Capacitar Tai Chi

Dear Heartbeat Family,
I hope you are coping during this time of COVID 19 and lockdown. My blessings, prayers and thoughts are with you all. I thought this would be an appropriate time to highlight some of the work we’ve done in practicing Capacitar Tai Chi in retreats, which I have co-led with Philip. During these difficult days, it is good to keep exercising and Capacitar Tai Chi is a wonderful way to feel grounded and calm in the midst of all the uncertainties.
Dr Pat Cane, founder of Capacitar became an Honorary Partner of Heartbeat last year. Capacitar is a grassroots organization and international network working in over 40 countries in the Americas, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. They are especially committed to communities affected by violence, poverty and trauma. At present many are accessing the Capacitar practices online, through video or through video conference as people support each other through the pandemic.
Here is a resource, which we filmed in the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, before it closed! Even if you have never tried Capacitar Tai Chi with visualisation, the movements are simple and easy to follow. Feeling connected to the healing spring energy and beauty is helpful when we have to spend more time indoors. The movements and the setting sit well with these words from Philip:
Grant us open hearts, O God
open to you
and open to one another
open to the splendour of the earth
and open to its pain and the pain of its people.
Grant us open hearts, O God.  
-Excerpt from ‘Celtic Treasure’ by John Philip Newell
Along with the prayers from Philip’s publications which have been posted regularly to strengthen us, I hope the Capacitar practices might be a useful way too of connecting and supporting each other. This can make us strong for the work of compassion in our world right now. 
Rev Ali Newell
Associate Chaplain, Edinburgh University

Blessings On This Day | John Philip Newell | Prayer | Celtic Spirituality


On this day

the blessings of heaven.

On this day

the blessings of earth.

On this day

the blessings of sea and of sky.

To open us to life

to ground us in life

to fill us with life

and with wonder.

On those we love this day

and on every human family

the blessings of heaven

the blessings of earth

the blessings of sea and of sky.

From Praying with the Earth: A Prayerbook for Peace by John Philip Newell | photo credit: Ben Lindwall

A Message From John Philip Newell

Hildegard of Bingen, the 12th-century Christian mystic, said that we need to fly with two wings of awareness. The one wing is an awareness of life’s glory and beauty. The other is an awareness of life’s pain and suffering. If we try to fly with only one of these, she said, we will be like an eagle trying to fly with only one wing. In other words, we will not truly see. 
We are living through a moment in time that invites a new strength of awareness. We are hearing stories from around the world today of terrible suffering and loss. And, at the same time, we are hearing accounts of great beauty of spirit and love. 
I pray for all of us these days that we may be strong in our seeing and in our loving of another. As one of the prayers in Sounds of the Eternal puts it,
           Let us serve love with our strength this day,
           let us serve love with our strength.
           In heart and mind and body this day
           let us serve love.
Many of you have been wondering, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, about the ongoing activities of Heartbeat and the School of Celtic Consciousness. There is of course much uncertainty ahead but for the Spring of this year we have decided to cancel our School of Celtic Consciousness program in Colorado. And we ask that any of you who have registered for the Iona Pilgrimage Week in April should contact the St Columba Hotel directly, if you have not already done so. They will be able to outline for you the options available.
With gratitude for you all and blessings,
John Philip Newell
22nd March 2020

Prayer of Thanksgiving & Intercession


That from our depth new life emerges

thanks be to you, O God.

That through our body

and the bodies of men and women everywhere

heaven’s creativity is born on earth,

children of eternity are conceived in time

and everlasting bonds of tenderness

and forged amidst the hardness of life’s struggles,

thanks be to you.

That in our soul

and the soul of every human being

sacred hopes are hidden,

longings for what has never been are heard

and visions for earth’s peace and

prosperity are glimpsed,

thanks be to you.

For those near to us who are in turmoil this day

and for every family in its brokenness,

for the woundedness of our own life

and for every creature that is suffering,

O God of all life, we pray.

John Philip Newell, Sounds of the Eternal | Photo by Karin Baard

Plant A Seed

In 2009 Drew Cauthorn planted a seed. At the time, I don’t think he would have been able to know what sort of impact that small act of faith would have. It wasn’t a large seed, but it was put in the right place at the right time.
Drew was a member of Heartbeat’s founding board and served in this capacity until 2014. Heartbeat’s very first initiative was to provide scholarship funds for young people to attend John Philip and Ali Newell’s Pilgrimage for Change on the Island of Iona in 2011.
The gift that Drew made is personal for me because I was one of the participants selected to receive that scholarship. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without that pivotal experience. Having grown up in a constricted faith background, I think it took nothing less than a miracle to find myself on such an incredible journey.
Looking back, I’m thankful for the big miracles that start from the smallest of seeds. I’m inspired by Drew and the hundreds of people who have contributed to Heartbeat’s scholarship fund over the last decade. Pilgrimages to Iona in Scotland, the Borderlands of the USA and Mexico, the Camino in Spain, and attendance at the School of Celtic Consciousness have all been made possible for folks like me who otherwise would have been left behind at home. Like many other scholarship recipients, I am still learning from that first pilgrimage experience on Iona. It’s been nearly ten years! It makes me wonder if seeds that are sown as a gift have a tendency to live forever.
We hope to continue to provide the needed resources that make Heartbeat offerings accessible to everyone, no matter the financial circumstances. We’ve set a goal to raise $10,000 by the end of the month for our Scholarship Fund. To make this happen, we need all hands on deck.
Will you sow a seed with us by making a gift today?
Ben Lindwall
Executive Director, Heartbeat
Ps. Please be sure to designate your gift to the Scholarship Fund.
Heartbeat is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit eligible to receive tax-deductible donations.
5431 NE 20th Ave
Portland, OR 97211

I Feel I Have Come Home

Dear Heartbeat Family,

I have recently returned from Iona and one of our Pilgrimage Weeks. The island was in its autumnal wildness of beauty. There were days of unspeakable glory in the sun’s lowering light. And there were times, including our pilgrimage walk around the island, when we were showered with that other blessing that Scotland so excels in! Our bodies and souls felt washed.

John Philip Newell on the Iona

John Philip Newell on the Iona

One of the young Heartbeat scholarship recipients said to me, ‘I feel I have come home’. Some of that, of course, was the island itself, always such a sheer gift of blessing. But much of it also was the shape and focus of our community life and study. To enter silence together, as we do at the beginning of the day in the Michael Chapel, is a simple spiritual practice that people are hungering for but haven’t necessarily known how to access. Some of our Iona pilgrims learned for the first time how to take this simple discipline forward in their lives to be rooted more deeply in prayerful awareness. And the teaching sessions, always circling around our threefold vision of Celtic Spirituality – nobility of soul, the sacred earth, and the grounding of vision in compassionate action – more deeply equipped us all to be part of the holy work of transformation.

So many of the pilgrims spoke to me with deep gratitude about our mixture of pilgrimage participants, and especially for the intermingling of generations. This simply would not happen without the financial support that many of you have generously offered the Heartbeat scholarship programme over the years. You need to know just how many young lives you are helping shape and how many older lives are being blessed by relationship across the many boundaries, whether of age or race or class or faith, that have separated us. We need one another.

I came away from Iona with a new sense of urgency. It isn’t necessarily that we need to be ‘busier’ in our work for transformation. Feeling busily driven can speak more of franticness than faithfulness. I wasn’t feeling driven. I was feeling drawn. I believe the time is ripe for the vision we are trying to serve. Whether it is our pilgrimage work, our refugee and interfaith initiatives, or our earth-honouring teachings and School of Celtic Consciousness, Heartbeat has an urgent role to play now. The Spirit is inviting us into greater intentionality about choosing to work together in this Sacred Journey Toward Earth’s Well-Being.

I thank you for being part of this. Please continue to gift Heartbeat’s work with your support.  I urge you forward in the unique role that is yours to play.

With my blessings to you and much gratitude,


John Philip Newell

Report: The Sanctuary Walk for Refugees

Sanctuary Walk for Refugees 2

Recently I wrote to you about the planned Sanctuary Walk for Refugees in Scotland. Well, last weekend we walked with fifty students, faculty and friends of the University of Edinburgh in pilgrimage to an ancient Celtic site of hospitality to support the growing vision of sanctuary for refugees in our university, city, and nation. Importantly we were joined by six young Syrian men who have found new beginnings among us.

One of them, Ibrahim, shared his story with me as we walked together over the great Forth Road Bridge that connects the Lowlands and Highlands of Scotland. He had managed to escape from Syria after being tortured by the Assad regime in Damascus. His path to safety took him over vast stretches of Europe as far as Calais on the west coast of France. But there, because of restrictive British Government immigration policies, he was allowed to travel no further in his hope to join his brother in Scotland. Ibrahim decided to buy diving equipment and bravely entered the cold waters of the English Channel, swimming beneath the surface to a ship bound for England. Successfully clambering on board he was able, in international waters, to claim refugee status. A number of hours later he arrived safely in Dover to be processed officially as an internationally displaced person. As soon as he could, Ibrahim headed for Scotland to join his brother. The night he arrived in Edinburgh was the beginning of Advent. The streets and tree-lined paths of the park beneath the Castle had just been lit for the Christmas season. When he saw such a city of welcoming light he said to himself, ‘This is my place of new beginnings’.

Light at St Bridget's KirkThank God, it has been such a place for Ibrahim. He has found welcome here. He is working hard at his English as well as volunteering with a Scottish charity. The hope is that by next year he will be ready to study at the University.

It is for young people like Ibrahim that we walked in pilgrimage last weekend. The University of Edinburgh is the first Sanctuary University in Scotland, waiving tuition fees for refugees. It has also agreed to match the funds that we raise for the University’s Humanitarian Assistance Fund. So far, through the Sanctuary Walk for Refugees, we have raised over £8000. This means that already there is over £16000 of additional support for the subsistence of refugees during their time of study in Edinburgh. Please help in building this amount even further so that others like Ibrahim may say, ‘This is my place of new beginnings’.

Heartbeat is committed to acts of compassion. Please join us. You can make a gift which is tax-deductible in the United States here (please designate for Refugee Fund) or through the ‘Just Giving’ tab at the University of Edinburgh’s Sanctuary Walk contribution page.

With my gratitude to you and blessings,

John Philip Newell

Co-founder, Heartbeat

(You can also send a check to HEARTBEAT, 5431 NE 20th Ave, Portland, OR, 97211)

Interfaith Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage

Join us on an interfaith walk as a sign of peace in Oregon, USA. Apply by June 29, 2017.

NW Coastal Pilgrimage with Ben Lindwall and Stephanie Escher, Oregon USA

Religion is at the heart of some of the most conflicted places of violence and hatred in our world. Peace between us as nations and the healing of the earth will be served by peace and healing between us as religious traditions.

IMG_3390Our 2017 Northwest Coastal Interfaith Pilgrimage, will consist of 14 people (intergenerational) from many religious traditions and spiritual backgrounds walking 35 miles from Astoria to Arch Cape, Oregon as a sign of peace.

Each day will include various spiritual practices (yoga, salat, or meditation), hearing each other’s stories, and about 10-18 mi/16-29 km of walking. There will also be short periods of time set aside for silence as we walk along the coast.

Application fee:  $10

Standard registration fee: $449 (due upon notification of your acceptance by the selection committee)

 A reference form must be completed by a mentor, teacher, advisor, or religious/spiritual leader as soon as possible.

Scholarships Available!

Scholarships in the amount of $400 are available for those unable to pay the full amount. If applicable, please indicate your need for a scholarship in the application form. Scholarship recipients will be required to pay a $49 registration fee.


Walking 35 miles from Astoria to Arch Cape in Northern Oregon, this pilgrimage will traverse rainforest, sand dunes, and many miles of picturesque beaches. Included in the registration fee and scholarship are guided walking along Oregon’s North Coast, guided contemplative exercises, spiritual accompaniment, meals, lodging, and van shuttle to the coast and back from Portland, OR. Lodging will include yurts, a hostel, and a church community room. Showers are available at each location. Most of the meals will be prepared by the group (gluten free and vegetarian options available upon request).

Our days will begin with morning prayer before settling into a rhythm of sharing meals, holding space for contemplative practice, and intentional group discussion which will focus on exploring our participation in meaningful action towards healing and transformation in the world. Registered participants and scholarship recipients will meet in Portland, OR at 12pm on September 21. A van and trailer shuttle will be provided for ferry to the coast, making some food and supply drops along our route. Our walk will conclude in Arch Cape, OR and we will shuttle back to Portland, OR on September 25, returning around 11:00am. FullSizeRender


photoBen Lindwall lives in Portland, Oregon USA where he and his family experiment with sustainable living inside their tiny home. He has been leading group experiences in various capacities for over a decade. Ben has been mentored by John Philip and Ali Newell since 2011 and is a certified Spiritual Director. He has been the Executive Director at Heartbeat since 2013, working with people from all over the world to advance a vision of healing, transformation, and peace. Coming from an evangelical Christian background and now like many of his generation, Ben considers himself spiritual (and a Christian) without any formal church membership. He and his wife Jen have been married since 2003 and have two young children.

“A pilgrimage is always an opportunity to be re-born. I’ve seen and experienced the impact of leaving behind the safety and comfort of home on a quest for deeper understanding, awareness, and connection. The act of moving our bodies, moving our feet gently upon the earth in unison can be a kind of soul-march. It reminds us of our true identity, our oneness, and creates liminal space to hear and know our calling. In co-leading this pilgrimage I hope to cultivate an environment for each of us to learn and grow.”  -Ben Lindwall

IMG_1973Rev. Stephanie Escher, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, lives in St Paul, MN where she presently serves as a Hospice Chaplain and engages in faith-based ministry on a volunteer basis at Hennepin Ave UMC in Minneapolis. Stephanie is a pastor in the United Methodist Church via a colorful and delightful route as a banker, IT analyst, church choir director, and keyboardist in an all female R&B band in Atlanta. Stephanie has lived in Alaska, Atlanta, Ann Arbor, Boulder, Chicago and Madison, WI. She received her undergrad in Boulder, CO and her master’s degree in Evanston, IL. Stephanie is a Native American and a former pilgrim from the 2015 Camino peace pilgrimage in Spain.

“Heartbeat’s interfaith Camino pilgrimage in 2015 changed my life. It was all about exploring our diverse cultures, sharing our broad spectrum of faith and spiritual foundations, and celebrating our individual journeys as unique human beings and carriers of the divine spark, through the intentional art and practice of both storytelling and storycatching. All the while, we were moving: feet on the earth, sun at our backs, wind swirling about. Talk about embodiment; shared breath with each other and Spirit; a creaturely approach to the nuances of a struggling planet; the integration of the sacred and the profane; and practical approaches to peace and justice and good stewardship of the earth…one step at a time, one connection at a time, one shared meal at a time…and yes, even one blister at a time.”

Expectations and Requirements

  • Bring a water proof rain jacket and pants, as well as any gear needed to complete packing list below.
  • Access to restrooms will be minimal while walking – at times trees, shrubs, and beach grass may be the only available coverage.
  • While usually sunny this time of year, the possibility always exists for high winds and rain. Our group will be expected to walk rain or shine unless dangerous conditions are present.
  • The route consists of approximately 65% beach walking, 30% state park forest trail, and up to 5% roadside walking on scenic Hwy 101.
  • Some of the hiking will enter forested areas with an approximate 1000 ft climb, going up and over Tillamook Head.
  • A couple creek and stream crossings will be necessary.
  • To maximize walking during low tides, some mornings may begin as early as 5:00am.
  • Each participant will be required to sign Heartbeat’s release and indemnification waiver.
  • Each participant will be required to carry up to 3 lbs of group food and supplies in their backpack.
  • Each participant must be able to walk up to 20 miles in a day and must train for a brisk walking pace beforehand with a loaded pack.



Packing list:

*Please be mindful that the packing list includes what you will be wearing (for instance, you will wear one pair of socks and pack two— three total). You may plan to leave some luggage locked up in the trailer to avoid excess carrying on the trail.

Socks (3) light wool for hiking

Sock liner (3) prevents blisters (optional)

Underwear (2) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)

Shorts (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)

Pants (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)

Shirts (2) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)

Long sleeve shirt (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)

Lightweight hiking shoes

Light sandal (like these or these)

Waterproof rain jacket


Moleskin (or other blister treatment)





Laundry detergent

Toothpaste (small tube)

Soap (small all purpose bar for body and hair, if possible)

Water bottle (at least 900ml/32oz)

5 safety pins (for hanging wet laundry – sometimes on your pack while walking)

Plastic plate, bowl, fork, and spoon

Hiking towel (small quick dry)

Toiletries (optional: biodegradable toilet paper)





Pen or pencil

Necessary travel documents if arriving from outside the USA

Camera phone and waterproof container

*sleeping sheet bag liner and blanket (for first and last night’s accommodation)

*Sleeping bag and sleeping pad (for third nigh’s accommodation)

*items will be dropped at a specific site and will note be carried in backpack

Cancellation policy

A full refund is available up to 45 days before the event. After the 45-day deadline, a refund will be available if the spot can be filled.

In case of injury or fatigue

If you are unable to walk with the group for any reason, transportation to the next destination on the itinerary will be arranged at the participant’s expense. If for any reason a participant needs to leave the group, transportation to Portland, OR will be arranged at the participant’s expense. Before registering please have emergency contact and personal medical insurance information available.

Apply Now for a Heartbeat Scholarship

IMG_9696Each year Heartbeat provides several scholarships to make the practice of retreat and pilgrimage accessible to all. Our goal is to deepen an individual’s spiritual journey and to ground, sustain, and enhance their efforts towards healing and transformation in their own unique context. While on pilgrimage, participants learn spiritual practices to cultivate compassion, mindfulness, and foster a spirit of collaborative action. Ideal candidates demonstrate experience and ongoing work towards peacemaking, healing and transformation in the world. Demonstration of financial need is a requirement to receive scholarship funds.

For more information on applying for a Heartbeat scholarship, please see below. To contribute to our Pilgrimage Scholarship Fund, please click here.

Iona Pilgrimage, St Columba Hotel, Isle of Iona, Scotland

IMG_8579 - Version 216-23 September 2017 | Award: $1,140 | Application deadline:  2 April 2017

Application fee: $10

Registration fee for scholarship recipients: $100 (invoiced through PayPal)


Each day on Iona will begin and end with the rhythm of prayer and meditation together, either at the Abbey or elsewhere on the island. John Philip will teach on themes related to the oneness of the human soul and the healing of creation, asking what sacrifices we are to make in our lives as individuals, as nations, and as a species, if we and the world are to be well. Click here for more event information.

This scholarship includes lodging, breakfast, dinner, and program fees. Because of limited availability applicants must be willing to share a room (if applying with a friend or family member, please indicate in the appropriate field on the application).

Instructions: fill out the online form by clicking here and have a letter of reference from a mentor, teacher, or advisor sent to Ben Lindwall ( by 2 April 2017. A Heartbeat Selection Committee will review all applications and notify successful candidates by 12 April 2017. The funds will then be transferred to the St. Columba Hotel in the recipient’s name, pending the payment of the registration fee.

Additional cost to recipient: travel expenses to get to Iona and lunch each day.

Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico, USA

17-23 July 2017 | Award: $1,015 | Application deadline: 2 April 2016

Application fee: $10

Registration fee for scholarship recipients: $100 (invoiced through PayPal)


One of the most cherished images in the early Celtic Christian world is the memory of John the Beloved leaning against Jesus at the last supper. It was said of him that he thus heard the heartbeat of God. He became a symbol of the practice of listening, listening for the beat of the Sacred deep within ourselves, within one another, and within the body of the earth. This spiritual tradition has many resonances with Native American spirituality and the wisdom of indigenous peoples throughout the world.


In our signature week at Ghost Ranch, we will honor this wisdom through Native ceremony and look to the treasure of Celtic spirituality as a rich resource for transformation in our lives and world today. Our days will consist of prayer at the rising of the sun in Ghost Ranch’s Agape Center courtyard, teaching and sharing in the mornings and evenings, and rest and silence in the afternoons. The program will be led by John Philip and Ali Newell who this year will be deepening and expanding their Celtic teachings, along with the musical talent of David and Winona Poole and the Navajo wisdom of Alta Begay-Piechowski and Terrell Piechowski. They are all good friends of Ghost Ranch and have worked together creatively in the past through word and song and ceremony. For more details, click here.

This scholarship includes lodging, meals, and program fees. Because of limited availability applicants must be willing to share a room (if applying with a friend or family member, please indicate in the appropriate field on the application).

Instructions: fill out the online form by clicking here and have a letter of reference from a mentor, teacher, or advisor sent to Ben Lindwall ( by 2 April 2017. A Heartbeat Selection Committee will review all applications and notify successful candidates by 12 April 2017. The funds will then be transferred to Ghost Ranch in their name, pending the payment of the registration fee.

Additional cost to recipient: travel expenses to get to Ghost Ranch.

Virginia School of Celtic Consciousness, Richmond, Virginia, USA


Heartbeat has four $374 Scholarship Awards available to go towards meals, lodging (sharing a room with someone of similar gender), and program fees at the Virginia School of Celtic Consciousness. There are also two $184 Scholarship Awards Scholarship for commuters to go towards the program fee and meals. Recipients are responsible for their own transportation to/from the event as well as the remaining registration balance of $100.


Apply by filling out the online application and have a letter of reference sent to Ben Lindwall ( by May 1, 2017. Heartbeat’s Selection Committee will review all applications and notify successful candidates by May 10.