Long Term Retreat at CCR North America – Miyo Samten Ling Hermitage
The Center for Contemplative Research at Miyo Samten Ling in Crestone, Colorado, has been established to nurture the conducive circumstances necessary for those who wish to enter into long-term solitary meditation retreat, with the aspiration of attaining unwavering samadhi, realizing the nature of the mind and of all phenomena, and entering the path of the Great Perfection for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Retreat applications are welcomed from practitioners of all spiritual traditions who are deeply drawn to the full-time retreat practice of mental stabilization, deep spiritual inquiry and the path of realization; in Buddhist language this is known as Shamatha, Vipashyana and Dzogchen. It is also integral to the mission of the Center for Contemplative Research to work with scientists who wish to conduct novel and rigorous research in the field of consciousness, in collaboration with long-term meditators.
Currently, Miyo Samten Ling has 11 on-site individual cabins for long-term retreat in Crestone, Colorado. Retreats can range from 6 months to many years in duration. Please understand that there are many steps to the application process and acceptance is highly selective, due to the small number of cabins available. Also, keep in mind that once one is in retreat, it is a considered a strict retreat. For example, the Caretaker will order and deliver your groceries, there is no alcohol permitted, trips off the retreat grounds are rare and some cabins do not have strong cell reception. There is no wi-fi connection in the cabins. Each retreatant is encouraged to meet with a resident teacher at regular intervals throughout their retreat. All retreatants are encouraged to participate in one or more of the scientific research studies taking place at the CCR, though this is not a requirement for acceptance. For more information on the scientific research, please click here to learn about current research studies being conducted at Miyo Samten Ling.
All retreatants will have access to a resident teacher (who is also in long-term retreat) and will also have the opportunity to engage in occasional practice interviews with Lama Alan Wallace, whether in person, via email, or on monthly group Zoom calls with dedicated retreatants around the world.
The Environment for Solitary Retreat at Miyo Samten Ling
The Hermitage is in a remote location that is ideal for solitary meditation retreat, but also close enough to well-paved roads that supplies are not too difficult to obtain on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. The Hermitage sits at an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) above sea level. It spreads across 110 acres (44.5 hectares) of semi-arid shrubland just below the foothills of the soaring 14,000 foot (4,268 meter) peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range known as The Crestones.
Wildlife at the Hermitage is peaceful, consisting mainly of deer, elk, birds, rabbits, squirrels, and coyotes. Black bears do occasionally come down from the mountains in summertime looking for food, so we are extremely careful with food receptacles. However, there is no significant danger of bears to humans. There are no poisonous snakes at this altitude, though scorpions do appear on occasion. The primary insects you will encounter are mosquitoes, flies, wasps, red ants, and small spiders, all of whom can become your friends and teachers in retreat! Desert mice are around outdoors at night, but with care and vigilance you can keep them from entering your cabin.
Crestone can have a harsh, dry climate, with winter temperatures regularly falling below 0° F (-18° C) at night and daytime winter temperatures often remaining below freezing for days or weeks at a time. However, with brilliant sunshine snow melts quickly and the cabins are well-designed to retain passive solar heat and remain quite comfortable through much of the day, even in the coldest months. Although electric space heaters are sometimes an option, we encourage retreatants to rely primarily on the more cost-effective heat from individual wood-burning stoves. Firewood is supplied for each cabin.
Summers are warm and dry, with outdoor temperatures regularly rising to 88° F (31° C) and the cabins do not have air conditioning. Breezes and brief afternoon thunderstorms do often relieve the hottest days.
The cabins are solidly built and are fully equipped with electricity, hot and cold running water, a bathroom with a shower and toilet (and in most cases, a bathroom sink); and a kitchenette with two electric burners, a sink, microwave, toaster oven, and a small refrigerator.
For the most part, there is no access to wi-fi from the cabins, and cell phone service varies greatly depending on carrier (Verizon and AT&T are best) and the exact location of each cabin. However, in the community buildings there is wi-fi access and cell reception is good.
We ask you to consider carefully whether you feel prepared to live for months or years at a time in a remote location at 8,000 feet, where it is an hour’s drive to the nearest hospital or shopping center, and where you will need to build and maintain wood fires safely on a daily basis from November through March.
The Application Process
There are some firm prerequisites for entering long-term retreat at Miyo Samten Ling Hermitage:
- In almost all cases, it is a required that you have attended (whether in person or by podcast) at least one 8-week retreat with Lama Alan Wallace prior to applying for a long-term retreat at Miyo Samten Ling.
- It is also requested that you be practicing under the guidance of Lama Alan, either personally, or by consistently following his teachings from afar, with the aspiration of coming under his personal guidance while at Miyo Samten Ling.
- You must have completed at least one solitary meditation retreat in the past, of three weeks or more in duration.
- You must have a current daily practice of shamatha meditation.
The suggested donation for a retreat cabin is $800 per month, for retreats of six months or more. This does not include food, travel, or other personal expenses. The total expenses for most full-time contemplatives tends to be around $1,100 per month, including food and supplies, plus any additional expenses. While we do have a Retreatant Support Fund to assist in cabin contributions when needed, we encourage those who have been accepted into long-term retreat to make significant efforts in personal fundraising for their retreat, whether in their local spiritual communities, or through creating a personal website to receive online donations. Please know that CCR strives to ensure applicants will not be accepted or rejected based on their financial means. However, CCR does not have the ability to fully fund any retreats at this time.
It is likely you will have an interview with a resident teacher and an interview with a CCR clinical psychologist prior to retreat acceptance.
The Long-term Retreat application can be accessed at the bottom of this web-page. The application can easily take over an hour to complete. You can save it along the way and come back later to work on it as you go. So be careful not to press “Send” until you’ve carefully reviewed your application.
When filling out the application, be prepared to answer many personal questions and provide emergency contact information, references, a description of your past practice and information about your spiritual teachers, as well as to submit a statement of 300-600 words describing why you would like to be accepted into retreat at Miyo Samten Ling.
We ask for your honesty and full disclosure in providing answers to the application questions. Not doing so will be grounds for rejecting your application, or, if discovered after retreat entry, asking you to leave the retreat.
Please know your application information is kept confidential and will only be seen by Lama Alan Wallace, the Executive Director, and one or more Resident Teachers. Your personal information is not shared beyond these positions.
Once you’ve submitted your application, you will receive a copy of it at the email address you provide. Once your application is received, it could easily be several weeks before you hear from us. But you will hear from us! We wish you all the best in your application process, which can be an experience of discovery in itself.
There are 8 sections to the Application. We realize that English may not be your primary language. Please be assured that grammar and spelling are not criteria being evaluated. We are looking for your heartfelt honesty, the care and attention your put into your presentation (as in meditation), and the extent of your study, practice, experience, and dedication to the steady discipline of meditation in solitary retreat. Take your time and only submit the application when you feel ready.
At anytime you may use the "Save and Continue" functionality by scrolling to the bottom of the application form and clicking the "Save & Continue" link. This will create a link for continuing the form at a later date. Upon clicking the link, you will be presented with a custom link to the current state of your form submission, with the option of sending the link via email. Please note that links created will only last 30 days. After that period, the link will no longer be accessible.