Stressed Out? Unplug & Meditate For A Day—Alone (In A Cabin, Somewhere In The Woods)

picture-7All right friends, this is a short 10 min video on how to unplug, stop the noise, get quiet, spend time alone and maybe even find a little taste of freedom.

For the past 5 years, I usually spend two days to two weeks alone somewhere in the Colorado mountains in a retreat cabin. Doing what? Sitting with what is.

“What is” is often just my thoughts. Thinking is how I typically spend most of my time while on retreat (retreat is intentional time spent with your own state of mind. It’s different from a “vacation.”). But for some, their “what is” might be an experience of peace, emptiness or emotions such as fear, paranoia, joy, grief, anger, hostility, anxiety, dread…I could go on and on.

In all seriousness, I experience everything from utter freedom to terrifying nightmares. Even when I’m “thinking the whole time” I come to valuable insights about myself. For me, many critical, gut-wrenching decisions have been made about my life’s direction while alone in a cabin or alone in the woods.

The idea here is not to “get away from” your stress, but to gain a deeper understanding of your stress.

I notice that when I first arrive at the tiny cabin and make it home, I can’t wait to get started. Then a few hours into it I wish I were somewhere else. It all points to how my ego would rather not be present and I drift off to fantasies about eating chocolate & coconut bliss in the comfort of my own home, snuggling with my wife and newborn son.

If you stay for the length of your retreat (whatever amount of time that is, from 2 hours, to 2 days.  Some folks do it for 20 years!) a lot of teachings can come through about how you are and about how you operate. It is very helpful for this journey we call life.

Even if you don’t meditate, the stillness and solitude of the wilderness setting can be very healing and transformational. Why can’t you just do it at home? You can. However, I don’t know about you but I get way too distracted at home. It’s not possible for me. I have to leave and really unplug from everything.

I’ve done retreats where I don’t bring books or even a journal. I just sit there with no distractions and be with myself and my experience. Other retreats have been more relaxed for me. I give myself permission to read, write and even go on exploratory hikes to places I’m not supposed to go.

For you, it might be an interesting experiment to just commit to a single day or a weekend. No need to get crushed by a two month-long retreat right out of the gate.

I did my retreat at DKD in Gardner Colorado although there are other good ones elsewhere such as KTTG in Crestone Colorado, where I have also done retreats. There are retreat cabins all over the world in fact.

If you want more guidance about what kind of retreat is best for you, start by considering why you are craving it in the first place. Is it to escape? get away? or to get more in touch with what is up for you in your life right now.

Meditation is a tool that can assist you in being with “what is.” If you choose to do formal meditation, it is essential to get some basic meditation instruction. You can also do a group retreat where you sit quietly with your own mind and occasionally hear a teacher talk about life, meditation, philosophy and spirituality.

A great group retreat site and teacher is the Dharma Ocean foundation under the guidance of Reggie Ray. But there are hundreds if not thousands of other programs and teachers to explore.

I’m sure you have a lot of good reasons as to why you cannot afford to take a whole day off, but I challenge you to do it and see what happens. What are the consequences of giving a whole day to yourself to be alone with zero distractions?

I’d love your comments.


  • Michele Cardamone

    Reply Reply April 21, 2009

    My sister, Jillian, just forwarded your thoughts on meditation to me and it was perfectly timed as I am on overload with taking an intense class and starting a new business. Today, I hiked with a friend (in Colorado) who just returned from the Oneness Institute in Fiji and your words echoed hers. Thank you for emphasizing the importance of quiet time and allowing myself to go deep and get away from the mind clutter (there is a lot). I’m SO ready!

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