Rocky Mountain

Ecodharma Retreat Center

A Home for Meditation in Nature

Mark Coleman’s Blog[UNIQID]

I have just returned from Baja again (earlier this year I was teaching my Awake in the Wild Teacher Training there), after teaching for 3 weeks. I had the pleasure of teaching 2 Awake in the Wild kayaking and meditation wilderness retreats on the Sea of Cortez, and I wanted to share about the dimensions of that kind of practice. But more about that in a minute.

You will also find in this email news about an opportunity for you to participate in Mindful in May, about the nature retreat that I will be leading in July (this is the only nature retreat that still has spots open this year) and the beginning of my next Awake in the Wild Teacher Training in October, and about my recent article on Nature, Resilience and Climate Change that is in the April issue of Mindfulmagazine.When people ask me about my kayak wilderness retreats in Baja, Mexico they sometimes assume it’s like a vacation. This year that could not have been further from the truth. Practicing meditation on a silent retreat can be at times quite challenging and a really intensive practice. Not secluded from the harshness of elements, one’s practice and equanimity can be tested! This year, during the first retreat we were sitting on exposed beaches facing 30-35 mile cold hour winds with very little protection night and day. “Did he say ‘cold’?,” you ask. Wilderness meditation retreats can be surprisingly cold and windy, especially when sedentary most of the day, and this is where our practice comes to bear fruit. It was inspiring to see how everyone really showed up to practice in the face of challenging conditions. One participant reported that this was the most significant and transformational week of their lives. Most people did not get what they had expected would accompany the retreat – calm seas, warm sunny days, still nights and chances to paddle, swim and snorkel. Instead we meditated, sitting and walking and doing all kinds of various nature-based practices in the wind and cold. As a participant said, it was profoundly transformative to find equanimity, acceptance and presence when things don’t go according to plan or meet expectations. And yet, this is often where we grow the most, in adverse conditions, where the deepest insights arise. It really was an intensive meditation retreat in every sense of that term.The second retreat was more typical for Baja as the storm front that plagued the first retreat changed. Instead we were blessed with warm sun, still waters, cool gentle breezes and the opportunity to practice opening to joy, wonder and connection. 

The key with nature practice is being willing to meet and respond to whatever conditions arise with wisdom, awareness and kindness, which of course is the same principle in life. How much do we create suffering by our resistance and contention with what is and how do we cultivate peace when we release reactivity and meet what is just as it is.If you are interested in joining one of my nature retreats this year, my July Awake in the Wild Meditation in Nature Retreat in Ward, CO still has openings. And if you are called to teach mindfulness in nature, you can apply to my Awake in the Wild Teacher Training, which starts in October. Details on each are below. All of my other retreats are full with wait lists.

If you are looking for mindfulness practices that you can do at home, I want to encourage you to register for Mindful in May. Mindful in May is a one month meditation challenge and fundraiser where you’ll learn from leading meditation teachers and wellbeing experts on how to train your brain towards greater well-being, productivity and resilience, all while giving you the chance to transform the lives of those in need of clean, safe drinking water.And lastly, I wanted to share my article on how a contemplative approach to nature is a support for resilience in the face of climate change.
I was recently asked to write a piece about practicing in nature for the April issue of Mindful magazine. More and more I’ve been exploring how practicing in nature can continue to be restorative and healing while we also grapple with the destruction and devastation of climate change. How do we hold this dichotomy with compassion and wisdom?

Excerpts from the article are below – courtesy of Mindful – but to read the full article you can find it on news stands now or online with a subscription to Mindful hope you enjoy it.


It has been a long day at my desk, staring at a computer; my brain cells feel wrung dry with too much cogitation. Late afternoon, the fog has lifted on the hilltops above my house and I decide to venture out on a hike to clear my head and connect with what I love most: this pulsing earth.

As I start out on one of my favorite trails, it takes a while for my senses to open up, but soon I feel embraced into a luminous world, welcomed by innumerable shades of green, tall grasses shimmering, trees swaying in the breeze, and shafts of sunlight peering through the thick canopy. Below me, a family of quail dart in and out of the bushes.

As I crest the hill, I feel the invigoration of the cool wind, blown fresh from the Pacific. I inhale deeply and smell the bite of the salty ocean air, which feels like a homecoming, familiar and welcoming. It seems to blow the dullness from my mind, and I sense how nature invites us to connect and feel our way into a larger sense of self.”

We tend to think of consciousness as skin bound, brain tethered. However, in nature we can sense something vaster — and that something larger senses us. And from here our perception and understanding transforms: We start to think from this bigger perspective.
How do we continue to open our hearts to the beauty of the natural world when doing so means we also feel the deep pain of losing what we love? 

These times require our mindfulness practice to hold a wide view. It asks that we hold the harsh reality of the eco-crisis, the beauty of what is still here and thriving, and simultaneously the uprising of ordinary people working all over the planet to steward, protect, and preserve the earth in sustainable ways. I have walked through scorched forests. I can look at the blackened trunks and feel a tender grief. And I can also focus on the emerald green shoots that rise our of the ashes. Both are true. Both demand our attention. 

To be awake today is to learn how to hold paradox in your mind and dwell in ambiguity. Indeed, the question I hear from many people is: How do we hold the pain of the earth at this time? My answer is simply to grieve. To let yourself feel the depth of the pain and let the tears flow. Allowing grief to move through allows movement and a responsiveness to rise out of those tear-stained ashes. It helps melt the frozen numbness that thwarts effective action.”

To read the full article you can find it on news stands now or online with a subscription to Mindful
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2024 Retreats

Meditation, Embodiment and Awakening in Nature

With Peter Williams and Carla Brennan

June 24 – 30, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
This retreat explores the rejuvenating power of deep connection with nature through meditation. When we connect with the simplicity of our senses in outdoor meditation, our minds get quiet and we marvel at the ordinary wonders around us – the spray of colors in a field of mountain flowers, a dewdrop on the tip of an aspen leaf, clouds scudding across the high peaks. Practicing in nature connects us with our care for the world. As a group, we will explore our gratitude for the natural world, our grief for our impact on it, and how to make engaging with…

Pachamama Medicina: An Ecodharma Retreat for Indigenous-descendant Womxn

With Bianca Acosta

July 3 – 7, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
In Indigenous cosmology, womxn are at the center of the healing of people and land. By healing the womxn, we heal families, communities and our sacred lands.  This four day retreat for womxn descendants of indigenous peoples will provide space for participants to gather, share and practice Earth-based ancestral ways of healing. The leaders of this retreat believe in Land rematriation as a powerful way to heal our hearts and land from centuries of colonization. They view rematriation as a return to our Mother Earth, a restoration of symbiotic balance among all living things, and a return to Indigenous ways…

Exploring Ecodharma: Going Deeply into Nature

With Johann Robbins, David Loy, Rochelle Calvert and Cornelia Santschi

July 19 – 28, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
This ten day retreat is a deep dive into being, in nature, abiding silently, joining inner nature with outer nature, and dissolving separation. Each day includes plentiful time for sitting, hiking/walking meditation, as well as meditation instruction, dharma talks, and small group ecodharma exploration. There will be a two night solo opportunity during the retreat, which is an incredible highlight. The overall intention is for deep silence, practice, and the joy and healing that comes with a profound connection with nature. This will be supported by instruction in a variety of nature meditation practices. There will be nightly campfire dharma…

NEW!! Transformation in Nature: a Supported Solo Retreat

With Johann Robbins and Cornelia Santschi

July 30 – August 3, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
If you have been wanting to do a longer solo retreat in nature, but were daunted by the logistics, or uncertain about how to spend your time or what to bring, this retreat makes all of that simple. Solo nature practice is an incredibly powerful way to realize who we truly are, to touch into being, and the reality of non-separation that brings. When we hang out in a beautiful spot for days, being aware, peaceful, and still, this calms and reassures the wildlife that usually try and avoid humans, and they come and visit, sometimes for hours. This opens…

Nonduality in Nature: The Direct Path of Beauty and Love

With Johann Robbins and Caverly Morgan

August 4 – 10, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
Our true being is awareness and love. This peace and happiness, which we all long for, underlies the ceaseless striving of the limited sense of self, or ego. Being in nature allows us to easily relax, and come into presence with the beauty around us, and the appreciation, gratitude and love that arises in response. Being in the mountains in the soft gentle time of high summer, with green meadows, alive forests, abundant wildflowers, high peaks adorned with snowy caps, the running creek, and all the birds, moose, deer, elk, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and others, is an ideal place and…

Touching the Earth

With Susie Harrington and Denise Ackert

August 12 – 19, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
Do you long to embody the ease, freedom, and aliveness that is your true home? To do so, the Buddha implored us to “go to the forest, to the foot of a tree” as an onward leading condition for awakening to our true nature. In this home of spruce forests, alpine meadows, birdsong, and wandering moose, we practice immersed in the natural world. And we explore opening ourselves to the beauty, inter-connectedness, and preciousness of our true nature. During this retreat, we’ll be encouraged to look out and around, as well as inward, and to delight in what we see.…

Deepen Your Connection to the Web of Life

With Rochelle Calvert and Piero Falci

August 20 – 25, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
Gain a profound understanding of your inner connection to the natural world through insightful dharma teachings, immersive nature experiences and heartfelt reflective inquiry. This is an opportunity to explore the understanding of deep ecology, foster a sense of reverence for the Earth and empower yourself to become an active participant in its healing and preservation. Through the profound power of nature-centered mindfulness and somatic healing this retreat is designed to awaken vitality with life and rekindle your connection to the world around you. Through a harmonious blend of guided practices, mindful explorations of nature, and gentle somatic healing techniques, you…

Gratitude, Joy and Deep Belonging

With Peter Williams and Dave Smith

August 26 – September 1, 2024
This retreat emphasizes the ability of meditation in nature to ease the mind into silence, happiness, and deep belonging. With much of the retreat happening outdoors, participants will become aware of all their senses and learn to appreciate the simple joys the earth is always offering. Gratitude becomes a natural state of mind. As practice deepens, one will gain insight into the fundamental truths, such as impermanence and interdependence, that lead to inner peace. The retreat will be held in silence with periods of sitting and walking meditation, movement practices, as well as mindful hiking on the stunning land of…

Deepening Your Practice: A Meditation Retreat for Experienced Practitioners

With David Chernikoff

September 2 – 8, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
This retreat is for those who want to deepen their practice and to listen to what the Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah called “the one who knows.” Ultimately, spiritual maturation involves learning to trust our own inner guidance and resting in the felt realization that we already have what we seek and we already are what we wish to become. In a caring, supportive environment, we’ll practice sitting and walking meditation in silence. There will be dharma talks on the retreat theme as well as guided meditations and some interactive exercises that highlight the transformative power of the teachings. This retreat is designed for…

SoulFire Murmuration

With Carol Kortsch and Jade Sherer

September 11 – 15, 2024
Rocky Mountain Eco-dharma Retreat Center
Book now and get $45.00 off listed prices. Offer valid until Jun 27, 2024.
This retreat is intentionally intergenerational for all women who identify with the Earth community and are open to exploring your true essence through your connection with Mother Nature.  We are calling you personally back to the circle.  We welcome all those who have attended our SoulFire gatherings or other nature-based retreats and who long for more opportunity to listen deeply. We intend to create a murmuration in our unity, growing our individual and collective strength.  Thus, discovering an emergent wisdom so needed in the world.  Studies of murmuration have shown that a single starling responds to seven of its closest…

Cultivating the Courageous Heart

With Jean Leonard and Sarah Heffron

September 17 – 22, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
Book now and get $55.00 off listed prices. Offer valid until Jul 3, 2024.
Daily we are faced with our growing vulnerability and the challenges of being alive in this complex world, as well as possibilities for transformation, personally and collectively.  More than ever, we are seeing our common humanity and how interdependent we are with each other and the more than human world. This is an opportunity to meet the moment, ourselves, and one another with care, clarity and compassion. Courage is described as “the ability to do something that frightens one” and “strength in the face of pain or grief.”   Cultivating the Brahma Viharas – the heart qualities of kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity – develops the…

Silence, Stillness and Concentration

With Barry Gillespie

September 23 – 29, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
Book now and get $55.00 off listed prices. Offer valid until Jul 9, 2024.
A traditional Theravada silent mindfulness retreat with emphasis on stillness, concentration and continuity of practice, leading participants to a spacious stillness of mind, a radiant calm. There will be regular seated and walking practice, daily meditation instruction, evening dharma talks, an optional daily gentle yoga class, individual practice meetings and time every day to hike/walk in the beautiful natural world surrounding the retreat center. All of the teachings will be based directly on the Buddha’s teachings found in the Pali Canon, in particular in the Satipatthana Sutta.

ArtLife – Awakening Original Creativity

With Jane Seaton

October 2 – 6, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
It is becoming ever more urgent to break free from the old paradigms strangling our world.  How are we each called to contribute, from our hearts and with our myriad skills, to no less than radically heal and evolve beyond this fractured reality?  Whether as contemplatives, healers, visionaries or social activists, our natural creative gifts support fulfilling our true life purpose. During this retreat, we’ll go on intuitively guided and sometimes marvelously surprising creative adventures. No prior art making experience is needed to engage with and be nourished by participating in this program. The kind of creativity that we will…

Zen and Ecodharma Retreat (Sesshin)

With Kritee (Kanko) and Imtiaz Rangwala

October 8 – 13, 2024
This silent retreat is for participants who want to learn about Zen tradition and deepen their surrender to the “Enlightened Mind”. Our sangha takes a trauma informed approach to healing, awakening and changemaking. As a result, at our retreats, we combine practices from the ancient tradition of Rinzai Zen with our current understanding of what individuals need to face and release our trauma. Each day will include indoor zazen (seated meditation), outdoor meditation (by trees, bonfire or flowing water), kinhin (group walking meditation), deep abdominal chanting, opportunities to share our experience with other participants, a talk at the interface of…

The Body of Stars: Exploring Embodiment, Earth & Purpose through Astrology

With Ramon Gabrieloff-Parish, Renee Sills and Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish

October 24 – 27, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
PRIVATE RETREAT Exploring to Embodiment, Earth & Purpose through Astrology Astrology is a symbolic language that helps us attune with our intuition, open the gates of our imagination and live with a sense of inspiration, presence and purpose. As a model for complex systems thinking and mind-body coherence and integration that predates and underlies many forms of science and psychology, astrology goes far beyond the simplicity of “sun signs.” In this retreat, participants will explore astrology as a spiritual and contemplative method. We’ll engage with charts, signs and symbolism, to develop greater self and relational awareness; connect with our physical…

Awakening the Heart of Love; Walking the Path of the Bodhisattva

With Heidi Bourne and Laurie Cousins

November 5 – 10, 2024
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC)
Book now and get $60.00 off listed prices. Offer valid until Aug 21, 2024.
The path of the Bodhisattva asks us to dedicate ourselves to the well-being of all sentient beings – to show up as best as we can for ourselves, each other, and the natural world with a quality of no-matter-whatness. It’s an impossible though necessary task. Drawing on the teachings of the Buddha, our retreat focuses on cultivating the capacity to skillfully navigate our everyday lives with a steady receptive mind and a courageous wise heart. Held in peaceful noble silence throughout the retreat, our practices include foundational and transformative guidance on lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Please join us as…


NOTE: The first and last days of back-to-back bookings overlap by one day.

That is, you can check in the same day as another party is checking out, or you can check out the same day as another party is checking in. Check-in time is 2 pm, and check-out time is 2 PM (disregard times on the calendar).

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