I just returned from my bike and meditation retreat. I had an amazing time and can't wait to return for a longer period of time. I love long-distance road biking, and I love meditating all day. If I didn't have such a wonderful life here on the Front Range, I could easily move into a retreat center and just "be" there for the next few years. However, I love my career, my home, my partner, and all the opportunities for outdoor adventures here, so I'll have to wait until I'm much older for multi-year retreats.
In short, my trip took me from Denver to Poncha Springs on a bus. I then rode seven miles up Poncha Pass and another 15 or so miles to Villa Grove, where I passed out before 8p.m. at a nice campground called San Luis Valley Campground. The next morning I woke up (not so early) and made my way to the Vajra Vidya Retreat Center in Crestone, where I was lucky to be in time for a delicious lunch. I spent the next five days talking with a small group of really amazing Buddhists, including Lama Khenpo Jigme (who is totally mischievious and loads of fun), Edie the amazing cook (who is also very knowledgable about Buddhism), Ani Selton (a neat nun who answered some important questions for me), and a small group of retreatants, with whom I had many interesting conversations.
I spent most of my time there either doing sitting or walking meditation, or yoga to alleviate the back pain I got from riding my bicycle. It was super nice to just "be." I spent at most 15 minutes on the computer and listened to my messages, but did not call anyone. I realized many cool things while meditating (but I am too tired to write about them right now--I'll be writing an article for Elephant Mag and will post the link when it is finished sometime in the next few weeks).
I also participated in a neat four-hour ceremony to help sentient beings stuck in the "Bardo" to move on to their next lives. I'm not sure where I stand on reincarnation yet, but I do believe I become a part of the greater existence when I die, and I like to imagine myself coming back as a Cliff Swallow :)
I also took my Buddhist vows (aka "took refuge") and so am now officially Buddhist. This isn't a big deal and won't change my life too significantly as I was already trying to do what I officially committed to doing during the Refuge Ceremony, which is to "do no harm" and "be on good behavior" (i.e. be nice, don't make people feel bad, don't make myself bad, don't kill anyone, etc, etc...)
I ended up leaving Friday afternoon because both my father and Madaleine called and said they wanted to meet me somewhere (as they were both nearby). Madaleine had just sent "Tague Your Time," a rad 5.12 in the Black Canyon National Park (you go girl!) and my dad just lives a few hours away. When he noticed that I was going to be so close, he offered to come up and get me. Anyway, I turned down both his and Madaleine's offers to pick me up in Crestone because I, at least, wanted to bike the 30 miles from there to the dunes. I did, and it was fantastic. i was so ready for exercise after sitting and just doing mild exercise for four days. (I love riding a bicycle!) Then, the three of us ended up meeting at the Sand Dunes National Park, which was just gorgeous and wild. We camped one night, then Mad and I went to the hot springs for a few hours, ate a delicious dinner at a small cafe in ... Villa Grove I think. And now, I am home. I spent a wonderful day planting my entire garden and weeding.
Yay! Life is good. I have a ton of work this week, but will try to post photos later.
1 year ago