As practitioners who live and work in the world, it is important for us to take time to retreat. This month a small group of eight made the journey to Lake Tahoe where we shared a retreat house. As the excitement from the day of travel through freezing rain and snow dissipated, we settled into our rooms before cooking dinner together. The outside world of our individual lives and cares were all left behind. After dinner, we entered into meditation and let the light do with us whatever it would. This is what retreat is all about: the letting go of the old so the new can blossom.
During times of retreat, a clearing away occurs. By stepping away from the worlds we have worked so hard to create, we free ourselves from the attachments that can bind us in misery. We step into retreat knowing we will eventually return, yet we do not know exactly who we will be when we get back. That is part of the mystery of self-discovery.
The first morning at the house brought with it snow, rain, and Stellar Jays enjoying the peanuts on the deck offered by one of the members of the retreat house. The inclement weather caused our retreat leader to throw out the itinerary – morning yoga on the lawn didn’t sound inviting under the cold rainy skies – so we improvised by meditating in the warmth of the great room and watching the continuation of the Stellar Jay peanut competition. In the afternoon, we donned our warmest raincoats and headed out to see the majestic lake.
We made a brief stop and map check at Bliss State Park before finding Inspiration Point. The beauty of the lake made us smile as the wind ripped through us. A dirt path across the street beckoned, so we wandered beneath the pines. Small, wet snowflakes fell and I felt a warm hug from the mountain earth. At one point we came to a cross-road with a sign: Desolation or Crystal Lake. Turing away from Desolation, we opted for Crystal Lake. The path became rocky and steep, so we stopped for one last picture before heading back to the warmth of the retreat house and another huge and delicious group meal.
The weather cleared the next day, allowing us to walk on a rocky beach along the gentle lapping shore of Lake Tahoe. Although an occasional car would speed by, there was an incredible stillness permeating the area. A pair of geese swimming raced by us as we took pictures of the ever-changing clouds and ripples on the water. We were reminded of Rama’s talk on Magic that he recorded in Lake Tahoe and how he considered geese the symbol of the Seeker.
Although our activities were simple and ordinary on the surface and we ate a ton of food, throughout the retreat each one of us opened to the immensity of Eternity. I felt our bond as seekers within our Lineage grow deeper; a sense of support and community filled my heart with joy. I also felt great freedom and peace knowing all of my brothers and sisters on the path are moving towards Light at their own pace and in their own way.
On my return to the world, endless waves of gratitude pour through me. I am thankful for this body and the ability to practice meditation, for the teachers I have met along the way, and for the company of the holy who shared their weekend with me in retreat.
Need to Retreat? Dharma Center plans a variety of retreats for members. Group Retreats are a fun time of community and sharing, and an opportunity for powerful transformation. Please visit www.DharmaCenter.com to learn more about the benefits of Membership.
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