MindEnvironment Nature Retreat Fall 2019, Freiburg

After a long period of preparation and hoping for interested people and fine autumn weather, the MindEnvironment Fall Nature Retreat 2019 is now successfully accomplished. We were a rather small group of seven people – which, however, gave each of us a big enough space in our cozy tippi around the warming stove. Thanks to that, we had a comfortable and very supportive retreat atmosphere. During short lectures, exchange and contemplations in pairs, and while sitting outdoors under trees on our individual sit spots, we could use the time to familiarize, befriend and reconnect with ourselves (including bodies and minds), others (including all the tiny and bigger animals around us), and eventually, nature and environment as a whole. We learned about meditation practices to allow the mind to calm; and also, we learned how to use mindfulness to become aware of change as THE central feature of life (autumn forest as a teacher :). We then practiced observing change both around us in the woods, as well as inside our bodies and minds. We collected the insights to make up our minds about what really matters to each of individually in our lives, how we share the wish for wellbeing with others, and how our own lives are interconnected to our social and ecological environments, both physically and psychologically. Eventually, this was backed up with some theory from behavioral science, stress psychology and Buddhist psychology to point out why it’s helpful to train the mind and how that can be constructive for our own lives and our relationships with others and the environment. In summary, we had four days of forest, tippi, rain, sun, fire, candles, Chi Gong, meditation, contemplation and exchange on life and its most basic characteristics such as change and impermanence, and how to better integrate our individual hopes and fears with social and environmental obligations. It’s fair to say that all people were happy during and after the retreat time, including myself. Also, I learned a lot about what works and what does not work when facilitating such a nature meditation retreat for others. I am therefore already looking very much forward to the next nature retreat, which will cover at least 5 full days :)