Redefining Balance Puerto Rico 14
Redefining Balance: Adventure retreats in paradise filled with surfing, yoga, rock climbing, slacklining, AcroYoga, Thai Massage and… trash collection?!
Yup, we got a little trashy this year… and it felt darn good!
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” ~Albert Einstein
Every year these retreats seem to rise above and beyond with regards to the incredibly talented, outgoing cast of characters who travel from countries around the world and join some of the locals from Rincon to create such an amazing week-long experience.
The idea had crossed my mind about emphasizing the importance of environmental awareness as one of the principles behind Redefining Balance as a concept to integrate people back into the outdoors. Teaching in an environment where the water is so clear and the rock quality is so pristine allows us to provide amazing experiences with incredible photographs for students to remember. The hope is that these experiences will also help to create appreciation for these parts of the world and inspire small individual acts of conservation and mindfulness to live a more eco conscious and sustainable life when students return to their hometowns.
Our past retreats have always included beach clean ups and emphasized the importance of carrying reusable bags, a personal water bottle & to-go ware to help reduce single use plastic consumption. This year we took personal sustainability efforts to a whole new level and actually made it a “challenge” complete with awesome prizes donated from eco-conscious sponsors.
Based on a “trash tour” that I did 5 years ago to fundraise for children living in trash dumps in Cambodia, the Redefining Balance eco challenge was a one week elective “choice” that the students could take on in which they would be responsible for holding on to all of their personal trash from the week that was plastic or styrofoam (basically anything that would float in the ocean). A big part of the reason for focusing on this particular type of “floating trash” was to raise awareness about the North Pacific Trash Convergence, a large land mass of trash floating in the middle of the ocean. Students who chose to take on the eco challenge strived to keep all of their trash for the week to under the size of a small or gallon sized Zip lock bag.
Many accepted the challenge and in the end 19 students (of the original 35 on the first retreat) had bags to show for the final awards ceremony. We celebrated the last day of the retreat and the closing of the eco challenge with an outdoor party catered by our friend’s Chilling & Grilling taco truck and Brooklyn Cleanse juice bar…both of whom brought reusable plates and glasses for all of the food & drinks! And to top it off, thanks to goal zero we were able to power a turntable and mixer off of solar panels, a battery pack and portable speakers so as to throw in some live music from one of Rincon’s favorite locals, DJ Don.
All in all it was an amazing way to wrap of the first retreat and the first ever group eco challenge which then had many students from the second retreat also requesting that they get to do the eco challenge as well. It was kinda awesome…people were actually requesting the ability to carry their own trash for the week!
Our second retreat, called Redefining the Inner Balance, has all of the same activities as the original Redefining Balance but with a group half the size and a focus on daily meditations based on the 5 elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether. Kadri leads the group through amazing meditation techniques to help you to tune in to these principles and then we apply connection to the elements when we are out climbing (earth), slacklining (air), surfing (water), acro & yoga (fire) and practicing thai massage (ether) to release all those sore muscles!
For Redefining the Inner Balance the eco challenge was renamed the “eco meditation” and rather than competing for prizes students were encouraged to just observe their actions and see what came up with regards to trash and consumerism. It was really cool to have the group get together for the closing group circles at sunset and talk about their experiences with trash and what was challenging, especially in a town where so much of the food is still served on styrofoam plates with plastic utensils.
All in all the eco awareness spread throughout town with local businesses actually changing the way they served food simply because so many students complained about the disposable single use straws, plates, glasses & utensils. Rincon is slowly catching up and working towards a plastic bag ban as well. And on behalf of all the students who helped make the Redefining Balance Puerto Rico 2014 season possible we are donating 5% of our proceeds from the retreats to the Surfrider Foundation & the Access Fund two amazing organizations that fund initiatives to preserve surf breaks and climbing areas around the world.
Special thanks to prAna, goal zero, coco hydro, Joshua Tree Organics, Ocean State of Mind, the uncharted studio and Raw Revolution for sponsoring the 2014 eco challenge and for all of their amazing prizes & support. And congrats to Chelsey Greene for winning the eco challenge with just one plastic straw to show for a week’s worth of trash!!! For more pics & info on Redefining Balance please visit www.facebook.com/redefiningbalance or follow us on Instagram at instagram.com/redefiningbalance. As for the rest of the retreat adventures… we’ll let the pictures tell the stories. Enjoy!