Solo Retreat, Part 3 of 3

Written on Sunday June 18th, 2017


From my early morning journaling on sunrise patrol (hence pics above):

4:11am – A triangle of light glistens between two eastern peaks. 51 degrees.
4:22am – Outlines of each mountain are gathering distinction from their darkened counterpart above.
4:25am – A drop of light is tossed over to beckon through another soft dip in the ridge.
4:26am – An unassuming rain falls, almost as an afterthought. 51 degrees.
4:28am – Local bird residents become audible.
4:32am – An artistic rendering of budding light and swirling watercolor clouds paint the horizon in deep blues, black violet, and white turquoise.
4:41am – Pine tree silhouettes come into view, accenting the skyline with their bristled scruff tops.
4:45am – Dawn has penetrated the veil of night in every cardinal direction – no longer is coal the dominant hue of the sky. 51 degrees.
4:53am – The vertical ocean of clouds assumed a color scheme I associate somehow with the energy of dwindling hope.
5:01am – Almost all of the surrounding landscape is bathed in partial faded light.
5:08am – Foothills and fence-line reveal themselves anew, as though it were the first day of their creation.
5:17am – A sliver of brilliant golden rose appears right where the very first light penetrated the night sky.
5:28am – Sage, moss, and forest greens sip their first taste of the white-silver morning.
5:36am – Smokey pink-creme rays spiral up like tufts of steam into the soft din of low-hanging clouds.
5:39am – A lone cow elk cameos on scene. Still holding at 51 degrees.
6:08am – 50 degrees.
6:21am – 49 degrees. (Hmmm.)
8:31am – What I was waiting for to end this sequence has finally happened – 52 degrees!


I didn’t intentionally wake up at 4:00am, though it happens to me often when I’m on retreat – even on solo retreats, too, apparently.

After I finish typing here, I’ll pack up my car and head home, though I plan on stopping to eat lunch at Upsata Lake, which I’ve not been to before and is just down the road. Sadly, there was no large bark-honking bird friend this morning. I tried using an online bird identification site but the best it could come up with was a turkey-vulture, which I feel confident it wasn’t, as they are pretty easy to distinguish, especially up-close. Perhaps the search will continue once I get back home, as I’d really like to know what type of bird it was.

I made a bluebird friend on my walk today. It dwells in one of the birdhouses attached to the fencing around the property. It peeked its head out when I strolled past, singing. Then, on my way back, I stopped at its house and asked if it was home and he fluttered out and perched on the fence. We chatted a bit before I walked on :)

Today’s schedule looked like this:

4:00am Wake up
4:00-7:00am Sip tea, write, sunrise patrol :), made gratitude card for friends who lent me their lovely cabin
7:00am Sitting meditation
7:30am Sutra service
8:00-9:00am Breakfast & bird watching & lunch prep
9:00-10:00am Dharma talk video
10:10-10:35am Outdoor walking
10:40-11:30am Journal typing
11:30am Mindful packing
12:00pm Lunch at Upsata Lake
1:00pm Head home
2:00pm Home!

Elements I practiced with this weekend:

1. To move about as though I were trying not to wake someone who was sleeping soundly.
2. To make as small of a footprint as possible in the space I occupied.
3. To soften: body, mind, and heart.
4. To slow down.
5. To be as intentional as possible with my movements and actions.
6. To stay (with my breath, my steps, the moment).


In the talk I watched earlier from Thay, given during the 2007 Estes Park Retreat in Colorado, the last notes I jotted down were:

When your seed of mindfulness is strong, you know how to see the wonders of life in and around you; you know how to hold your pain and suffering, and you have the energy you need in order to transform it.

I feel the strength of the practice within me. And I see clearly that every time I engage in mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful sitting, mindful moving, mindful thinking, mindful resting, and so on, I increase my capacity for developing kindness, loving attention, connection, authenticity, freedom, happiness, joy, understanding, compassion, equanimity, patience, forgiveness, and letting go – yes, all of these things! My practice enables me to offer the best version of myself to those around me – to offer my freshness, my smile, and my true presence to the best of my ability.

Upsata Lake

I am overflowing with gratitude for the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha within and around me; for showing me the way in this life; for guiding, supporting, and nurturing me along the path of practice.

What a truly stellar life this is.

My Dedication of Merit:
Tending to each moment with care and kindness, I practice for myself and I practice for the world.





4 thoughts on “Solo Retreat, Part 3 of 3

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences of your retreat you created for yourself. I have found it interesting following these posts and something I would love to do similar myself. The only trouble is how my Mum would worry from not hearing from me possibly, forgetting I was on something like this, because if I do experience something like this, then certainly no mobile phones.
    The views you had, look lovely and relaxing. I certainly would have enjoyed the experience.

    • Hi Liz :) There’s no one right way to do a solo retreat for sure – I think it’s important to have it meet your own needs, so if you are drawn towards doing one yourself maybe you can bring your phone just so as to connect with your mom, just a thought. Thank you for reading & posting!

  2. Pingback: Blog share: “Going outwards and inwards.” – My Wellbeing and Learning Journey

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