My Journey on Retreat

As some of you know I was away on retreat this past week. Some of the days were spent in driving to Colorado and returning home to Wisconsin. The retreat was held at the Shambhala Mountain Center at 8000 ft in the Rocky Mountains. The scenery was breathtaking. I was joined by my daughter, Allison, and her fiance, Erick. We were celebrating her birthday on one of the days of the weekend.

The retreat was designed to relax and renew. Meditation, yoga, hiking and down time all were included. I have not been to Colorado for several years. Allison attended Naropa University in Boulder so she has been living there for about 10 years. It was a “treat” in the retreat.

I have presented retreats for years so it was nice to simply be a participant. Early on in the retreat, we decided to “create our own” retreat which of course was encouraged. We decided to hike (about a mile) two different days to the Great Stupa (more on that below). In here, we meditated. We also did walking meditation around its perimeter. I’m including pictures of our weekend at the end of this post.

A “retreat” is just that, it is a stepping back, a withdrawing where one takes refuge from the world to rest, relax and renew. We also can retreat to spend time with ourselves to deepen our spiritual nature, to reflect, to increase our concentration, and insight. Being on retreat is a gift that we give to ourselves. It does not have to be a week-long or weekend retreat, it can be a simple as a day that we set aside away from the daily disturbances to reground us back to center. I do the same from time to time. I have also presented virtual retreats where you can join online with others to share and then to step offline for a time to reflect. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to retreat into the spaciousness of peace.

Rising among wooded hillsides, The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya crowns a meadow at the upper end of Shambhala Mountain Center’s main valley.

Standing 108 feet tall, it is one of the most significant examples of sacred Buddhist architecture in North America. Built in honor of the Center’s founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya serves as an inspiration for peace and compassion throughout the world.

Stupas are said to promote harmony, prosperity, longevity, good health and peace. They bring blessings to the environment in which they are built, to those who build them, and to those who visit and venerate them. In this way, stupas ensure that the living quality of the Buddhist teachings will always be available.
Construction of the Great Stupa was initiated in 1988 and continues to this day. The primary construction phase occurred over a 13-year period, employing the generosity of several hundred volunteer laborers and craftspeople, with money donated through annual fundraising events. Additional contributions of expertise came from many different sectors of the technical industry.

Shambhala Mountain Center

What did I learn on retreat?

I learned to be open to what is in front of me, i.e. the open road. Yes, I may get off at the wrong exits in life but there is always a way to get back on the journey. learned to release expectations and attachments. This was not “taught” by the facilitators of the program, but it was intrinsic to my being as I reflected quietly to myself. Throughout most of the trip, I spent the time in silence. I was with my own thoughts, my True Self and the Divine. I experienced some revelations towards my own healing which proved helpful.

I also invited playfulness as I brought a little teddy bear with me. If you are familiar with the British show, Mr. Bean, then you know Teddy. On the way out I recorded little vignettes.

Out of all of it, a new podcast series has emerged called “Musings on the Journey.” I recorded 2 1/2 hours of audio on the way home and I will continue to add to this podcast over time as I feel so moved. To access it, go to this link.

As I write this, I want to invite you too to find a way to retreat. Later this year, we will be offering opportunities to do so, both in person and virtually. Keep our Retreat website in mind at for all the information for both. Our October retreat is scheduled here in Wisconsin as a day-long retreat on a Saturday with an optional Sunday program.

Deb Phelps

Deb Phelps

Deb Phelps is a certified Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher, and Practitioner since 1980. She is also a Mindfulness Coach, Sound Energy Practitioner, and Yoga Specialist who uniquely assists her clients to overcome stress, anxiety, PTSD, grief, and other life situations so that they can once again live purposeful, joy-filled lives. Deb has overcome significant life challenges aided by a variety of mind-body-spirit practices. By diligently using these tools over many decades, she found a life of contentment and equanimity. Through extensive education and life experience, including living for one year in a spiritual community, she assists and inspires others to do the same. ~ Deb Phelps, C.MI, MMT, E-RYT500, LVCYT, YACEP

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