Meg will be entering her eighth winter retreat in Crestone, Colorado for 60 days of silent, solo meditation, study, and practice.
This is my second retreat in the sacred mountains and valley of Crestone, Colorado, and will run from January 1st to February 28th. Crestone is a remarkable place, the home to many great spiritual teachers and traditions. Land was donated to teachers of many different faiths over several years by one philanthropist. The teachers have built temples, churches, and retreat facilities. Drawing on the rich energies of place, Crestone has become a truly ecumenical community. It is also where Pema Chödrön and John P. Milton live and where the next Warrior Trainings will be held in March and October 2018.
I rely on these long periods of silence and solitude for many things. First is the joy of rediscovering my undistracted mind! Without the day-to-day interruptions of phone, email, Internet, work, and family, my mind comes alive again. I can read for hours, remember what I’ve read, make connections, delve deeply into complex issues and envision many things. All of these faculties disappear when I reenter the world, so for me it’s proof positive of how many of our great human capacities are lost in our rushed and distracted lives.
Retreatants are strongly encouraged not to write or journal; whenever we write something down, we’re solidifying our experience into a storyline. If you don’t write about it, the experience changes and never settles into just one interpretation. I love these times when I know not to write, analyze or think about things, just letting thoughts come and go. Of course this is not easy, but I find it very liberating and quite relaxing. And once I’m back in the world with a settled mind, good plans and ideas emerge that I can put into practice.
My ultimate purpose of long retreat is to settle and know my mind so that when I’m out in the world I can maintain a peaceful presence and am less triggered or defended. I want to be in the places where people are trying their best to persevere in situations of fear, stress, violence and oppression. This can be an Aboriginal village, a church group, a large government agency or a corporation. My work is to support good people and leaders to step forward as Warriors for the Human Spirit, people who refrain from using aggression and fear to accomplish their ends, and who act as champions for our best human capacities. For me to support these brave ones requires the stability of my own mind– this is what I’m developing from long retreats.
Several years ago I wrote an essay on why I chose to become a Buddhist. If you’re interested in that, you can read it here:
The value and purpose of these retreats is beautifully explained by Pema in her interview with Bill Moyers many years ago: