"If one practices śamatha meditation without vipaśyanā, one will not be able to understand the true nature of phenomena; one will just be able to rest the mind on something. It is like being on a vacation; one experiences peace on a vacation, but one does not get any lasting results from it.
If you practice vipaśyanā without śamatha, you will not be able to eliminate whatever negativity needs to be eliminated, because vipaśayanā without śamatha is unstable. So even if you have the understanding of vipaśyanā, your mind will be agitated. Therefore you need to have both śamatha and vipaśyanā."
- Thrangu Rinpoche
A stable mind is a happy mind
You may ask, why do retreat?
I may ask you: "Why not get to the root of things once and for all?
We live in such a fast paced world. Feeling busy makes us feel productive, but busyness
and multitasking lead to a fragmented mind. A fragmented mind eventually becomes vulnerable to laziness, unhealthy diets, unhealthy mindsets and overall negative habits. I have been looking for solutions everywhere and I have come to the same conclusion that the Buddha did: All our suffering and happiness ultimately comes from the mind. The mind is the creator of it all, the root of everything.
Subsequently, emotions, thoughts, reactions, our way of communicating, all stems from the quality of our mind.
This is not only about changing our mind, being positive all the time, etc.. It´s about getting to know the mind, and consciousness. Why is this important? Because the mind is the Sovereign of all our decisions and experiences. But like the Buddha said, the mind is incredibly pliable and capable of profound transformation.
It has the potential to heal itself and become free of the rot of all suffering, which is our attachment to and reification of a false sense of self.
In the West, with the dominance of scientific materialism, it is also important to distinguish the differences between the brain and the mind.
This has not been clear to us from a scientific point of view here in the West at all. Rather, we have been encouraged and taught to think that the mind comes from the brain, but this is not the case according to the contemplative traditions that explore mind and consciousness from the first person perspective.
To learn more about Contemplative Science, please go to the Contemplative Science page.
A fragmented mind is an unhappy mind.
The more years I live, the more I notice how our tendency to isolate, to feel separated from others increases if we are not careful.
That is, if we do not actively cultivate our minds we default to negative mental patterns that distance us from others and reduce our capacity for love, compassion and wisdom.
Consumerism and social media, among other things, have lead us astray from knowing who we really are and our true potential as human beings on this planet. I personally feel that these pillars of our culture, actually lead us to a state of numbness and complacency in which we do not even feel the need to ask the big questions. We are so over stimulated by entertainment and endless media that we often live in a confused daze, separated from the vivid, luminous, and natural wisdom of our own consciousness.
We have lost one of the most precious things we have to give ourselves and others,
and that is our ATTENTION. That is, our attention is continually hijacked by stimuli and we do not have the tools to master our own minds.
We live at a time when our society values above all hedonic pleasure, consumerism and the accumulation of wealth and power.
I find this very sad, since this social paradigm leads to suffering, depression, anxiety, violence and many other detrimental mindsets and behaviors that cripple our human community. Most often we are occupied with temporary concerns and momentary desires; therefore, we do not take the time to come up with sustainable solutions to out mental afflictions. I myself did not find any lasting solutions to these mental afflictions is mainstream society. And so, I have turned to the wisdom of the contemplative traditions and have experienced for myself their capacity to heal and enlighten.
It is for this reason that I am going into retreat. For it is only when we can be single pointedly focused on these contemplative practices that we can truly experience their potential to heal our minds.
Doing an isolated retreat might seem like an escape to some, but this could not be farther from the truth.
If you think we can come up with the major root solution for our suffering within the chaos within the chaos of everyday life, then go for it.
I have tried and come to the conclusion that this is not ultimately possible. Drastic times call for taking drastic and transformative solutions and this to me means going into retreat, putting the essential teachings into practice and realizing, for myself, the true nature of mind, the true nature of consciousness and the root of all of our suffering.
We need wisdom. These dark times need just that! How to cultivate, stabilize and realize it? For me retreat is the way. Now this doesn´t mean we all have to become yogis, leave our families and isolate, but can these yogis be of benefit to society? Yes! Can their results and wisdom inform our communities in a transformative light? Yes! Just like the whole world has been influenced by the insights of science and just like the world has been greatly benefited by the insights of the great Spiritual Traditions, just like that,m our modern families, communities, countries and planet can benefit from yogis in our culture pursuing and realizing the full potential of the Spiritual Path.
We need to put these teachings into practice, and for those of us who feel called to do retreat and for whom the conducive outer conditions have come together, I believe now is the time. If not now, WHEN?
I am here to find long term, long lasting solutions to our core human suffering and to familiarize my mind with the actual root of genuine happiness.I will do my very best, from the sincere intention in my heart.
"Life is short, and there are many things to know. But since the exact length of your lifespan is something you cannot know, take up what you long for with gusto, like the swan the extracts milk from water"
- Master Atisha
About my retreat
I am very happy and grateful for the opportunity to have the time, solitude and good health to be able to do long term retreat. During retreat, you experience something you can never find within worldly life. It is very rare and auspicious for all causes and conditions to come together for this, so again, I am going into this retreat with gratitude and with a great sense of joyful-responsibility.
I will be entering solitary retreat for at least one year to engage in the main practices taught and lead by my primary teacher, B. Alan Wallace.
Traditionally in the Tibetan tradition, full-time meditators spend between eight to sixteen hours every day in meditation. Their time in between sessions consists of meal prep and essential upkeep of their living space. Most often, such meditators begin their first meditation session around 3:30am and continue throughout the day with short breaks until around 10:00pm.
Following in this tradition, and in ongoing consultation with my teachers, I will be maintaining a strict schedule of meditation that will begin early in the morning, continue throughout the day with short breaks, and end before bed in the evening.
I plan to begin by spending between six and twelve hours in meditation every day.
My daily practices will consist of many hours of meditation on the cushion and maintaining awareness in between sessions as much as possible, order to familiarize and stabilize the meditation practices.
These practices will consist of the preliminaries such as Bodhicitta, the 4 Immeasurables, etc.. Shamatha, Vipashyana and Dzogchen, and will be complimented by my physical exercises such as Nejang Yoga (tibetan yoga), walks, yoga asana & pranayama.
A conducive environment
The Hermitage is located at 8,000 ft. above sea level in the high desert of the San Luis Valley in Colorado, just at the foot of the soaring 14,000 ft. Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
This retreat center is called the Center for Contemplative Research at Miyo Samten Ling, which in Tibetan means the "Hermitage of Unwavering Samadhi."
An ideal solitary retreat environment requires a place that is conducive to silent meditation practice.
In order to really drop into the practice, one has to be in a place that is safe, has water and food available and easily accesible, a qualified teacher who can guide you as you make progress and as things come up in practice and ideally a community of like minded spiritual practitioners. These are KEY in order to be able to focus entirely on meditation practice without distractions. This is why one must "isolate" from the busy city in order for the mind to settle in an undistracted state.
I have been wanting to do retreat since I was 23 years old. I didn´t know why, since it was so far from the typical Mexican social standards within which I grew up. But I knew that if I could muster the courage and create the conducive circumstances for retreat, it would be one of the best and most
meaningful experiences of my life.
I knew it was a necessary experience that I had to go through if I was really serious about embodying the Buddha´s teachings that had inspired me so deeply at a young age.
Now, in these degenerate times, is when we need a radical response to all the chaos and negativity of the world. Where does all the chaos, violence, apathy and injustice come from? From our own minds.
This is the beginning of it all, the root.
As I like to say, "We can´t afford to not get to the root of things".
I see this as altruism, I see this as activism.
I see myself as an explorer of the mind, consciousness and the human condition. I am seeking to discover directly discover the root of suffering and the root of happiness, just like the Buddha did.
I am inspired to bring authentic and proven truths about our human existence to the world, such that we can all work to free ourselves from suffering and experience genuine happiness.
I engage in this view and practice with a joyful sense of taking Radical Responsibility for all my fellow sentient beings. This is the change I would like to see in the world.
Tenzin Palmo was asked:
How is the person living in a cave and devoting his or her life to meditation and prayer benefitting the world?
"That person benefits and serves the world on many levels. Most religions have always appreciated the extreme power of concentrated thought directed toward the benefit of others, especially when that person is practicing in solitude. That’s why they have contemplative orders. The power of thought is extremely powerful. In the very deep darkness of this world, little pinpoints of light show up very brightly and can shine a long way.
On another level, to really be of benefit to others as the Buddha always taught, we ourselves must first get out of the swamp. One of the quickest and most effective ways to do this is in isolation, with very few distractions, working very hard at it and spending all your time and efforts at changing your mind.
Even if the hermits do not appear to benefit other beings with their presence or teachings, still they are enormously inspiring to many. Perhaps, in this lifetime, they were meant to work on their own practice, to try to purify their own mindstream so that in future lifetimes (that will last a lot longer than this one), they will be fit vessels to give the teachings to others."
As I will be engaging in this type of lifestyle for a long time, I will be relying on the generosity of others in order to cover my basic expenses.
If you wish to support my basic retreat expenses, please click below to make any donation.