This past weekend we had our local Montana Open Way Sanghas fall retreat. We have four sister sanghas in three different towns in western Montana and twice a year we get together for retreats. The leaders of each sangha also get together throughout the year for board meetings and organizational purposes, of which I am part of. So I always very much enjoy these retreats for the simple fact that I get to spend time with the sangha friends that I don’t get to see very often.
The facility we used for our retreat sits right on the Flathead Lake in western MT and is just lovely. Three years ago or so we went in search of a new retreat facility that we could grow into, as our attendance was increasing and our facility at the time was not large enough. Then we found the Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp and it was love at first sight :) There is plenty of lodging, a big beautiful meditation space, great staff, and it sits right on the lake surrounded by trees and walking paths.
Our fall retreat this year was entitled: The Big Picture, It’s in the Details and was led with the help of Dharma teacher Chan Huy. I appreciated the dharma talks he gave while on retreat and was comforted by his simple and practical style of teaching. Sometimes it is easy to over complicate things. Sometimes it is easy for our intellectual processing to get in the way of our understanding. On one past retreat I was on with Chan Huy he opened his first talk by saying that our practice was to breathe and to smile and that was it. He jokingly followed that by saying that he had nothing more to teach.
Retreats are a rich opportunity for slowing down, self-reflection, and community building. Being around others for an extended period of time allows naturally for self-reflection, when mindfulness is involved, because you are surrounded by a myriad of mirrors. On this retreat I was reminded not to underestimate the power of sangha. Community is one of the most important things we can do to cultivate happiness and harmony in our daily lives. Whether it be our family, friends, sangha, or other community of like minded folks coming together to share, support, encourage, and care for one another is invaluable.
To see more pics from our fall retreat