I sat down to talk with them in their lovely home, beautifully decorated with prize art and craft from their travels over the last nearly 20 years. When I asked them about their objective in creating these trips, Linda glowingly began: “Our mission is to bring people together from all over the world in beautiful, unique, off-the-beaten-path locations. We want to help these travelers build the bridge of practicing mindfulness in their personal lives and in their relationships. By using mindfulness as we encounter different cultures, people begin to be more accepting and flexible and comfortable, kind, generous and loving.”
“During our retreats we are able to build community among people who don’t know each other; they may be from very different cultures. People fall into friendship with each other. We have people who come three or four or five times on our retreats. They may need to recharge or experience the connections in different locations. And it’s easier to practice mindfulness in a serene retreat setting!”
Larry came in at this point: “Linda has done an incredible job finding exquisite locations: a villa on the sparkling turquoise Mediterranean Sea of Sicily, a castle overlooking the rolling hills of Assisi, Italy or an inn nestled in the mountains of northern Spain. These settings support the kind of community and learning we want to share.”
“We are education based but we don’t spend a lot of time in a classroom… the biggest ‘classroom’ is the culture we are exploring, both the larger community and the group itself.”
I wondered what a typical day was like and they both chimed in with excitement: “We get up around 7 a.m. with the first class around 7:30 presented by Larry. He first offers a 30-minute orientation on mindfulness and each day that knowledge grows so by the end the participants have a strong understanding of this form of meditation. Then we typically go outside in the gardens to do Qigong, a gentle Chinese mindful movement practice that anyone can do sitting or standing…even with structural or medical issues; the only requirement is to be able to breathe!” Linda is a registered nurse and Larry a psychologist, so they are able to offer support to people who aren’t sure they can participate in travel or even yoga. They are happy to help a potential traveler see if these trips will work for them and tell me they have had people come with chronic disease or injuries and do so much more than they expected.
“From there we go to a leisurely breakfast with beautiful, healthy, regional food. We might do another practice like yoga but since we are excursion-heavy we will go out several times. We might, for instance, go to the largest waterfall in the world built by the Romans. We might go into the center of Assisi with a professional guide or travel to a neighboring village to take in local art.
When we return there is relaxation time; both of us are musicians (Linda sings and Larry plays many types of flutes) and often perform spontaneously and in a more planned way for the groups we lead. There are spa treatments, massages and personal time to journal or walk alone in the countryside before we have another beautiful meal in the evening. We let participants know the basic itinerary and also invite them to craft the perfect retreat for themselves. We hope it will be the most memorable experience of their lives, and we’re committed to supporting the intentions and dreams of the individuals who travel with us. ”
Larry continues: “Magical things happen all the time on these retreats. We help people stay open to the beauty of the cultures, natural surroundings, and the people. Linda spends three or four months researching for the perfect location. It has to feature beauty, great accommodations, fantastic cuisine, excellent options for excursions, cultural connections, good weather… all those have to go together. And because of Linda’s connections and expertise we are able to keep the trips very affordable.”
“Some people are ambivalent, maybe even a bit fearful, about traveling because they aren’t experienced. We provide a sense of safety, security, stability and guidance to support their interests. We aren’t a tour group; this is a personal experience. We simply love to travel and share the world with others.”
COMING UP: This fall they lead retreats to northern Spain, then Sicily and Assisi, Italy. There are two retreats in the winter to Costa Rica; in February Linda leads a very small women’s retreat there.
DETAILS: Retreats are seven nights, eight days and the average number of participants is 16-18 and may be up to 30.
WHAT PARTICIPANTS SAY: “The retreat more than exceeded my expectations, AND my wishes. I hadn’t realized what a difference it would make to be utterly immersed in the experience of mindfulness for an entire week, in a setting so conducive to integrating what we were learning. So, one thousand thanks for creating such a marvelous experience.” P. W. NH, USA
CURIOUS? Linda and Larry look forward to meeting you at a Free Mindfulness Travels Event: Thursday, August 17 6:30-8:00 pm includes: a mindfulness class with Larry, a travelogue of upcoming retreats with Linda. Delicious evening appetizers will be served. To register and for location contact: Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org, 828-712-8421. Linda and Larry look forward to meeting you.
You may also visit their website at www.MindfulnessTravels.com.