Hello and welcome to the blossom, your awesome podcast episode number 10 Today on the show, we have got spiritual guide Andrew closer on the show. He is going to be talking to us today about spiritual journey. He has been leading retreats on Mount Shasta And has led more than 1100 tours and worked with more than 5000 people. He is also the founder of the Joy of Sports Foundation that has served more than 50,000 Children and was honored as a point of life by President Clinton Andrew is going to be talking today with us about the power of spiritual journeying, going inward, finding your true authentic self and the profundity of connecting with nature. I am so excited to have Andrew hair Andrew Welcome, thank you for anybody misses it's my pleasure to be on your podcast awesome, thank you so much.
So Andrew, I'm gonna say we jump right into it, why don't you start by kind of giving me a little bit of your background and how you got into the shamanism and healing work and all of that? Well sure, you know, actually grew up kind of atheist, jewish, intellectual black East, I just pushed myself real hard academically and athletically and then when I was in college I discovered the inner game of tennis which was just about being in the present, you know being in his own just letting go of attachments and just being fully present with the ball and that was really a revelation for me, I got started meditating and so it's a strong experience for me. I changed my plans from going to law school and moving to California to explore more and pretty soon after that within a couple of years after I graduated college I came to Mount Shasta to go to some kind of healing festival and I just fell in love with the mountain ever since in the mountain has really been my spiritual harm.
Come here before I lived here, I lived in D. C. For a long time and I've come here just about every year from my annual recharge and the mountain always just brought me home to myself. You know just help me to release whatever accumulation I had from the last year and just come back in the present and get clear vision for the future And then in 2006 I was finally in position in my life where I can move here and here full time and just started guiding retreats and sacred journeys on the mountain. It's the most natural thing in the world for me to share the mountain I love and to guide people to receive the gifts that have been so profound for me wow, that is beautiful. Now tell me you know, so obviously you were already spiritual when you first went to Shasta but can you kinda describe a little more of what that was like. I mean it was coming, they're kind of like this moment for you where maybe this is something that you had kind of been looking for, searching for, leading up to that moment, is that accurate or well, I would say Susan, I was already, they're very dedicated spiritually and that was my main focus in life and I think Shasta just took me to a deeper place that have been made it more real and more grounded and integrated than before, so it definitely opened me to something beyond what I experienced before that and what exactly is it, can you kind of tell me more about that?
Like what exactly was it about Shasta? One word really connected with Shasta that really resonates for me is presence and there's just as palpable presence and of course presence and present are very closely related and chassis is just a place you can really come home to the present and really experience the presence of God in a way that's not just spiritual concepts but is surrounded living reality, you could say it's heaven on earth, wow, that's beautiful. Um so now tell me as far as the work you do or the, your own soul journey, you know, how important has that been for you and just if you could kind of expand on that a little sure I was very fortunate Susan and that I pushed myself so hard, you know, I had a lot of pain from childhood I was wanting to get away from and so my, a remedy for the pain was achievements, I pushed myself so hard, I did get to Princeton and graduated summa cum louder.
But that at the cost, you know, I was just pushing myself so hard. I was getting so stressed out and worn out that I just started started looking, you know, for maybe there's something more to life than just pushing and stress and I really, really committed myself to that and I've devoted my life to that. And um I feel I feel very blessed that I started young and I feel now, you know, very, very grounded and just the joy of the present moment and the joy of who I am and who everybody is. Mm okay. And now if you can tell me, you know, we all kind of are fall into that, pushing ourselves over doing, doing for everyone else, not enough kind of me let me get grounded. What is some guidance you can give here two people I know you were going to get into some of the work you do on the mountain with people and your retreats and things.
But for somebody who can't make it to mount Shasta, someone who's just stressed out to the max, what are some kind of actionable tips they can take, start getting centered. Well, the first thing is you need to make your internal well being priority. You know, most people or pursuing what I recall on the outside in approach to life in our society. You know, I can't speak in other societies around the world, but in certain the United States and you know, Western civilization, our society is basically outside in and everybody wants peace. Everybody wants happiness, but we're trying to get it by accumulating things or controlling things. And so I'd encourage, first of all, people to pursuing inside out strategy, you could say go direct, you know, to really make your first priority to to find peace, to find happiness, to find God if you're okay with the word God, which I certainly am.
And just to make that the priority. and one way 1 very practical JP is the first thing in the morning when you first get out of bed before you get up to, it's a mortar ago, the bathroom or anything. Just spend a couple of minutes just connecting with yourself with God with eternal peace, whatever you wanna call that was through breath through a mantra, through gratitude. And I think by devoting the first couple of minutes of the day, which is a very powerful time. If you're coming out of sleep state, you've had a break from your normal ego mind consciousness. So it's a powerful time set a tone for the day. You're saying this is my priority. You know, I'm starting the day with this because this is my priority. So that's highly leveraged. You can just invest two minutes of time, get a huge return And then during the day, just take a minute here, two minutes here, 30 seconds here, five minutes there to drop back in. Especially if you think you're too busy for it. You really need to do it. You just have those mini breaks where your intention is just to stop all the doing to redirect your focus inside and to switch from a doing state tour being state.
And if you can meditate, you know, 20 minutes in the morning, even 10 minutes, that's great. But at least do the short breaks during the day and that would be a way to start prioritizing and maybe start stabilizing more and peace and inner focused consciousness. Okay, that is awesome. Thank you for those insights. Now next question for you know something, I get your emails and I'm always um just so kind of moved by some of the language and one of the things that you kind of um you know share is this coming home to your eternal self. Can you talk to us about that? Sure. Well I think, you know just about all of us again, I'm talking about our society since that's what I'm familiar with, really lose connection with who we are and I think I think it starts pretty early in childhood and we develop a false self, you know, we're in a situation we don't feel safe and even if it's a relatively benign situation with the major trauma abuse or tragedies, we don't feel until they say, you know this conflict would not always loved the way we want to be loved and we should develop this false self designed to please people.
Keep us from getting yelled at to make us feel safe, called the ego. And we identify with that, you know, we, we forget who we are, we think we're some kind of little separate self and we forget that who we are is really the oneself which you could say is eternal peace, infinite being, pure awareness, you know, so many words for that. And so we basically living life through this false identity based on fear. And so coming home to yourself means first you have to become aware that you're trapped in this false identities because if you're not aware that you know, there's no way you're gonna get out of it. And then second of all, you have to really make it a priority, Remember who you truly are, you know, to come home to yourself and when did you make it a priority? There's many paths, you know, many valid ways to do it. And you know, meditation is certainly part of it. And some people having a spiritual teacher of some kind can be helpful.
And and to me coming to Mount Shasta, the most powerful thing since I think Mount Shasta is, It's like a 14,000 for the mirror, it's here in this earth to reflect the deepest truth of who we are and when people come here, if they're open, they received that pure reflection and remember who they are, wow, that is so powerful and so beautiful. Um so reflecting our deepest truth of who we are. What what about those people who are like this is all foreign to them, right? How do we um get people to be more kind of open to this idea and just this loving, like heart centered philosophy? Well, you know, there's a famous saying by Albert Schweitzer, it was a great medical missionary and what he said is there's three ways to teach by example, by example and by example.
So I would say that's the primary strategy is just by living it before you start teaching it, writing about it, just to live in maybe people will see your peaceful, they'll see you you're happy and they want to find out for themselves. You can start sharing things at work. So I don't think it's really about first and foremost, you know, proselytizing or evangelizing or telling people what to do. It's first and foremost about living it. And for some people, I guess I'm such a person, it's our kind of our dharma or right work on this planet. Two big guys or teachers in some way and to offer, you know, formal programs or events to help people find that for other people, you know, maybe they're working in a job in Silicon Valley, maybe they're working at a gas station, you know, maybe they're a waitress just, you know, it could be anything.
But you know, just by their example there. Embodying the truth of who they are and and even if they don't talk to anyone about it, just by living your truth, your awakening something and people will contact you. And maybe some of the people, you wouldn't be curious if you have a conversation but you know most of them will just notice something and maybe that will activate something inside of them. Now tell me you're you're talking you talk about dharma and you know we everyone has kind of a different idea of that or it means different things to different people for you ending up in Mount Shasta now doing this amazing work and helping people kind of go deeper. What was how did that come about for you? Like you got you came to Mount Shasta to kind of do your own inner work. At what point was there an epiphany or something that happened where you said, hey I want to share this with the world.
I want to teach this and show people this. Well thank you for asking. And I would say first of all so little clarification on what I mean by dharma since I think he was suggesting the word and we use different ways and might be confusing. I say Derma would be your right way or your true way. It's often associated with work or outer service in some way. I mean one simple way to look at it is to follow your heart. I think again in our society I think most people are choosing their careers and choosing what kind of work they will do what kind of business they start based upon. Uh huh. Fear and financial considerations and I think a lot of people are afraid if they follow their heart they won't have enough money. I say someone might have a passion for music and a gift for music and so maybe they're true dharma is to be a musician, you know, but they see a lot of people around them who are musicians who are barely getting by and they think well and I don't want to be like that.
So they get a corporate job. One good friend of mine did this, you know, he he loves music but he got a corporate job and did it for 30 years and pretty much hated every minute of it. Where is he certainly made a lot more money than he would have made if he was playing music. But he really suffered a lot and probably didn't help people as much. So number one principle I would say it's just you know, start by following you hard and I'm unfortunate, you know, I really lived that I wanted to be a lawyer but I realized that wasn't in my heart it was just something that I thought it made sense for a jewish boy from the suburbs who did well in school to be a lawyer. But then I realized my heart was really in tennis then that was my passion playing tennis and coaching tennis. So my first career was a tennis coach. And then one time when I was on my chest I got a vision of starting a nonprofit using sports to help out risk kids developing body and mind and spirit of such a strong vision.
I I moved to D. C. And I did it. So I was kind of my my second career and I felt like I was still, you know on track with my dharma following my heart, following my highest vision. I did that for about 15 years and I was complete and I came here to Mount Shasta for sabbatical basically and and pretty early on in the sabbatical year, this guy really obvious to me that my next phase was to to be here and to guide people on the mountain. And so I feel blessed is a, you know, really from the time I was graduating college, I really followed my heart and to the same, I don't have as much money as I might have if I've been a lawyer but I've always had plenty and I'm in a comfortable situation, I'm not in hardship at all and I have the inner riches. So I would say to anybody out there who's doing something just for money that is unfulfilling to really, you know, you may already know what you'd rather be doing and just to kind of at least phase into that, I mean you don't necessarily have to go cold turkey but to start to take at least baby steps to kind of incubate a new career based upon following your heart and when you say baby steps, like as far as I mean for you discovering your dharma obviously came with um aspects of spirituality kind of doing that inner work, is that fair to say or?
Yeah 100%. I think for me certainly you know my spiritual awakening and my choosing to make them coming home to myself the priority just naturally into my dharma but I said by plenty of people out there who maybe aren't prioritizing spiritual awakening but maybe they got a passion for music, maybe they got a passion for kids, maybe they got a passion for for pets, but they're not really doing that professionally because they're afraid they won't make enough money basically and they're doing something professionally that they don't have any passion for and just say for example of someone ah I had a passion for for pets say and they really didn't think they could make a living pursuing that passion so they got a job and a in a software company and you know they're making a lot of money but they're they're bored, so maybe it's a baby step would be to to volunteer the local humane society or something and and you know, just take a baby step.
Or maybe a baby step would be to start taking some classes at the local community college, which could ultimately lead to a career as a veterinarian or something like that. So baby steps doesn't mean you just quit your job, you know, immediately start doing something totally different, but you kind of prepare yourself, you do a step place step in a way that makes sense right now. Tell me when you're doing the work with people, how does that kind of um where do you start if this is something we could just kind of give share some of your kind of insights and wisdom with people who are kind of stuck in life or hurting or recovering or need to heal, right? What is some kind of wisdom and guidance that we can just, where can they start the healing? That's a great question. I see any kind of any kind of change process starts with awareness.
I mean, the first step is to become aware of that something's not working, you know, then you need to do something different or you haven't healed pain. So, I mean, if someone is totally oblivious, you know, there's no chance. So the first step is awareness and the next step is choice, you know, to say if someone becomes aware of their carrying a lot of trauma and carrying a lot of pain that's been repressed or numbed out. Next step is choice. You know, you make a choice that I want to deal with this, I'm tired of carrying this with me, I'm going to deal with it, you know, so those are really the, the two first choices and then you, you know, there's so many modalities out there for healing. You know, it's hard to recommend one or two since there's, there's so many, but you know, once you have the intention, you just draw it to you, the resources you need.
So I would say, you know, first, just take a look at yourself and it could look especially your inner life. You know, again, I'm always in the inside out. Like if you have a relationship that's work, not working in a job that's not working, you know, let's start by pointing at the other person or the situation, look at what inside of me can I change. So I create a better life for myself and, and ultimately, as far as the inner work, I mean, to me was the most direct and simple is to consciously meat Whatever one is carrying from the past that no longer serves the highest good. You know, whether someone's carrying fear or until grief anger, trauma, it's always in the body and to me, the simplest, most direct way is to find where in the body of holding the unhealed pain and then to bring awareness there.
And I think for people, we're just starting to work, having some kind of guide or facilitator or a healer or therapist probably helps, you know, it's probably essential, you know, at least in some cases that someone can help you to learn how to consciously meet the pain you've been carrying since it can be pretty scary at for us to do it on your own. You know, I say, having a guide of some kind is probably good and and again, once you have the intention, you made us run into someone who's office that service or run into someone who as we're receiving that service from someone else, they can recommend, you know, you know, life is tense too, support you and bring you the resources you need once you make that choice to heal, that's so beautiful. I love that. You say that because I'm so big on this whole, the universe is listening, right?
So, so many people who are kind of, this is not um they're not kind of privy to some of this stuff. They think a lot of that stuff is just kind of so far fetched, but I know you have just experienced this probably throughout your life where you get a hunch or an idea or a feeling and then something kind of serendipitous happens and leads you there. Yeah, very much so and I agree the university's listening, I would also say the universe is benevolent, you know, the universe is on your side and I think once you you really make the decision to move in the direction of coming home to yourself a direction of living your truth universe supports you remember there's a famous quote from Gerta, you know, and the essence of it is kind of what we've just been talking about. You know, once you really commit yourself to something, the universe just lines up to support you in that.
So that's really the critical thing again, life is inside out. And when you make the inner decision to heal the inner decision to awakening in a decision to live your truth in life there to support you in all kinds of surprising and unexpected ways that you can't really couldn't really plan for figure it out, wow, that is um it's just I love having you affirm this to all of us. Um so thank you for that. And now let me ask you, can you talk to me about our, about nature and our how powerful it is for our healing and recovery and soul growth. Yes, Susan, I would say, first of all, almost all of this, our full self comes out of fears in human relationships, especially relationships with parents or siblings, other people in early childhood.
So so the false self is all about protecting yourself from other people basically. And so when we're around people that false self or ego tends to be activated, we're we're around nature, it's not activated, you know? So people everybody we come across offers us a different reflection, at least some of the people we come across by a lot of them. For people who were early in the healing journey, they reflect back our our fears or unhealed parts. When you go out in the woods to the beach reflection you get is a that part of the view which is balanced and expensive and and free. So you get the reflection and I think you get that any time you go in nature and the thing in Mount Shasta reflection is just way amplified. Like you can certainly get that reflection in the Sierras, maybe even if going to the park around the corner from where you live and I encourage people you know, to go out and whatever nature is accessible when you come to Mount Shasta, it's just kind of an octave beyond that, everything is just amplified, wow.
Now can you kind of share with me on a very visceral level um what that's like for you in particular to just kind of be in the vortex there in a space that's just so powerful and what that's like really great question. Well, I would say kind of awareness expense, like a lot of time, you know, if I'm just working on my computer or something, you know, my awareness is pretty narrow, pretty mental, but when I go up on the mountain, it's like there's this field of presence could call it silence stillness. You could call it pure awareness, You could call it being, this ultimately doesn't matter what do you call it? But there's this greater field, it becomes palpable. You know, it's not a spiritual concept that there's a field, you know, becomes a reality.
And you could say it's like the field is amplified. I mean, there's always this silence still feel the silence still presence, the space of being this it's way in the background and for most people so far in the background, they're oblivious to it and they're focused on what's moving, what's making noise and focus on thoughts on sounds and other people. Whereas the field of awareness itself, the silent stillness is it's always there in the background, but it's ignored. And so you go up to some of these places I take people and that field is so amplified that it's much easier to focus on that. And then when you focus on that, there's a, you can say it's a foreground background shift at that peace. That stillness. That pure awareness comes more in the foreground and the thoughts which are normally in the foreground feed into the backgrounds of the mind necessarily stops.
It's hard to stop the mind, but the mind becomes, you know, so much less interesting, maybe less loud. So it just becomes like the conversation in the background, you're not really listening to you and your attention is on the silent stillness in the foreground. Now, can you tell me? Andrew what it's been like for you to do this amazing healing work with people, what that's done for you personally? Well it's very fulfilling and it's good practice for me too and I find when I'm guiding every day practically every day like I am in the summer it just helps me to be you know deeper and more stabilized and feeling the field I'm talking about and feeling gratitude. Gratitude is a huge he also I probably and emphasized nearly as much as I I could have in this conversation so far but just being grateful Opens 1 to receiving and so I mean first of all I'm always grateful to be on the mountain and I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve.
So it helps stabilize me and just being present and grateful and connected, that's beautiful. Now a final couple of questions for you, one if you can kind of share with us some of the work you do and I'm gonna have links and things for people to be able to get in touch or sign up but if you could just kind of briefly share about some of um your retreats and things that you do a year long. Well thanks for asking. Well first I offered my wife Alex also offers up customized personal retreats All year round which can be 1-1, can be a couple and meet some friends, could be a group of friends and we just decided to retreat based on your intentions. There's just one day, sometimes it's two or three days, Sometimes it's a little bit longer where we go to sacred sites and depending upon what your intentions are. Huh, We do different meditations or healing rituals.
I mean general and this will apply to what I'm just talking about and everything else I mentioned. You know, to me, there's three phases, a lot of people go through on the journey home on the journey of a retreat or sacred site tour, which is basically past, present and future. I mean, first you let go you here early release, secondly, reconnect in the present. You come home to yourself. And third you receive vision clarity, next steps for the future. So, you know, that's kind of the overall roadmap and there's different emphasis for different people. Sometimes people are more focused on the healing part, maybe so much in transition, they're more focused on the future part, you know, So we offer this customized personal experiences and in the summer we offer to group retreats, Which we actually just did in the last month, a week long and a three day one. So those are probably not going to offer again until next july unless something unexpected happens.
But we do offer some couples retreats. We offer offering a couples retreat in a couple of weeks. And we also sometimes offer group sacred site journeys like yeah, Like for example, August eight called Lion's key is considered a very powerful day. So we're offering a group sacred site journey. We do another one on August 17 doing another one September 22 for the equinox. So we do offer groups sacred site journeys which are usually Just about $5, but they're very powerful. We go to the most powerful places and guide people through that journey of letting go of the past, coming home to the present and getting vision and next steps for the future. That sounds amazing. I am going to be coming up to Shasta you and I talked about that and I can't wait to um be there with you so that I am super thrilled about now in closing, I am going and again I am going to have links to all of this.
So if people want to get in touch or sign up for a retreat or find you or your website, that's all going to be there for everyone. But in closing I would love to have you just share some wisdom with people about the soul journey process and just wisdom that has come to you through your own expertise and journey. Well, I think just to leave people with some really simple things that maybe kind of a recap of some of the things I shared first Make the inner journey your priority 2nd gratitude is a huge key and I think challenge with gratitude is to be grateful for things that may seem adverse or not what you would have wanted and it's easy to be grateful for a good friend, beautiful sunset time and nature, but you know, you know where the rubber meets the road is, can you still be grateful when life brings you experiences that or challenging or even painful?
And I would say that the key to being grateful in those times is seeing it as an opportunity. Like you know, if life brings you an experience which triggers some and here pain not to be upset with this pain which was subconscious has now been triggered into consciousness but to be grateful for the opportunity to meet it since it is held in sub consciousness, basically limiting you and controlling you in many ways and you can't do anything because it's subconscious when life gives you an experience, maybe someone is mean to you or close off an appointment or whatever happens and you feel this upset, you know to find to first be grateful for the opportunity to meet it and find it where it is in your body, just relax into it. You know, just meet it with awareness. So I think you know, being grateful is important and and you know the only thing I say is taking time taking time to renew.
Taking time to go deeper. Like I believe Sabbath's are a good idea not because it's in the bible, but because it makes sense to if at all possible that one day a week or at least a good chunk of one day, it's just devoted to self renewal. You know, to be, you know, it's not, not the day you do your laundry or catch up on your shopping, that's a different day today. You just wake up ideally with an open schedule and say what would be most renewing, you know, most healing for me. Maybe it's going out in the woods or to the beach, maybe it's gone for a swim, you know, maybe it's sleeping in, maybe it's doing a lot of meditation, maybe it's going to a church service if you're religious, but to look at what's going to really be most renewing and then occasionally to take longer times you set aside, set aside a weekend or even a week once a year, just totally dedicated to self renewal. It doesn't matter if you call the recreate infrastructure or not and that's one format for it, but just just think, okay, you know, I've been working, working so hard, ready for a break.
So if I take this three day weekend, just for renewal, just for myself, you know, what would be most restorative for me and often it's gone out in nature and you don't have to camp, you know, you can find a cabin or BNB or metallic Airbnb whatever in a place that has a lot of access to nature and then do some hiking, do some medication, you know, you know, some reading that inspires you and just just take that time for renewal. Oh, that was amazing. And I just want to say, I feel grateful to have had this time with you and you're just such a wonderful light. And um I just thank you for your time and your guidance and your wisdom and I am your affirming for me that I need to do more self renewal. Work faster.
Susan, it's a great place for it and you can only live four hours away. So get yourself up here. I'm gonna be up there, I can't wait. And we're gonna kind of circle back about that. But again, I just want to say thank you so much for your time today. And um yeah, thank you. I'm so grateful and so honored to have had this time. My pleasure. Susan, Thank you again for inviting me and look forward to meeting you in person. Hopefully before too long, awesome. Andrew. Thank you so much. You're very welcome. Okay, bye bye bye. Mm hmm, mm hmm. Okay.