Mindfulness Meditation Retreat - Blue Cliff Monastery
Check out a wellness or meditation mindfulness retreat near you to rejuvenate yourself in the 2019 New Year. I visit the Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, New York when I need a recharge. Thich Nhat Hahn’s retreat is a magical and serene place. Upon entering the property all your stress and clutter in your mind leaves.
Top 10 tips to maximize your visit at a mindfulness retreat:
- Put the technology away. If you are connecting with your device then you are missing the opportunity to connect with yourself and calm your mind.
- Come with no expectations except to be fully present.
- Respect the rules. The monastery has silent time at night and in the morning. This is when the most amazing clarity comes. I challenge you to embrace the rules. I am amazed by the people who come and ignore the rules, make noise, and say they aren’t Buddhist so they can do whatever they want. Blue Cliff Monastery might not be for you if you want to chat with your buddy at night.
- Participate in all the day routines from the early meditation, dharma talks, exercise, and chores. I find after a day that zen washes over me.
- Bring loose-fitting clothing that covers your body. The loose clothing will help you be comfortable during the meditations. The monks appreciate the body being covered as it is part of their tradition. If you wear a tank top then wear something to drape over yourself. Also bring layers, it can be cold in the morning and hot during the day.
- Shoes, shoes, shoes – they do a walking meditation whether rain, snow, or muddy. Bring the best pair along in order to enjoy one of the best parts of the retreat. A walking meditation on their property is beautiful. Socks are beneficial as there are tics.
- Enjoy the healthy food. Many first-timers first meal is full of blunders. Follow what the monks are doing and read the paper on the table. Mindful eating is probably the hardest part for first timers. As we are conditioned to eat and move on with our day. Rather, mindful eating is truly embracing and being present while you eat. Clearing your mind, tasting each morsel of their wonderful home cooked meal.
- During your visit at Blue Cliff, I integrate this habit in my everyday life, when a bell rings or the clock chimes then take a minute and stop what you are doing and breathe. All talking, walking, or activity momentarily stops in time. This helps you learn to be present.
- Be compassionate and understanding for all that are present especially the monks. We live in a challenging time where social justice permeates our core lives. The monastery was founded by Thich Nhat Hahn which is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. They kindly welcome all religions, all people, and beliefs into their monastic home. However, challenging them and finding fault with their way of life is not appropriate or fair. I have witnessed people cruelly challenge their ways and blame them for the world’s problems. Fighting for a cause is important in today’s world but Blue Cliff represents peace rather than anger. I hope you bring a compassionate heart if you visit and any anger can take a few days off.
- Bring your own sheets and blankets. Blue Cliff is rustic and not a 5-star resort. Enjoy the sharing of rooms, bathrooms and weather. Embrace the work and challenge of a simple shared space. Some bring a fan but that breaks the silence for others. The sound also muffles the wonderful sounds of nature surrounding us. Some opt out of cleaning the room when we leave but there are no maids and your roommates will need to finish all of the work.
I hope when you visit a mindfulness retreat that you leave as refreshed as I do. I have met many special people on my journey. My worst life experiences were put behind me when I allowed myself time and space to breathe, meditate, and be present.