Practical Presence Retreat
Miles is available for leading retreats by request
Find Home Again
Practical Presence invites you into a tranquil space to become present with yourself,
open your heart, and connect deeply with others.
If you need a still place to reset your life, and long for others to see and understand you,
we invite you to join us and find home again.
I Was a Young Man When I Disappeared
There was no external demon pursuing me.
My life was going well by any standard of measurement, but no one else could see the internal crisis that was consuming me.
I couldn’t focus my mind for more than a few moments.
My thoughts were fragmented. I felt drained. I lost sight of my purpose. I couldn’t see where my life was going or what all of this was for.
All at once, the momentum that had propelled me in life just vanished, and I was left stranded and lonely, with no idea of what to do next.
The bottom of my life fell out...
I wanted to know why.
Why was I here on earth, and what was life for?
I wanted to know why everyone, including myself, was anxious most of the time.
It seemed that this world held so many uncertainties, so much could go wrong, and we were all afraid.
I could not go ahead with my life until I found the cause of the chronic fear and insecurity I felt in myself and saw in the people around me.
So I threw caution to the wind, left everything I knew, and journeyed to the other side of the world to search for answers.
One of the Monks Showed Me to My Cinder Block Cell
My bed was a thin straw mat over a cement slab.
My journey took me to a remote monastery in Sri Lanka.
In broken English, the monk told me about the monastic schedule.
A bell would ring at 4:00am to wake us up, and a cup of warm rice gruel would be put outside my door.
We would meditate together until 6:00. The rest of the morning was for silent sitting and walking meditation.
After noon, we were to spend the rest of the day in silent meditation.
An older monk was assigned to teach me.
He supplied me with books that described the practice of meditation and the teachings of the Buddha.
The simple instructions were to sit upright but relaxed, and focus on the sensation of the body breathing in and out in its natural rhythm.
The teachings were simply guidelines for a process of inner investigation that would lead to personal insight and revelation.
I began to see how wild and chaotic my internal world was. Which led me to an earth-shattering realization...
Many of Us Feel Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz
Lost and alone in a strange world, we just want to get back home again.
As an adult, I became scared that there was no place where I could fully rest, free from fear and anxiety.
I was looking for this sense of comfort and security in a romantic relationship, family, friends, and achievements.
And I found some sense of peace in each of these because they helped me to feel connected and less alone in the world.
Yet I sensed that all of the things I was investing in would ultimately fail me. They were impermanent, reliant upon unpredictable circumstances outside of my control.
This may seem to be a tragic conclusion that could only lead to depression, however, it’s not the end of the story.
Which brings us to the Wizard…
When the Wizard left in his hot-air balloon, Dorothy had the heartbreaking realization that she might never make it back home to Kansas.
Only then was she able to discover that her ruby slippers, which she had been wearing the whole time, had the power to take her back home in an instant.
And so it is with us.
When we have exhausted all other options, we recognize an innate certainty and peace of mind that was with us all along.
Ironically, in order to find it, all we must do is stop looking frantically for it where it cannot be found.
Then, your resting place will be revealed.
Typical Retreat Schedule
Each morning we will practice together the ancient and simple art of Insight Meditation, using natural bodily sensations to cultivate presence and awareness.
After a quiet lunch and nurturing time alone in nature, we will gather to share our stories, and learn a new way of relating using Conscious Communication.
Each evening, we will deepen the healing and transformation stirred up by the day’s activities. These gatherings may include circling around a fire, Qigong practices to work consciously with your subtle energy, Journey Dance to move energy through you with intention, group music making using drum and song, and an open stage for storytelling, song, dance, and poetry
Gentle Yoga and QiGong
Silent Sitting and Walking Meditation
Solitude in Nature: “Forest Bathing”
Conscious Communication Skills Workshop
Gathering for Celebration and Integration
Miles Sherts has practiced Insight Meditation since 1976 and led retreats since 1999. Trained as a professional mediator, he began teaching Conscious Communication and conflict resolution in 1990. He is the author of several books, including Conscious Communication, Beyond Perception, and Conscious Communication for Couples. Miles’ has devoted his life to creating a nurturing, safe space for people to be vulnerable and connected with one another.
Insight meditation is a simple practice of bringing direct awareness to the experience of each moment. Doing this brings clarity and calms the mind, enabling you to see through interpretations and concepts to a direct experience of reality. As you turn your attention away from chronic thinking to present moment sensations, your attention becomes unified and you experience your innate integrity.
This method comes from the 2,500 year old Buddhist Monastic tradition practiced in Southeast Asia.
Conscious Communication is a set of tools designed to activate your natural capacity for empathy. You will learn how to receive another person with your heart, hearing them without imposing your own opinions or solutions. You’ll also learn how to talk about your experience honestly without judgments, increasing self-awareness and inviting understanding and compassion from others.
Using these skills, relationships will be more satisfying and you will be able to fully be yourself.
When life started squeezing me in, I looked for a retreat. What I found was beyond any expectation. Miles Sherts has spent a lifetime thinking about thinking. Miles and his young staff have created a structured environment, a safe and beautiful space, in which to spend 5 intensive days reflecting and meditating. There are ponds to swim in and fields to walk in (with the occasional Alpaca in tow). Meals are plentiful, with many ingredients locally sourced. The simplicity, the structure, and the beauty make this an exceptional place to renew or reset. Miles is an exceptional teacher. I especially liked the practicality of his instruction and its immediate usefulness to my life. Thank you for giving me a way forward that is slightly more disciplined, while also being more gentle on myself. I am so grateful.
I was very happy to participate in this retreat and I'm very grateful for it. Something in me was driving me toward spiritual people. I have never felt something so beautiful as being alive with my “spiritual family”.. ️ I have traveled far to get Sky Meadow because when I’m with people of like mind I’m really with myself. It’s the best retreat in the beautiful surroundings for one who is looking to awaken, going deeper into the silence. It is beyond description and heals the soul. The atmosphere was lovely and everything was very well planned and comfortable. Meditating felt natural and effortless. I felt like I made a big progress. Thank you SO much! There is no words to really describe my deep gratefulness, but I have tried my best. I will every day think about how grateful I am for that.
Miles … Stepping back from life-as-usual for these days and allowing myself to just BE here has been the most nourishing, healing gift that I have ever known. I so appreciate the simplicity and natural beauty here. The retreat was exactly enough for me to find my way back to my inner spiritual home. Life is so rich and full! Miles, I found your guidance and presence to be gently, warm, and genuine and you always made room for me to discover my own insights and truth. I wish everyone the kind of open-hearted, lasting peace that comes from the mindfulness and deep stillness that can be and is being practiced here.
Reviews from Participants