Bushwalking in Mindfulness…

The Sanskrit word ‘yatra’ means ‘journey’, ‘path of life’ or ‘pilgrimage’.

A yatra is a unique journey providing a special environment to engage with and enquire deeply into the potential of ‘human awakening.’ In the company of like-minded people, a yatra takes place within some of the most pristine landscapes of our natural world.

A yatra offers an integrative experience, combining physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual explorations in a secular environment. Being primarily based in the Buddhist tradition we also respect and draw from the wealth of many other wisdom traditions such as yoga, advaita, tao, modern science and tribal cultures.

A flexible combination of yoga, meditation, silent walking, dharma teachings, experiential exercises, story telling around the camp- fire, wholesome meals and our intuitive way of ceremony and creative expression support an unfolding process. This evokes a sense of deep connection and natural well being.

A yatra provides the opportunity to temporarily return to a simple and humble way of living on the earth. We endeavor to promote a way of being which helps us to understand, appreciate, respect and preserve our natural environment. We cherish the belief that each individual has a stewardship role in caring for the earth’s human and natural resources.

On a yatra participants experience the richness of being part of a community. Within our temporary yatra community (sangha) all participants are valued contributing members. Acknowledging the power of community utilizes pathways to explore and attend to interpersonal dynamics and fosters a profound sense of belonging.

Participants from all different walks of life and spiritual traditions are warmly welcome to the yatra experience. Practicing in the natural environment, outside the understandable boundaries of institutions, engenders freshness, open-mindedness and creativity – in teachers, staff and participants. We can rediscover authentic modes of being and expression, exploring the benefits of living a fulfilled, conscious and sustainable life.

Supportive Principles

A yatra is conducted under the shelter of certain ethical principles that assist in creating a safe and transformative container for the journey. We intend to form a supportive community, which facilitates quiet reflection, and endeavors to walk and camp with a minimal impact on the environment.

On a yatra we are encouraged to:

1. – minimize harm to ourselves, others and the world,
2. – be honest and authentic in our engagement with life,
3. – be considerate of our needs and the impact that we have,
4. – refrain from consuming substances which manipulate, cloud or dampen experience,
5. – abstain from any sexual misconduct that may cause harm to another.

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The Yatra routine

A yatra day usually starts around 6am with a silent yoga and meditation period, followed by breakfast.
The daily walking distance on yatras can vary from 10 to 20km depending on the route. Walking periods are usually in silence.
Reflecting individual styles of facilitation the evening program can be quite varied and usually include sitting meditation, dharma talk, group sharing circle, enquiry, chanting, poetry and music.

Most yatras have rest days and specific periods set for small group check-ins, experiential exercises, quiet reflections in nature and private interviews with teachers.
On the hiking sections participants only carry a day back. The accompanying support-team looks after the shifting of other luggage as well as the over-all camp set-up.
A yatra is fully catered for. All meals are vegetarian with gluten free and dairy free options.
Accommodation is mostly in our personal tents.
A yatra is based on active participation and the support crew requires help with food preparation, washing up, loading luggage and setting up/packing down the camp.

Behind the scenes …

Many hands work together to make a yatra possible.

Several months before the start of a yatra expedition a group of organisers undertake the initial process of exploring, designing and organising the yatra route. This can take many weeks and is often supported by extremely generous contributions of numerous volunteers, land-owners, officials and others

The Yatra Bushwalking Club (YBC) is an incorporated, not-for-profit organisation that acts as the legal entity behind the yatra expeditions. The YBC is managed by an elected committee which handles all administrative, financial, and legal affairs of the yatra.

The facilitators and teachers working on the yatras often have a diverse background, drawing from a variety of different traditions. Each teacher adds a unique flavour to the yatra experience. It is a requirement of the YBC that yatra facilitators offer their teachings on a dana (donation) basis.
Facilitators and teachers who have been contributing to yatras over the last 10 years include Victor von der Hydhe, Ronny Hickel, Jess Huon, John Seed, Ruth Rosenhek, Ken Golding, Carol Perry, Lizzie Turnbull, Jason Siff, Winton Higgins, Jenny Taylor and others.

The backbone of each yatra is the catering and support crew.
The support crew is includes a workteam of paid professionals as well as volunteers.
This crew manages all the logistical support during a yatra. This includes providing the meals, the transportation of all equipment and luggage, the set-up of camps, including toilets and showers etc. The support crew also looks after medical assistance.

To view a couple of short films about the yatra CLICK HERE.

To read a couple of short stories about the yatra CLICK HERE.

Painting by Annie Franklin telling the story of the Far South Coast Yatra 2010.