For the past month, I’ve been volunteering at Shambhala Mountain Center (SMC), which is a meditation retreat center about 9,000 ft. above sea level in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. What made me trade in the fast-paced lifestyle for this contemplative existence in the middle of the mountains? About two years ago, I started going to a weekly group meditation class, and ever since, I’ve been hooked on learning about my mind and the nature of what it means to be a human being. As a traveler, I’ve always had an insatiable curiosity for the world around me. Naturally, this curiosity has turned inward over the years.
Who am I? What is my purpose? What brings me happiness?
As I faced the transition of moving back to the U.S. after living in Spain for two years, I felt the next step for me was to contemplate, meditate, and take time to decide what the upcoming chapter of my life holds. My MI (Meditation Instructor) recommended I volunteer at SMC, where I could find this spaciousness. So far, it’s been an incredible experience with lots of room for growth and learning. One day, I received a message on my Facebook page asking if I could write more about what volunteering at a retreat center entails and what I do on a day-to-day basis, so this blog post will answer those questions!
As a volunteer here, you get free food and accommodation as well as the opportunity to participate in most weekend programs that SMC offers. All of this gives me more than enough incentive to volunteer here, especially since the programs are led by some of the wisest teachers I have ever met.
Marketing volunteers are expected to work around six hours a day Monday through Friday. A normal work day goes something like this:
7:30 am – Sunlight permeates into my tent, nature’s wake up call; I walk up to the bathhouse and get ready for the day
8:00 am – Breakfast in the dining tent (oatmeal, eggs, toast, cereal, and most importantly, coffee)
8:30 am – Head over to the Shutoku practice tent for morning practice; Staff and volunteers have the option of participating in a group meditation practice three times a day.
9:00 am – Work day begins. I check my emails, see what needs to be done in our department, and get started on something. I have been working on social media and some website redesigning research.
12:00 pm – Meditation at the Shutoku practice tent
12:30 pm – Lunch. The food is delicious and there’s always fresh mixed greens and veggies from the garden!
1:30 pm – Back to work
4:30 pm -Finished with work for the day; there’s always something going on after work. Most times I go on a hike, read a book, journal/write, or hang out with the awesome people volunteering here
5:30 pm -Group mediation
6:30 pm – Dinner time!
7:00 pm – This is a time for community bonding. Sometimes we have music night or game night. Other times the most senior teacher gives a talk and discussion.
10:00 pm – Bedtime
So that’s the basic schedule for my work day. If you’re in a time of transition and are interested in doing something like this, feel free to reach out to me. You can contact me here. And as always, thanks for reading!