I was fortunate to purchase a two-day stay at Ratna Ling, courtesy of the Redwood Coast Medical Services. Ratna Ling is part of a Tibetan Buddhist Mandala, or family, of eight or more organizations including the Odean Buddhist Temple near Ratna Ling, Dharma College and Ningba College, and Dharma Publishing which is the largest buddhist publisher in the United States.
The site was originally partially built by someone who had high hopes of creating Timber Cove Lodge. It even had a landing strip to bring their affluent guests comfortably to the lodge. Their plans fell apart, and the property sat idle for many years until the Ratna Ling group bought the property and begin finishing up the site. There are about 25 cabins on the Ratna Ling estate, located in Cazadero, about 100 miles north of San Francisco and near the Sonoma Coast. The main lodge is a huge facility with a classroom, offices, sitting area, and a kitchen, dining room and comfortable deck with lounge chairs and a dining set. There are two buildings adjacent to the main lodge, with two classrooms in one and a beautiful buddhist prayer center in the other. Each cabin has two bedrooms, one with a Murphy bed that folds up to allow the guests a private meditation area. Each has a small, well-appointed kitchenette, dining room and living room area. A nice gas fire is in each room to make cold nights cozy. That wasn’t the case when we were there. The weather was so warm, we slept with the doors open. There is no alcohol served, but your are welcome to bring wine to drink in your room.
The food at Ratna Ling is vegetarian and/or vegan and absolutely delicious. We had a wonderful mushroom quiche one morning, and there were quiches for their vegan guests as well. Dinners included roasted yams, beets, salad with a yummy Asian vinaigrette, creamy soups, and delightful desserts. We left full from every meal, and meals are included in the price of your stay.
We had a total of five classes available the two days we stayed at Ratna Ling. Our first was an evening yoga relaxation session taught by the lovely Chelsea from New Jersey. Chelsea has been at Ratna Ling for four years and plans quite a few more. The next morning, we started with a Kun Nye (pronounced coon nyay) class. Kun Nye is a rare form of a combination of yoga and relaxation. There are only 115 Kun Nye teachers in the United States. The method begins with breathing from both your nose and mouth, with the idea that nasal breathing feeds the brain, and breathing from the mouth fuels the body. The practice involves a series of long, drawn-out stretches while deep breathing. It is absolutely amazing, and I bought a book called Kun Nye Relaxation to continue the practice at home.
Since I live part time in Timber Cove about six miles away, I took the liberty of calling my friend Micki who came to our cabin for two one-hour massages. After that, we headed back to the main lodge for a session on meditation. During that hour, we practiced four different forms of meditation, including a slow heal-to-toe walk around the room, Linda’s favorite.
The second afternoon, we participated in a speaking session on appreciation. Absolutely fabulous. Although the center is Buddhist, the sessions and feeling throughout were more about spirituality without any real discussion of religion. The four-concept theory is remarkably simplistic, yet one that Westerners have a hard time grasping. First is impermanance – nothing lasts forever. Second is that there is always change or the capability to make change. The third is cause and effect, or actions and consequences. Finally, there is difficulty and limiting suffering. The thought pattern would evolve with four simple questions. 1 – Is this true? 2 – Will it last? 3 – Is this a pattern? and 4 – Is it required? This brings you to the realization that you have choices. Buddhism is a shift in attitude toward what is more true and away from things that are undermining.
Early Wednesday morning, we walked the grounds and took a look at Dharma Publishing and its surrounding area where the staff lives. There is so much spirituality in the air, you can feel it. This is a garden and prayer center near the publishing buildings. We then had a killer yoga session on a very hot day . It was one of the best I’ve attended.
I loved the stay so much that I do plan to go back. Also, Dharma College is in Berkeley, and their slogan is ‘Make Friends with Your Mind’. SO, this week, I started a six-week session on Mind and Body, and I’ll be writing about it for my fans. Stay tuned.