The Cohort Experience

Earlier this year the BMCM launched a new extended program for YAs, the Cohort Program. We've already heard from Gary about his experience in his first weeklong retreat as part of the program. This week, Chanel shares her overall experience as a cohort and how it's impacted her practice since the program finished in July.

Easwaran once said,

"In mountain climbing, you tie yourself to others with ropes so that if somebody slips you do not say, 'Have you hit the ground?' or 'Good riddance'; you try to prevent that person from falling by hauling him up and saving him. Similarly in living with family or friends, if somebody slips you do not say, 'Aha! Served him right,' or 'You’ve been asking for that for a long time.' Instead you pull him up."

This is how I found the cohort program to be; YAs that have the opportunity to support each other in our practice and pull one another up when we slip.

The cohort program consisted of three video discussions, a weekend retreat, a weeklong retreat, and a stay at a beach house in Tomales Bay. Each piece of the program was a brilliant amalgam of unique insights and perspectives.

During the weeklong we got the chance to interact with meditators from all walks of life. Sharing how we can realistically weave the eight points into our days with work and school and family life has always been my favorite part of retreats. Being at an all ages retreat made this experience rich with diversity. Doctors, teachers, students, long-time meditators, short-term meditators – we were all together sharing and supporting each other on our path. Prior to the weeklong retreat, I was worried the schedule might be too intensive for me. This was not so. Every day was built with reflection time as well as a delicate balance of eight points and recreational activities. Let's just say there was ample time for naps. The cohorts had time for retreat-friendly parties as well including (but not limited to) a garden party, ice cream soirée and a hybrid game of volleyball mixed with a bit of soccer, creatively named "soccer-volleyball".


Chanel (far left) participating in "soccer-volleyball" during the weeklong retreat.

And the food... (I won't go into too much detail because that constitutes it's own blog post in itself) so, for now, one word to describe the food spread: inviting. And that is putting it mildly.

I can honestly say I built and strengthened my friendships with several YAs (and yes we talk outside of meditation retreats and yes we talk about more than just meditation). I cannot express enough how wonderful it is to be with other young people that share a similar spiritual goal. It is unlike any other connection I have known.

There were many aspects of the program that stood out to me. The beach house weekend was definitely one of my favorite times. We really had the opportunity to experience what it means to live in a spiritual household. Rather than trying to motivate ourselves, we had each other to inspire and practice the eight points with. Weaving the eight points throughout our days was easy and seamless. In the midst of all this, we were having so much fun hanging out, cooking together, baking tasty delights, writing birthday rap songs, singing and beach walking. We fell into a natural rhythm with each other and the eight points as our collective drum.


Chanel (right) serving dinner made at the beach house weekend.

Overall, the chance to dive deeper into the eight points and have the support of friends as we climb the meditation mountain is a chance I am grateful to have and will continue to share forever.

"It is marvelous to watch this team of dedicated, aspiring young climbers on these precipitous slopes, each tied to the one ahead and all tied together to their teacher. Life is like that, a vast web of delicate relationships binding us together in love.” – Easwaran in Climbing the Blue Mountain

I'd like to thank my fellow cohort, Jan, for digging out these Easwaran quotes for me and with so little clues.

Registration for the 2015 Cohort Program opens on October 1, 2014. Visit to learn more about the program.