their minds come up with to term as “development”, and their insensitivity to the wounds they cut into mother nature’s system. it hurt my own body, as if these wounds were cut into my own flesh.

and I cried at the global loss of the sacred. at the fact that money’s has become the world’s highest value, overpowering any other much deeper value – of love, light, purity. of silence, connection, wholeness….the sacred within and around us. and in this moment, it seemed to me that I was the only one who feels this, the only one who sees and hears. the only one who calls (I know I am not).

yes I understand, “development” is neccessary. cannot and must not be avoided. it is part of our path, individually and collectively. a natural course of life, to grow, develop, change, try out, perhaps make mistakes. and the greater system will ultimately “correct” whatever mistakes we make in our smallness. but perhaps….. development up here in this valley can take a different, a new, a more enlightened path? as global awareness rises individually and collectively, and values shift, perhaps this valley can open up to a new way of bringing change, without destroying its very foundation?

as I took my last glance up the valley towards na, it seemed to indicate to me: that it is time to reveal its secrets, its sacred jewels. the hidden valley – beyul – which had been revealed / “opened” as a sanctuary for a handful of settlers migrating from tibet just a few hundred years ago – is it ready now and willing to open itself up to the whole world? a road will allow more and more people – national and international guests – to come up and experience in awe this beautiful nature. if it is constructed with care and respect towards the natural, sacred space…

…perhaps, as a start, we could consider constructing a road differently than before, e.g. as an inconspicuous 3 m track built on the recently completed new footpath – where motorcycles can pass, easing transportation for goods and people – without bringing in the masses accompanied by dust and noise of jeeps, buses and trucks? (as my good friend sepp zimmermann, after decades of experience in nepal’s road construction business, suggests).

the gods at the grove of the white yak, where I stopped on my way down to place my question and ask for guidance, they simply told me: we too, do not know how. this is why we need you humans to figure this out. it is the global, collective path of the human race to learn and realize and grow. out of their state of ignorance, towards an enlightened state of living and coexisting in harmony and respect with nature – our foundation, our roots, our “mother”. nature is essentially where we come from, what we are made of.

and listening closely to the tumbling waters of rolwaling khola, I hear them say: we – nature’s elements and spaces – will endure. we are here to endure – as the human race is trying and practicing, growing and healing, to become more and more true, more and more wise, more and more connected, to finally – ultimately – remember…

outlook 2019

mindwalk to the universal source  |  safeguarding sacred spaces of natural & cultural heritage

the year 2019 has taken off with creative, positive energy. I am moving over to nepal again now, to continue working with my local partners, on our projects towards safeguarding sacred spaces of natural & cultural heritage.

 

  • in our ecotourism model-project in chitwan we are developing meaningful solutions to managing and reusing organic and non-organic waste; while connecting and building synergies with an ongoing organic agriculture project in the area.
  • in nauche, the foothills of chomolungma (everest), together with a group of young and innovative sherpas, we are establishing a cultural center with the aim to document, perform and revive the sherpa culture, which is at the risk of being lost to the dynamics of globalisation and commercial trekking and expedition tourism.
  • in upper mustang we are working on harvesting the abundant local energy source of wind and sun, as a source of empowerment for the local communities, whose home space previously protected by its remoteness, will open to the world when the border to china (tibet) will open in a few year’s time.

I particularly look forward to the upcoming mindwalk tours in this year. looking forward to heightening awareness on the global sacred value of the himalayan spaces, both on the side of us visitors, who will carry our insights and inspirations back out into world, as well as on the side of the local people living in these spaces – if they have not already emigrated to places like kathmandu, new york, london or sydney.

in march we will trek up rolwaling valley (10-27 march 2019)

in this remote high valley to the west of chomolungma (everest), a powerful energy channel opens up towards the sky, inviting us to draw from this particularly intense source of inspiration and clarity. we will be experiencing the spring fullmoon high up on 5000 m asl., enjoying the magic and power of the fullmoon light illuminating the high snow- and ice peaks. there is still some open space for this tour, registration is also possible on short notice.

in september, we will undertake a pilgrimage to sacred mount kailash in tibet (4-30 september 2019)

mount kailash ist the source of four of asia’s major rivers, and is worshipped as the cosmic center and most sacred mountain of the himalayas. this mindwalk will be a spiritual journey to the universal source, and mark the starting point for a larger mindwalk project, the himalayan mandala (more info coming soon). we will be guided on this tour by bikesh rana (highlandecotrek) an enthusiastic and passionate trekking guide and good friend, who has been travelling the himalayan spaces since very young age.

 

in october we will go on a wonderful, slightly shorter mindwalk trek to pikey peak (3 – 18 october 2019)

here we will move in the footlands of the great eightthousand-meter peaks, with extraordinary views on the whole himalayan range. we will visit buddhist monasteries and meditate with the nuns and monks, enjoy the beauty of nepal’s rural hills, the simplicity of local hospitality and finally, the magic of the sunrise on the 4000 m pikey peak, surrounded by the great himalayan range.

from this year onwards, I will also offer alpine retreats in switzerland

from 29 aug – 1 sept (new date!) I invite you to experience the mountain summer light and clear starlit newmoon nights in the swiss alps. it will be a re-remembering of the value of simplicity of BEING in the pure nature of the mountains. dipping in and refuelling on the beauty and power of these spaces, reconnecting with the essence of life and the reasons we are here.

if you feel the himalayan or alpine spaces calling, but your available time windows are at other times, please let me know. I am happy to consider your request for our future plans.

looking very much forward to this year and the experiences it will bring us.

monika