Kirkland Shave wants to help you enjoy the here and now—in a unique way.
The natural-born leader has practiced meditation, martial arts, vegetarianism, and more since his teens. And, after working as a park ranger during summers to put himself through teaching school, he realized that he wanted to take his passion for guiding others outside a traditional classroom.
Today, Shave is program director and lead guide at Mountain Trek, a health- and hiking-based fitness retreat program based near Nelson, British Columbia and at Rancho La Puerta in Baja California, Mexico. At both destinations, he coaches clients to rediscover their health and unlock their transformative potential through simple lifestyle changes.
Here, Shave describes the process of helping guests reconnect with themselves and explains how conscious wellness helps him feel free:
Live The Process: You are knowledgeable in many areas: stress management, exercise, sleep health, nutrition, detoxification and hormonal balance. Have you always been passionate about wellness?
Kirkland Shave: I took up transcendental meditation at age 16 in 1972. I was a young hippie who felt disenfranchised by Christian Youth groups, but still wanted a spiritual practice. Also, I had a mentor, my first supervisor as a summer junior park ranger, who was a practitioner. Then, I began practicing vegetarianism, yoga and martial arts at 19. That said, most of my adult life has been focused on alternative health choices.
LTP: What first inspired your desire to teach others, and what keeps you motivated to continue?
KS: I've always been passionate about teaching and inspiring others. My mother wanted me to be a teacher, but, after I graduated, I realized I couldn't work in a school environment, as I had worked as a park ranger every summer to put myself through university. I also had a schoolteacher in the seventh grade who inspired me to teach.
I became a yoga instructor in the late 1980s. I had practiced for about five years at that point and decided that the teacher certification course would take my personal practice to a deeper level. At the time, there weren't very many male students, let alone instructors, and I toyed with the idea of offering yoga for men.
LTP: Why do you think people neglect their own wellbeing, choosing stressful jobs, inactive lifestyles and poor diets instead? How do you coach clients to shift that perspective?
KS: We are in a conundrum: a social, economic epoch, where we sit for work, while traveling to work and coping with work. We are now more sedentary than any humans have ever been in the history of mankind! We aren’t dumb, uncaring or lazy (as we work longer hours per year than any other time), we just put up with the physical, mental and emotional stressors to cope with the current situation.
As a certified life coach, I guide our clients to take one step at a time (like climbing a mountain) and add one positive, new healthy habit (or replace one negative energy-robbing lifestyle habit) until it is a no-brainer. Then we go down their list of desires and focus on the next simple lifestyle choice that brings them more into alignment with their true natural being.
In other words, don't just quit your job, resolve to eat breakfast and decide to walk after eating dinner. Maybe think about joining a yoga or Pilates class or powering down the backlit gadgets by 10pm. Just one positive step at a time.
LTP: What advice do you offer guests when they first arrive at a Mountain Trek retreat to help them get the most out of their experience?
KS: Our staff first coaches our urban professional guests to breathe and notice their bodies. It's the mind-body connection that allows our guests to enjoy their bodies, notice the changes and “fall in love” with themselves. This creates the desire to learn more about their whole being and take care of themselves. I’m currently leading a pilgrimage on the ancient Zen Buddhist temple trails in Japan; we need to reincorporate the essence of the pilgrimage into our lives! It’s an opportunity to drop into nature, our natural selves and our divine connection to self and other.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
KS: Happiness is being present in our senses, our bodies and in the beauty of nature, or even eventually in whatever situation we find ourselves.
LTP: What does it mean to you to "Live The Process" and how do you do that every day?
KS: To me, living the process is being present, as well as being in the flow of life. If I hold or cling to ideas, thoughts, preferences, assumptions or expectations, I often get caught in judgments and suffering. Living the process is a challenging practice of noticing my mind’s desire to control or limit my experiences in order to feel safe—not free, but comfortable. I want to feel free and that's why I am drawn to taking care of my body, mind and heart.