Recently we asked past retreatants to tell us more about how OM Sanctuary has supported their personal growth through our mission to inspire healthy lifestyle practices through holistic education and connection with nature. Understanding how stress impacts physical health and mood, our retreat focuses diligently on creating a peaceful environment to assist you in finding your sanctuary within. Your reflections inspire us to keep the mission and the vision close to “OM”. With so many wonderful experiences coming to us, we have decided to offer at least one blog post per month called, “Retreatant Reflections.”
Here is Alex Wood’s OM Sanctuary experience:
“My fiancé and I got engaged on September 25th and I planned a weekend getaway to celebrate our new engagement. We are both school teachers, so rarely do we have time to slow down and be still. I found OM Sanctuary while researching and it sounded too good to be true. However, we arrived and it was just as beautiful as the pictures. We participated in yoga, meditation, massages and still had time to slow down and read in the garden. The room was of superior quality and had a great view of the garden. Asheville is also a culturally rich place to visit. We traveled from Kentucky to visit and returned home rejuvenated.”
-Alex Wood, London, KY.
From all of us here at OM Sanctuary, thank you Alex! When you take care of yourself, you have the ability to touch the lives of others in a more balanced way.
Warmly, The OM Sanctuary Team.
Do you have an OM Sanctuary experience to share?
Contact Lia at [email protected].
OM Sanctuary is excited to introduce our new Sustainability Intern, Evan Novell. He will be with us for six weeks from the University of South Florida, helping us further our Holistic Management Plan started in 2014 by intern Rachel Newcomb from William Smith College in Geneva, NY. In our quest to be better stewards for the planet, Evan will be helping to educate the public on the sustainable initiatives the organization has taken up to this point and how they lay the foundation for a more sustainable community in the future. Our intern’s roll will be to help determine the organization’s carbon footprint and the carbon offset supplied by the carbon sequestration potential provided by the conservation easement. This easement, which is held by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, was placed on OM Sanctuary’s 41 acres of urban forest on January 30, 2015. Below is the first of his blogs to allow our followers to keep up with his internship as it unfolds:
It’s great to be working with such a talented group of people and I would like to offer a little background on who I am and what my plans are while at OM Sanctuary.
Until recently, the idea that wellness expands beyond the realm of physical and mental well-being is a concept that I had yet to embrace. Having been a guest at the OM Sanctuary in January of this year, I quickly realized that a complete picture of a healthy lifestyle required so much more than what I previously thought. OM Sanctuary’s definition for “holistic” is: body, mind, spirit and connection to nature. What I initially thought was going to be a relaxing weekend in the beautiful city of Asheville instead became an experience that would inevitably shape the future of my academic and professional life. When the time came to choose an internship in the tourism industry in order to fulfill the requirements for an M.A. in sustainability, I knew that the Oshun Mountain Sanctuary would be the first place I would apply to. Seven months later, and after several informative conversations with Executive Director, Jonathan Frappier, I can say that I am beyond fortunate to have been given the opportunity to intern here for the next 6 weeks. This affords me the opportunity to enrich my professional background, pursue new sustainability-oriented endeavors and explore the mutually beneficial relationship between wellness and sustainability. All of this while making new friends and colleagues along the way.
If my first week is any indication of what the next 5 will be like, I have certainly chosen wisely. My first day began on what I took as a typical early Fall day in Asheville; partly cloudy and cool but with a touch of what’s left of the Summer’s humidity. After being welcomed by OM Sanctuary’s Program Coordinator, Sue Ann Leavy, I was quickly introduced to some of the staff including groundskeepers, culinary experts, housekeepers and handy folk! Titles and billets aside, it quickly became apparent that every employee here is multi-talented and able to contribute in multiple ways. This includes Shelli Stanback, the Sanctuary’s founder whom I got to know through an eye opening and inspirational conversation where ideas were exchanged and plans set into action. Shelli also revealed to me the extent of the partnership between OM Sanctuary, Mountain True, and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, which was also made clear in some of the documents I reviewed, such as, the Conservation Easement Deed. The introduction concluded with a tour of the grounds and an overview of what’s in store for the future development of the Sanctuary. After having been acquainted with both the property, staff and vision, it was time to dig into my work and the reason for being here.
Over the course of the next six weeks, the majority of my efforts will focus on creating infographics and other educational tools which accurately illustrate the sustainability efforts being made by OM Sanctuary. More precisely, I will be collaborating with local sustainability experts in an effort to calculate the answer to a very important question for OM Sanctuary; “What is the organization’s carbon standing?” I respect them for wanting to do this in a way that allows for transparency and engagement with the local community. In addition to this, I will be absorbing as much information as possible when it comes to learning how both a hospitality facility and a non-profit organization operate. Exposure to policy, planning and management, in addition to the fundamentals of guest services, is an experience I look forward to in the days to come.
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments you may have concerning the project or my research at [email protected]ry.org.
Until next week…
Did you ever wonder why there is a surge of energy for a number of individuals when summer begins to transform into fall? Why is there this urge to get out and view, or walk in the landscapes that are flooded with deep reds, bright oranges, and vibrant yellows? If you have ever read about color therapy, or how your moods can be affected by colors surrounding your environment, one would know that autumn colors highlighted by the sun bring exhilarating benefits to your sense of well being. Here at OM Sanctuary in Asheville, NC, we are blessed to have the Blue Ridge Parkway offering travelers breathtaking views of these rich and restorative colors.
The color red symbolizes strength, power, passion, love and desire. It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure. It has very high visibility, which is why stop signs, stoplights and fire equipment are usually painted red. Different shades of red also evoke different emotional responses. Light red represents joy, passion, sensitivity and love. Pink signifies romance, love, and friendship. It also denotes feminine qualities and passiveness. Dark red is associated with vigor, willpower, leadership, courage, longing, and wrath. Brown, which is considered a shade of red in color theory, suggests stability and denotes masculine qualities. Shades of reddish-brown are associated with the harvest and fall.
When the energy of red is combined with the happiness of yellow, orange is born, bringing with it the aspirations of joy, sunshine and the tropics. The color orange further represents fascination, creativity, determination, attraction, encouragement and stimulation. As a citrus color, orange is associated with healthy food and stimulates appetite. And what about those beautiful gold autumn leaves? Gold evokes the feeling of prestige and the meaning of gold is illumination, wisdom, and wealth. Gold also often symbolizes high quality. When you find yourself putting on those hiking shoes, nature may be calling you to do so with its red-oranges that are known to correspond to desire, pleasure, and thirst for action.
Finally, yellow is the color of sunshine. Yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, simulates mental activity and even generates muscle energy. Yellow is often associated with food, intellect, freshness, and joy. Bright and pure, yellow grabs attention, which is the reason taxicabs are painted this color. Perhaps this is nature’s way of getting our attention to come out in the sunshine before winter sets in.
Each of these colors is embodied in the changing leaves and the season of fall making it a joyous, stimulating, and powerful time of year. When the leaves come falling down, be sure to pick your favorite one up from the ground. ~ OM Sanctuary
Jonathan Frappier is OM Sanctuary’s first full-time Executive Director. Raised in North Carolina, Jonathan has an extensive background in nonprofit executive management. He is also a husband and father, who enjoys spending time with his family and taking part in many of the practices that OM Sanctuary values, such as: yoga, meditation, connecting with nature, and living a vegan lifestyle.
Shelli Stanback the founder and president of OM Sanctuary states: “Jonathan brings diligence, nurturing, creative thought, repair, leadership, respect and patience to our teamwork, making the dream work come true.”
In this interview, Jonathan reflects on his first year here at OM Sanctuary, his greatest accomplishments and challenges, and finally his passion for empowering others to live up to their full potential.
What initially drew you to OM Sanctuary?
I grew up coming to these mountains and once these mountains get into your being they become a part of who you are. I’ve travelled extensively throughout the US and bits of the rest of the world, but there is really something special about these particular mountains and they hold a lot of memories and a true calling for me. There is a sense of ancient wisdom here. This is magnified at OM Sanctuary because our mission is outward-facing and service-based.
My wife and I met here, and then our careers took us away from Asheville for several years, but all we wanted to do was return as soon as we could. We knew we wanted to raise our son here in Asheville, be close to our families, and live out our lives here.
My background is in non-profit executive management and as a yogi, meditator, and vegan this position blends my work experience and my values very well. I feel incredibly blessed and grateful to be a part of the OM Sanctuary team.
What are some challenges that have occurred while directing OM Sanctuary that have provided opportunities for growth?
What I’ve realized in the last year is that every challenge we have with our facility has been an opportunity to bring the facility closer to our mission. An example of this would be the Sanctuary Garden, originally a beautiful English garden during the time of the Richmond Hill Inn; it was well-sculpted with ornamental species from around the world, and the overall facility had a staff of 100 at its peak. As the garden fell into disrepair, the boxwoods became diseased, the soil became overly acidic, and the bulbs clumped together; the flowers would bloom beautifully and then brown out shortly because they didn’t have the right conditions. We knew we needed to revitalize the garden because it’s such a focal point here and we wanted it to reflect our mission, so we removed the invasives and brought in more native species and pollinators and we carved out a labyrinth in the garden for walking meditation. These are positive growth challenges- opportunities for us to come closer to our mission as a holistic educational retreat center.
What do you feel have been your biggest accomplishments here so far?
I think my largest accomplishment has been being discovering the potential of the Executive Team relationship. This was critical to the board. As a non-profit organization, while the board doesn’t make all the day-to-day operational decisions, they create and govern the overall structure and the budget. What they [the board] said in this model was that the founder absolutely needed to be part of (at least for the first several years) the carrying out of the vision to a point of sustainability because we are in a new business growth period. It was really important to them that they found someone who would honor the relationship of a founder working with an executive director and who would make the most of that for the organization.
That may look like maximizing revenue opportunity, which we’ve done considerably. For instance if you look year-to-year we’ve had a 250+% growth in revenue and have begun receiving more donations as well. In relation to the overall care and rebuilding of the facility, we have put together a great facilities and maintenance operation. And you could go on down the line and say the same about our incredible team in programs, guest services, housekeeping, etc. The fact that we have people here across the entire team—no matter the person or the department—who all really want to be here and believe in what we’re doing, and that to me at the end of the day says that I’m doing something right. Because I need to be able to get deeply into challenges and empower others to use their skill sets fully, and then step away and trust that’s going to happen, perhaps monitoring it closely, but still being able to go on to myriad other things. To have a team that is working together in this way is the greatest joy. My biggest accomplishment is the accomplishment I see in others because it tells me that we’re all truly living this important mission.
What are your favorite aspects of areas of OM Sanctuary?
There’s a special spot on the Tranquility Trail… that’s my spot. I think a lot of staff and return retreatants have one of these, whether it’s on the trail or somewhere else on property. I’ve found little niches that I don’t go to everyday necessarily, but that I know are there and are a sanctuary for me. I feel this place doing its work on me everyday. It’s beautiful.
OM Sanctuary is easily a dozen integrated businesses in one. We are a sanctuary for retreat, a lodging facility, a full commercial kitchen, an incredible outdoor campus, and all programmatic areas encompassing mind, body, spirit, and nature. From an operations perspective, it’s remarkable how many business types intersect into this one place.
My biggest motivation, however, is that I get to live and breathe the mission of OM Sanctuary and its values everyday. To be able to combine my personal practices with my work experience, at a growing organization that I believe in fully, is the greatest gift. I love coming to work everyday: for our people, our practices, and our potential.
What one can take away from this interview with Jonathan is that through the transformation of the property from the Richmond Hill Inn to the retreat center it is now, OM Sanctuary has become, and will continue to be, a place where individuals can come to seek respite from the chaotic tow of daily life, spend time reconnecting with their inner rhythms, and leave with a refreshed sense of energy. For more information about Jonathan, view his Linkedin profile by clicking here. Jonathan will be attending the Yoga Journal Conference in Florida this fall on behalf of OM Sanctuary.
Join OM Sanctuary in welcoming Yeye Osun Omileye M.Ed., NCC, (Omi) as our current Transformational Artist-in-Residence! Omi is an artist, healer, author, mother and mindfulness teacher.
From a very early age her African-Caribbean family impressed the Ubuntu philosophy, “I am because you are,” onto her. Today she lives this ideal with great depth and purpose. Omi has stated that she hopes to bring more of the interconnected consciousness of the, “We” to the Western idea of the, “I,” and wants to do so with the OM Sanctuary as her foundation.
Omi’s journey began with a vivid dream where she received a message and a, “divination by a respected elder and African priest from Nigeria.” Omi states, “He said The Oracle said my dreams were true and the water mother Osun was calling me to help alleviate suffering all over the world.” Eventually, without even fully knowing what this call to action truly meant for her life, Omi took a leap of faith and began to pray.
She started to teach more about compassion and love, along with the need to protect our waterways, earth, and to live in a more sacred manner. Omi began holding water ceremonies and blessings and has said that they have become the anchor to her life and teachings.
The first unified ceremony was held right here in Asheville on June 25th, and at the same time, there were 35 held all around the world. The next major ceremony that Omi will be holding here at OM Sanctuary is the Lighting of 16 Lights, which will take place on the solstice weekend of December 16th-18th. In addition, Yeye Omileye and her husband Chief Olu, will also be facilitating weekly classes, and monthly sacred ceremonies in the form of water blessings at OM Sanctuary to honor the waters, our earth, and each other through giving special prayers to the Water Mother Osun, and the Elemental Mothers. Honoring the Four Elemental Mothers is about our actions and our heart and being in pure love. Ultimately, for Omi, it is all about walking in total balance and beauty on Earth.
Omi’s journey with teaching compassion and respect for the Earth and for each other has brought her in contact with many different spiritual leaders and teachers around the world. On a recent trip to India, Omi met with Kuten La the Oracle of Tibet, and on the same trip, received a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. On Thursday, August 25 2016, at 7:00 PM, OM Sanctuary will be hosting an evening with Yeye Omileye where the Asheville community can gather to hear her speak about this particularly important leg of her journey and the information on the 4 Elemental Mothers that she was given to share.
Yeye Omileye is bringing this energy to OM Sanctuary this year. Omi states, “I want to share this way of living in balance with everyone; this is a powerful spiritual calling for me. OM Sanctuary is the right place to share and live this philosophy.”
To learn more about her, visit her page on the OM Sanctuary website. Omi is also a prolific author and has written at length about her life’s work, travels, and experiences, check out her many books by clicking here.
In addition to all of her teachings, Omi was invited to the United Nations World Water Forum to help form UNICEF’S Global Interfaith WASH Alliance. To learn more about the WASH Alliance, click here.
Furthermore, Omi will be holding a 3 part, fifteen-week Four Elemental Mother series at OM Sanctuary.