Inner Outer Nature – Part 2: Silent Nature Retreat (Open to All)
With Johann Robbins and David Loy
August 16 - 22, 2021
Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center is an ideal location for this nature meditation retreat. The area is extraordinarily beautiful, pristine and peaceful, with a wide variety of trails, wildflower-covered alpine meadows, creeks, and rocky crags. The mountains, forests and river naturally work to settle the mind, while living and practicing together creates personal connections and mutual support.
Silent Nature Retreat
This retreat is open to everyone, including beginners. The focus is on silent nature practice, immersion in the natural world, connecting our inner nature with outer nature, and dissolving separation. Each day includes plentiful time for sitting, hiking/walking meditation, as well as nature meditation instruction, dharma talks, and individual and group practice discussions. There will be a one night solo during the retreat.
The overall intention is for deep silence, practice, and the joy and healing that comes with a profound connection with nature, and then integrating that into one’s life. Spiritual practice will be supported by instruction in a variety of nature meditation practices. There will be nightly dharma talks, exploring how being-in-nature can be an important part of our spiritual path by helping to ground us in personal experience of non-separation from the natural world. The emphasis is not on meditative technique so much as developing direct awareness that can lead to a new integration of the internal (spiritual) and external (activity). There are no prerequisites for this retreat, and beginning meditators are welcome and will be fully supported.
This Retreat Includes
- Guidance and instruction for meditation in nature (both sitting and walking) to deepen our experience of connection with nature, while dissolving the sense of a fixed and separate self.
- The joy and healing that comes with sitting and walking in beautiful wild settings
- Free time for meditation and/or rest
- Evening campfire dharma talks
- One on one discussions with the teachers
- Simple vegetarian meals, including food for solos
- Camp site or indoor lodging
Being alone in nature is powerful medicine, and an incredible opportunity. The solo is a time to heal, connect, explore and relax: opening deeply to the power and beauty of the environment, with the freedom that solitude provides. Over time, the elements, plants and animals become our teachers, the land our home, and silence our cherished companion. There is ample instruction, preparation, support, and flexibility for the solo, so each participant can benefit fully from their experience. All necessary food is provided. Everyone chooses their solo campsite from a variety of locations, anywhere from next to the lodge to deep in the wilderness. Most past participants have found the solo a highlight – sometimes the highlight – of their retreat. If you are staying in the lodge, and are unable to camp during the solo, you can continue sleeping in the lodge for the solo.
General Retreat Guidelines
- The retreats are designed to be enjoyable, not rigorous, but participants are expected to have a willingness to maintain silence, to help with yogi jobs, and to cooperate with the group structure.
- Some camping experience (car camping or backpacking) is helpful, but not necessary.
- Being in good health, able to camp and hike (at least the easier) trails at the center.
- Having the necessary clothing and equipment to enjoy being outdoors in a variety of conditions. We will be living and practicing outdoors, under the barn or another shelter in case of bad weather, including meditating, eating and walking.
This is a Covid vaccination-safe retreat. Everyone will have a Covid vaccination, and therefore we will be free of the need for masks and social distancing. We look forward to being in sangha safely and without fear, enjoying the human contact we have all been wanting and lacking.
If you are not sure about any of this, please inquire.
Time and Transportation
The retreat begins at 4:00pm on the first day, and ends about 1:00pm after lunch on the last day. If you are flying into Denver, the airport is about 90 minutes from the center, so you should plan on your flight arriving no later than 1:30pm to reach the retreat center on time. Return flights departing from the Denver airport should leave no earlier than 4pm, so you can get to the airport on time. Please do not plan on leaving the retreat early. If camping, you might want to allow some extra time to set up your tent before the retreat starts.
Please note that the center is at 8500 feet, similar to most Colorado ski towns. If you are concerned about acclimating from sea level, you might consider arriving a day or two in the Denver/Boulder area before the retreat.
You will be out of contact with no internet access or cellphone service during the retreat. Please complete all personal business before you arrive. The staff will have the ability to make and receive emergency calls or emails on your behalf, but phone and internet are not available for personal use.
Approximate Daily Schedule
We awaken at first light, hot water and coffee are available, and we meditate outside. Then breakfast is put out, and everyone eats and then packs their lunch. Daily activities include being out on the land doing sitting, walking, and hiking meditation, including meditation instruction, with teacher support including individual and small group practice discussions. After dinner there is an evening meditation, followed by a dharma talk around the campfire, and then bedtime or optional practice when it gets dark.
Every effort is made to support a deep and fruitful retreat, and noble silence is a valuable part of the process. With exceptions for dharma talks and other modes of support, we will be in silence.
- RV Camping
- Male Dorm Space
- Single Room
- Semi-Private Nook (single) see more details on registration page
- Female Double (2 single beds), Shared Accommodation
- Double Room (2 single beds; for couples or people that register together only). Note: the price is for 2 people.
- Double Room (1 double bed; for couples only). Note: the price is for 2 people
Cost and Dana
The cost of the retreat is set as low as possible and only covers expenses: renting the center, food, cooks, insurance, and staff travel. The teachers and manager are not paid, and are supported with dana.
It is our intention that cost not be an impediment to practice, and scholarships of up to $260 are available. If you cannot afford to attend without a fee reduction, you can ask for a scholarship on the registration web site, and then just pay the remaining amount.
A deposit of 50% of the retreat cost is due at the time of registration. Full payment is due 60 days before the retreat start date; your credit card will automatically be charged at that time.
Cancellation, and Refund Policies
A full refund will be granted if a scholarship or registration is not accepted. A refund of 50% of the deposit will be granted for cancellations up to 60 days before the retreat start date (50% of our deposit refundable). No refunds will be granted within 60 days of the retreat start date.
None of this cost share goes to the teachers or to the manager, who are solely supported by the dana (generosity) of the participants. In the tradition of the Buddha, teachings are offered without a set fee, keeping costs as low as possible, so no one is excluded due to finances. In turn, we ask that your donation be as generous as possible within your means. Please bring a check or cash. We are grateful for your support.
Additional Covid Information
Everyone will be required to submit proof of Covid vaccination, at least the first shot if two shots, given at least two weeks before the start of the retreat. Other Covid protocols may be added to keep everyone safe if the situation changes.
To insure everyone’s safety and ease, we will be asking anyone with any COVID symptoms not to travel to Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC) for the retreat.
We will also require anyone who develops any COVID like symptoms or becomes sick at the retreat to leave RMERC and return home immediately, to protect the health of the other yogis and teachers. If someone gets sick or needs to be quarantined we are not able to do that at RMERC, especially as the altitude is not conducive for healing respiratory illness.
Food and Meals
Three simple vegetarian meals a day will be provided from dinner the first day through lunch of the last, including solo food which does not require cooking. If you want a snack between meals, or supplemental protein such as jerky or packaged fish, you can bring a small quantity of packaged unrefrigerated food. Tea and coffee along with milk and sweeteners are available before and during breakfast. Please do not bring anything that needs refrigeration (medicine excepted). Excessive snacks are unnecessary: if you need a boost, a little gorp or an energy bar is sufficient for most people.
To allow us to be out on the land we will be packing our lunches after breakfast. Please bring a plastic container or two with tight fitting lids to carry your lunch in.
Figuring menus and quantities, shopping, organizing, and cooking are complex and crucial tasks for a retreat. We provide simple, wholesome, natural, predominantly organic, vegetarian meals. We can accommodate common food allergies such as gluten, soy or dairy, but not preferences. Make sure to include on the registration form full details of any special allergy or health needs you have beyond basic vegetarian, and we will contact you if they require discussion.
Helper (Yogi) Jobs
Some of the work necessary to support the group will be handled by participants during the retreat. You will be able to choose your yogi job, and will keep it throughout the retreat. Most participants find serving others in this way quite enjoyable, and a great opportunity for practice in action.
What to Bring
Johann started backpacking and meditating as a teenager, and deepened his spiritual journey on frequent solo wilderness trips. His passion is facilitating spiritual practice in nature: he has guided and taught wilderness retreats and workshops in various traditions for over 25 years, including as a Vision Quest guide in the late 1990s. Johann founded Impermanent Sangha in 2002 and has led dozens of Ecodharma and nature meditation retreats, including backpacking, camping, canoeing and rafting. Johann founded Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center in 2016 and is its Executive Director. Johann teaches Mindfulness Meditation, also known as Insight or Vipassana, with a modern secular approach. He has been meditating since 1974 and was asked to teach in 2008. He completed the two-year CDL teacher training program at Spirit Rock in 2012. His primary teachers include Shinzen Young and Eric Kolvig (who also helped found Impermanent Sangha and taught wilderness retreats for many years before his retirement).
Learn more about Johann Robbins
David identifies his spiritual roots as primarily in the Japanese Zen tradition. His Zen practice began in Hawaii in 1971 with Yamada Koun and Robert Aitken, and continued with Koun-roshi in Japan, where he lived for almost twenty years. He was authorized to teach in 1988 and has led retreats and workshops nationally and internationally in places such as Spirit Rock, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, Terre d’Eveil in Paris, and Dharma Gate University in Budapest. In 2014 David received an honorary PhD from Carleton College, his alma mater, for his contributions to socially engaged Buddhism. (He returned it in 2016, to protest the decision of the Board of Trustees not to divest from fossil fuel corporations.) David’s spiritual journey began when he lived in a remote valley on Molokai, Hawaii. There he fell in love with backpacking, meditating in nature, and solo wilderness retreats. David is a well-known writer, whose books and articles have been translated into many languages. His latest book, Ecodharma: Buddhist teachings for the ecological crisis, was published in 2019. He is also co-editor of A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency and has written many articles and blogs on Buddhism,…
Learn more about David Loy