This page should contain what you need to know for a visit here. Especially read it the first time you came. And please make sure we know you’re coming!

Directions:

You can probably drive easily to 16922 Cabot Ave, Faribault, MN. GPS works about 95% of the time. If you don’t need directions, you still need to read the parking information below.

We encourage carpool, bus, and train, and will help with any of those.

From the MSP airport: Follow directions to MN-5 west or I-494 west, then turn south on I-35 and continue as below.

From the Twin Cities and north: Drive south on I-35 to the exit for Dundas/Montgomery. Go west to the traffic circle, south on Bagley 4 miles to County Road 9, east to the end at Highway 3. South on 3 about half a mile, then left on County Road 29 for 1.2 miles.

  • From Northfield or Faribault, just take Highway 3 to CR 29 east.
  • From the west/southwest: get to Faribault and follow directions.

On CR 29, drive 1.2 miles through 2 curves and turn right just as you come out of the second curve. Go 0.8 miles past houses, farm houses, a wooded area on the right, and then turn right into a gravel driveway with four house numbers.

  • From Chicago and east: go to Rochester and follow directions.

From Rochester, MN: Drive north on Hwy 52 to Zumbrota, west on 60 for 47 miles to Gates Ave (CR 23). North on Gates to Nerstrand Rd (180th St), west to Cannon City Blvd, jog left then quickly right on Crystal Lake Trail, a mile to Coe Trail, north (right) a mile to our driveway on the left. It’s marked by four mailboxes on the east, four house numbers on the west. Turn into that driveway and cross the creek to the first house.

Parking:

The first house on the left looks like a barn; that’s the place. Two parking areas:

  •  Park on the left before the house; there’s plenty of room in the drive or on the lawn. Walk south, then up the stairs to the deck and front door. On a work day there might be a need for trucks to park on the concrete pad; plenty of grass parking.
  •  There’s space for two cars near the front door, which can be reserved if you need to avoid the stairs. Drive past the house and park on the left at the garage, leaving room for another car next to you. You can see the door, on the deck.

Do NOT leave your car blocking the main driveway, or park at the neighbors, the older farmhouse on the right. There are four families sharing this driveway and we need to leave them passage.

Mindfulness practice:

We live surrounded by the support of all beings, and our practice is to be aware of that and to respond in gratitude as well as we can.

This makes for some things that often seem odd. For instance, we have no trash pickup; there is no “away” on the planet. Occasionally we’ll take a bag of trash to a friend in town but there’s an effort to just not bring those things in, and to re-use as much as possible. We can take recycling to the dump, but it’s so much easier not to bring things in – the most common problem is water in plastic bottles (which is actually not safe or healthful anyway). If you bring something in a disposable or recyclable container, we ask you to take it away with you. And nothing is absolute, it’s a direction.

We minimize use of electricity in the house, car trips to town, and the like. The house doesn’t need air conditioning, and we open and close windows and shades for natural cooling.

We drink rain water from our metal roof, filtered through the best – a Berkey water filter. (The water is fine unfiltered too, but we’re being safe.)

It’s a great opportunity to practice mindfulness with daily life – and it can feel like criticism or rules or too much trouble. So I’m writing this here in hopes of making it more opportunity and less annoyance.

For a day visit:

Bring clothing that’s appropriate for the weather, warm days and cool nights. The garden is the temple, the whole land is the monastery. Dress comfortably and respectfully.

You’re welcome to bring your own work gloves, sun hats, rain gear, but we also have some extras to share. We manage our few ticks with either rain boots or socks over pants. You’ll want sturdy tennis shoes, at least, and work or hiking boots, at best. Shorts are okay for work, but long sleeves and long pants are often best. For walking in woods or fields, I strongly recommend smooth fabrics; knits attract burrs.

We have bug stuff (herbal and poison) and bug hats in case mosquitoes and flies are in season. We do have some herbal sunscreen, or you can bring your own. Put them all on outdoors.

We don’t wear shoes inside the house; you can leave them inside the front door, or on the shoe rack at the basement door.

If we’ll be sitting zazen and you have special clothes for meditation, please bring them, otherwise meditation clothing should be loose, comfortable, and not “loud” or high-fashion.

Workdays and Work retreats:

First, read the “day visit” information. Then – A work day generally runs 9-5, with a generous lunch break and snack/water/cooling breaks as needed. If you need to leave earlier, it’s okay.

There is the option of having a mini-retreat on any work day. Here’s how: Arrive by 6 am, sit zazen one hour, then one hour of sitting or walking, inside or out, then breakfast together at 8. Donate food or a little money for breakfast. Stay for potluck supper at 5, 2 hours of sitting or walking meditation or quiet time in the evening. Silence before breakfast and after supper. You can arrange for a private talk with Shodo in the evening. If you’d like to sleep over Friday night or Saturday night, let me know in advance, and bring your stuff.

Electronics:

Some people get cell phone reception here, others don’t. Basically, this is a place where we are present with the earth and with each other, rather than plugged in online – a bit of vacation. If you need emergency access for family or other matters, talk with us and we can help.

About Gifts:

Some people like to bring a small gift. If you’re of such a mind, instead of the traditional incense or green tea, we encourage candles (white, unscented), coffee, and herb tea. Anything your heart suggests is welcome. There’s a donation bowl for money offerings. And just your presence is enough.

Disability/special needs:

Chemical sensitivities: we attempt to offer a safe place, avoiding incense and other fragrances. The cook stove is propane, and there are electromagnetic fields from wifi and the solar panels. Our wood stoves (heating and cooking) are not smoky. These are very individual matters; your questions are welcome.

 Mobility issues: All doors are 36” wide, and the main floor is pretty accessible but not officially wheelchair accessible. Two parking space are reserved for those with mobility needs. We do not yet have handrails or other bathroom help. As we develop, the building will become more accessible and we’ll have some reasonably walkable paths. Please let us know what you need, including a reserved parking spot.

 Hearing: Please ask if you need a sign language interpreter or other assistance.

Overnights:

It’s helpful if you bring your own bedding and towels; let me know if you need to borrow. Please plan to use the unscented soap, lotion, and shampoo provided; leave fragrances at home.

If you’re interested in bringing a tent and camping, let me know. There are three close spaces in the woods, primitive options remote in the woods, closer and less private spaces in orchard, fields, and the lawn. All primitive, no outhouses yet.

 Indoors sleeping: The large basement zendo has just opened, and is a backup sleeping space. Also:

  • The former zendo is now  a dormitory with space for at least four.
  • There are two bedrooms on the lower level with actual beds, plus Shodo’s room. One has a door that closes, the other has a sheet as a wall – visual privacy but not sound privacy. One of these beds is promised.
  • The nicest space here is the loft, which is also the least private. It sleeps two (up to four) on roll-up futons; we hang a curtain for visual privacy, and during retreats it doesn’t matter much.

There are two bathrooms, one shower, both on the main level and less convenient to the lower level rooms. There are plans for composting toilets both indoors and out, some day soon.

Food:

We offer healthy vegetarian food. Expect gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts – but no refined sugar. If people need meat for health reasons, we can provide it. Potlucks are wide open – anything is welcome.

Money:

If you’re coming to an event that has a fee, the usual plan is $40 per day ($80/weekend). This covers food, helps maintain and improve the building, and could possibly help hire a cook or helper if we have a large group. You can do work exchange instead if needed.

This isn’t a fancy retreat center; it’s still in process and there are plenty of missing parts. Your contributions cover expenses and help us move slowly forward. As teacher and manager, I’m a volunteer supporting this process.

We’re in the old Buddhist tradition of dana – generosity – in which the teachings are offered freely, and those who benefit from them offer material things, including money, to support the teaching. If you want, you can make a tax-deductible contribution to Mountains and Waters Alliance, or a simple donation. Your labor, skilled or not, is also always welcome.

Retreats:

As you get ready, gathering supplies and disentangling yourself, also let your mind slow down a little. This is a way of beginning the retreat before it begins. Actually read the “practical details” such as directions and parking, and the written narrative below – which includes practical information while offering something of the feel of the weekend.

We’ll be silent most of the time, to allow ourselves to settle into the deep listening and communicating that naturally happens away from the chatter of industrial society. In support of this, prepare for being mostly offline: As much as possible, finish things up, don’t bring work with you, persuade children or friends to get along without you for 48 hours. Family will be able to reach you.

Here’s an average retreat schedule. To allow this experience to work for you and for all of us, please plan to attend all activities unless you are actually unable, and let us know when you can’t.

Friday:

    • 6-7 arrive and get settled (earlier if you are camping or if you are helping). Find your sleeping place and be ready to join the circle at 7. Choose your “temple jobs” – two bits of about half an hour each.
    • 7-9 orientation, sharing circle, meditation instruction, meditation

Saturday:

    • 5:30 wake – on your own
    • 6 sitting meditation in zendo
    • 6:50 walking meditation outdoors
    • 8 breakfast, free time
    • 9:30 sitting meditation indoors
    • 10:00 Dharma talk, discussion – may include outdoors time
    • 11:30 sitting, walking, or quiet time
    • 12:30 lunch
    • work practice or more sitting
    • 6:00 supper
    • 7:00 sitting or walking meditation (indoors or out); private interviews; or Dharma talk

Sunday:

    • 5:30 wake – on your own
    • 6 -1 like Saturday
    • 1:00 packing up, final cleanup
    • 2:00 sharing circle and closing ceremony

Sesshin:

This is an intensive meditation retreat in the style of my teacher, Shohaku Okumura, and his teacher Kosho Uchiyama. At his temple, we sit from 4 am to 9 pm with three meal breaks. Here, we sit from 6 am to 9 pm with three meal breaks, and we allow participants to take periods of walking meditation instead of sitting.

The practice of just sitting opens a space for allowing our noisy minds to settle down and open to the movement of the universe. I recommend it strongly.

Usual sesshin schedule begins 7-9 Friday, continues 6 am – 9 pm Saturday, and 6 am – 3 pm Sunday, concluding with a closing circle.

I so look forward to meeting and spending this time with you.