When I first discovered the retreat would be held in sacred silence, I wasn't so sure if I really wanted to attend. I love to talk and get to know new people, especially individuals I'll be spending several days with.
However, I pushed through my apprehension and was rewarded with a profound, deep inner-peace I have never known before. The silence turned out to be much easier than I thought it would and was actually very soothing. I was amazed at how quickly the "incessant voices" quieted in my mind just by becoming a still and silent witness to everything around me.
The environment Rick and Mary created was socially safe. Our daily schedule was well-organized and the setting at St. Crispin's Lodge was ideal. The retreat was nicely balanced between the gentle Yoga, meditation and group inquiry exercises, while still leaving us some time to explore the beautiful property and squeeze in an occasional nap. The meals were nutritious and delicious, while eating in silence transformed my taste buds and awareness of what I was actually consuming to an entirely new level.
What impressed me the most though was the gentle leadership and pure inner joy that radiated from both Rick and Mary the entire retreat. In group inquiry sessions we were never once told what we "had" to believe in, or explore, to find our own inner peace or guidance, we were only given suggestions from a rich tradition of perennial wisdom and encouraged to find the connection and truth that was pertinent to each of us as individuals on our own path of personal transformation. I highly recommend this retreat/experience to anyone who would like to plant seeds for, or reconnect with, their spiritual growth and maturation.
I was so anxious about committing to this retreat! Although I felt my motives were good, it was hard to know what to expect in terms of my own adaptability and comfort with the unknowns I was so casually waltzing into. As I have done so many times in my 65 years... I went with my heart and the almost constant reminder voice in my head on the last day to make the reservation.
The experience was almost too good to articulate... I want to so that if someone reading this will benefit half as much as I did, that they will hear this... It was pure. It was healing. It was non invasive. It was non-threatening. It was pure. It was love. It was restful. I am still resonating with the inner glow of growing a little, having hope that I can continue to grow and change and become a bit more loving as I age... Did I mention pure?
There was simply no pressure to do or be or believe anything other than to take a look inside and upward and gracefully connect the two...
Rick and Mary... thank you...
I have now worked as a clinical psychologist for slightly over thirty years. During this time there has been increasing interest in mindfulness and meditation within mainstream psychology. Within the past five years alone there have been nearly three hundred articles published in mainstream psychological journals focusing on the effects of mindfulness practice and meditation. The results in study after study have been overwhelmingly positive.
Just this month (11/08) yet another study was published showing that the type of mindfulness practice that these researchers taught not only increased mindfulness, but helped individuals to better identify their purposes in life, to increase social support, and to decrease illness symptoms. The researchers concluded that those practicing mindfulness and meditation reported increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms. This study was representative of the body of research that continues to develop.
As a result of reading such studies, I decided to attend a workshop for mental health professionals on mindfulness, conducted by Mary. I was struck not only with the content of the workshop, but also Mary's presence during the workshop. During the workshop she mentioned that she and her husband, Rick, conduct weekend silent meditation retreats.
After I got home I told my wife about the workshop and downloaded some of the information for us to read. Neither of us had practiced meditation nor were we acquainted with mindfulness except in the theoretical sense. We both decided to attend, not for professional purposes, but rather as something that we thought might be helpful to us and to our relationship.
The retreat far exceeded our expectations. The beauty of St. Crispin's retreat center, the environmental quiet (not even any traffic noise), and the social silence provided the perfect setting for this experience. I do not need to describe all that we did during the retreat - the website does this well - but I think that it is important for potential attendees to know the authenticity that Rick and Mary bring to the workshop. These are two wonderful people who clearly walk-the-walk, and showed us day-after-day how practice can be transforming.
My wife and I have continued regular practice since we have returned home. We believe that we have embarked on a very positive new journey, and we would encourage anyone reading this letter to attend this retreat.
Joseph A. P, Ph.D.
I have never been on a meditation retreat before this one, and I was a little concerned that it might be more rigorous than I was ready for.
It was gentle.
I was concerned that it might be full of far-out, flaky, or fanatical teaching.
It was intelligent.
I wondered if I would be pushed into doing things that I didn't feel comfortable with.
It was respectful.
I hoped that I would learn to meditate better.
I wanted to get to know myself better, to see what was behind some of my thoughts and feelings, and to be able to let go of the past.
I did all that and more.
Thank you, Rick and Mary, for sharing your gifts and your love.
Now retired, I have been going to spiritual retreats since I was a teenager to get closer to God. They have all been beneficial, giving encouragement, honing spiritual disciplines, and bringing wisdom. The most recent retreat with Rick and Mary NurrieStearns, was one of the two or three most profoundly transforming of my life.
Rick and Mary are a great team, being themselves very transparent and open. Then they provide an environment that is amazingly conducive to interior openness. Yoga, social silence, meditation indoors and out, times of inquiry/sharing, play, and free time to journal, walk, and reflect provided a safe place for all of us to let Love and Light illumine both the dark and divine parts of our being. The result for me was connecting to my True Self in ways that continue to unfold, bringing peace and congruence to every aspect of my life and being.
This November, 2007 I participated in what I believe was my fifth personal transformation retreat with Rick and Mary NurrieStearns.
I have participated in many similar events including ones in Ireland and Oregon led by an internationally known spiritual leader. The registration and travel expenses made those considerably more costly. And I can honestly say that I have been to no better spiritual enrichment experience than Rick and Marys.
It is an amalgam of each part of the retreat combined to make this a powerful experience. The silence, the introspective inner journaling, the yoga, the variety of meditative experiences: sitting, walking, eating and music, offer different perspectives and angles of exploring the inner world. With the experiences and expert guidance of the NurrieStearns, all worked in harmony to make the weekend unforgettable.
Finally, the setting of 400 acres of densely forested rolling hills of Oklahoma surrounds the modern and splendid lodges and rooms. Two small lakes and miles of hiking trails provide inspirational space for solitude, writing and contemplation.
I whole heartedly recommend this experience to anyone on a personal journey on the spiritual path.
I found your retreat or maybe I should say your retreat found me a year and a half ago when I had many challenges in my life. That retreat was the catalyst for a huge shift in consciousness which has radically transformed the way I view life and "problems."
This weekend was my third retreat. The gift of stillness continues to remind me of who I truly am. I appreciate your depth, teaching, encouragement and humor.
Thank you for a warm and healing retreat. Your gentle and caring teaching helped me heal greatly.
I arrived physically and emotionally depleted but I am leaving refreshed and restored.
I have also greatly enjoyed the beauty of the surroundings.
May God bless you in your ministry of healing and keep you well.
For years I have heard "there is a power in the quiet". I never fully understood this. After my experience this weekend I now truly know there is a special magic in the stillness.
The retreat was lovely, lovely, lovely...
Tough, but lovely.
Be blessed, V.B.
Bless the spirit that helps you manifest these retreats.
Feel the love in this room!
We appreciate your work.
Thank you for a wonderful retreat which allowed me to remember The Truth of Who I Really Am. Your wisdom and ability to be in the present moment created a space for me to return to wholeness.
Saskia, Tulsa, OK
I have decided to send you an email tonight letting you how much I learned, enjoyed, felt, cried and connected with myself and everyone else there.
I heard you invite the group to chant Allah, Amen, Shalom honoring all religions. Even though I am not a practicing Moslem once I heard the word "Allah" tears rolled down. I felt nostalgic and so connected to my divine at that moment as if something touched me so deeply that I could no longer keep it a secret. When you read Rumi and Rubieh I wept. My heart was touched so deeply by the energy, respect, caring, authenticity, love, wisdom, sharing and the encouragements. I am so very humbled by the experience of this weekend. I had been so wrapped up with the routines of my everyday life that I did not realize how tired and off centered I had been. Driving to the retreat something shifted knowing that I was going to be spending some time in silence. No energy was going to be needed having to be engaged with anyone in a superficial level, I savored the sensations of that joy while I drove. Being a Mystic from Iran I felt blessed to have spent the weekend with beautiful minds and souls from all walks of life, ethnicities, religions, connecting so very deeply with one another: In a period of 8 minutes I knew a beautiful soul better and deeper that someone I had spend my whole life with. Practiced the most spiritual yoga and listened to the most soothing and nourishing music, my soul wept to the beauty of it. Mary and Rick share with us their energy and experience to point to the path and the magic of being in the now; feeling the present moment and calling it by its name whatever it is. The vastness of our souls is pointed out and that we are greater and bigger than our stories. Rick and Mary are present to meet everyone in a space which are no stories and judgments and that is what is taught in such simple words and ways. The weekend is all one needs to come home and to crack the heart open so the truth and the light would pour out. I feel so blessed to have been there this weekend.
I have now completed two retreats with Rick and Mary, and found each one to be very restful, calming, and a way to deepen my learning about my own life. The atmosphere is relaxed and safe emotionally, the surroundings are genuine and beautiful, and the people lovely. I would encourage you to "retreat" into a new way of growing and connecting.
When I learned the retreat would be in silence, I first thought how interesting, odd and how hard it would be. I struggled at first because it is my nature to fill silence by getting to know the people around me, hearing their stories about their journey. By lunch the first day I realized how freeing it was to be in silence. I didn't have to get to know anybody except myself. Nobody's journey was more important than my own. This is a retreat that magnifies the importance of ourselves which only helps us in our interactions with others.
Eight years ago I was delivered from an alcohol addiction and sometimes struggle with anxiety.
At my first retreat, I realized that I was lacking an inner disciple to calm my mind.
Through meditation, inquiry, nature walks and yoga, I've seen a gradual transformation of my being. I no longer need an artificial high. I've tapped into the natural high within me!
Thank you Mary and Rick for making such a profound difference in my life; this was my fourth retreat with you.
The silence is easier than I thought it would be. What a relief. I feel totally free, not having to meet anyone's expectations, able to just be. Within the first 24 hours, there was already a lot less chatter in my mind.
Thank you for your time and allowing us to share in your gifts.
You are truly blessed.
You are able to remember each day the simplicity of the secret of Life that God has given us.
The awesome beauty of sitting in a room filled with individuals created by God and everyone thinking they have a problem or solution and then to see . . . as though a switch is being turned on in each one all around the room... one light bulb after another.
Our minds have been programmed by teachers TV, music, society, marketing... that's scary.
Our hearts (sweet spirit) have been a gift from God. Which one should you listen to?
Thank you. K
The silence, the meditation defined the place from which we truly draw our energy, nothingness, soul. When ego emerges, I smile sometimes, other times I suffer over its nonsense, but there is a stronger sense of the void, derived from the silence, and I have it to return to, thanks to the work we did.
Thank you for the most meaningful retreat I've every attended! I have 12 employees on our staff and I used some of the issues we discussed in the retreat in our staff meetings and it has been so helpful to see each person grow and to enrich their lives which will enrich the lives of our whole team. Since we see each other more than we do our families we need to have a love and respect for each other. The inquiry questions in the retreat were so moving and they caused one to do a soul search. Thank you for your time and to bring us back to where we really are and focus on what is real and what our charter says about us. (the blue-print of our souls)
You have not only helped me but you have now touched the lives of others and their families.
Thank you and May God Bless!!!
I was skeptical, hesitant, and cynical. I mean, how could I attain profound self acceptance in three days? That's basically 48 hours if you subtract sleeping and eating time. But I decided to buy into the idea and see if anything magical would squirm its way out of my judgmental brain.
Something magical did happen: My awareness expanded my mind and body grew peaceful and still, my racing thoughts slowed to a snail's pace, and my own breath calmed and comforted me. Best of all, I learned to eat in a more mindful and appreciative way, a way that led me to supreme satiation and fullness.
Bravo to Rick and Mary, they compliment each other so well. Their teaching style is warm and generous. They have a way of bringing out the best in people; leading us to observe our essence which in turn helps us to realize our true potential.
Thank you so much for this weekend, for having it, for all the work and thought you put into planning it, for helping me understand something about how and why to meditate, for the inquiry and meeting space, the process was wonderful, for the different kinds of meditation, each helped me to find a treasure.
And the stillness, inside and out. I hope to keep that with me forever.
Thank you. We did create a sacred space for personal exploration, mutual sharing and finding our common humanity.
In stillness and peace.
Mary and Rick are deeply steeped in what they teach. They are a great team. Know the right questions to facilitate openness to what we need to know.
Love the schedule, lots of meditation, silence, excellent meeting, timed with brief focused presentation, then incredible inquiries. Great choices of music and poetry. Yoga was helpful. My whole being was addressed and blessed.
A new sense of spiritualism, the from within idea, the peace that comes from the Truth, Good, Real. Giving up control by the mind that hinders real inner peace. A practical recognition of the culture in which we live. The shared experiences of the group. A deeper sense of humorous realism, honesty, playfulness, and celebration which was so frequently and sometimes surprisingly expressed by Mary. That take me away by leaving me right where I am feeling.
The vessel created by the facilitators and participants was sacred and for me , I got in touch with the Love that is the source of all. I felt that Love more deeply in everyone and everything during this weekend than ever before. I am so grateful and so in love.
I loved the structure of meditation, satsung, silence. It made the time expand. I feel like this weekend took place in a month. The space created by stillness needs to be re-addressed periodically because the world we live in creates too much noise, and too much distraction, and too much call for immediacy, without being still in the present.
I loved your joy of sharing. It was obviously well prepared, years of experience show themselves as do years of reading and thought. The offering was sincere and from the heart and I felt the generosity of your beings as well as your vitality.
I wanted to thank you again for such an amazing week-end; I look forward to future retreats.
I will be keeping track of what is going on through your web site, thanks again for everything.
Thanks for facilitating the retreat.
Roberta and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My body and spirit were calmed and nurtured. The retreat was a special gift.
Receiving space, being in space is a necessity for wholeness. Your retreat provided the participants inner and outer space. Stillness and quiet allows one to heal.
I look forward with pleasure to be available to calmness and self-exploration now and on the next retreat.
Thanks for your insight.
Be the Smile,
The retreats has become a sacred place for me.
It is a place I meet with my True Self and the Divine One. The experience is a blessing of resting in a tranquil, quiet environment. It is a place for me to connect with nature and the Universe.
Thank you, Rick and Mary!
The retreat was:
Revealing of Inner Self
Joyful and Inspiring
The yoga was outstanding
The walks were wonderful
The group meetings were inspiring and enlightening
What a beautiful retreat. "Transformative," I believe you named it. It certainly has lived up to its name.
I just want to thank you for sharing your time, your hearts, your expertise, and your practices. It's been a wonderful experience for me.
I hope to meet you here again.
Love and contentment,
With full awareness of this wonderful body of mine I thank you for a retreat that far exceeded my expectations. My fear of the unknown regarding yoga practice and meditation had kept me immobilized kept me from exploring fully my desire to begin yoga and meditation.
You gracefully and gently have shown me that there is no "standard" to be met or "perfect" way of doing either practice. To "show up for my appointment" is a gift I alone can give to myself.
I am restored and healed of some destructive patterns of thought that were keeping me from going further on this journey of enlightenment and grace.
I was anxious coming into the retreat because I'm new at yoga and meditation. My fear was am I doing either of them right? Immediately the answer was given there is no wrong way for yoga or meditation - a sigh of relief.
I looked to the stars beyond
Then I felt my heart
And found the stars with
And connected to the stars beyond.
I'm still on the journey. Thanks for showing me the path which I always knew.
Thank you for a lovely retreat, inspiration and joy that you give.
Blessings to you both.
Hope to see you next time.
Thank you Rick, Mary and everyone in the group for creating a warm and gentle day yesterday.
The guidance to open the heart, connect to the comfort and stillness in the core, and separate from some stories was truly restorative and transformative.
Yesterday was a lovely celebration of my birthday. My body said it was a party! I felt welcomed and befriended moment by moment.
Your Retreat was just what we both needed after a rough winter. I thought it a safe, well-organized and effective event set in the peacefully attractive surrounding of St. Crispin's Lodge. I was uplifted by the personal transformations that I witnessed where attendees were able to achieve a measure of internal peace and relaxation with the physical and mental tools that you provided. We returned home with all the help we need.
This retreat is a wonderful break from our outer life and a safe place to look at our inner life.
Focusing on joy, kindness and inner peace for three days in a beautiful and quiet location is amazingly restorative.
I was not certain what I would encounter on the retreat. I only knew I wanted to be open to the possibilities. I found the space and time in the rich quiet to explore how to integrate my Catholic Christian religious practices with my very new, beginning mindfulness and meditative practices. Thank you for allowing me the gift of service to my co-retreatants. This was a very worthwhile experience indeed, one I hope to carry in my mind and heart for some time.
This is my third retreat with Rick and Mary. Their facilitation through spontaneity, kindness, vulnerability and playfulness has resulted in many helpful insights for me. I enjoy the spaciousness of being in silence, in nature, and in a conversation of mutual inquiry.
Thanks so much.
My trip to Italy was cancelled so at the same time I saw the meditation/yoga retreat at St. Crispin's. It was a great retreat without all of the hassle of flying. I got to climb two mountains, discover a cave and walk down to the lake.
I was delighted and surprised that, at almost 79 years old, I was able to enjoy a 20 minute Sufi experience. As I slowly whirled, while looking at my hand, I saw the sun shining, when I faced it, and then darkness, when my body shadowed the sun.
The food was great, better than at home, even though it was not Italian.
I had never been to a meditation retreat before so when I heard it would be held mostly in silence I panicked. I wasn't sure it was for me; however, I decided to give it a chance. I was greatly relieved to find how soothing and comforting it is to just be still and listen. My heart rate has come down and I have discovered the gift of silence and calm in my mind. I hope to carry this into my life outside of here and maybe help others in my family to gain the gift of peace.
Thank you, Mary and Rick