top of page
Camp Fire
FireSummer Transparent.tif

earth-based practices

Indigenous cultures have their own practices of stillness, silences, self-reflection, healing, and visioning.  The four-universal positions in mindfulness meditation - sitting, standing, walking, and lying down -  are present in earth-based practices.  The integration of these practices with the natural world is a paramount indigenous approach to mindfulness. Directly working with nature mirrors  the living beauty within one’s own nature.  This cultivation of understanding self through a relationship with the natural world invokes memories that ignite curiosity and wonder.

Balance Restored

with Dr. Leslie Gray

February 11, 2023 

2:00 - 4:00 PM PST

Description

It is now manifest that life in the United States in the 21st century is perilously out of balance. Hundreds of years of warnings from Indigenous leaders, as well as roughly 70 years of dire predictions from scientists, social philosophers and artists, have gone unheeded. In this 2 hour presentation Dr. Leslie Gray will elucidate the original, ingenious design of American democracy. She will highlight the deep intelligence and emphasis on personal agency embedded in this design that were intended to be a roadmap for righting oneself in the midst of chaos.

 

The removal of civics instruction from schools, the proliferation of false narratives on social media, the failure of political leadership to uphold governmental norms and laws —as destructive as these things may be — they are not, Dr. Gray proposes, sufficient to account for the extent of the helplessness, delusions and violence permeating  American society today. 

 

To come to terms with our dispiritedness, and to remedy it, Dr. Gray suggests we must first take an “x-ray” of the hidden structure that sabotages American life, and second we must fill in the fundamental gap in our education about democracy. In this way we can reveal basic human (not superhuman) characteristics that drive and sustain a healthy democracy, thereby positioning ourselves to be spirit-warriors who restore the balance.

 

 

Leslie_Gray detail.png

DR. LESLIE GRAY, PH.D.

Dr. Leslie Gray, executive director and founder of the Woodfish Institute, is a Native American psychologist who has studied with medicine people and elders from various tribal backgrounds. She advocates (and

embodies) a new vision of health care-the integrationof ancient healing and modern medicine. Dr. Gray has a private practice in San Francisco, California, teaches workshops and seminars worldwide, and conducts travel/study programs to ancient sites. She has lectured at various universities including the University of California at Berkeley and the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. She consults with individuals and organizations on the practice of ecopsychology, and her

work has been featured in such periodicals as East-West Journal and ReVision Journal, as well as in the book Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind. Dr. Gray is currently Vice President of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology and is currently an Associate of the Milton Erickson Institute of the Bay Area.

Website: http://www.woodfish.org/

Earth Based Initiatives for Our Times

Intentional ways of being on our earth walk 

with Mbali Marais  and Teacher Assistants; Carmela Cortéz, Danny T. Duong & Paula Thomas

 

Description

How do we practice in these times? The real question is how do we not? Amidst the chaos and conflict of the individual and collective fires raging around us, there is an invitation is to find our primary call to creativity and tend to the deep self.  When we realise we are not all there is, we awaken to the call to find our wholeness in the mystery and the greater earth story of who and why we are here. 

In this five part elemental series, we explore earth based practices to guide us in this time. These practices are grounded in the 5 elemental cosmology of the Dagara tradition - fire, water, earth, mineral and nature - and cross-cultural ways of knowing. We will draw from the wisdom of intergenerational circles. We will look to the past in order to support us in the present to move forward and leave a legacy of earth stewardship for the next generations. We will return to the age old practices of radical ritual, contemplative practices, reflection, storytelling, ceremony and the arts. 

 

5-Part Elemental Series

July 23, 2022 to July 29, 2023

9:00 - 11:30 AM PST

Fire 

July 23, 2022

Water 

November 5, 2022

Earth 

January 28, 2023

Mineral 

April 29, 2023

Nature

July 29, 2023

 

This registration is for Part 3 of the 5-Part Series

Event Date: Saturday, January 28, 2022 - Earth

Event Time: 9am - 11:30 am PST

 

 

Earth

Being born is validation enough and yet our sense of belonging and home is often sabotaged by our not enough-ness, our need for validation, and a feeling of being lost in the world. We often walk the path of the homeless in scarcity looking for an identity, a recognition, and a place to bring our gifts to our community. As we dig deep into the earth element we may find that abundance is rightly ours and the earth never said you don’t belong. We come into sacred reciprocity with the earth. We come home.

Teachers

mbali.jpg

Mbali Marais

Elder Diviner & Medicine Woman

Mbali Marais is the founder Return to Origin NPO/PBO.

She was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  She is a descendant of the Khoi Khoi peoples, French Huegenots, Dutch, Portuguese, Bushmen, Shangaan, adopted into the Dagara tribe, and is an initiated stick diviner, as well as the Amaghebe clan of the Xhosa peoples.  At 3 years old in 1954, she was taken by her parents to live in London. Through her own challenges, which she now understands was her own rootlessness and a sense of homelessness, she developed a passion which became a mission and fascination in health and healing, via the “other route”.

Herbs, hands-on, and indigenous wisdom guided her to often heal herself and others. This led her to pursue an MA in Therapeutic Bodywork, and a chance encounter with a Dagara medicine man who introduced her to a profound indigenous technology with which she has been gifted and in which she is still deeply steeped. Mbali’s intrigue by the inner and outer connection to dis-ease, land and nature, and the broken links to origins, keeps her passions and her gifts alive within her.

She understands the importance of re-remembering our connection to Nature as a tool for healing the modern world, and thus Return to Origin was birthed. Mbali facilitates retreats and deep nature quests that draw from ancient African practices, Buddhism, and mindfulness work. In 2012 she returned “home” to South Africa to track her people and resided close to our home of Origin in the Western Cape. Since then she has traveled widely in South Africa; building relations and learning from indigenous peoples including the Bushmen and Baba Credo Mutwa.

Her diverse background in the healing arts, integrative medicine, indigenous practices and transformative guidance, provide a sound container for both modern and ancient healing modalities.

She is now living in the Eastern Cape surrounded by two rivers and the Indian Ocean.

Carmela Cortez.jpeg

Ma. del Carmen Cortéz (Carmela)

Assistant Facilitator

I was born in Michoacan, Mexico, the wintering home of the monarch butterflies. My mother and grandmothers taught me the nature of plants through song and story. We listened to bird song during the day and found form among the stars in the night sky. These are lessons I still carry within me. My family followed the harvesting seasons, from Spring and Summer in the California central valley to Fall and Winter in my hometown of Purépero. My mestiza roots and warrior heart are from the Purépecha (Tarasca) lineage. I'm a curandera, clinical herbalist, an artist at heart, and a permaculturist with a passion for equity and sustainability. I'm a graduate of the Braided Wisdom Leadership Training Program 2021-2022

DanielleDuong_0098.jpg

Danielle T. Duong

Assistant Facilitator

As a certified Integral Coach and mindfulness practitioner, Danielle blends curiosity, insight, and use of meditation and somatic tools to support the facilitation of positive and sustainable change for individuals, teams, organizations, and communities. Her personal practice is grounded in Buddha dharma, ancestral listening, and earth-based spirituality. In 2019, she made a humbling vow to walk the path of an aspiring Bodhisattva which informs her intention to help in the relief of suffering for all living beings. She is a rope skipper, born again creator, lover of nature, and admirer of life's smallest details. Her sacred place of refuge is in the mountains under the moon and stars. Danielle 

has Master degrees in Public Health and Public Policy. Her professional and leadership experiences span across healthcare operations consulting, politics, public policy, and government affairs. She is a trainee with the 2021-2022 Braided Wisdom Leadership Training Program and is a co-host of the Asian Heart Mind Body Collective Podcast

Paula Thomas Bio Pic-square.jpg

Paula Thomas

Assistant Facilitator

Paula Thomas began Buddhist practice 12 years ago at the East Bay Meditation Center. She attended a number of daylongs and class series on the topics of metta, radical acceptance, and the Divine Feminine. Paula has also attended two Spirit Rock POC retreats. Additionally, Paula was a participant in the Practice in Transformative Action (PiTA 6) yearlong program. She also took her Bodhisattva Vows and received the name "Skillful Means Heartmind" from esteemed teacher Mushim. Paula graduated from the Braided Wisdom Leadership Program 2021-2022 in March. She has been a public school educator for the past 16 years and is the proud mother of daughters, Ayah (22) and Aminah 

(14). Paula looks forward to sharing the many insights, teachings and experiences she has gained with the Beloved Community.

Tending the Creative Fire of Our Life

with Mbali Marais and Carol Cano

May 21, 2022 

10:00 PM - 12:30 PM PST

REGISTRATION CLOSED

Description

In the Dagara Tradition 2022 is a double fire year. We are a culture on fire. At war (now literally) with ourselves, each other and nature. Consumption, disrespect, abuse and misuse of our  natural resources and wrong doings to animals are the remaining battle scars. When this is  mirrored back as a parallel process to which we are inextricably linked, we find that in the  aftermath of this we are left with unspoken hidden histories, separation, self hatred, a war on  women, and a value system where worthiness has no place. Any engagement in over consumption  or over production is an act of violence. Too much fire leaves us and our planet in severe drought.  Cooling down to tend to our creative fire, sees fire as an essential element of home,  transformation, new growth and purpose. The wisdom needed now is a radical self knowledge, where wisdom and tending our creative fire become acts of reciprocity to self and others and fire becomes a place of community healing, reimagining and new beginnings.

Teachers

mbali.jpg

Mbali Marais

Elder Diviner & Medicine Woman

Mbali Marais is the founder Return to Origin NPO/PBO.

She was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  She is a descendant of the Khoi Khoi peoples, French Huegenots, Dutch, Portuguese, Bushmen, Shangaan, adopted into the Dagara tribe, and is an initiated stick diviner, as well as the Amaghebe clan of the Xhosa peoples.  At 3 years old in 1954, she was taken by her parents to live in London. Through her own challenges, which she now understands was her own rootlessness and a sense of homelessness, she developed a passion which became a mission and fascination in health and healing, via the “other route”.

Herbs, hands-on, and indigenous wisdom guided her to often heal herself and others. This led her to pursue an MA in Therapeutic Bodywork, and a chance encounter with a Dagara medicine man who introduced her to a profound indigenous technology with which she has been gifted and in which she is still deeply steeped. Mbali’s intrigue by the inner and outer connection to dis-ease, land and nature, and the broken links to origins, keeps her passions and her gifts alive within her.

She understands the importance of re-remembering our connection to Nature as a tool for healing the modern world, and thus Return to Origin was birthed. Mbali facilitates retreats and deep nature quests that draw from ancient African practices, Buddhism, and mindfulness work. In 2012 she returned “home” to South Africa to track her people and resided close to our home of Origin in the Western Cape. Since then she has traveled widely in South Africa; building relations and learning from indigenous peoples including the Bushmen and Baba Credo Mutwa.

Her diverse background in the healing arts, integrative medicine, indigenous practices and transformative guidance, provide a sound container for both modern and ancient healing modalities.

She is now living in the Eastern Cape surrounded by two rivers and the Indian Ocean.

1Carol-Cano.jpg

Carol Cano, M.A.

Co-Teacher

Carol Cano, M.A., began her practice over 30 years ago at Wat Kow Tahm in Thailand and has actively engaged in building communities and teaching Dharma internationally.  She is a teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center.  She is a core teacher and a former board member of East Bay Meditation Center. Carol co-founded Philippine Insight Meditation Community in the Philippines.

 

Her unique teachings are deeply grounded in Basque, Native American and Buddhist influences that braid the Dharma along with indigenous wisdom and Earth-based practices. Her psychology background gives her a unique view into the human condition, which helps her hold community in a compassionate and confident manner.  Carol reminds us to keep grounded in our hearts as we uphold spiritual ideals and encourages us to remain balanced within the demands of modern life.

Deep Renewal Women's Gathering

Way of the Council for Self-Indentified Women

January 29, 2022

4:00 PM - 6:30 PM PST

(Registration Closed)

Description

We are a community of women who commit to the journey toward self-awakening through indigenous and ancient traditions.  Together, we celebrate our diversity of varying cultures though song, dance, and communing with nature in silence.  We strengthen sisterhood by cultivating clarity in our minds, opening our hearts, and working with our hands to honor our Earth Mother and our beloved ancestors, hence creating a more connected and compassionate world.

bottom of page