Site hosted by Build your free website today!




Class Listings


Feature Articles

Healing Arts


Mission Statement

New to the Valley

Poetry Page

Product Review

Reflections: Guest Articles

Resource Directory

Spirit on the Job

Spiritual Life


Submission Guidelines

Valleys of Idaho

Yoga Life


The Joy of Letting Go

The 9th Annual Sun Valley Wellness Festival




The Sun Valley Wellness Institute was founded shortly after last year’s successful 8th Annual Sun Valley Mountain Wellness Festival, and this year begins its independent overseeing of the main event! The theme of this year’s festival is The Joy of Letting Go, which echoes throughout the programs, speakers, healers, and performers. From letting go into love, into the body, into the heart, into the soul, and at the beginning and end stages of life, the theme holds and carries the vision of the Festival into its new phase of being. I spoke with the Assistant Director of the Festival, Spirit of the Valley’s own beloved Heera Sazevich, and she passionately related all of the amazing work, progress, and visioning that has gone into the event this year that will come to fruition May 25-29 in Sun Valley, Idaho.

The Festival has broadened its focus and reach in many ways this year. One aspect of this is the wide range and high caliber of speakers and presenters that are coming from all over the country, and from a broad spectrum of approaches and specialties. Look for new faces this year such as Kundalini Yogi Master Fletcher Wilkins, Kissing School instructor of love

Cheri Byrd, and many others here for the first time. Another area of expansion is in the length of the Festival itself. There will also be more workshops on Monday, and some on Sunday for those who have to travel earlier. This year’s Festival also has a communal feel to it, with several organizations coming in to co-create events and tie-ins such as the Sun Valley Center for the Arts’ Tibetan Arts program , and events at the Garden of Infinite Compassion at the Sawtooth Botanical Gardens.

On Sunday, May 28th, Coleman Barks and friends will be performing what can only be described as an “ecstatic poetry” experience that encompasses all dimensions of mind-body-spirit. Tony Evans, fan of both Rumi and Barks, spoke with Coleman about life, performing, and of course, poetry…….

The Festival still needs volunteers! If you would like to help out, please contact: Pam Jonas 208-788-2643 ~

Back to Top



A Love Affair with the Divine
Coleman Barks Brings Rumi to Town

by Tony Evans

When the plundering armies of Genghis Khan rode to the outskirts of Konya Turkey in the 13th Century, a young sheikh and scholar by the name of Jellaludin Rumi walked out to meet one of the generals. While the city awaited its fate, an afternoon of conversation ensued, after which the general retreated, saying “there may be other people like him in that town, let’s don’t sack it.” And so Konya was spared.

Rumi’s passionate and transforming message continues to speak clearly to a restless and sometimes hostile world. Over the last ten years, Coleman Barks’ translations have made Rumi the most read poet in America, bringing mysticism to the masses and reaching far beyond the turmoil of the evening news to the compassionate heart of people everywhere.

“I just love to experiment with putting the spoken word to music,” Says Barks. “I’m trying to do what the Sufi’s call “Sema”, which is a deep listening. It’s a way of letting the words and the images go deeper into the heart where they can become of some use for you.”

“The only news here is that there is no news at all.”

“Rumi had such authority in his gentleness and love for everyone, that it was undeniable,” says Barks. ”I just adore that kind of charisma. We need it now in our elders. It’s like the teenagers are running the show, and we obviously need a Nelson Mandela or the Dalai Lama to be in charge. That’s why I think this popularity of Rumi is so current. It gives you a glimpse of someone—a true human being—and what it is to have a compassionate and clear vision. And also one that sees a lot of hilarity in what people do.”

The Sufis are the mystics of Islam; irascible, radical, and “spiritually impatient” in the words of religious scholar Huston Smith. Rumi was born into a long line of Sufi teachers during the “Golden Age of Islam” (750-1500), when the arts and sciences, medicine and engineering flourished in the Muslim world, when Socrates and Plato were discussed within the context of Muslim theology. If Islam means “surrender”, the Sufi surrenders to most everything.

“There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

Rumi’s alchemical symbology provokes an immediate encounter with a divine “presence”: at various times the self, the other, or God, ultimately blurring the boundaries between all three. Melting snow, wine, a ruby or a reed flute; all resonate with secret meanings and provide pathways to and through the senses toward a direct encounter with God.

A craftsman pulled a reed from the reedbed,
cut holes in it, and called it a human being.

Since then it’s been wailing a tender agony
of parting, never mentioning the skill
that gave it life as a flute.

Rumi’s poetry was born of a profound friendship with a mysterious, older wise man named Shams of Tabriz who lived on the outskirts of society. Legend has it the powerful Shams threw Rumi’s books into a fountain, transforming the young scholar’s years of intellectual study into a living mystical reality based upon long spiritual conversations called “sohbet.” When Shams disappeared, perhaps murdered by jealous rivals for Rumi’s attention, Rumi entered a deep and ecstatic longing, which resulted in an out-pouring of thousands of poems, including the six volume Matthnavi which transcended Christian, Jewish and Muslim doctrines, attaining a universal significance which has lasted more than 700 years.

Coleman will be accompanied by musicians Barry and Shelley Phillips for Five Things To Say: An Evening of Rumi’s Poetry on May 28th

“The Sufis have a wonderful metaphor about the Fish,”says Barks. “They schooled around and got into study groups and tried to figure out whether or not the ocean existed. And they’re swimming in it. It’s just all around us. So this is theology…speculation by the fish on whether the ocean exists.”

“Religion and poetry both remind us of what is sacred,” says Barks, who has studied Rumi’s mystical message for more than thirty years. “Spontaneity is more important than coherence. This is surely true.”

According to Barks, there are as many kinds of mysticism as there are mystics. It has to do with one’s personal, unique response to the mystery of being alive and to the mystery we are living within. “I think of mystics as mostly being ecstatic,” he says. “They feel, like some children do, that just being in a body and sentient is a state of pure rapture. Laughter is real important to these people. The whole thing is so hilarious. They are partial to boomerangs.”

A University professor and poet in his own right, Barks undertook the work of translating Rumi after meeting the Sufi holy man Bawa Muhaiyadeen in a dream in 1977. The following year he met Bawa in person, and for nine years spent time with him in Philadelphia. “It’s an amazing thing to see. We are not discreet individuals in the presence of an enlightened being, because his knowledge is of the Oneness. And I think we get a little of it too.”

“He had beautiful eyes.” Says Barks. “I told him once, ‘if you had a blindfold
over your eyes I might not come up here. I’d love to see what’s in your eyes. Can whatever I see in your eyes ever come up behind my eyes and look out?’ I was as an English teacher, and he always used something in my question to answer the question , like a pun. He says ‘when the ‘I,’ becomes a ‘we’ then that will happen; when the self becomes the community. ‘”

Barks recently translated a spiritual notebook written by Rumi’s father, Bahauddin Rumi. Known as “The Drowned Book”, it is thought to be the writings belonging to Jelalludin Rumi, which Shams of Tabriz threw into the fountain in Konya, saying “Don’t worry, you can pull them out and they will be as dry as ever.” The journal entries which make up the Drowned Book are an honest and unfiltered look at the mind of a 13th Century Shiekh.

” Rumi’s father was just a wild man, absolutely wild,” says Barks.“He just loved desire. He said, ‘God, please make women more beautiful, so my desire for them will be stronger and, therefore, you will be pouring through me.’ I mean that’s just so wonderful. His energy was divine. He just loved any state of mind he was in.”

Coleman Barks will present a reading of Rumi’s poetry with musicians Barry Phillips on cello and Shelley Phillips on harp and woodwinds (see photo lower left) as a keynote presentation at The Sun Valley Wellness Festival, 7PM Sunday May 28th in Sun Valley Idaho.

“It’s not really an entertainment or concert I’m doing,” says Barks. “It’s some kind of a practice really. I’m trying to let the transmission of Rumi’s poetry and Shams’ presence come into this century. So I’m hoping for big stuff, but I think it can happen.”

Like This

If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say,

Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the nightsky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,

Like this.

If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,
or what “God’s fragrance” means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.

Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.

Like this…

Back to Top





There’s nothing better than discovering something new and immersing yourself in a new way of thinking. The following is a list of some of the featured workshops that will be featured at this year’s Sun Valley Wellness Festival. These programs are not included in the weekend badge, and focus in a deeper way on ideas explored during the weekend lectures and seminars. Give yourself the gift of really immersing yourself in a new modality, technique or philosophy while these fabulous teachers are in Idaho!


The Festival still needs volunteers! If you would like to help out, please contact: Pam Jonas 208-788-2643 ~


Visionary Art Workshop
“Theologue,” by Alex Grey Photo by Eli Morgan

Alex & Allyson Grey
Friday, May 26th, 1-5pm

Visionary artists Alex and Allyson Grey teach painting and drawing from the wellspring of the divine imagination. This workshop is an opportunity for artists at any level of experience to draw and paint from the sacred ground and the mystic eye. We learn, through slides and talks, to empower the process of bringing the heart’s iconography to outer form. Using guided imagery, meditation, and shamanic ascent, we enter the doors of the imagination to the theater of revelation. Utilizing basic materials, primarily using graphite and colored pencils, pastels, and watercolors, we commit these mental pictures to paper. We also discuss the aesthetic dimension of our mystical experiences.


Body Communion:
Letting Go of Relationship Tension

Sabine Grandke-Taft
Monday, May 29th, 9am-5pm

Explore and relax your mind and body out of tension and disconnection, experience pleasure, and learn the most nurturing Symphonic Touch™ sequence. This course offers COUPLES AND SINGLES the occasion to give and receive each others nonsexual touch. Each one will experience their body as the source of pleasure and relaxation into trust in a beautiful, safe and nurturing setting. In this sacred space each person will have the opportunity to open beyond old or unconscious behavior and thought pattern and explore new and more deeply heartful ways to relate through the honoring of each others divine essence.


Shedding Resistance

Chandra Porter
Monday, May 29th, 1-5pm

In sacred space we will engage the magic, mysticism and guiding principles of the Inka Medicine Wheel. Beginning in the south and ending in the east, we’ll explore the maps (or wounds, fears and limiting beliefs) that bind us to the past, while creating a new map that reflects our becoming: one of harmony, boundless joy and creativity.

Ceremony, drum journeys, meditation, sacred play and creativity will be woven into practical and extraordinary ways for reorganizing your reality and relationship to life.


Death in the New Age:
Healing Visions/Holistic Care/Conscious Communities

Tarron Estes
Sunday, May 28th, 1 - 5 pm

In this 2 part workshop we will explore personal and collective visions for end of life by working with a process tool called, “Vision Mapping for End of Life”. This tool allows us to investigate our dreams, fears, hopes and wishing about the dying process at a personal level. With the support of teaching stories and musical messages from Spiritual leaders we will then collectively envision the holistic care and healing environments which are needed to live beautifully and die a good death. We will learn about active aging and end of life innovations and alternatives to retirement communities, long term care, and nursing homes. Based on our personal visions, we will collectively design new models of care and housing which support powerful decisions for active aging and end of life and the Transformation that death offers.



One Breath at a Time:

Buddhism and the Twelve Steps


Kevin Griffin, Monday, 1-5pm

The lecture will cover the basics of the Buddhism/Twelve Step connection. Included will be a guided meditation and explanation of the fundamentals of mindfulness. Participants will come to understand how to work with Twelve Step concepts like “Powerlessness” and “Higher Power” from a Buddhist perspective. This will be especially helpful for people who have struggled with the Judeo-Christian slant of traditional Twelve Step programs. Anyone who has dealt with addiction in their own lives or that of family members will benefit from the lecture


Back to Top