Hi friends! As I get ready to move on from this chapter of my life to the next, I am taking time to reflect on this summer. May what I have to share be of benefit!
I’ve been living and working at in a Buddhist meditation retreat center in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. My role is a Program Coordinator where I help coordinate meditation and yoga retreats along with the support of my fellow community members. As a program coordinator, there isn’t one day that’s like the rest. My days are filled with planning ahead and communicating with future participants and presenters, interacting with retreatants and acting as a liaison for the programs and our staff, practicing meditation, reading and writing, hiking the land, and participating in community events.
This dharma center is a place I consider to be my home away from home, and after a pretty devastating breakup, I decided to come “home” to the Rocky Mountains and to myself in many ways.
My time here has been healing, reflective, fulfilling, and with its fair share of ups and downs.
Living in a community of amazing people – This is something I’ve missed as I traveled last year. Living in a community where people are like-minded and speak English has been so great. I love how supported I am here and will miss my sangha when I leave!
Having a place to call home for a while – As a traveler, you have to get used to sleeping in different places quite often. Since I had the opportunity to stay here for the summer, I got a cabin of my own and even decorated the place! It’s been comforting to know I don’t have to figure out where to go or where I’ll stay for a while.
Finding balance & maintaining a solid meditation practice – In South America, there were times when I tried to meditate in my bunk bed in a crowded hostel room. In contrast, living at a dharma land center is conducive to maintaining a meditation practice and spending free time reflecting, reading, and simply being.
Taking Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s program! – I got the chance to do a retreat with a Tibetan tulku, or reincarnated meditation master, whose style of teaching I really connect with and it was an incredible experience. Meeting and learning from teachers like Tsoknyi Rinpoche is one of the best parts of living here!
Living and working at the same place – I touched on this a bit in an article I wrote last year. The fact that I work and live in the same place can be difficult at times. For example, the bathhouse where I shower and get ready in the morning is right in the middle of the “Downtown” area where I work, and to get from my cabin to the bathhouse, participants will often stop me and ask me questions in the morning before I have even gotten the chance to brush my teeth! Boundaries are tricky in this kind of situation.
Processing difficult emotions and not having much of a distraction or escape from that – Often when we are facing strong negative emotions, it’s easy to mentally escape or check out in the busy world we live in. Here in the Rocky Mountains, there’s nothing to do but face yourself fully. There’s no WiFi at my house and no cell phone reception for at least 30 miles. That means there is more time to reflect and process whatever comes up.
“Be here now.” – As I decided that I’d be traveling this winter, my thoughts were consumed with planning and looking ahead. It all felt exciting and fresh. I could barely sit to meditate without my thoughts trailing off to a faraway land. For my last month in Colorado, I am making a conscious effort to be mindful and stay present with whatever is happening in the moment. It is easy to get caught up in planning for the future, but gratitude for what’s good in my life right now can be even more fresh and exciting because it’s actually happening right here, right now!
Self-compassion & awareness – Self-compassion and awareness go hand in hand. To be compassionate towards yourself, you first have to be aware of how you’re not kind to yourself. What is the storyline that you play again and again about yourself? Can you begin to see how that criticism isn’t actually so solid? Can you sit in awareness with your disappointment, loneliness or whatever it may be? What if you looked at your thoughts and emotions with some space in between? And what if you could look inwardly with kindness and curiosity? This is something I’ve been working on this summer and it has been tremendously helpful when dealing with strong negative emotions (loneliness, anger, regret, sadness, you name it!.
Winter in the Colorado Rocky Mountains means cold and snowy weather, which also means I’ll be making my way to warmer places. I am chasing the sun this winter! The first place I’ll go is the U.S. Virgin Islands. I found a lovely host on Workaway. I will volunteer a little bohemian wellness retreat on Water Island for the month of October through November. There I will help out with social media, online marketing and some artistic projects as the Head of Beautification. The deal is that I work 20 hours a week for free accommodation in one of their open-air cottages. Not to mention, I’ll be traveling with a good friend of mine, so I’m looking forward to that!
After that, I am planning on doing a month-long yoga retreat with an organization called Hridaya Yoga in Oaxaca, Mexico. That’s about all I have planned so far. Adventures await!