Back to the Land: A Meditation on Nature

May 21, 2023


Back to the Land

Mount Madonna’s 380 acres will serve as the touchstone for deepening our connection to self, Mother Earth, Father Sky, and the people’s garden. Forest, plants, expansive views, and native animals will support our practices and exploration toward finding a deeper sense of inner peace.

Spend a day in the serene garden and forests of Mount Madonna connecting to yourself and to the healing power of nature. We'll be unplugging from technology and our daily routines in order to tune into the teachings of mother nature through the practices of meditation, nature awareness, and forest bathing. We'll spend the morning in the garden, in contemplative practice, journaling and sharing our insights – and a fresh tea ceremony! After lunch and a break, we'll enter the woods and engage in the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. We’ll close with a mother nature meditation led by one of Mount Madonna’s founders and land stewards, Dayanand Diffenbaugh.

Participants are invited to stay for dinner and enjoy the sunset, hot tub, and arati at the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple (arati is a devotional service offered to one’s chosen ideal of the Divine, using light, flowers and incense).

It is our intention that, after your experience in this day retreat, you will have a more intimate connection with yourself, a deeper appreciation for the natural world around you, and practical ways to continue to strengthen your relationship with the natural world.

Tuition - Sliding Scale

  • Contributor $250
  • Sustainer $200
  • Cultivator $150

Scholarships and work trade agreements available!

Please pay what you can afford. Through paying a higher tuition, you help us to make this course accessible to everyone.

Overnight Stay

You may also choose to make a reservation to stay overnight at Mount Madonna Center, and you will receive a 20% discount on your stay. Please contact Guest Services directly to book your stay - email or call (408) 846-4090.

Schedule for

Sunday, May 21

9:00 - 10:00am | Registration

10:00 - 11:00am|Brunch

11:00am - 1:30pm | Session 1 in the Garden

  • Opening Circle & Orientation
  • Nature awareness walk and journal writing
  • Sharing Circle
  • Herbal Tea Ceremony

1:30 - 2:00pm | Break & Snack

2:00 - 5:00pm | Session 2 in the Redwood Forest

  • Forest Bathing
  • Mother Earth Meditation

5:15 - 6:15pm | Dinner

6:00pm | Arati or Hot Tub or Sunset Walk (optional)

7:00pm | Campus closes

Presented by:

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Garden Peace
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Trail Walk Trees
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Jam Hiking


dnDayanand John Diffenbaugh is a longtime teacher of yoga and meditation. A musician, he leads kirtan and Vedic chanting. He is editor of Baba Hari Dass’ Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, A Study Guide for Books I-IV. Dayanand has been instrumental in all of Babaji’s projects, including serving as the founding director of Mount Madonna Center, and as founding board member for Hanuman Fellowship, Mount Madonna Institute, Advisor Trustee of Sri Ram Orphanage, and as a member of the panchayat (Council of Elders) of Hanuman Fellowship.

Dayanand has been one of Mount Madonna’s leaders in stewarding the 380 acres of forests, meadows, water, gardens on which the Center is located. He was one of the first in Santa Cruz County to farm organically on a commercial scale. Dayanand studies and respects indigenous wisdom and brings this awareness into land management.

alexAlex Harrison As a certified, trauma-informed breathwork and sound healing facilitator, conscious design mentor, nature enthusiast, and regenerative land steward, Alex has long been aware of the innate connections between humans and the natural world. In cultivating internal stillness through the ocean, instrumental sounds, and the practice of energy medicine, Alex began to notice the inherent energy-flow networks present in all life, and has discovered the vital knowing that all connections begin first with the self, and ripple outward from there. Alex believes that when we allow ourselves to re-align with patterns of intelligence through breath, mindfulness, and nature-based awareness practices, there is limitless potential to tap into our innate wisdom and begin sharing our authentic gifts with the world.

christopherChristopher Vitale is a Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher and land steward at Mount Madonna. He brings experience in facilitating creative arts therapy groups as well as nature awareness workshops. Christopher has an appreciation for all wisdom traditions and has studied Yoga, Buddhism, and contemporary teachers of non-dual awareness. His life is dedicated to service and spiritual discovery.


Own Vehicle

Regular size parking spaces are available for your van, camper or other vehicle. There is no access to electricity. Showers and restrooms are available in campgrounds and Center buildings.

Email to Book

Tent Camping

Developed campsites are available for people who wish to bring their own tent. Sites offer access to showers and flush toilets and are available year-round. Please be aware that we can receive significant amounts of rain from November through May.

Email to Book

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Back to the Land

May 21st, 2023

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