The Mindful Unplug Experience: Exploring Presence Through the Senses

About us

Mindfulness is a potent practice fostering equanimity and peace in an unsettled, noisy world. Unplugging mindfully helps reclaim those qualities of ease that can become diluted in the hectic whirl of our over-scheduled lives. At this fourth running of our popular homegrown Feathered Pipe Ranch retreat, we’ll explore the “power of the pause.” This is more than a yoga retreat or a ‘digital detox’: it’s a joyful week of mindful sensory awareness facilitated by accessible, breath-focused yoga and mindful movement, user-friendly meditation, as well as creative visual and sound sessions that make the most of our spacious Big Sky setting.

This retreat rekindles skills, practices, and attitudes that cultivate easier navigation of this often-challenging human incarnation and help you sketch your very own map for more mindful living. You’ll slow down and savor an unfiltered experience of the Rocky Mountain landscape and the storied Feathered Pipe Ranch — the place that our dear friend Erich Schiffmann calls his “favorite place on the planet.” No prior experience with any of the modalities we’ll explore during the week is needed. This is a retreat for anyone and for everyone, so come as you are to pause, breathe, move, see, harmonize, and sense your way back into ease.

Our handpicked team of experienced guides offers practical, real-life skills to revive moment-to-moment awareness. We weave a calming balance of scheduled activities into stretches of unstructured time for you to settle into your natural rhythm. The intimate and uncrowded Ranch retreat venue — we host only one program at a time each week — offers as much opportunity for community as it does for solitude and personal space. Throughout, you’ll be surrounded by a scenic mountain locale, nourished by sumptuous fare, and cared for by our attentive staff.

The Mindful Unplug Experience guides will be available for spontaneous sessions arising from interests and desires that emerge from the group — so don’t be shy about sharing your questions and insights as they arise! This retreat typically draws people of every age with a wide array of life histories and backgrounds; it’s an enchanting surprise to see what subjects unfold at each summer’s playful gathering. You’ll return home with new friends, groundwork for your own home practice, fresh sensory skills to navigate the outer world, and meaningful insights into your inner landscape.

"I will be forever grateful for this week and I pray that I will be able to carry the lessons I have learned with this week with me for all my days on this earth."

Event Highlights

  • The week will include morning yoga, mindful movement and accessible meditation practice — all designed to help you establish or reinforce your own home practice — and afternoon sensory awareness sessions, book-ended by meditation.
  • One of these experiential gatherings will explore how different qualities of light, color, and gesture shape perception, and how such sensitivity can reawaken our moment-to-moment appreciation of our everyday world. Another will overlay the primary senses into a nature-infused lake and lawn experience, exploring how perception is rarely based on just one sense’s input.
  • Another set of gatherings — a first for The Mindful Unplug Experience — incorporates participatory sound, rhythm awareness, and voice practices, including an introduction to West African hand drumming. That introduction will culminate in a communal experience complete with drums. We’ll follow with simple, guided exercises to open and free the voice as a prelude to a song circle, featuring chants and songs gathered from our accomplished guide’s travels abroad and studies in World Music.
  • Also on tap for the week: inspiring evening dharma talks, restorative practice before sleep, active listening to curated musical playlists, strolls to the nearby ridge on the continental divide, and more. Finally, our week together offers opportunities for mindful morning walks and an optional midweek off-Ranch nature excursion to relish more of Montana’s varied and stunning summer landscape.

Venue Highlights

Located outside of Helena, Montana, the Feathered Pipe Ranch is nestled in the pristine Northern Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 5,000 feet. We are surrounded by the Helena National Forest – almost a million acres of mountainous wilderness. The Ranch provides a spacious but still intimate setting for wandering, bird watching, aspen-tree gazing, swimming and canoeing on our pretty spring-fed lake, and seeing all manner of wildlife.

Deer freely roam the ranch, with beaver, muskrat, mallard ducks and trout populating the lake. Moose and bear occasionally visit, though largely keeping their distance and wishing to be simply let alone. Large herds of elk roam the high alpine grasslands with rare sightings of wolves and mountain lions in the surrounding wilderness areas. At night, owls and Whip-poor-wills softly usher you to sleep. And in the morning, a chorus of birds make the forest a cathedral urging the sun to rise welcoming in the new day.

Amenities

  • Free Wifi
  • Spa
  • Sauna
  • Towels
  • Free Parking
  • Kitchen
  • Hot Tub
  • Coffee/Tea
  • Restaurant
  • Yoga Studio
  • House-Keeping

Menu Types

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Pescetarian
  • Ayurvedic
  • Includes Meat
  • Organic
  • Gluten Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Nut Free

Menu/Cuisine

If the spirit of the ranch is captured anywhere, it’s most definitely in the kitchen that’s attached to the Main Lodge. Our specialty is wholesome, natural food using recipes from all over the globe. We strive to use whole, organic ingredients prepared with a commitment to health and well-being. Whenever possible, we use locally grown and raised organic food sources to support a sustainable, healthy community.

The Feathered Pipe staff pours great love and care into the preparation of every one of our guest meals. If you have any special dietary needs or restrictions, simply let us know when you fill out the guest information form before your arrival. We’ll make sure you have all the healthy, delicious fare you need for every meal.

Accommodations

Our lodging options offer the finest in rustic comfort. Indoor and outdoor choices include a variety of private or shared accommodations ranging from chalet-style rooms and cabins to tents, tipis and yurts nestled in the forest.

After retreat registration, Feathered Pipe office staff will contact you to confirm your lodging preference. Accommodations include all meals and use of all amenities – our bathhouse, sauna, hot tub, as well as all the Feathered Pipe Ranch facilities and grounds.

Accommodations exclude massage and bodywork. Our massage and bodywork staff will greet and introduce themselves at orientation, right after dinner on arrival night. You may sign up for appointments then as their schedules for the week typically fill up quickly. After that, you can saunter off to the sauna or the hot tub to relax and snuggle in to your lodging for the night knowing you have begun one of the most beautiful weeks possible.

Directions

To which airport should I fly?
We recommend the Helena Regional Airport for those coming to retreats and programs at the Feathered Pipe Ranch. Direct flights into Helena currently originate in Salt Lake City, UT (Delta Airlines), Denver, CO (United Airlines) and Great Falls, MT (Alaska Airlines).

We strongly suggest that you book your flight to arrive on Friday (a day early) and enjoy a night in beautiful downtown Helena, as unfortunately it is not uncommon for the major airlines, particularly out of Salt Lake City and Denver to overbook flights to Helena. That being said, travel insurance is recommended.

Airlines fly in from all parts of the country on a regular basis, with Delta serving those flying from the East Coast, Midwest, Mountain and West Coast via their Minneapolis and Salt Lake City hub, United Airlines serving passengers from all over via the Denver hub, and Alaskan Airlines serving West Coast flyers via their Seattle hub.

Missoula International Airport and Bozeman International Airport are also feasible points of arrival but will require a two hour commute via bus or auto that you will need to arrange yourself. For those interested in art and cultural events, Missoula might be the place to spend a few extra days. If you are planning to go to Glacier National Park consider Great Falls, and Bozeman if you wish to spend some extra time in Yellowstone National Park.

If you are coming for a Blacktail Ranch retreat, we suggest that you arrive either at the Helena Regional Airport or Great Falls International Airport as the Blacktail is about an hour’s drive from either airport. Note: Shuttle service only available from Great Falls for Blacktail Ranch retreats.

How do I get from the airport to the Ranch?
For those coming for a Feathered Pipe Ranch retreat, we meet flights at the Helena Regional Airport, offering shuttle service for $65 roundtrip. For those coming to a Blacktail Ranch Retreat, we offer roundtrip shuttle service from Great Falls International Airports for an additional charge of $100.

Our driver will meet you at baggage claim wearing a Feathered Pipe t-shirt. We are now grouping some pick-ups, so you may have a 30 minute wait. Please contact the office at info@featheredpipe.com or call (406) 442-8196 to arrange and confirm pick-up.

If you prefer to arrive early and stay in Helena, we will contact you at your hotel to arrange your pick-up. There is plenty to do and see in Helena. Contact our local Chamber of Commerce at (800) 743-5362 or www.helenachamber.com. Helena is half way between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks (3 hours by car in either direction), so you might consider coming a few days early or staying a few days after your retreat to take in one or both of the country and world’s true natural treasures!

How do I get there if I’m driving?
From Great Falls: Take I-15 to the Helena Cedar Street exit and follow signs to Hwy 12 toward Missoula through town. Eight miles from the west edge of town look for the “Colorado Gulch” sign – we are at the very end of this road, about 5 miles in. You’ll see rolling lawns, a small lake, and the main lodge on your right. Pull into the parking lot and walk down to the lodge.

From Bozeman: Take Hwy 12 to Helena and stay on it through Helena, following signs to Missoula. Eight miles from the west edge of town look for the “Colorado Gulch” sign – we are at the very end of this road, about 5 miles in. You’ll see rolling lawns, a small lake, and the main lodge on your right. Pull into the parking lot and walk down to the lodge.

From Missoula: Take I-90 East toward Butte, then exit 174 to merge on to US-12 E toward Garrison/Helena. Continue on US-12 for 37.7 miles and look for the sign for “Colorado Gulch” and turn right. We are at the very end of this road, about 5 miles in. You’ll see rolling lawns, a small lake, and the main lodge on your right. Pull into the parking lot and walk down to the lodge.

From Butte: Take I-15 to Helena and take the first exit into Helena, which will put you on Hwy 12. Follow the signs to Missoula. Eight miles from the west edge of town look for the “Colorado Gulch” sign – we are at the very end of this road, about 5 miles in. You’ll see rolling lawns, a small lake, and the main lodge on your right. Pull into the parking lot and walk down to the lodge.

Tags: digital detox meditation mindfulness mindful uplug montana music music therapy restorative yoga visual therapy yoga

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Why Retreat?

We asked people why they go on retreat, here's what they said:

Desire to learn more meditation practices, spend more time in spiritual community. Heather
 

Retreat Guru's Vision

We believe human beings are innately wise, strong and kind. This wisdom, although not always experienced, is always present. Going on retreat is a beautiful way to reconnect to our basic sanity and health. Our aspiration at Retreat Guru is to inspire people to experience authentic retreats and reconnect with their innate wisdom, strength and kindness.

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