Open Desert, Open Mind

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Oct 29th, 2022 - Nov 6th, 2022 | Death Valley, California | Scott Eberle, Silvia Talavera

Death Valley is a vast open space that stretches on for miles.  Here the scale of desolate earth and expansive sky is something to behold.  Jack Kornfield writes about the open mind in manner that might also describe this vast desert: “Clear, open, awake, without color or form, containing all things, yet not limited by them.”  What better container, what better mirror, for an expansive state of mind than the vast open space of Death Valley?  

“Open Desert, Open Mind” draws upon the wilderness-based tradition of the School of Lost Borders and the spiritual practice of sitting meditation to create a unique program for desert contemplatives.  This is neither a typical SOLB program nor a typical meditation retreat, but a blend of the two.  The usual SOLB program invites participants to spend time alone on the land to access a deeper telling of their own story (while a wide-open desert setting naturally encourages an inner stillness that supports this deeper telling).  A meditation retreat usually invites participants to move beyond the telling of stories in search of inner stillness (though often a deeper knowing of one’s own story is a gift found within that stillness).  Here we will draw on both traditions.

While this program draws some from Buddhist teachings, no particular religious orientation or spiritual affiliation is asked of participants – nor is any excluded.  That said, comfort with a regular meditation schedule is recommended.

Program Overview: During our first four days together, we will weave together a tapestry of inner and outer exploration.  Mornings will be a mix of sitting practice and council time for stories about what is coming up while sitting, with each successive morning becoming more silent than those before.  Afternoons will start with several hours alone on the land to invite clear open awareness, inside and out.  Late afternoons and evening will again be a mix of sitting and council, including time to have our stories mirrored by others.  The morning of the fifth day, participants will be sent out for a 24-hour solo fast in the desert.  After a day of reentry, we’ll then spend two full days hearing everyone’s story, inviting a mirror of each story from both the desert expanse and the two guides.   

Program Questions Contact: Scott Eberle at [email protected]

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TUITION: $800 - $1,400
DEPOSIT: $300

We have a sliding scale for our programs in an effort to make them accessible. Please pay what you are able and know that your generosity supports the affordability of all our programs. If you need financial support or a payment plan check out our scholarship fund.

Pay program deposit

This deposit signifies your commitment to the program and is deducted from the tuition balance. This is a non-refundable, non-transferable deposit that is required for enrollment.

Submit enrollment form

Once you have paid the program deposit, please fill out and submit the enrollment form below. After your enrollment form is complete, please submit all health and liability forms.

Submit Waitlist form

This program is full; however, you may add your name to the Waitlist by clicking the Waitlist button below.

Additional course details & Materials

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We will rendezvous on Saturday, October 29th, at 10 a.m. at the Visitors Center in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, moving from there to our basecamp in the backcountry. We anticipate camping together the entire week, finishing by mid-morning on Sunday, Nov. 6th. We will provide dinner the first night and the breakfast after the solo time. Otherwise, we ask everyone to come prepared to live self-sufficiently, which means bringing your own camping equipment and food for the week. More detailed logistical information will be sent out prior to the program’s start.

ADDITIONAL FEES: Camping fee of $50 will be collected at the time of the program.

You will be responsible for bringing your own food and equipment, though we can provide some gear if needed. We ask everyone to come prepared to live self-sufficiently. You will need to bring shelter and clothing suitable for a full range of inclement weather. 

To address safety concerns during the pandemic, please contact us regarding our current Coronavirus protocols as well as any current travel restrictions. These protocols may affect how you are able to travel to the program.

All participants must submit the required health and liability forms.

Following enrollment, please submit the Letter of Intent. We ask that you write a letter of intent at least a month before the program, stating your reasons for enrolling and what is calling you to attend.

If you have questions about the enrollment process contact us at [email protected] or call 760-938-3333.

There is no required reading for this program.

Tüpippüh (also known as Death Valley) is home of the Timbisha people and is the name of their ancestral and contemporary homeland. Miners came to this area in 1849 and the Timbisha’s land was stolen to create Death Valley National Monument in 1933. The Timbisha were allotted a 40-acre reservation in the park and also forced onto other reservations and into towns in the area.

To learn more about our commitment to regenerative relationships please visit Cultural Relations.