Testimonial from Participant on our August 2012 Zambia Trip

Read what one of the participants in our August 2012 trip wrote:
I had never considered doing a safari when I heard about the Open Heart Safari.  Something about the description on the web site and Tom’s passion for it made      me Email Tom that I’m not seriously considering it, but it sure looked appealing.  Somehow an Email exchange got me to consider it.  Then Tom’s web slide  presentation, his passion in describing the trip, the prospect of stunning wildlife with intentional personal and spiritual connection, the spirit of the other potential trip participants on the web call, and a desire to do something special for myself motivated me to sign up.  This was a very big commitment for me in terms of time and money.  But once the trip started, I never had a moment of second guessing whether I’d made a good decision.  By the end of the 2 weeks, I had the feeling the entire trip had been designed and executed specifically for my personal benefit.  The heart-opening activities (sharing our intentions and reactions with the group, poems, meditations, and movement) were powerfully effective in opening my heart to a deep impactful experience of the wildlife, wilderness, and local communities we visited.  Now at the end of the trip I feel a major transformation in my life has been catalyzed. I had started the trip with a hope to get some clarity on my life direction.  The life perspective I gained from the wildlife, community visits, and group members has inspired me to make a commitment around a major change that has me excited and terrified.
And writing now (Sept 6) here’s my current (though no doubt incomplete) list of highlights of the trip for me:
Nature:  The majesty of the beautiful animals, the calm, peaceful beauty of the African bush, the expansive starry night sky, and experiencing the natural order  of diverse types of animals, each with its own niche in the ecosystem, co-existing and playing their role, all helped me feel part of an amazing unified tapestry.
The people:  It was striking how in the rural village of Kawaza, with no plumbing or electricity and few possessions, the people seemed so full of life and joy.  I saw more happy people in one morning in Kawaza than I see in a year in Philadelphia. 
The close bonds and open hearted sharing among the group helped me experience the wildlife and communities we met in a deep way.
The zebra meditation:  Sitting down to meditate, and after a few minutes discovering a zebra peering at me from inches away.  The alternating terror and accepting calm I experienced felt symbolic of changes coming in my life that will offer me the chance to get beyond fear to experience benign beautiful opportunity.
With gratitude and love,

Laura’s memories of our August trip

Here’s what Laura wrote after our August 2012 trip:

The Open Heart Safari was perfectly designed for someone like me – a person who wants to slow down and experience the beauty and subtleties and challenges of Africa. With its focus on tuning in to the environment using the senses, I found myself looking with an artist’s eye at the savannah, the plains and the bends in the riverbed. 

If only I could paint what I saw! 

The Open Heart Safari is true to its name. In its first tour, it attracted a group ready to be touched by the remarkable Zambian landscape and its welcoming people. We talked about how we were open – and closed –  and took note of what touched us and what we pulled away from. We used different contemplative practices, movement, and expressive arts to connect to the environment, explore our experiences, and to keep our minds, bodies and spirits healthy.  This was my third trip to Zambia, and I had found previous trips hard on my body and my spirit. The OHS design and the camaraderie served to make this my best trip to-date. I loved the invitation to travel with an open heart and the opportunity to combine safari adventures with community visits and time with activists, youth and nonprofit leaders. I can’t wait  until the next trip!

Here are some items from my palette:

 – watching the day unfold slowly, the sunrise illuminating the bend in the river, the subtle differences in golden grass, scrub, and antelope; turning the bend to see elephant emerging from the bush, looking out at the river as hippos made a retreat to warm water

 – beginning each day with meditation, or poetry, or yoga alongside others who are interested in the quiet and beauty inside and out; opening our eyes to find elephants have arrived, baboons threatening to steal our shoes

– learning how local people feel aboutlarge conservancies – typically owned by outsiders – designed to protect the wildlife that they are accustomed to hunting and eating

– tracking lions by foot, listening to guides’ imitating the sounds of lions, leopard, antelope and hippo, and learning to distinguish the sounds for myself especially at night. I love the hyena’s high pitched call and was surprised by the rumbling sound of the lion- visiting with villagers, dancing with the women’s’ group by day and hanging out at teenagers’ outdoor nightclub by night

–  discussing what it’s like to witness an abundance of wildlife in its natural habitat, to be a person of privilege in a land where nearly all are poor, to walk through urban slums where cholera is a recent memory, to be living in a country on its fifth president with a constitution still in flux nine months into term


Open Heart Open House Slide Show and More

Please join us to view spectacular slides of African wildlife and other scenes from Zambia, and hear more about the trip this August.  And please pass along this invite to friends who might be interested.

We will be gathering at a home in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco (address provided upon rsvp), on Sunday, May 6, from 5-6:30 pm.

Please let us know if you plan to come.

This will be our only SF showing!  Don’t miss it.

As always, if Laura has anything to say about it, refreshments/snacks will be served.

Looking forward to sharing our adventures with you.