Beginner's Mind

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's, there are few. - Shunryo Suzuki-Roshi

Beginning. Beginning the conscious journey Home is a sacred time. A time of openness, questing, discernment. A time of exploring traditions, paths, no paths, people, values, meaning. It is a time of new experiences, joys, confusion. What a journey! Welcome! This deep longing, calling you to retreat, is Spirit calling to Soul. Let the longing guide you.

Human cultures have a long and rich tradition of seeking out alone time or sacred time with others to remember and deepen their purpose for living, to explore the meaning of their life, and contemplate the essential nature of existence - which can lead to genuine faith in something greater than one’s self.

 

Why Retreat?

We go on retreat not to hide or avoid our life but to reconnect, remember and discover what is essential to our life and to all life. We all need this sacred and undistracted time in certain periods of our lives; particularly during times of great transitions which may be heralded by unfortunate loss, illness, addiction, unhealthy dependencies and attachments, lack of inner peace, inner questioning, and changes in life status (i.e. adolescence, adulthood, marriage, children, occupation, divorce, elderhood, etc.).

The desire for retreat may also be motivated by good fortune, that is prompting us to rise up to our life in a new, more expansive and perhaps challenging way. Some of us also seek to retreat on a regular basis as a means to stay connected to the deeper truths of life or to invigorate our practice and to experience ongoing renewal and inner education. Others may seek retreats as a means to deepen their personal commitment to service to their family, community, nature, vocation or simply to discover how best to “lend a helping hand to our world.” Regardless of one’s intention, retreats are ultimately a time of personal contemplation and returning to the source and meaning of one’s own life and one’s deepest values and needs. Retreats are usually a highly personal experience and are often both challenging and rewarding.

 

Community

We often need to retreat in the context of a community of seekers - in Buddhism this is referred to as the sangha. The sangha provides the supportive structure that keeps us focused on the purpose of our retreat, particularly when the retreat gets challenging. The sangha can also provide deep friendship, in the Sufi tradition known as sohbet, or spiritual friendship. This form of friendship often has a depth and connection not experienced in our day-to-day lives.

 

Guidance

Another important aspect of retreat is the teacher, guide or facilitator, whose function is to provide the container for all the retreatants’ experience, as well as to guide the retreat within a particular tradition, path or healing modality. A good retreat leader balances attunement to the needs and capacity of the retreatants while simultaneously upholding the tradition and the focus of the retreat. It is also important that teachers and retreatants maintain appropriate boundaries, both physical and emotional. Student - spiritual teacher relationships can be a very complex and controversial area. However, the most important thing to remember is, it is not how wonderful the teacher is, but how useful the retreat experience is to the student’s awakening. This is not to say that it is not appropriate to honor and respect and have deep appreciation for one’s teacher, but ultimately, our relationship with God/ Spirit/ Truth/ Higher Power, call the Mystery what you will, is a personal and intimate journey with ourselves.

“Be a light unto yourself.”  Buddha

 

Using this website:

The website is organized in three ways: retreat centers, retreat leaders and retreat events (retreats that have a beginning and an end date.)

Retreat Centers have a little icon next to them that looks like three people.

Retreat Leaders have a little icon that looks like one person.

Retreat Events can be found on the right, below the Retreat Types box.

Centers, leaders and events are all related to each other. So if you search under the Catholic category, you will find centers and retreat leaders listed, that you can further filter by state, by only retreat center or only retreat leader. You will find any Catholic oriented retreat events in the right column, below Retreat Types.

You can also use the search box to search for a specific theme, for instance, Ayurvedic, to find retreats that offer Ayurvedic services. Additionally, some useful keywords have been assigned, for instance to lead to retreats that are economical.

If you are drawn to a particular tradition, go to the link associated with it.  The term “Wisdom Tradition” connotes those religious traditions that have a written record or scripture – so Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, etc. are all represented, some with sub-categories. Shamanic, first peoples’ traditions and contemporary earth-based practices are listed under “Earth Centered.”

Most retreats will have some guidance associated with them. If you are seeking an unstructured retreat, one place to look would be the link Personal Retreat, but also, many traditional retreat places, such as Benedictine monasteries will provide food and shelter and expect little in terms of structured participation.

You will find so many offerings, you may find it hard to choose. A central theme that ties all these offerings together is that they offer a connection to Spirit, Mystery, God, Being.

Yoga is listed in 2 places. If it is primarily focused on the physical then it is listed on the separate “Yoga” category you see on the first level, but if the yoga is focused on the philosophy, of which the physical is only a part, then it is listed under Wisdom Traditions as Hindu/Yoga.

Finally, if you need assistance, you are welcome to email us at: stillmountainretreatguide@gmail.com and we’ll be glad to provide email or even phone support.

Namaste

Gregory and Pam