UPDATE from website of francis ananda love 10 oct 2017
Lynn B writes beautifully about her experience in the long term mediation cave at Samadhi Hermitage.
I corresponded extensively with one of the trustees Ananda and he assures me that the cave is ideal for dark retreating, as the skylight need only be covered with dark fabric or paper. It has been used as a darkroom retreat more than once over the years. as natural building can change over time, i would check with the person who is managing the cave at the moment and ask them to test so that they know that it is still light-proof.
Read Ananda’s article on Meditating for Long Enough, a recipe for enlightenment.
the Logistics, contact details are here.
Image Gallery of building project. Long-Term cave at Samadhi Hermitage
I don’t know where to begin to tell you about my month in New Mexico at Samadhi cave. I’m sure most people would find it rather boring and would never understand why I would go into isolation with a vow of silence on purpose. The hardest thing about this whole experience has been the questions people ask, which I cannot answer. Maybe that is as it should be, because this is a very personal experience. Not that I would not try to explain it, but rather because everyone experiences things in their own way, in their own time. Every person is living their own unique experience and try as I might to explain myself, I realize few would understand why I felt led to do this or what I accomplished.
I will attempt to explain for you, because I know you have a genuine caring about such things. I have meditated over the years, for me it has been a revelation and my salvation. In this world of form that we live in, the only way to connect with our formless essence and the essence of God/Goddess is to turn our attention within and seek what is real and eternal. Why not seek God in the outward world we live in, many may ask. I would say yes you can observe and seek God there, but it is very easy to become confused with information that bombards us from all directions. How does one get to the clarity and deep feeling of peace while living in a confusing seemingly unfair world? There are those that through deep prayer and conviction find what gives them a peace of mind, but I never found that alone sufficient. Who am I, why do I exist here in this world, these were never answered by my traditional religious upbringing.
This brings me back to going within to that place of quietude and training the mind to drop all thoughts and focus on being fully present. About 99.9% of the time our mind is either thinking of past events or about something in the future, even if it’s only, “how much longer do I have to sit here and meditate”. When we finally get to that point of being fully present, such joy and peace will flow through us, that we would be happy in that place forever. This I cannot explain, it’s an experience that each person may experience it in a little different manner.
It was harder to leave Bill at the airport than I thought it would be. It was hard leaving behind everyone and everything I was sitting on the plane just sort of in a place of , “what in the world am I doing”?? I wasn’t in the best frame of mind at that point. As we took off a little girl sitting right behind my seat I guess around 4, was loving every minute of her trip. She was laughing and squealing with delight as the plane took off. Once up, she was so full of joy imploring her parents to look out the window talking about everything, asking her parents if we could land on one of the puffy clouds. As I listened to her, my spirits lifted and I joined her in awe and wonder, and I recognized her as my teacher and messenger in that moment.
I arrived in Alburqueque New Mexico. Francis met me at the airport. It was not hard to pick him out. Although his hair was long and looked different from your average middle class american, he was so gentle and sweet and I felt quite at ease in a short time. I found out more about his life as we drove an hour out to his place. From what I learned, I was feeling more and more respect for this person. He had thrown away everything most of us hold dear, to search for what he considered the only true goal in this world – Self realization and service to humanity. He did not say that in so many words, but this is what I knew after spending a month there. I came to know him as if I had met someone in the order of St. Francis of Assisi.
The samadhi “cave” was a round rock room of about 12′ x 12′ with special imbedded crystals and four enclaves lined up to the four cardinal directions. In the top center of the ceiling was a pyramid-shaped sky light. In the enclaves were symbols of all the worlds religions, each enclave contained the glow of a soft light which emphasized the crystals and the objects inside. It was a unique place, but this was not a place of luxury. I realize that’s a relative term depending on where your coming from. The bed was a plywood platform with a flat cushion. The first couple of days I woke up all during the night with aching hips and bones not used to the hardness. I used a small woodstove to keep the room warm and if not carefully controlled the room would become a sweat lodge. A small sink was in the room but other bathroom facilities was an outhouse, a short distance outside. For showers I would have to go down to the main house. This was to be the place I would spend a whole month, with no outside contact, and with minimal contact with Francis and Molly.
Looking back I can see how the first couple of days I was adjusting to my new environment. I was not going into meditation much at first, because I felt the need to become familiar with my surroundings before I could relax. So I did some reading of books there in the cave and sat outside observing and writing in my journal. These were my hardest days. I did not see how I was going to last a month of this. I already missed home and worried about everything and everyone I had left. After a couple of days, I finally settled into meditation and felt a letting go and a peace descend upon me.
It was so quiet in the cave. Being underground most of the outside sounds were muted. I could hear the wind blow across the top of the stove windpipe and birds if they were close to the door or skylight. One evening I had gone into meditation and all was still and quiet. Suddenly I heard a loud crack. I levitated about three feet off the bed where I was sitting, not expecting this noise. My eyes popped open and it took a minute to realize it was just the ceiling boards adjusting. Relieved, I went back into meditation. Over the days my senses became more and more acute. I could hear the tiniest sounds, or smell moisture in the air or catch the movement of a lizard on a log a hundred feet away. My body was going through a cleansing also. I was eating all organic food, 98% of it being raw. Every morning I had a fruit smoothie drink, lunch was a small salad, and evening was a protein bar with an orange. A couple of times I had cooked brown rice with steamed carrots. Although I was hungry at times, this was enough for me because I was doing nothing but sitting for hours a day. Now I see why yogi’s don’t have to eat much.
Another evening I was meditating and I could hear this subtle chewing noise. I had not seen one bug or any other type live creature in the cave so I wondered what was making this sound. Deep in meditation I heard a buzz in my left ear. My eyes popped open because this was so unexpected. I almost felt I had imagined it, so back I went into meditation trying to concentrate. Of course my mind did not want to cooperate at that point because I couldn’t stop thinking about what had buzzed me. After a few minutes I heard it again and this time I felt something try to land on my head. Well, I went into a flailing motion at whatever it was and jumped to turn the lights on. As I was standing there eating an orange I looked around the cave, wondering what had interrupted me.
Again almost thinking my imagination was playing tricks on me until I saw a brown thin insect on the ceiling. I knew I’d never be able to meditate wondering if it would dive bomb me again, so I had to send it on it’s journey to the next world. Over the next few evenings the same thing happened until I realized these things were chewing on the firewood stacked inside the cave and coming out during the evenings to locate my head and buzz around it. I took all the firewood out of the room and then did a complete bug hunt dispatching at least eight of the little culprits. I later found out these were the notorious pine beetles destroying pines across the country. [Ananda has since removed the wood stove, replacing it with a gas heater.]
My days fell into a rhythm. I ‘d get up when I saw the sunlight touch the pyramid skylight in the mornings, around 7:30 to 8 am. The skylight was lined with stain glass, and the as the sun shone through it during the day, different colors would reflect onto the wall of the cave. Being there so long, I could almost tell what time it was by looking at the light reflected on the wall. After breakfast down at the main house, I would come back up and do some yoga for awhile before I would go into my morning meditations. Then I would go outside for awhile to write or read, then have lunch around 1 or 2 pm. After lunch I would again stretch and exercise before going into meditation again. I would break and go sit outside, just to observe and contemplate until evening around 6:00, when I would meditate as the light coming through the skylight slowly dimmed into night.
Nothing was set for me, I was not told when or how long to meditate, everything was up to me. I felt grateful for my time in that place and knew I had been given a chance to spend time in a closeness with the divine that I had never attained before in this lifetime. The days passed and I was full of happiness. All worries left me, I dwelt in a place of divine grace. I had days of such complete joy that I wanted to stay in that place forever. These feelings were most evident when coming out of meditation. Then I would settle back into the world around me and know I had other things to do and this was just a step I had taken on the path of understanding.
My last day arrived and as I went into meditation for the last time, I wondered if I would be able to let my thoughts go about going home, etc. After some prayers, my meditation began. I lost all consciousness of my physical body, I knew my existence did not rely on that physical part of myself. I cannot explain where I was or exactly what happened during that time in meditation, all I knew was that I was connected to the greatest love I had ever felt. I did not sense the passing of time or anything else of the physical nature, I only knew that love enveloped me and when I finally did come back to this 3rd dimensional reality, tears of gratitude were streaming down my face.
May all beings enjoy such peace, gentleness, freedom, bliss and love.