Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Life Coaching: Catching the New Year's Wave

Life Coaching

At the beginning of a New Year, a powerful wave of fresh energy is launched.  If you’re open, you can catch that wave and make positive changes in your life.

Here are a few practices I’ve found effective in getting my New Year off to a great start:

1) Take some time between today to review the past year.  If you notice any judgments of yourself or others coming up, allow yourself to deeply feel the judgment, then choose to forgive and come back into peace.  For a very effective, step-by-step forgiveness process, try my friend Ana Holub’s Prayer Sandwich.

2)  As midnight approaches on New Year’s Eve, reflect on which quality (e.g., joy, abundance, acceptance, etc), you want to more fully bring forth in your life in the coming year.  As the clock strikes midnight, focus on that quality.  Depending on your style and the setting, you may silently contemplate it or yell it out.

3) On January 1, ask for a fresh vision for the New Year.  Go into the Silence, receive the vision, and write it down.

4) Then, ask yourself, “What are my #1 inner and outer goals for 2015?”  Write them down.  Then ask, “What can I do in the first 10 days of the New Year to build momentum toward those goals?”  Write down these action steps.

2015 can be the year you begin to fully live your purpose and find true happiness.  These simple practices will help you start the year with a burst of fresh energy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Building a Bridge from your Retreat to Your Life Back Home

spiritual retreat in Mount Shasta

Do you find that after you come home from a spiritual retreat in Mount Shasta or some other powerful spot the sense of magic and new possibilities quickly fades away?

To prevent this from happening, make sure to take time while you’re on retreat to build a bridge to your life back home.

Once you’ve immersed yourself deeply in the joy of the present, take some time to look at your life from a clear, nonjudgmental space. Notice which areas of your life are already in alignment with the Truth of who know yourself to be now. Also, note areas where there’s disharmony, struggle, stress, etc. Write down action steps which can bring these areas more into alignment with the inspiration and clarity you’ve tapped into during your retreat. Make sure that some, if not all, of these action steps are simple and easy to do (i.e., making a phone call, scheduling a meeting, etc.).

Also, take time to reflect upon and write down the insights and realizations you’ve had during your retreat. Ask yourself “How can I bring these realizations home with me?” For example, you might want to consider purchasing a picture of your retreat site or special memento which you keep in your bedroom or office. Or you may want to commit to a new daily practice or ritual that will keep the flame in your heart burning strong.

When you arrive home, do at least one of your action steps the first day you’re back and as many as possible the first week. Also, make sure to spend time in nature and some time doing the spiritual practices you used on the retreat. This will help integrate the gifts from your retreat into your daily life. Do your very best not to get so busy catching up on everything that you get overwhelmed and stressed out. By choosing to go on retreat, you demonstrated a strong commitment to your well-being. Honor this commitment and the time you invested in your retreat by truly making a new beginning in your life.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

For a Successful Retreat: Alternate Between Stillness and Movement

mindfulness exercises

In a prior blog, I talked about the importance of starting your retreat off gently.  Once you’re rested and relaxed, you’re ready to dive into the heart of your retreat.  If you’re like most retreatants, your intention for the retreat is probably renewal, connection, awakening, or something in that ballpark.

I’ve found that it is very effective to alternate intensive spiritual focus with physical activity. Spend time sitting and meditating, praying, chanting or whatever helps you connect with God (or whatever name you use for Higher Power/Self ). 

At home, perhaps all you can do is take 20 minutes to meditate before rushing off to work.  But, on retreat, you have the great luxury of taking all the time you want to drink deeply of the nectar that always Present. 

If you’re like me, after a while your body will let you know that it’s time to move.  No need to be ascetic and power through your body’s messages, sitting until it screams at you in intense pain.

It’s natural and healthy to intersperse being still with hiking, swimming, yoga,  biking, or other physical activity. By alternating the spiritual practice and exercise, you will ground whatever new energies and realizations you’ve received.

While hiking or engaging in other physical activity, practice being in the present moment. One simple way to do this is to notice your breath and to be grateful for the gift of life so freely given.  If you’re hiking in a beautiful spot like Mount Shasta, you might also want to play with shifting focus between different senses.  First perhaps focus on the feeling of the Earth beneath your feet, then on listening to the sounds around you, and next on seeing the details of whatever setting you’re in.

Have fun playing with different mindfulness exercises and seeing what works best for you.  When you notice your mind going to the past or future, simply be grateful for that awareness. Gratitude will bring you right back into the joy of the present.

When considering this alternation of stillness and movement, I like to use the analogy of pouring and drinking a cup of tea.  When you meditate, you’re filling your cup.  If you keep sitting for unnaturally long periods of time, it’s like trying to pour more tea into a full cup.  But, if you take a break to exercise, you’re drinking the tea.  Then, you can come back to sit with an empty cup and once again be filled with the gifts of Spirit.

Andrew Oser has been offering guided retreats and spiritual journeys on Mount Shasta since 1982.   Through hikes to little-known sacred sites, guided meditations, spiritual life coaching, and time drinking in the silence of the mountain, he helps clients to deeply renew themselves in body, mind, and spirit and receive clear vision for their lives.  For more information, check

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Retreats: Letting go of Concepts and Doing What Works

When you’re on a solo retreat, it’s an awesome time to deepen your trust in your self.  It’s powerful to practice following your heart moment-by-moment with no plan or agenda.

Retreats: Letting go of Concepts and Doing What Works

A vital step is to let go of all concepts about what you should do a retreat.  You might have ideas from things you’ve heard or read.  Maybe even from this blog.  Best to let them all go.  Even let go of thoughts about what worked for you on previous retreats.

Have the intention to simply be present and to listen to your heart moment by moment.  You may be in for some big surprises.  Perhaps you were expecting to spend hours meditating and instead you’re guided to go on a long hike.  Perhaps, if you’re staying at a retreat center, you’re drawn to the library and magically pick up just the right book to inspire you.

A retreat is a wonderful opportunity to let go of habitual behaviors and thinking patterns.  Being in a new setting helps.  Then, as you relax and slow down, you can start watching your mind more closely.  You’ll likely notice that most of the thoughts that go through your head are not worth paying attention to, much less acting on.

It’s very freeing to stop following your mind and begin to tune into the often more subtle impulses of your heart.  Your retreat is a great chance to practice this.  When you hang out in silence by yourself for a couple days or longer, you can break free of old habits and discover new, more joyful ways of being.

The more deeply you let go of everything you know, the more fully your retreat will be a whole new beginning in your life.

I provide groups retreats and individual retreats - click here for more information.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Six Secrets of a Successful Retreat

Six Secrets of a Successful Retreat

For most of us, it's challenging to carve out time for a retreat.  So, you want to make sure you make the most out of your precious retreat time.  Through 35 years of taking and leading retreats, I've found you're almost sure to have a successful retreat if you:

1.    Choose the right setting and format 
2.    Prepare in advance
3.    Start off Gently
4.    Let go of concepts of do what works for you
5.    Alternate between being still and moving
6.    Build a bridge back to your life.

I have discussed the setting, format and preparation for a retreat already.  Let’s focus now on #3.

Start off Gently

Once you arrive at your retreat site, start with rest and relaxation. Particularly if you are tired and/or stressed, it is very helpful to give yourself as much time as you need to unwind and rest. Let your body sleep as long as it needs to. Perhaps go for a gentle hike or swim. Take an afternoon nap if you’re tired.  Use whatever relaxation techniques work best for you. Don’t put any pressure on yourself to focus spiritually. If you feel like doing some inspirational reading, meditation, etc., go for it. But, please don’t have any sense of should around this.

If you’re planning to be on retreat for a several days or longer, you might have the luxury to take a full day to rest and relax.  If you’re just doing a weekend retreat, perhaps you’ll take several hours. Be kind to yourself and don’t be in a rush.

In future blogs, I’ll discuss #4-6

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Is a Group or Solo Retreat Best for You?

Group retreats can  be very powerful
The energy and shared intention of a focused group creates a strong foundation for a renewing, transforming retreat. Having some amount of human interaction in alternation with alone time on your retreat makes it easier to re-integrate back into your daily life when you come home.

Many group retreats are guided
Having a skilled guide can be an enormous help, particularly for people who lack the experience to design and execute an effective retreat for themselves. This can be particularly true when the group is small enough so that the guide personal feedback and direction to each retreatant.

I’m a natural introvert, so I’ve chosen to do countless solo retreats over the years. I tend to be able to relax more fully and receive deeper inspiration and renewal when I’m on my own.

If, like me, you’ve had a lot of experience with solo retreats, you probably don’t need a guide.  But, if you’re relatively new to retreats or have done only group retreats, you might it beneficial to have a guide if you opt for a solo retreat. 

Find someone you trust who will tune into your needs, not try to run you through a cookie-cutter model.  A sensitive retreat guide will know when to offer guided meditations and spiritual life coaching and when you are best served by silence and being in your own space.

I offer guided group retreats during the Summer and guided solo retreats year-round on sacred Mount Shasta.  For more info, please click here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Preparing for a Successful Retreat

First, spend some time reflecting on why you are taking the retreat.  Ask yourself, “If I have a totally wonderful retreat, what gifts might I be bringing home with me?”   Perhaps you want to deepen your connection with God or to find your true purpose.  Maybe you want to make positive changes in your life

From this reflection, develop and write down some clear objectives for your retreat. Aim high! Magic can happen on a retreat; you can receive just about anything your heart truly yearns for.

Next, choose a location for the retreat which is in alignment with your objectives and your needs. I love being in solitude in the mountains and desert, so I often choose to spend my retreats camping in remote areas.

If you enjoy being in nature, but you’re not a camper, you might want to stay in a motel or vacation rental  located in a beautiful setting away from the city.

Some people prefer to stay in a retreat center. Most major metropolitan areas have a number of retreat centers, often located on beautiful, large properties in quiet areas. If you want to research retreat centers on the internet, a great place to start is

The quality of your retreat will be strongly impacted by how well you prepare yourself for this special time. One key is to take care of any potential loose ends which could distract you from being fully present. To the extent possible, complete projects, get current on communications, pay bills, etc. Leave messages on your e-mail and phones indicating the dates you will be unavailable.

Do whatever you can to ready yourself physically, as well as spiritually, for the retreat. If you plan to do some vigorous hiking on your retreat, you may want to amp up your exercise program to prepare your heart, lungs, and legs for this challenge.

If you’ll be doing lots of meditation or some other spiritual practice, it’s wise to do that practice regularly in the days leading up to the retreat. You will build momentum and strengthen your focus.

My favorite retreat spot for the past 35 years has been Mount Shasta, because the energy on this sacred mountain is so conducive to deep meditation.  Check out my retreat services, that include my life coaching and mountain guide experience.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What is a Spiritual Retreat?

A spiritual retreat is time we set aside specifically for the purpose of deep self-renewal. Spiritual retreats generally include meditation, prayer, mindfulness exercises, or other practices designed to raise awareness and connect with God/Self.

A vacation is a time we take off from work to relax and enjoy ourselves. It doesn’t need to involve any particular focus spiritual or otherwise

Ideally, we enter into a retreat with clear intention and with gratitude.  Taking time for a retreat is a wonderful gift we’re giving ourselves.  We want to make the most of this precious time.

Often, but not always, it serves us best to get away for retreats.  Being in a new, unfamiliar setting can help us break free of unconscious patterns and make positive changes in our lives.

I’ve found that doing retreats in beautiful, natural settings works best for me.  Whether I’m camping or staying in a cabin or motel, being able to spend time in solitude in the mountains, desert, or by the ocean helps deepen the retreat.

The most powerful place I’ve discovered for retreats is Mount Shasta.  The mountain has an incredibly pure energy which reflects my own Self and makes it easy to go deep in meditation. 

When I return from a successful retreat, feel an overall increase in my sense of health and wellness. I feel more connected with my Self and more able to be present with whatever may be happening in my life.

You can read more information about keys for planning and taking a successful retreat at my web site.