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Need A Retreat? Go To Green Mountain
Dharma Center in Vermont!

By Joanne Malone

 

RETREAT NOTEBOOK

What do you WANT from a retreat? What have you FOUND in a retreat? Members of the Washington Mindfulness Community have had numerous and varied experiences with retreats locally, elsewhere in the United States, and abroad. Sangha Reflections welcomes stories and observations from readers about retreats they have experienced or would like to experience, as well as questions pertaining to retreats.

This summer, I longed to have a period of retreat before beginning teaching this school year. I was able to arrange to live with the monks and nuns of Thayís Green Mountain Dharma Center for several wonderful days of private retreat. I urge others who need a retreat but are not able to find one that fits their schedule to take advantage of a similar opportunity. The community was particularly small at this time, because a number of the nuns had driven to Mississippi to conduct a retreat there. We had about twelve nuns, three monks and five lay people in our sangha for most of the week.

Each day, a schedule was posted for morning meditation, meals, dharma talks, discussions, work, walking meditation and other opportunities. The lay practitioners were invited to participate in most of the activities with the monastics. We also scheduled several periods of exercise and discussion on our own or asked for time for spiritual direction from Sister Annabel or other nuns. Weeding gardens, cooking dinner and playing basketball with them all were such a pleasure. I recognized friends from Plum Village, Deer Park, and Yen Tu Mountain in Vietnam. In such a small sangha, we could get to know each other in new ways.

The center is located about a thirty-minute drive from the Amtrak station in White River Junction, Vt. I rented a car from the one rental agent in town, who kindly left it for me at a nearby motel and sent a taxi to transport me to the location. When there are scheduled retreats, participants can be picked up and delivered to the train station by monastics on Fridays. I found the 11-hour train ride to and from D.C. an excellent opportunity to read, work on writing a book on my computer, and meditate on the countryside.

Arriving at my destination was truly like coming into paradise. Instead of Green Mountain, my directions took me to Maple Forest Monastery, which is affiliated with Green Mountain but is for men. A kind monk led me to Green Mountain through dark, winding roads, and I felt safe and cared for already. The stars were amazing. And in the morning, what a sight! At least three mountain ranges were visible from the dharma hall, with mist rising from the gorges between them. Each day was sunny and more beautiful than the day before. The joy and simplicity and peace of the monastics were contagious. They gathered us up in the community very naturally.

EDITORíS NOTE: In addition to hosting lay people for individual visits, Green Mountain Dharma Center offers two retreats per year, one in the summer and one in the winter. The winter retreat, taking place for three months beginning in November, offers an opportunity for an extended period of mindfulness practice. Retreatants may stay up to three months and are encouraged to stay at least one week. Learn more at www.greenmountaincenter.org.

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