roller-coasterI made it; I did it; my interior landscape is forever changed and my heart will never be the same; one of the greatest challenges/transformations of my life!  The Universe heard me when I said I wanted to travel the globe and meditate my way around the world, I literally had no idea where to start.  The very first thing that showed up in my inbox was the Winter Meditative Intensive through the Dharma Ocean, I trust so deeply in the universe and knowing that letting go (EGO) and following the path (BODY) into the unknown is the only way to live my life so I signed up and declared this to be the start of my journey.

My education (MASTERS IN LIFE) in this lifetime is through lived experience, sometimes entering into experiences with little or no knowledge of what is to come because I trust which leaves  a completely open mind thwarting any preconceived expectations or judgements, a clean slate.

Two and a half months before I landed in Crestone, Colorado, 7,936 feet above sea level, I was buzzing around folding up my life and virtually putting it on a shelf for a year.  Taking care of business.  Then December 9-16 I boarded a plane leaving my beautiful home, Victoria, BC, 2.5 hour late which caused me to miss my connecting flight and delayed my arrival by a couple of hours, no big deal.  My mind was a flutter with planning, organizing, communicating, packing, saying goodbye to those I love, taking care of business.  I spent a day and a half in Denver, Colorado to acclimatized by body to the altitude, to avoid altitude sickness.  My first experience with a B & B and my overall experience, fair.  I didn’t love it but I would not do it again.

Sheri B & B owner

I met the rest of the unsuspecting people at the meeting place at the airport and we headed off on the bus for the four-hour trek up the mountains to Crestone, Colorado.

This was the sign I spotted to let me know I was in the right spot!


The drove up I had a seat all to myself, I read, I wrote, I listened to meditation music, I gazed out the window, it was all starting to hit me the magnitude of the journey I was undertaking and that it was real it was really happening and this was the first leg.  You know when you plan something far in advance and you continue to work towards it doing one thing each and every day until it is all folded into a neat little package then that day finally arrives, it’s almost unbelievable that it all come together and its all really happening.  I spent time reflecting on the last couple of months and all that had to be done before I made this journey.  I am grateful so very grateful for the people in my life, the support, the encouragement, the love.  Crestone Colorado is beautiful, high up in the mountains, dry, cold climate.

When we arrived we were all buzzing with excitement for the journey we were about to undertake, some having had the experience before, some not having a clue about what was about to unfold, like me



The living is a dorm style living, I chose the option to room with 3 other people putting me in a room with two bunk beds side by side, single beds, one dresser and one small closet for 4 people to share.


My first culture shock, I am used to and very much in need of my own space and alone time.  The very fortunate outcome in this living situation turned out that I had roommates for about half of the time and other half of the time I was on my own.  It became very apparent to me very early on and throughout this part of the journey how grateful I have become for the things I take for granted, like having my own space.  I came to realize all of the rituals, the practices, the environment –  smells, lighting, temperature, and sounds are all a very important parts of my own basic self-care and how much that alters the fine balance of my central nervous system when they are changed or I am no longer in control (hello EGO).  I did what I could to make it as comfortable and as familiar as I could, there were a few items that I brought that made this possible, a fuzzy I bought right before I left, my heating pad which I never leave home without and my slippers.  As I was doing the final zipping up of the bags and about to walk out to the car I was contemplating the slippers  –  more stuff to carry  – my sister and my daughter both said “I’ll take them” – I threw them into my bag and took them, thankfully.  They became one my safety blankets that helped me get through the month that was about to unfold.


The first night I was exhausted from all the travelling, my roommate and I were getting to know one another, exchanging our stories, part of her journey was to reconcile the loss of a partner of 25 years after a separation prior to the death.  Goosebumps.   Sleep did not come.

The following morning we all met in the dinning area for breakfast, the next person I spoke with was just ending a year-long journey travelling the world and this retreat was her close.  Goosebumps.

First time I walked into the Shrine room I was in absolute awe of the beauty, the windows embracing the entire room, the landscape, the mountains in the distance, the silence, the roaring fire,


the shrines around the room and the feeling of complete and utter safety, like I was being held.


Niel McKinley, the teacher, spoke that first morning and told us about the “container” and summoned silence upon us, there would be no more talking, communicating or writing.  We would be in silence until Saturday evening, 6 days from now.  I was elated, I love silence, I love quiet, I love not having the anxiety of starting conversation with people I don’t know.   The container is about being held, where you don’t have to worry about anything.  The container contains silence, schedule, rota, protectors, the space, gongs (one = starting or ending meditation) (two = meal time) (three end of the day – sometimes the sweetest sound I have ever heard), bowing (left hand in a fist with the thumb tucked inside over your heart and the right hand covering to protect), and the blowing of the conch  (the giant shell that signified we have 5 minutes until the doors close on the Shrine hall). All the pieces that make up the whole.


The one part of silence that became a challenge for me early on was writing, I struggled with wanting to trust the process and respect the contained but at the expense of my mental health, my self-care?  Writing is one of those basic self care essentials for me, recapitulation is part of my self care plan, all of those experiences we have on a daily basis have to be digested somewhere, I digest the through journalling.  I struggled, I worried, I did not sleep.   I held off writing for 4 days and then I walked away from the retreat space and found a spot on the side of the road and I wrote.


An excerpt from my journal:

I am like a child without her blanket without a pen and paper in my hand; part of the container is silence, no writing, no reading.  I have struggled from day 1 while wanting to receive the full benefits of this program and trust in the process but a tool was taken away from me, a self-care tool that keeps the thoughts from ruminating in my mind, a witness to the debauchery!  The sun is piercing down on me and the wind gently blows all around me, with pen in hand, I am home.  

In the first few days we had the pleasure if hearing the teachers speak about space and the awareness of space, chanting and the benefits effecting us at a cellular level.

The Somatic practice of pure Awareness which encompasses the entirety of the program; moving from thought and the EGO mind into our body where all of our experiences have been frozen and stored (trauma).  The practice of pure awareness illuminates the body and we can begin to receive what the body already knows, we shift from our conscious mind to the body which is pure awareness.  The shift melts the wall of tension and allows the body to show us what we have in storage.  Simply allowing whatever arises to arise.

Trauma is an experience that exceeds our capacity to hold/welcome/attune or allow.

Welcoming the totality of our experience is a WILD RIDE, we are giving birth to who we actually are, we get to attune and witness life’s dance.  Working with the body and welcoming trauma is raw and rugged terrain we must remain patient, gentle and in awe of ourselves as we make our way through this journey.

Travelling below the level of thought can be a claustrophobic experience.

The first week my EGO was having a complete temper tantrum, freaking the fuck out!  My mind was spinning it was painful, uncomfortable, I felt like I could not breathe and there was no way out, nowhere to run, nothing to distract me, it was me, the cushion and my mind, this was not going to be an easy journey.   The shrines, the chants, the rituals, walking meditation (the zombie apocalypse), what am I doing here, I made a mistake, I have to get out of here, what have I done, I can’t do this, I have to find a way out, I miss my people, these people are weird …. on and on they went constantly for the entire first week.  I did not sleep; my mind tortured me all night long!

In the first week we did an exercise asking ourselves how I came to be here … to think of everything in the universe that came together for you to be sitting here right now.   I wrote death, life, change, who am I, soul journey.  I mourned the loss of Patrick Paul Mangold, celebrated the birth of Peyton and honoured the warrior in me and my soul rejoiced!

By day 3 we had received the instructions for the foundation of the practice, I now had something to work with; my mind was still freaking out but I had something to hold onto something I could keep coming back to over and over and over again.

Excerpt from journal entry, day 3:

I feel like I am losing my mind, I am going to a deep place that scare me it’s like I get to the edge, I am about to jump off and I freak out and come back I am afraid I will fall, I am afraid to let go.

By day 4 the entire room was edgy, uncomfortable and wanting to find ways out, my solar plexus were burning and churning so much so that I could not take my hands off my chest during meditation, I had to be in contact with myself all the time offering loving kindness and tenderness, reassuring myself and it was going to be alright while my mind was searching, digging, looking for a hole, a crack, a way out!  The only thing I could do was surrender.


Excerpt from journal entry, day 4:

I am tired of meditating, all we do is meditate and its killing me not being able to write.  I feel crackly, sparkly, poppy. Filled with tension about to explode; like a balloon filled to capacity, one more breath and its all over.

The practice, they say, is strengthening our mindfulness muscle, increasing stability, strengthening capacity, and building strength; just like building a bicep muscle you must continue to lift the weights day after day until the muscles starts to grow, to increase in capacity, to strengthen, to build.

Tension – aches/pain/burning/tightness – became known to be a difficult somatic experience in the body resulting from activity on the EGO mind – a freezing.  When the ego mind is silenced tension is illuminated.


  • something happens, an experience – the conscious mind says NO = tension (anything that does not conform to our ideas, beliefs, conceptions, the suffering of others/ourselves, feelings, energy)
  • the experience gets frozen – freezing the free-flowing life force
  • stored in our body

In the illumination of the body allows the tension to unwind, the experience to be illuminated.  Being in the body allows the welcoming of the return without judgement, agenda, wanting or saying no, it simply is what it is in its purest form – this is the healing and accepting of life on its own terms.

Our bodies will unwind and release the experiences as capacity is generated, our job is to witness and attune with each experience that arises, without judgement.  Our bodies will hold the experience until we are ready to experience it, capacity increases as you strengthen your mindfulness muscle.

This is the warrior’s path it takes everything you are to do this – strength & struggle!  As capacity increases we are initiated into the fulness of being a human being, we begin to bring authentic humanity to life, the warriors path!


The silence throughout the program allows you to see yourself more clearly, allows you to go inside and watch yourself from the inside out and see all your patterns of behaviour unfold right before your very eyes.   It is fascinating.

mirrorThroughout this process its much like holding a mirror up while you gaze at your own reflection and see the reflection of who you are.  I am particular, I like routine.  I have a hard time not talking (only when asking general instructions and saying thank you – so  Canadian) I am very efficient, I see what needs to get done and I get it done, this was noticed while being part of a team on the kitchen crew;  my automatic impulse to organize the team and get people where they should be; anything I noticed that needed to be done I was on it; not realizing until later that this is such a tendency for me and it is not what is always required or appreciated.  Working in the kitchen is a teamwork type of position, there was a crew chief and all I really had to do was my part and trust that others would do theirs and if not it did not get done, simple.  It took two shifts for me to see myself in action and shift into a team player rather than doing it all myself.  As I write this so many examples come rushing to my mind where this played out in my life and I am grateful to have been able to see this so clearly and realize how it might have caused some difficulties in my life thus far.    I enjoy alone time.  I know myself well and attend to my mind, body and soul more than I think I do.  My self-care plan is so solid that is has become habitual and when it cannot be attended to the balance, I so desperately try to maintain in my life, become imbalanced and I notice it right away. My mind is very busy planning, organizing, doing much of the time.  I get frustrated when others don’t follow the rules.  I don’t like to follow the crowd.  I am an individual and no longer afraid to be exactly who I am.  I don’t like structure and rules yet I do!

The days quickly start to fade into each other losing track of days and time happens very quickly.  Each day starts to look exactly the same:

6:30 Shrine room chants & meditation

7:30 Breakfast – cafeteria style – 100% healthy, gluten-free, GMO free, vegetarian options

8:30 Meditation, walking meditation, meditation, walking meditation, on and on and on

12:30 Lunch

1:30-3:00 Rota (chores) or a long walk in the mountains when I didn’t have chores

3:00-6:30 Meditation, walking mediation … protector chants

6:30 Dinner

7:30-8:30 Meditation, closing chants

9:30 Lights out!

I have to admit there was some delight is simply showing up and not having to worry about anything except getting my body to the Shrine room at 6:30am from there everything was scheduled.

My body adjusted very quickly to the early mornings.

During the first week there was a lot of teaching and instruction, some of the meditations were guided (delightful) but for the most part we were sitting in 45 increments in silence, left with our mind.  In the teachings I heard the words I need to hear each and every time which became the savings grace of me staying in the program.

I came here to step out of my EGO mind (I set an intention middle of last year to step out of my EGO but had no idea what that looked like) and uncover and release the stored trauma hidden in my body and allow them to release and let go, to create space which in turn creates a lightness.  I was struggling with my mind, my EGO, it was looking for a way out, I felt as though I had been dropped into a cult, or at least that was the angle my mind decided to take, my mind was spinning.  I continued to tell myself to trust in the process.

There were shrines all around the room each shrine consisted of a tapestry surrounding a picture of each protector, a woman in nature, each one portraying the same image only each image is very different and unique to show us the openness/awareness/changeability of each one of us so that we can see ourselves in any one of them or all of them and that we can be ever-changing. We cannot do it alone, we need the protectors.  Below the tapestry is a wooden shelf that holds the contents of the shrine, an oil burning candle, some incents, some other significant pieces to signify each protector and on the floor below a bowl for offerings.  The protectors are fierce-looking, sometimes with many eyes or only one, arms and legs sometimes two, sometimes four, sometimes only one, they usually had a weapon in hand and had someone captured or trapped under a leg or arm showing their protection capacities; I was mesmerized and afraid at the very same time.  There was a myriad of images going on within each one of the tapestries.

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Front and center was a shrine with pictures of Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Lama of the 20th century and Reggie Ray, a student of Trungpa and the spiritual director of Dharma Ocean, two oil burning candles, that were lit each time a teacher took the teachers chair, a large framed pictures of the meditation symbol, two side table on either side which adorned beautiful flower arrangements that were created each and every day.  Beside Chogyam Trungpa’s frame is a crystal wine glass, as part of the teacher’s ritual each day it would be filled with Saki and set down beside his picture.  At the very front of the shrine were 7 small copper bowls filled to the very top with water to signify the 7 offerings to the lineage.

To the left of the main shrine sat an empty chair to signify the greatest teacher of all, AWARENESS.



There was a roaring fire burning at the back of the shrine room, a shrine in itself, it became one of my most cherished places to stand and feel the heat warming my body.


By the end of the first week I was sick with a cold.  Imagine 60-90 people (it varied a week to week how many people were there) spending 12 hours a day together, sometimes it felt like a cesspool of germs, people were coughing through the meditations, people were constantly sneezing all the time, inevitably people got sick which meant other people got sick, throughout the month there was at least a handful of people who had full on head colds and coughs at any one time.  I was so diligent when I spent the week with Sydney and Peyton before leaving, poor little girl was so sick, I was on high alert, washing, cleaning, trying desperately not to get sick before I left on my journey.  Then to come and be around a whole batch of people constantly coughing, sneezing, it was a fruitless effort and it finally got me.  I remained diligent throughout and used vitamin C powers everyday along with an immune tincture, washed a lot, I was having up to three showers a day (this was for sanity more than anything).

Extraneous; unrelated to the subject being dealt with; separate from the object is was attached, a shift in openness.

The somatic practice is to not add anything extra surrendering our tendency to fill space.  Let space be what it is, vulnerability, unprotected, uncared for, lonely, wanting to connect instead of adding things that don’t connect to life’s path like “I am getting sick, I am tired, I am … our body knows the journey we just keep filling it with extraneous stuff.

Each person had an MI (meditation instructor) became your mentor, your counsellor, your witness to the process.  I frequented the MI needing a place, a person, to hold my hand and offer some expert advice as I went through this unfolding.

We also had MI groups, a group of about 10 people, we met once a week and shared whatever was going on with us at the moment, amazing how deep the connection becomes with people who become part of the container that holds you while you enter your body and step outside of your EGO; it’s a time that you get to share the temper tantrum going on within and witnesses who hold space and allow.

It was quite a treat to have my meals prepared each and every day, not a moment of thought about what I was going to eat.  The food was all made from scratch with organic, whole foods; gluten-free, GMO free, vegan, vegetarian, 100% healthy.  Some days I looked forward to the meals and some days I wanted to cry when I looked at the white board and saw lentils, soup, root vegetables, salad, tofu.  Every once in a while we would get a treat, a gluten free or beet cookie or once we even got a gluten free chocolate cake, not quite the same as a real treat but amazing how good it tastes when you have been deprived of anything sweet or delicious suddenly it becomes the most delicious and you gobble it up like someone is going to take it away from you.  It was quite funny to watch full-grown adults, myself included, excited about the fact that there was a treat and the limit on how many you could take.  One evening after dinner and after eating my rationed two cookies, I walked past the tray of cookies wanting to take another and put it away to take to my room for later but worried that I would be caught stealing a cookie from the cookie jar.   I walked past for the first swoop, chickened out and then decided I was talking one – walked past again – grabbed one off the tray only to look up and see one of my new friends watching me; we made eye contact and both busted up laughing as she held up the cookie she had taken and wrapped in a napkin for later.  It became the little things.

We are in transition as the week 1 participant leave and week 2 participants arrive.  The intention is 30 hours to work through the integration process in our small container, no teachings, no new practice, just sitting practice.  Integration to combine one thing with another to bring together unified, whole.

Raw & Emotional

My body is a vast amount of pain, my right hand that has been supporting, holding, attune, nurturing my burning solar plexus day after day seems to have taken all the heat and is burning so bad that I can barely more it or use it.   My body became the challenge this entire week, excruciating pain peeling off my body, I had to use visualization to imagine literally peeling the pain mm off my body, my spine, my shoulders (who was I still carrying around) moment by moment letting go, releasing, the experiences of the past.   Generally in meditation I take a lay down position with my legs up on a chair to support my broken down spine but really wanted to moved into a seated position (EGO), I tried every style of meditation cushion, meditation benches and sat 45 minutes at a time dealing with the pain.

Although painful I am having deep meditations and I feel a crack has started in the tough exterior of my being and penetrating quickly, I feel deep sadness rack through my shaky body.  It feels as though my EGO is trailing off, getting fed up and wandering away for periods of time.  My burning solar plexus have taken centre stage and command my attention throughout the meditations.

The only constant in life is change!   I am so grateful for the statement in a way that I cannot explain … each meditation is completely different from the last.  Extreme gratitude when some of the painful, releasing meditations were over, sometimes my mind would be screaming “ring the fucking gong”!

Anger had risen up in me with a vengeance, like a thunder-storm rolling in and settling in my body.  I feel agitated, aggressive, shaky inside my body.  My mind sounds something like this …

I don’t like this; I don’t want that, EWE that’s what for lunch, its cold in here, it’s too hot in here, I don’t like cleaning bathroom – if I have to clean up someone else’s pubes one more fucking time, or doing dishes, why are people to fucking stupid, there are so many germs floating around, I am going to get sick, why does she have to cry all the fucking time, ring the fucking gong!  Why aren’t the teachers ever here, when he finally does join us at 4pm, my mind says oh finally the great one decides to grace us with his presence.

A new group of people have joined us this week and a bunch of people have left us; transition. 

I have the room to myself this week, I am so happy, I actually do a happy dance each time I walk through and door and know that no one else will be in the space, my smell, the temperature, my stuff everything organized and perfect!  I was puzzled by the fact that I can be so particular with the way things are in my world yet I continue to shake it up by taking myself out of my comfort zone.

Curious about how all this deep breathing practice actually changes the interior landscape of the body, something has to be happening, it has never gotten so much attention before.

Its been interesting the teachers who have been showing up in this process to allow me to see myself a little bit clearer.   There are people in all sorts of role to help support us and the container we are being held in, they are also called protectors.  There is always someone in charge of the fire, they keep it stoked, they ensure the wood pile is always full, they sweep up the mantle area around the fireplace and stand guard to the right of the fire.  Second week this woman came in and she was going non stop, she was always moving, always busy, always making noise, gathering more wood, she would physically touch or move people out-of-the-way is she decided she needed to sweep up in that very moment (yes clearly this happened to me and I wanted to punch her in the face), she was constantly doing and it was driving me crazy.  I was triggered by her the moment she arrived.  She wears rubber shoes in the meditation hall and everyone can hear where she is at all times, swish, swish, swish.  I had to stop and think about why she was so triggering and what mirror was I to be looking in now …

It made me think of the way I can be when I want to do a good job, I will bulldoze anyone who gets in my way, I want to do the best, be the best, do it better than anyone else has ever done it! Perhaps she is mirroring this behaviour for me to see. There is always a reason someone annoys you, sometimes they are downright obnoxious but other times they may be holding a mirror for you to see something in yourself.

It’s interesting how your mind knows what 45 minutes is and after a few sessions your mind (the EGO say ok fine your going to sit still for 45 minutes alright fine but as soon as it’s over …) after 45 minutes the room starts to fidget, each and everyone one of those EGO minds start waking up and reminding us they are still there).  Quite fascinating.

Excerpt from journal:

Feeling like I don’t want to do this anymore, sometimes I just don’t see the point anymore! I will continue and trust the process!

I am a little confused about the teaching aspect of this retreat, Neil and Norman have done very little teaching at all, they have guided us through a few meditations but we sit and practice on our own most of the time. My expectation was that there would be teachings of the lineage and Dharma Ocean but the only teaching they have provided is instructions on how to meditate with the somatic practice of pure awareness. It’s not at all what I thought it would be, today I keep wondering how I am going to do this for another 21 days, that seems like an eternity right now but in 21 days I will say I can’t believe it’s over. I do hope that I have some breakthroughs and that meditating 9 hours a day is somehow going to get easier and that by the last week I will slide into meditation and wish that this retreat never ended.

This is a lonely journey, I will continue to trust the process and see what happens.

I did a complete loving kindness meditation to each and every part of my body on this last meditation bringing love, compassion, healing to each and every part of my body as I prepared the body for the meditation practice, I did not get past step one and it was wonderful, I was deeply in touch with my body, my mind was nowhere to be heard, my body was floating in pure awareness and the love of self was flowing all through my body, it was incredible. The gong was not anticipated, nor pleaded for, for once!

I went for a long walk after lunch and reflected on many parts of my life, I wondered why I have been so cruel to myself, why I have beat myself up continuously for my entire life, why I have allowed so many people in my life who did not, could not, were not capable of giving me love.  It was like I was set up from a child to seek attention, affection, appreciation and acceptance. I have spent my whole life seeking those exact four things and many people in my life were unable to give me any of those things yet I stayed and did everything I thought possible to get a little crumb. Perhaps it is a pattern of behaviour, an unconscious belief that I continue to carry in my imaginary backpack because it is something that I have still done right up until leaving on this trip.  I recently had a boss in my life who I knocked myself out on so many levels to get any one of those crumbs from her and she clearly indicated to me early on that she was not going to give me any of them yet I continue to try and try and try driving myself crazy doing everything over and above for one little shred or a crumb; often having to turn something she said completely on its head to pull the appreciation but if I could I would and that seemed to satiate me until the next time. Few and far between but I still stayed and tried to get her attention, her affection, her appreciation and her acceptance, a futile effort.   I received a lot of criticism and negativity and I stayed anyways always hoping that something would change.  A lesson I hope I have finally learned, people show you who they are right away, you simply have to listen.  The universe will continue to test me until I trust in my body and stop letting my EGO push me around.

I am entitled to respect, love, attention, affection, appreciation and acceptance!

The flood gates have been opened and its all coming up. Neil explained today that this journey is allowing the unconscious to become conscious. He explained that traumas are stored in our bodies because we did not have the capacity to hold it, sit with it, welcome it, attune with it or allow it so we freeze it and store it in our bodies. We are working with the body and welcoming the trauma we have stored, expect a rugged, wild ride. We are welcoming the totality of our experience. We are giving birth to who we are!

An image came to mind of me defrosting my little freezer before I left on this journey, it was frozen shut, you couldn’t even open the freezer door anymore, solid all around the freezer area, I unplugged it and left it for an hour or so, nothing happened, I then put a kettle of boiling water inside and shut the door, still nothing happened, I then poured the boiling hot water onto the solid ice formations and they started to thaw little by little. I got a hug butcher knife and hacked away at the ice until I had it all off and the freezer looked brand new again. Beaming with pride, I plugged her back in only to hear from the landlords a couple of days later it seemed the little fridge was not working … such an analogy for this retreat and life itself. I am like that ice box, frozen solid, so many traumas frozen in time and stored somewhere in the body, that is exactly what I hoped to work with on this retreat and here it is, the trauma stored in the body.  I vow to thaw my freezer with love, care and attention, to attune one experience at a time.

Another crack in the ice chest today, it’s a very strange feeling, all of a sudden the tears are flowing, body is shaky and there is no conscious thought but it all comes flooding out, the water leaking all over the floor.

I had a beautiful meditation today just stayed with arriving in the body, I took each and every body part and zoned in on it alone and breathed in love, compassion, healing, it was so beautiful, I was floating, not wishing to hear the gong. It was complete love for myself. I have been so gentle and kind, loving and compassionate with myself as I go through this journey. I always think of when Sydney said to Peyton “gentle gentle” and squeezed her little hand when explaining not to pull the dogs hair, I hear her words in my ear and tell myself gentle, gentle.

There is pain in my solar plexus, the same solar plexus that have been burning since the moment I got here. This week I has been much less burning although sill there.  We started another instruction today moving up the central channel which is in front of the spine but behind the heart, esophagus, solar plexus, behind the eyes to the crown of the head.  It is a very unexplainable feeling and experience, like being on he inside of your body looking through from back to front.

I was so happy at dinner they had my favourite gluten-free bread, it is amazing! Then to top it off chocolate gluten free cake, heaven! I had two pieces.

The flood gates opened during the last meditation of the night, Neil started talking about us dealing with the traumas of other people, meaning generations. If we are authentic in this word and these teachings, the other generations will be here with us; as soon as he said that I lost it and could not stop crying. Thinking of my Auntie Jean, who is my middle name sake and my mom, her mom and her mom and all the generations before her who suffered.  Throughout the month-long retreat, a thought, a picture, a story, a visualization, that were not generated by me came; puzzle pieces appeared day by day, week by week, until it all fit together forming a picture that was lost in time, frozen in space, and allowed the thawing, letting go, healing and forgiveness to take place.

This year I had set an intention to step out of my EGO and find the unconscious things stored in my backpack that I carry around … well that is exactly what this retreat is all about. I also wanted to heal and pain and suffering for generations past so that I could break the chain of dysfunction for the future generations, my daughters and their daughters.  Looks like the Universe came through again, put me exactly where I needed to be.

The body is the fire

May I remember this body

This life is the fire

May I remember this life

May I always surrender

All resistance and forgetting

May I always surrender

Through the end of my days

Full house this week three roommates, I have tented up my bottom bunk for some privacy, this is going to be a tough week.

The days go by so fast, yet so slow at the very same time.

Excerpt from journal:

There was some unravelling this morning. Felt a lot of tension in my belly today just starting to open the freezer door. It was festered yesterday with the belly breathing today I could not get a breath to go inside I finally had to stop and just sit with the pain welling up inside me. We sat together, I the mother, the nurturer and just held her and let the tension slowly unwind, unravel; this morning my body cried, my legs would not stop shaking it welled into an outburst of crying, releasing, letting go, I have spent most of the morning in my body; the last meditation put me over the edge, my mind wants back in, wants to sing, wants to plan, I see glimpses of it but I push it away and stay in my body. My body is emotionally exhausted and illuminated showing/highlighting all the pain, the suffering, the agony and the trauma, all there to see.

Start from where you are … the work you are doing becomes your path

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, I feel an ache in my heart not being with my kids.

We had a banquet tonight in celebration, silence was lifted and we were able to talk to some of the people we have been living with for the past couple of weeks.

I feel so happy inside, so free, so open, so spacious, something has definitely shifted inside for me and I am excited to see what the next two weeks brings!

Christmas day was tough each time I thought of my babies, a tear rolled down my cheek.

The week has flown by and its Thursday already, filled with anger so much fucking anger coming up. I had two brutal meditations, I wanted to die. My thoughts were assaulting me left, right and centre, my body was screaming in tireless pain, I had nowhere to go, all I could do was count!

Doesn’t life release holding spontaneous and organically, if so, why are we here?  Life continuously gives us opportunities but we harden up and become unable to hear, to see.  Sometimes life cuts through so dramatically you are dealt a life and death situation and it cracks you open.  In the cracking open a few things can happen you stay open, you shut down & die, you open and then you snap back shut.

As I walked along my usual route in the valley surrounded by beautiful strong solid mountains and a disbursement of homes, something inside me said SCREAM, scream loud and proud, I screamed, it felt good my automatic reaction was what will people think, what if I alert someone in the houses and they think something is wrong, my very next thought, fuck it scream again, I did, I felt so good, like something inside me had been stirred up and certainly it had. The next thought was you are not responsible for his death, the tears came next, I repeated the phrase, you are not responsible for his death, the sobs follows, wracking my body so deep I had no idea where this was coming from. I kept repeating you are not responsible for his death over and over again, each time tears sprang from my eyes, sobs seeped out and deep racking body convulsions followed as I continued to repeat you are not responsible for his death. After I had said it over and over again and the tears, the sobs and the racking stopped, I added another phrase, you can stop punishing yourself now, again the tears flowed, the sobs seeped out and the body started racking again. Over and over again I repeated you are not responsible for his death and you can stop punishing yourself now! I cried deep deep cries like I have only cried once before in my life. I wanted to throw myself into a heap and let it all pour out! I kept walking and repeating you are not responsible for his death and you can stop punishing yourself now until there were no more tears. The next phrase that came was you can open your heart and love again! It felt so good to let it all go, let all that pain and suffering I have been packing around for the last three years, it does not feel done but it feels started, forgiveness for something I had nothing to do with, something that I took on responsibility for and carried around in my backpack for the last three years.

I didn’t think I could take another day, another hour, another moment, I needed something!  I was sitting with my head in my hands, struggling and one of my friends told me there was a packing for me; I was elated, I took the package back to my room, climbed into my tent and cried openly as I opened the package from my sweet baby girl, Jenny.  The ever thoughtful, beautiful soul that she is sent me a package with three of my favorite things; sweet georgia browns, tea for sad people and lavender spray and a beautiful letter.  It was a moment of complete appreciation, gratitude and pure LOVE.

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Week four is a solitary retreat, there will be no teaching, no instruction, no guided meditations, each of us would be meditating together, but alone.

I want to make this last week count and be in it but at the same time I am so fricking excited that this is almost over and I will be on a plane to Costa Rica in 9 days … now that is exciting.

The meditations this week are varied as always; some were excruciating and others were dreamy. I get to the point of getting lost in the gap and I snap back to reality, I get about a second in that galaxy, space and then I snap back – black out – but I’m fully conscious.  Neill explained its about capacity and your body and mind will build capacity each time you meditate until you can handle being in the space.

As soon as I let go of my expectations of something happening; it happens!

The only way to describe right now is total exhaustion and letting go! Getting out of the mind and fully into the body. Neil described it perfectly today, he shook his water bottle and said this is the pace we normally do life, busy busy busy from one thing to the next our minds always thinking of the next thing we have no idea what is going on in our body, all the sediment that is being shaken up from the water bottle analogy is floating around in our brain and we cannot see clear enough to hear the body.

The stars are so plentiful and beautiful tonight, it makes me think of my sister and made me wonder what its like to be a pilot and drive through the stars at night. The moon looks like a cradle it reminded me of the guided meditations tonight and Neil rocking us all gently into our bodies, it was absolutely beautiful.

I feel so grateful that I have trusted in the universe and the unknown and that I am simply letting the path unfold, trusting the unknown, trusting the process, allowing it to be what it is, allowing the opening. We never really know what will come next so rather than fight life and its circumstances why not settle in and see what happens! Feeling happy, settled, grateful and exhausted!

I feel a sense of happiness, elation, lightness and excitement for the next leg of this journey. I am so happy to be moving on and onto something else. Yippeee my heart sings.

SIGH!!! A GREAT BIG SIGH!! I cannot believe I am done, I am leaving here tomorrow morning at 6am. We had a morning filled with meditation, imagine that, followed by questions and preparations for going home. I honestly cannot believe that I did it, I have this new-found admiration, appreciation and deep love for myself and my body I have honestly never felt this way before. I have a deep love (not in the sexual or relationship kind) for Neil McKinley and all that he brought to this program. If it was not for his kind words throughout the program and coming in and seemingly rescuing me  with his teachings as I was about to fall with just the right words, just enough encouragement for me to sit again and again and again. He seems to know just what to say at just the right time, he has a deeply loving and compassionate heart and he is connected to each and every one of us and deeply connected to the lineage.

The universe will only give you the next step and no matter what you can take it or not; jump off the cliff, quit the job, leave the relationship, minimize and just be happy, travel the world, one step at a time and the universe will continue to leave a trail of bread crumbs to follow, one step at a time.

I have more capacity than I EVER knew and I thought I had a lot of capacity, I have a HUGE amount of capacity, this life is my path I will continue along and follow the life that I have been called to serve.

Its my birthday tomorrow, I have a little reminder in the right hand corner of my screen, 51 years old, looking forward to this year and the next and the next and the next. If ever there was a time I believed I was on the right track, it is now!

Our final banquet is about to begin … all gusied up I am. I actually put on make up and did something with this wild mess of hair. I am wearing my red multi colored dress with white tights and I feel great. I cried today in honour of myself, absolutely moved that my body, my mind and my soul all stuck together and we got through an entire month of meditating 9 hours a day. Absolutely unbelievable feat.

The final banquet tonight, last time for chants, last time for gongs, last time for the shrine, last time for a meal prepared for me all I had to do is show up and fill my plate and eat.   It was a beautiful banquet, we ate together, we laughed together, we cried together and we now all go home to our lives. Met some wonderful people, some I never spoke with but there is a connection that will be there for ever more. I had some beautiful conversations tonight they filled me up.

Again, I am in awe of what I have done, proud beyond words, I cry when I try to explain the feeling that I have when I think of what I just went through and how gracefully I got through it, how mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting this whole experience was but in light of that it was an experience that broke my heart open on a level I have never experienced, such tenderness, such nurturing, such beauty, such honesty, such integrity, such an all-encompassing experience that I will have with me for always. This is something that I will never forget. Thank you to the Universe for always showing me the way.

Tomorrow I celebrate myself!

NOWNESS or the magic of the present moment is what joins the wisdom of the past with the present!

For a more detailed account look for my book to be released in 2018 –

A warrior’s journey – clear light liberation

 Joanne Jean Mellott



3 thoughts on “A WILD RIDE …

  1. Ha, so it was you who took the last cookie!
    I just came across your blog by accident searching for something else. I don’t normally read blogs, I usually don’t give a shit about other people’s lives and what they’re doing, but I read your entire account of your time in Crestone. I was there the last two weeks. So much of it is dead on target based on my experience too. We never met, because, well, we seldom got to talk. Nonetheless, great account of your time there and I’m glad I missed the woman with the rubber shoes! Sorry you got burglarized and BTW I grew up with alligators in my backyard (ref. your Costa Rica trip). No kidding. We have them in the sloughs and creeks of East Texas where I grew up.

    Anyway, great reading. Perhaps we’ll meet next time in Crestone. (Oh, and I made it through without a cold! Not sure how.)


    1. Hey Scott thanks for writing. It seems so long ago now that we were there. It is a bit of a bummer that we do t actually get to share our experiences along the way at the retreat although I understand why it would have been nice to commiserate with others sharing similar experiences. At the time, in my own head I thought I was simply the only one, everyone else looked like they had it all together! Perhaps our paths will cross again …


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