When I finished my last day as a Network Systems Administrator, and stepped off the cliff into creating my own business, I knew that the change was huge. I have always believed that 80% of just about everything in life is mental, so I knew I needed to shift my mindset before I dug into the business, in order to give it the best possible chance of succeeding. The method I chose for doing this was to go on a three day retreat in Viroqua, Wisconsin.
Viroqua is in what is termed The Driftless Region of Wisconsin. Technically, the driftless region is defined by the fact that glaciers did not leave any of their mess behind. Boulders, silt and sand are called “drift,” and so none of this was left decorating the region when the glaciers last melted. Practically, it encompasses a region with gorgeous landscape, deep river valleys, and amazingly uplifting natural aesthetic influences.
The natural beauty makes this a perfect place for a retreat. Lucky for me, I already knew of a place that would fit my list of requirements: Moderately isolated, “off the grid,” and preferably friendly to my spiritual path. Stone Light is a place I found a few years ago. I have hiked its paths before, and recommended it to many a friend, but this was my first opportunity to take up residence there, myself!
Stone Light is not huge, but don’t be fooled by its size. Steve, the owner, has gone through a lot of effort to create paths and features to draw you into the natural setting. We are not talking untouched wilderness here, but a natural beauty enhanced with a blessing here and there. You might be walking through the woods and come across a bowl on a tree stump that is lined with 100 or more small crystals. There are rocks placed near the path that look like nature carved them into shapes such as a person praying. There is a labyrinth, an outdoor altar space, and so much more. What there isn’t is electricity and the electro-magnetic interference that goes with it. Nor will you find running water in the cabins. Instead, the Amish-built cabins are accompanied by a nearby outhouse. Steve opens a portion of his home to the retreaters so that a shower can be had the morning after hiking in the woods all day. It was very appreciated!
I arrived on Monday and explored the town a bit before heading up to the retreat. There is a food co-op, a rock shop and a few restaurants to enjoy. I hit the co-op and picked up a few things to take to the cabin with me. Nothing that needed refrigeration, of course. I was going off the grid and excited to be doing so!
I had brought a bunch of crystals to enhance the goal of my retreat, which was releasing the past and being open to the new life I wanted to lead. The cabin had a few crystals of its own, so I was able to use them to set up a wonderful grid after calling in the directions and creating my sacred space. I felt very comfortable and “at home” in the space. This allowed me to do the rituals and practices I needed over the course of the three days I was there.
I read. I journaled. I did lots and lots of meditating, especially outside. Initially, I focused on release, but by the end, I was opening myself up to the world around me and pulling energy from the Earth. The last night I was there I did a wonderful Listening Meditation, where I sat outside for about an hour or so and simply listened to all the noises around me and documented them in my journal as I did so. That was actually a wonderfully opening meditation.
This retreat was everything that I had wanted it to be. It was both exhausting and rejuvenating, healing and cathartic, cleansing and enlightening. I came home on Thursday afternoon feeling like I had been scrubbed clean inside and I knew I was ready to face the new life I planned on creating. If you have never taken time to be totally alone with yourself – no tv, no phone, no internet – I highly recommend it. Facing yourself without distraction can be challenging, but it can also be extremely rewarding!
So, here we are a week and a half later, and I can still say that the retreat did what I needed it to do. I won’t say that I feel ready to conquer the world every day, but I keep working to find the steps to create this life I want so much. Every day, I am wake up and feel like it is going to be even better than the day before. I haven’t been disappointed yet.
I am so glad that I went to Stone Light. I am also glad I went for three nights, instead of the two I had originally planned (thanks for the nudge, Ann Marie!). The only downside was realizing at one point that no electricity meant no fan to give any relief to the stifling heat that sauntered in on my second night there. (edit: Please note that the heat was part of a record-breaking heat wave socking the Midwest at the time, and not reflective of normal weather in the area! ~RnT) But then the rain came and all was well again. The energy at Stone Light is amazing. Steve goes to great lengths to enhance the healing energy of the land with judicious placement of crystals. The cabin came with its own sage stick (good thing, as I had forgotten mine!) and the book selection in the cabin gave me much food for thought. He has a variety that rotates through all the cabins and the books encompass many different faiths and approaches to spirituality. In other words, there is a little bit for almost everyone. I will definitely be going again, and hope to make this a regular ritual.
Click above for slide show images of my retreat