Hi, I am Stephan Oesterreicher, the founder of Meditation Retreat Peru and I am writing down the story that I have told many times at out monthly silent meditation retreats on the island Amantani at Lake Titicaca.
Before I came to Peru for the first time in 2010, I had spent many years in Asia, mostly in India, Nepal, and Thailand, and was fully dedicating myself to the practice and study of meditation and yoga. I deeply immersed myself in meditation and spend literally hundreds of days in silent meditation retreats.
I was often traveling to meet masters of different traditions that I had somehow heard of, and tried out many different practices and stuck with a few. I was walking barefoot through the Himalayas with wandering Hindu monks, was sitting at the feet of the Dalai Lama to receive Tibetan Bushiest teachings and lived in monasteries for extended periods of time. I was serious with what I was doing and did not have any other goals than to understand the mysteries of life and experience the transcendental states of bliss, many traditions speak about.
In 2007 I met one of my main meditation teachers with whom I spend a lot of time in many different countries. He taught silent meditation retreats and I often assisted in the organization of them.
To spend time in meditation, exploring my inner universe has become an important part of my life.
When I arrived in Peru for the first time, I immediately fell in love with the Andes and the high and powerful energy that is present there. However, I also realized soon that there were no meditation retreats offered, so an important part of my life was missing.
That became my motivation to start offering silent meditation retreats in Peru and I began in the beginning of 2013 with small retreats that I held in the sacred valley. It was for small circles of friends and my main motivation was to have the retreat atmosphere present in my own life again and share it with others.
Soon afterward my teacher came to visit Peru and I had organized 2 retreats for him. One in the sacred valley and the other one was planned to happen on the mystical island Isla del Sol on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca.
The Sacred Valley retreat was a very powerful event and a truly epic experience. Shortly afterward we were preparing to make our way to Isla del Sol, the Island of the Sun in Bolivia when we realized that the time was getting very short and I was hoping to maybe find another place that required less traveling, as getting to Isla del Sol was a 2-day trip.
That’s when I remembered the island Amantani that I had visited the year earlier to do some offerings at the ancient temples of the island. I remembered the powerful experiences I had there and also remembered that the place where I stayed before had a big room which seemed like it would be a possible meditation room.
I took a leap of faith and took the entire group of around 10 people to the island Amantani and simply walked up to the door of the family guest house, knocked and asked if we could hold the retreat at their house. And they, fortunately, said yes. I don’t know what we could have done if it would not have been possible.
We spend 3 days in silence on the island. It was a very profound experience, to sit together in the little room with an amazing view of the lake and receive teaching about the nature of the consciousness and the mind from such a knowledgeable and wise person like my teacher. It was one of the most beautiful periods of my life.
After the retreat ended, we returned to the sacred valley and I said goodbye to my teacher at the airport. After all the blissful times, there was a difficult period for me as I had to close down my meditation center in the sacred valley as I could not cover the running costs anymore.
My heart was very heavy and felt like I had to bring myself back to center.
Fortunately, there were dome Vipassana Meditation Retreats offered in South America as well and I went on a soul-searching trip by myself and did two 10 day silent meditation retreats within one month which brought my clarity and vision back.
I was returning to the sacred valley to prepare another meditation retreat on the island Amantani and shortly afterward I took another group to Lake Titicaca, where I taught the retreat myself this time.
The energy of the island, the lake, and the ancient temples, dedicated to Pachamama and Pachatata were amazing. I realized that I had found the perfect spot for a meditation retreat.
Even the guest house itself, which we turned into a retreat center for the period of the retreats was just great. It was run by such a pure and beautiful family who were very supportive and understanding of our inner work.
That’s when I realized that something bigger has been born and that it was not about me, but about the place and the retreats itself. And that Was honored to be of service and be the space holder for this creating force.
A few months later, I was currently in Mexico, organizing meditation and yoga retreats for my teacher, I began to set the foundation for Meditation Retreat Peru by connecting with other meditation teachers and create a long-term retreat program. I scheduled the retreats from now on during the full moon as it seemed to be a perfect rhythm to be aligned with nature in this way. Also, the energy of the lake was very powerful during this period.
From my current bases in Mexico and Guatemala, I began to organize the retreats and first invite other teachers to hold the retreats while I was doing all the remote organizing and marketing work. A few months later, as soon as I returned to Peru, I began to teach the retreats myself again and was s fascinated by the experience. The place was just perfect, the energy incredibly high and it attracted beautiful people from all around the world who felt a call to join the retreat.
The content of the retreat has evolved over the years as well. In the beginning, it was mainly focussed on pure meditation and now it is a very beautiful design that includes working with our inner masculine and inner feminine aspects, while we are visiting the ancient temples of Pachamama and Pachatata which are dedicated to these principles.
While the retreat in total is still dedicated to the sacred presence of the divine within us, we now include different approaches that help us to reveal our divine self in the most sustainable way. We focus on healing the old wounds of the past, seeing a new vision for our life and deepening our sense of presence. We focus on clearing the mind while opening the heart. What sounds like a couple of different concepts is in reality woven together in a very intelligent design which has powerful heart opening effects on peoples lives.
Until now, the retreat has been held around 60 times on the island Amantani and we had around 10 different teachers sharing their wisdom. I have held myself around 20 of those retreats and it has become such a beautiful aspect of my life which I am deeply grateful for.
I still dedicate a big portion of my time to organize Meditation Retreat Peru and make sure everything is running well and is constantly improving. Teaching the retreat itself is really the cherry on top of the cake, while most of my work is happening on the computer. Thanks to globalization and the world wide web, I can actually do that from anywhere in the world.
I am writing this article in Montreal, Canada after I just finished some work on our website and felt some inspiration to write down this story.
After talking so much about the past, I want to conclude by sharing a bit about the future of Meditation Retreat Peru. In the past year, I was very happy to teach the retreats together with my beloved partner which was a beautiful embodiment of the divine masculine and energy, the theme of the retreat. At the moment we are very honored to have two beautiful friends, named Mike and Julia holding the retreats and we realized that the theme of couples is very interconnected with the theme of the interplay between the universal feminine and universal masculine principle.
And out of this energy, our spiritual tours for couples were born that combine the silent meditation retreat with the visit of impressive sacred sites like Cusco and Machu Picchu before the retreat and a relaxing unwinding at a luxurious hotel at the shores at the lake after the retreat.
I have talked a lot about the outer unfolding of the Meditation Retreat Peru organization, but want to finally conclude with its energetic essence which has been eternally the same while evolving at the same time. It is the acknowledging of the sacred dimension of our life and being. It is the remembering our innermost essence. The divine spark in our heart and the bowing down before the grace that always calls us back to remember our true divine-human nature. Meditation Retreat Peru is dedicated to hold space for this divine dimension and to offer tools of transformation to make meditation, healing and the recognition of our soul and beyond, the priority in our lives.