In 1983 Amy journeyed to the Himalayas, Zanskar, India. Traveling alone, she crossed 16,000ft mountains, slept in caves, met Buddhist masters, and discovered a rare harmonious culture. Adventure in Zanskar is an inner quest, a daring mountain adventure, a story of women’s empowerment, and, ultimately, the experience that human beings can indeed live harmoniously and be truly happy.
Amy Edelstein, educator, author, and nonprofit leader is a powerful communicator of ideas and beliefs that can help us transform ourselves and the culture we live in.
In 2014, Amy founded Inner Strength Education, a non-profit organization that has trained 15,000 inner-city teens in mindfulness and systems thinking.
She currently serves as Inner Strength’s Executive Director. Amy began her own mindfulness practice in 1978 and has been an avid explorer of contemplative tools ever since, studying indepth and then teaching in half a dozen countries around the world.
She received a Philadelphia Social Innovation Award for her organization’s work in Violence Reduction. She is a Cornell University College Scholar, cofounder of the learning platform Emergence Education, and author of five books including the IPPY award-winning, #1 Amazon educational bestseller The Conscious Classroom.
What do you love most about Writing?
Ever since I was 8 years old I have loved to write. I would pour out my questions, thoughts, and conversations with the universe into my journals. I wrote my latest book Adventure In Zanskar in the middle of the pandemic, in the middle of the busiest time my non-profit has ever had because writing is my release. When I’m immersed in a subject I love, it allows me to commune with it, explore it, and articulate my deepest insights. I encourage everyone to write, whether you think you are a “good” writer or not. It gives us access to a different part of ourselves and a different perspective on life.
Adventure In Zanskar is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed writing, it wrote itself. I did a little extra background research for it to update myself on what has changed over the last few decades since I was in this remote area of the Tibetan plateau. I also took the opportunity to research some aspects of the geology, history, and ancient religions which for me is one of the perks of writing. I have an excuse to research whatever I’m interested in!
What Inspired you to write your book?
I have wanted to write this book for more than thirty years and I had written the first fifty pages almost that long ago. The story is so inspiring and real, it gives faith and hope without being pablum and above all it’s an adventure story. So many people have been feeling that the world is getting smaller and harsher and I really wanted to give people something to take them up and out of the doldrums and into the vast beautiful vistas of the high Himalayas. What could be a better backdrop for discovery than that?
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
Don’t compare yourself to other people. Every writer has a unique offering and uses words and language differently. If you are inspired by other writers–read! Read as much as you can and love the process of reading. If you are competitive with other writers and feel undermined when you read great writers (“Oh, I’ll never be that good.” “I might as well give up now.” “They already said what I wanted to say and did it so much better than I could.” then write your own books first and then read. Reading should be delightful, informative, and enriching. Writing should also be a process you love for its own sake. So enjoy! Start writing all the time, on the bus, in the coffee shop, when you have 10 minutes. Resist the temptation to wait for the “right time to write” and just get going!
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
Being an expression of what I care most deeply about!
The 1970s were a hard decade for independently-minded young women to come of age in America, especially in an East Coast industrial city that was more like the lumbering Midwest than the forward-thinking eastern seaboard. When Amy Edelstein looked around the Pittsburgh neighborhood she grew up in, she concluded that if she was going to find someone who might be able to offer more than a shred of insight and guidance on a path to a life nobly lived, she knew she had to head much further afield. And so, she did. Leaving Cornell University to celebrate her 21st birthday in the mountains outside of Pokhara, Nepal, she decided to spend the next years walking in the high Himalayas, studying philosophy and meditation with the best teachers she could find, and doing everything she could to tame her restless, anxious, and self-critical mind. She was on the perennial quest. Determined to find that elusive awakened consciousness, in 1983 Amy journeyed to the remote western corner of the Tibetan Plateau in Zanskar, India. Carrying a crumpled Indian Army map to guide her, with dotted lines tracing footpaths and concentric misshaped ovals marking elevations, she set out to walk several hundred miles in the oldest Buddhist valley in the world. Traveling alone, without mountaineering gear or guides, she crossed mountain passes as high as 16,000 feet, traversed
glacial snow bridges, and slept in caves, shepherds’ huts, and outdoors under a brilliant star-studded sky.
This account of her journey reveals a world of our recent past, yet one radically different from our present—a world prior to the ubiquitous mobile phone and its globalizing influence. A world where we could still adventure and discover great treasures of generosity, wisdom, and kindness. A world where the Buddha’s teachings were in fact embedded in every aspect of life.
Readers of all ages will delight in this story. Adventure in Zanskar is part inner quest, part travelogue, part daring mountain adventure, part feminine empowerment, and part unmitigated conviction in the possibility of living from our better natures and being truly happy. This book is a wonderful escape from our pressured lives, where endless emails, anxieties, and alienations shape our daily experiences. It is a call to honor our heart’s restless search for meaning, purpose, and contentedness. Finally, it is also a story of self-honesty, courage, and freedom for all who cherish the notion of an inner awakening that can reveal a way to live that makes sense of our confusing and complex world.
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please contact Samantha Greene: Sam@TheConsciousClassroom.com
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