Our main accommodations consist of small, single bed meditation huts called “Kutis,” which are the equivalent of monk’s cells in a monastery. A pillow, sheets, blanket, and mattress are provided, so the kutis are really quite comfortable. Each has a heater – either electric or propane. The more distant “eco-kutis” are not electrified but have propane heat. We also offer (at slightly cheaper rates) a number of canvas tents, large and small, set on wooden platforms. The larger tents include beds and bedding but if you wish to occupy one of the smaller tents, you must bring your own bedding, as only a bed and mattrass are supplied. There are no heaters in any of the tents, so they are only usable in the warmer weather season (May to September), but in all other regards they are are clean and comfortable, much more spacious than most store-bought camping tents. Bathrooms consisting of toilets, sinks and showers, are shared with others in a centrally located washhouse. The washhouse also contains a massage room; massages can be pre-arranged when you register for an additional fee.
Food served at the Hermitage is fresh, sumptuous, and healthily vegetarian, with organic or locally-grown farm products served as much as possible. It makes us happy when non-vegetarian visitors tell us “I really didn’t feel I missed anything, that was so delicious!” so we focus on creating delicious dishes that are satisfying both to the overall health of the body and to the taste-buds.
The Hermitage is first and foremost a meditation center. Good wholesome food supports good meditation. Heavy or unhealthy food will contribute to a dull mind and bad meditation, while sugar and excess caffeine will result in hyped up, scattered, and distracted mind-states. You need a balanced diet, and one that is thoroughly nurturing, to help you experience meditative clarity, beneficial mind-states, and a sense of relaxation. It is also essential to eat regular meals at the correct times of the day. When food tastes good, when it is made fresh from scratch, and is offered with love, you will meditate well.
Over the past ten years we have developed recipes designed to support meditation and promote physical well being. Proper diet is extremely important. Did you know, for example, that up to 95% of your body’s seratonin is generated in your gut? Lack of seratonin is thought to be a major cause of depression, so it does seem that healthy tummies really do mean healthy, happy minds, and in turn, good meditation. But having said all that, for many of us, deep down, food is connected to love – as babies, our first food came from Mother-love. Our attitude to food individually reflects this.
Breakfast at the Hermitage is nutritious and energizing. We offer a healthy breakfast with abundant helpings of fresh seasonal fruit and raw juice when available. Based on popular demand, we do serve coffee with breakfast. Even though caffeine is not considered ideal for those practising meditation, we have found that the distraction caused by ‘coffee withdrawal’ to to be even more detrimental than the effect of coffee itself. The main meal of the day at the Hermitage is the noon meal. An abundance of fresh whole foods ensures that everyone is happy. We keep the evening meal very simple. The Buddha prescribed fasting after noon, and following the Buddha’s lead, the Hermitage only serves soup as a light evening meal. People have found significant health benefits by following this regime.
We make every effort to accommodate our guests who have food allergies and sensitivities, and a meal always has abundant vegan as well as vegetarian options. We are accustomed to serving people with celiac disease; please let us know in advance what your special needs are. One exception is nut allergies: we cannot guarantee that there has been no cross-contamination with nuts in our kitchen and therefore cannot safely accept guests who are dangerously affected by nut allergies. We will occasionally allow guests to bring their own pre-made food if their dietary needs require it, but please be aware that our food storage space is quite limited, especially during the busy summer season.
We offer massage at the Hermitage by special appointment. Kum-nye (Tibetan, spelled bsKu-mNye) is a Tibetan term to describe a therapeutic type of herbal-oil yogic (ayurvedic) massage, applied with knowledge and skill. Abhyaṅga is the ancient Sanskrit word for this treatment, and carries exactly the same meaning as the Tibetan.
The ancient knowledge of Kum-nye (using herbal-oils in massage) has been preserved for thousands of years in the East, where it is applied for the mental and physical wellbeing of those who practice meditation.
Kum-nye is tradtionally used as a support in meditation retreats, especially when meditaton is practiced in a strict retreat environment. Kum-nye also relieves the stiffness, aches and pains of long meditation sittings.
Massage using herbal oils in a traditional Kum-bye regimen not only soothes the body, but stimulates your whole bioenergetic nerve and brain system. What is more, this type of massage releases stress, inclines toward pliancy, increases blood circulation, enhances the immune system, and helps to work through psychophysical barriers (hindrances to meditation), making it possible to enter improved states of contemplative fitness. A rigid, tight or pained body does not allow for an opening of the heart or mind in meditation. Yogic massage treatments encourage physical health, give relief to muscle strain, cut through mental rigidity, help to break down habitual personality patterns, ease aches and pains accumulated from long periods of sitting in meditation, and via the magic of human ‘touch,’ assist in the cultivation of healing and wellbeing.
At the Hermitage, experienced body-workers trained in massage and Tibetan kum-nye modalities, are able to offer treatments for you, founded on traditional Buddhist ‘Amari-rasāyan’ (body-mind rejuvenation) yogic principles. A treatment takes about an hour and half. If you wish to make use of this facility at the Hermitage, please make your appointment for a massage session at the time of your registration for retreat attendance.