The Alchemical Mind
by on July 28, 2020

So I recently went on a three day solo meditation retreat in the woods, and had some incredible experiences. My plan was simple - to do nothing but meditation and contemplation for the entire time I was there. I found a beautiful spot  at the edge of a forest, but there would be no hiking, fishing, or any other activity I'd normally undertake when I go to camping for example - just pure conscious awareness.

The first day was really difficult. It was blazingly hot - it's the middle of summer and I'm in the southeastern United States - and I had a tough time focusing even for just a few minutes. My mind really began to calm down by the first evening though, and by the second day I was able to better focus as I became more comfortable with my environment and the heat. The second night was really magical (I don't have better words to describe it) and I had some really interesting breakthroughs that lasted the remainder of the day and into the third day.

The following audio is a description of my full experience. It is long and detailed, but goes very deep into some of the insights I gained from the experience. It is also very emotional so you'll hear me crying in a few spots. Definitely feel like I learned more about myself than I have in two decades worth of this kind of work, but like a very wise friend told me, if I hadn't done that work for so long, I would never have understood what this experience showed me.

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In the koans there are mentions of many of the past Buddhist monks engaging in solo retreats, such as when Gotei inhabited a hermitage hut and was visited by a nun who challenged him to utter just one word of Zen. Seung Sahn performed a 100 day solo retreat, living on pine needles to the point his s... View More
February 22, 2021