Last night I went into silence at a Spirit Rock meditation retreat. I’m currently surrounded by 150 people, but won’t be speaking to any of them for the next 10 days.
My resolution for 2012 was to expand and fully commit to my meditation practice. I took a Mindfulness Bases Stress Reduction class earlier this (more about that later) and I committed to going on this retreat. Ten days of training my mind to stay where I put it.
Part of me is looking forward to the quiet and the chance to step away from all my responsibilities. To just sit and watch my thoughts, watch my breath and work at being present. But another part of me is scared witless about what I’ll find when my mind quiets down.
This is my second time at an extended meditation retreat. I came to this same retreat 3 years ago and left changed. It was here that I decided to leave the comfort of a financially stable biotech career to start on my path to becoming the happiness coach (if you are curious, you can read about that experience here. During that week, I felt a full range of intense emotions from deep fear and loneliness to feelings of ecstasy, freedom and hope. I’m curious to see what happens this time around…
Life on retreat
Life on retreat is simple. Forty-five minute periods of sitting and walking meditation are interspersed through each day with breaks for mindfully-eaten meals, meditation talks each evening and 3 one-on-one interviews with instructors over the retreat. That’s it. No clutter, no schedules to remember, no cell phones or email, no kids needing homework help, no social interaction. Just ten days with me and my mind.
Unlike with daily mindfulness practice, there isn’t much scientific data from these extended retreats. But participants find that once the clutter and do-do-do of modern life recedes, answers can come, life decisions and goals can become clear, the minutia of life don’t seem as important. It’s different for everyone of course.
For me, my primary goal is to strengthen my own abilities to stay focused and to begin living more of my life in the present. I’ve noticed over the last few months how much time I spend planning and thinking about the future. I miss a lot of what’s going on now and my intention is to change that.
But I’m working hard to let go of all other expectations. To just let things flow. Wish me luck…
The Happiness Coach
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