What I Learned in the Mountains…

Oct 8, 2015

My last entry was about living a life with soft edges… I recently spent three days up in the mountains on a solo retreat practicing all things T’ai Chi (sitting / moving / awareness).

Several people have asked me what it was like, what did I learn? First of all, please know that putting into words what I experienced seems somehow not giving it the magnitude it deserves, but I will do my best.

sm morning lightAfter my first practice, 4:30 to 7:30am, I chose to get under the covers in my bed for a few minutes, to take the chill off from being outside in the cool, mountain air… next thing I know it’s 8:45am. Obviously, my body was more tired than I had realized. My next session was from 9:30-noon, so I decided to make myself some hot tea, drink some juice (I did a 3-day juice cleanse while on this retreat) and find a place where I could practice outside for my next couple of sessions.

I was completely drawn to this rock (pictured above), from there I had a fantastic view of the mountain range, its majestic fall colors, and I could hear running water from the creek by me. A constant reminder—chi flows naturally. Also, in the same area, there was a perfect place to practice movement (ruler and form), it was my own T’ai Chi garden. It seemed to hide me from the people who may have walked by, and when I was on my rock (which was more visible), there was a reverence from people as they passed.

One of the first things I noticed being on my retreat, was that time seemed to expand, slow down. What Gay Hendricks calls, “Einstein Time,” in his book, The Big Leap. Now, at first it was magical—by day three—I allowed to agitate me. A poignent reminder to myself, that I have so much more to learn on this path.

Part of my practice was sitting, at least 30-40 minutes each session, I chose to use my iPhone with it’s stopwatch to make sure I wasn’t cheating myself. At times, I thought I didn’t set the clock correctly, and I would check the phone, only to realize that I still had 10 more minutes to sit. Again, another reminder, to dedicate myself to practice more.

sm autumn leaves

When sitting up there on that rock on my cushion, I would notice leaves begin to fall when a small burst of wind came up. Reminding me of the impermanence of life, and filling me up with gratitude for ALL that is now—in this moment—because it will change. And, when the leaves fell off the trees, they didn’t plummet to the earth, they gently, ever-so-graciously found their own way to Mother Earth. Reminding me that we all have our own path to follow—AND may we do it from a state of grace.

Another experience on my cushion was with a squirrel, who came right up next to me, within inches from my cushion, when I looked down and noticed him, he stayed and his eyes gazed back at me. Then I thought to myself, “How cool is this?” as he immediately took off. Reminding me not to label experiences, just BE in the moment.

Physically, I learned I have my own limitations that need to be expanded. My legs were really sore by the end of day two from practicing T’ai Chi ruler and sitting 40-minutes, 4x a day. At first, I forced myself to continue sitting in the lotus position. Then, I asked myself, “Why do you choose to suffer?” Another humble lesson, as I moved my legs to a more comfortable position.

Connecting with nature allowed my heart to expand, feel alignment within myself, and at the same time, I felt small and insignificant. Life is not all about me, but rather how I connect with others, my surroundings, and any given circumstance within each moment that arises.

Thanks for listening…


  1. Your retreat experience has inspired my practice.

    • Thank you Andrew, I am glad my practice inspired you.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *