During Your Retreat
Tara Mandala’s cabins are very remote and offer a wonderful opportunity for solo practice. As such, they are also very rustic. There is no running water in any of the cabins. The cabins are located between 7000-8000ft elevation and can be cold at night, even during summer months.
If this is your first private retreat at Tara Mandala, a support staff will check in with you personally on the second or third day of your retreat, if desired. After that, written communication will be checked once a week throughout your stay. Once you are in the cabin, please do not leave the land, but maintain your retreat without visits to town or the office, except in an emergency. In the same way, in order to preserve the quality of silence, it is strongly requested that you do not use a cell phone or play audio with the exception of practice materials you may be using. There is no wifi access for solitary retreatants.
Check in time is strictly between 2-3:30 pm on Mondays and Fridays. Upon arriving you will be greeted by a Tara Mandala staff member. You will transfer all items you need for your retreat into a Tara Mandala vehicle and will be driven as close to your cabin as possible. During summer months, most cabins are accessible by vehicle, however in winter months you will have to hike all items in. Hikes vary from ¼ – ½ of a mile, often through thick mud, snow, or ice. Tara Mandala staff will give you a brief orientation to the cabin before leaving you to your retreat. Click here for directions to Tara Mandala.
If you’re not familiar with using a wood stove, be sure to ask for instructions on how to keep the stove warm and safe. Wood and an axe will be provided; you will make your own kindling. General guidelines include using a lighter wood (such as pine) for kindling and fire starter. You can also collect dead twigs and branches for kindling. After a base of coals has been established, oak may be introduced. Newspaper, plain paper, and pine cones make excellent fire starters. Burning cardboard, colored paperboard (cereal box material), or colored paper is not recommended. When burned, colored inks release toxins.
Water & Bathing
All cabins have water catchment systems or access to water from our artisanal well. This water can be used for washing but not for drinking. It must be boiled or filtered before drinking or using for meal preparation. Each cabin has a high quality water filtration system for you to use with the catchment water and/or snow. You may bring bottled water if you prefer.
There is no running water and no access to a shower. Most cabins include a solar or battery powered shower. You may prefer to bring your own camp shower. Many retreatants choose to boil large pots of water for bathing.
All of our retreat cabins have a private outhouse or composting toilet.
Hiking on the Land
Please be aware that there are no maintained trails on the land. You are welcome to go for walks along the main road. Please know that this is a single lane, dirt and gravel road that is traversed by staff and residents and you will need to exercise caution when walking here. We request that you take a bear bell, bear horn, bear spray, and your radio when you go for a walk on the land (all are provided upon arrival). We ask that all retreatants stay on Tara Mandala’s property and do not enter the nearby subdivision. Staff will inform you of where you can walk during orientation.
All of the cabins have limited solar electricity. Depending on the amount of sun, this may be adequate for powering a laptop, but high wattage appliances or items with heating units will not work.
Pagosa Springs has limited recycling and does not recycle plastic bags or glass. Place recycling in the large container by the Community Building when you leave. We encourage you to limit your trash output as much as possible, and take any materials Pagosa Springs can not recycle home with you if your local recycling program is more inclusive.
If you will be in retreat long enough to send and receive mail, please use the following address:
P.O. Box 1983
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
As part of the grocery service, we will mail letters for you and deliver any letters or packages that arrive while you are in retreat. You will need to provide your own postage.
Phones, Wifi, and Other Electronics
Phone service is unpredictable everywhere at Tara Mandala, however many find they have cell service at the cabins. Please note that we strongly discourage the use of cell phones or any other electronics during your retreat, as this is a precious opportunity for you to unplug. If you need to use your phone to contact a teacher or listen to a recorded Dharma teaching, you may do so. The small amount of solar power in the cabins is sufficient for charging phones and other small devices. We will not charge phones or other electronic devices for you. There is no wifi access for solitary retreatants.
Keep in Mind
- Keep garbage can firmly closed and indoors at all times.
- Do not leave food lying around outside (even scraps) to keep from encouraging rodents, bears, etc.
- Never leave candles unattended.
- Do not leave mattresses outside in case of sudden storms.
We encourage you to arrange for your own spiritual guidance during retreat as needed. As noted above, you will likely have cell service at your cabin and this will be the best method of contact with your teacher. If there is a resident teacher on the land at Tara Mandala, we will do our best to schedule an interview for you if desired. Please communicate this request to the retreat care person prior to entering retreat. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate this request.
Tara Mandala is located in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains at 7,600 – 8,100 feet. The year-round weather varies tremendously. We recommend checking a weather website (look for a trip planner) to learn about weather patterns for the time you are in retreat. The coldest months of the year are December and January, with highs in the 10’s – 30’s and lows below zero. Snow cover is typical December – mid-March, and large storms of up to 3 feet of snow are not unheard of. We have over 300 sunny days per year. Summer months are warm, with highs in the 90’s and lows in the 50’s. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in August and September.
You will be supplied with a radio for life threatening emergencies. Instructions for use will be given at check-in and written instructions are in each cabin.
If needed for an urgent medical condition, you may use the phone in the upstairs office of the main building to dial 911. Pagosa Springs has a small hospital with an Emergency Room, ambulance and air lift services, as well as a Primary Care Clinic. It is about a 30 minute drive from Tara Mandala.
Pagosa Springs Medical Center: (970) 731-3700
Clinic: (970) 731-9545
95 S. Pagosa Blvd, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
If you would like to give an emergency phone number to friends or family, please use (970) 731-3711. This line is checked regularly M-F.
As You Depart
Please review and complete the check-out form before you depart. You will receive this form when you arrive on the land. We welcome your comments and feedback on your retreat experience.
Please consider offering a donation to Tara Mandala for the continued maintenance of the retreat cabins and general support of our mission. Tara Mandala is a nonprofit organization. Our lifeblood is the donations of those who are inspired to support us. Please consider becoming a member of Tara Mandala by joining our Sustaining Sangha.