Meeting the Wild retreat
‘In wildness is the preservation of the world.’ – Thoreau
This is a two week retreat with an emphasis on meditatively inhabiting the wild landscape which surrounds the Ecodharma Centre. It is part of our Nature Based Practice and Learning series. It brings meditation and mindfulness into relationship with wilderness immersion. It culminates with a 3 day solo period in the wild.
Our deepest nature is untameable. Yet, living in a world surrounded by the contrivances of the human mind, this can be hard to recall. Stepping out of the narrow dusty world for a while we can meet the deeper nature of things. Immersing ourselves in direct contact with wild nature, and deepening that connection through meditation, mindfulness, and reflection, can heal the wounds of alienation that are so present in our times. It helps us to re-connect with deeper aspects of ourselves and the world we inhabit – in a way that is enriching, empowering and transformative.
Living together as a small temporary community of up to 12 people dedicated to living in a conscious way will also be a significant support for our own journey in this course. We will together create a safe and nurturing environment in which participants can share their experience.
Yogis and forest renunciates, just like hunters and foragers, know that the places to look for nourishment are ‘off the path’ – through the thickets, amidst the trees, where people don’t tend to stray. So, Meeting the Wild takes us onto mountain ridges and into ravines, to meditate in caves and secret groves. It takes us to loll by streams and sit amidst the mossy oaks. In order to help us follow the path of integration and transformation more fully, this retreat takes us ‘off the path’!
As well as helping us to deepen our dharma practice, connection with wild nature is an important aid to developing an ecological sensibility and sense of connection with the web of life. This can support us in compassionate action towards a sustainable future for all.
During the retreat participants are helped to spend time immersed in the wild natural environment surrounding the centre. There they will be supported to deepen their meditation and mindfulness practice. The centre itself will act as a base, and all the usual facilities of meditation hall, dining space, and accommodation are available to support the participants to spend as much time as is useful out in the wilds – without placing any pressure or expectations upon them. Around the solo time it is likely we will hike out to spend some days either side of the 3 day solo in a wilderness base camp. To help participants deepen their connections with their selves and the natural world, we will provide advice and training in basic outdoor skills where needed.
Meditation instruction and advice, mindfulness training, relevant dharma study, and the study of deep ecological themes will be included in the program to supplement our experiential work in deepening our relationship with the wilderness within and the wilderness without. We do this in a way that recognises the differing degrees of support that people require to make this kind of experience useful.
To help participants deepen their connections with their selves and the natural world, we will provide advice and training in basic outdoor skills and bush-craft; the creation of an environment in which participants can share expectations and experience; and the presentation of useful theoretical tools.
Rupert Marques has worked within the field of experiential environmental education for the past fifteen years with an emphasis in outdoor education. He trained extensively and subsequently worked as a guide with the School of Lost borders in the U.S. offering contemporary wilderness rites of passage.
A practitioner in the Insight meditation tradition for over 20 years, he is interested in how experiences in wild places can serve to open the mind and remind us of what we belong to. “I am interested in how we come to find our place, our sense of belonging in the times we are living through, how we meet the magnitude of the challenges we face in a manner that calls forth our integrity and even our gratitude.”
Claire Dunn is a writer, educator, rewilding facilitator and barefoot explorer based in Melbourne. Claire worked for many years as an environmental campaigner, before turning her attention to the human-nature connection including studies in deep ecology, eco-psychology, Jungian dreamwork, women’s myth, tracking, and wilderness survival skills. In 2010, Claire embarked on a year of forest retreat. Her book ‘My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City in search of the Wild’ is the memoir of that journey. Claire is a passionate advocate for ‘rewilding’ our inner and outer landscapes and currently working on another memoir, exploring the experience of wildness in urban settings. Claire has been a student of the dharma and a meditation practitioner for the past 20 years. She facilitates nature-based reconnection retreats, contemporary wilderness rites of passage and offers individual mentoring. www.naturesapprentice.com.au
For more background to this event see our article on our Nature Based Practice and Learning series.
A kit list and other details will be sent out with applications forms for the event to anyone enquiring. Participants need to be in good health, but the event is suitable for people of a whole range of physical fitness. For an application form and more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org