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furnace mountian zen center: 4 day silent retreat

2015 August 24
by dena

IMG_9112i flew into kentucky wednesday afternoon and got picked up from the airport by a friend of the furnace mountain zen master (clay was his name and he’s something crazy, like an 11th generation kentuckian. very cool guy). turns out clay and i had the same sense of humor and common interests like lack of flossing, spotify, and simple BORING health food. stranger, but fast friend. not even kidding, i LOVE really uneventful vegan meals and turns out clay does too. (there were so many times during this trip that i thought “wow, anyone else i know would so not like this” but i did. so many things, like boring health food, were so me and so freakin meant to be) (i know thats kind of a vague statement, and i wish i could think of more examples, but you’ll just have to trust me) so blah blah. clay picked me up, went to his house in louisville, made some gazpacho from local cucumbers and then headed to the retreat center a few hours away. (wow eating local and practicing zen, i’m too cool for school. bleh)

i met all the people who live there and then stayed wednesday night alone in one of the log cabins. i used the internet, kept up with my snapchat (whoop whoop 56 day fire streak with nick!) talked during dinner and basically just hung out. then thursday came and i sat in the morning and then did my work excange chores. (my biggest chore was ironing the like 40million cloth napkins – see picture below) starting in the early afternoon, the rest of the guests started arriving and BLIP talking and internet and even journaling + reading (except i’m bad and snuck my david sedaris book during alone breaks in my loft room) were over and it was almost complete silence for the next 3 1/2 days.

IMG_9122our schedule was: wake up at 5:30am // 6-8am chanting + sitting + walking meditation  // 8am communal (silent) breakfast (oatmeal + toppings) // 8:30-9:30am work period // 10-12:30pm sitting + dharma talk (pretty much like a lecture with your eyes closed) + sitting + walking meditation // 12:30-1pm vegetarian lunch (four bowls  method and silent) 1-2:30pm lunch clean up + free time // 2:30-4:30pm sitting and interviews with zen master // 4:30 -6pm personal practice time // 6-7pm optional dinner // 7-9pm chanting + sitting + free walking // 9:30pm retire.

things i learned on this leg of my trip: being silent isn’t as difficult as you’d think. your mind is a very powerful thing + sitting still for any amount of time once your leg has fallen asleep is HELL. jelly shoes are a great alternative to rain boots – not even kidding. when talking/reading/internet is with held from you, meals become really really exciting. singing in korean isn’t all that hard. biting off hang nails is a great way to spend free time and actually something to look forward to in between 30 minutes sessions of sitting silent and still.





IMG_9266if i thought the log cabin i was staying in was exceptionally beautiful, then words can’t even describe the temple. it was incredible and by just walking inside the door i felt an immediate sense of calm.


IMG_9633(the second to last picture were taken on the long and winding road to the retreat center. the center is located on the edge of daniel boone national forest // foot hills of the appalachin/great smokey mountains and the drive way out of the world beautiful. and the last one is a picture of this little shanty shack i saw while driving, clay said no one actually lives there but i could have sworn i saw someone staring at me from the cracked door. it was super spooky.)

if you’re interested at all in doing a zen retreat i so SO recommend furnace mountain. talk to me in real life // email me and i’ll answer all your questions + talk you into taking your next trip here. it was an very rewarding way to spend a few days in the mountains.

also – get ready for a rock climbing post + a few days in NASHVILLE post coming later this week.


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