New Year’s Meditation Retreat

Filed under: — Matt @ 10:45 am

The Wilderness Dharma Center is pleased to announce our next 7-day backpacking retreat: December 27th, 2005 - January 2nd, 2006 in the beautiful San Rafael Wilderness of Southern California. For all the details, please read on below, or see the printable version of the retreat flier. Some information from our last wilderness retreat in the Sierra (including photos and testimonials) is also available here.


Wilderness Meditation Retreat

awakening awareness, connection, and insight in Nature
December 27th, 2005 – January 2nd, 2006

Come join us as we celebrate the New Year with a 7 day backpacking retreat in the beautiful San Rafael Wilderness of Southern California. Creating a community of mindfulness, we will cultivate greater freedom and well-being through careful attention to our inner experience and to the outer world. Our days will follow natural rhythms of wilderness travel and will alternate periods of silence and dialogue, stillness and movement, and guided activities and personal time.

We will spend part of the first and last few days hiking and will take several layover days in between. On traveling days we will spend the morning hiking in silence (between 3 and 6 miles) and then pitch camp in the afternoon. Each day we will have several periods of formal sitting meditation practice. In the afternoons will use a variety of nature-based experiential processes to explore our relationship with the wider web of life. We will hold a sharing circle (council) each evening. There will also be the option to participate in a 24-hour solo fast during one of the layover days. We will supply food for the duration of our trip and cooking duties will be shared by the group. This retreat is suitable for beginning and experienced meditators of all traditions. Good fitness is required and previous backpacking experience is recommended as participants must have the ability to travel through the wilderness with a 35-40 pound pack.

In the spirit of generosity, the only fixed cost for this retreat is a registration fee ($125) which solely covers food and other logistical expenses – the guides’ time is offered freely. At the end of the retreat, participants may make a voluntary donation to support the guides in continuing this work.

For questions, further information, or to apply for this retreat, please visit
www.wildernessdharma.org or contact Matt via phone at (510) 847-3636


Matt McNeil

Matt has practiced mindfulness meditation since 1991 and has completed the Community Dharma Leaders training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He graduated with honors from Stanford University and holds an M.A. in Counseling. Since 1996 he has worked with teens and adults as a therapist, wilderness guide, rites of passage leader, and meditation and yoga instructor. He has a deep love of Nature and is committed to developing programs that integrate mindfulness practice, leadership training, and wilderness experience. He is trained in emergency medicine and is a certified Wilderness First Responder. A more detailed resume is also available.


Caiyloirch Marques

Caiyloirch is a registered psychiatric nurse and currently works as an outdoor educator with a background in wilderness therapy and wilderness leadership. He holds a degree in ecopsychology from Naropa University and is trained in the facilitation of wilderness rites of passage in the tradition of the School of Lost Borders. He has been a practitioner of vipassana meditation for over a decade and has sat several three-month retreats through Gaia House and IMS. He is certified as a Wilderness First Responder. A more detailed resume is also available.

Kirsten Rudestam – Kitchen Manager and Trail Guide

Kirsten has twin passions for meditation and nature. Growing up, she fell in love with the manzanita and sagebrush lined creeks of the Santa Barbara backcountry, and found wilderness to be one of her wisest teachers. Introduced to meditation in 1994, she is currently a member of the Community Dharma Leaders program, led by senior Spirit Rock teachers. Since 2001 she has been working as an experiential environmental educator and has led backpacking trips in the western US, Canada, and India. She is certified as a Wilderness First Responder, and is presently completing a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon.

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