I knew I needed something. A time out. Upon reflection, I wanted peace. Time for myself without all the responsibilities and demands of the kids, house, yard, dog, cat, work. Don’t we all from time to time. I have not ever been good at balancing out self care with responsibilities. Well, I stumbled across a mindfulness retreat related to the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction certification program developed by Jon Kabat Zinn and the University of Massachusetts.
This was a week long retreat held at the Won Dharma Retreat center in Claverack NY! It was also a silent retreat. This means after arriving and have an introductory meeting and dinner, we stopped looking at and communicating with everyone. We ate in silence, we no longer acknowledged others as we walked around, we were even silent in our rooms with a roommate. This was for 7 days. The two leaders did communicate, teach, and lead groups where they checked in with us to see how things were going. We were allowed to talk briefly then.
It was a process letting go of the feeling of responsibility to acknowledge other human beings throughout my day. I reluctantly turned in my phone. I had no way of telling time except for the bells they rang and certain times during they day calling us to meditation sessions and meals.
This a Buddhist center that is open to all, their goal is to relieve suffering on the earth. There are practicing priests and priestesses there. The food is Korean based and delicious. I love the practice of removing the shoes before entering all buildings except the dining hall and the office. They have many retreats.
The center is eco-friendly having solar panels, recycling, gardening, oh and they make their own Kimchi, which I’m sorry to say I am not a fan of.
And there is the resident cat to take care of the critters… he loves to approach when we are meditating.
The setting is in the Catskills, beautiful, peaceful!
We spent all day in practice of mindfulness. Starting with a sitting practice at 6:00 am and ending with a sitting practice at 9:00 pm. We did sitting, standing, walking, and at times laying practice of meditation. We also did alternating days of yoga and Tai Chi.
My teachers lead us through the week, building on what we learned the days before. They really gave me tremendous insight about the potential benefits of meditation practice.
Number one is, I must practice. That is where insight is gained. I learned that being present with discomfort and not acting on it allows it to pass. I also learned that excitement is not what makes me happy. Being peaceful and calm is. There is a fight between wanting more and rejecting discomfort on a daily basis for me. I can get sucked into my thinking and my body responds as if I am in that situation, be it positive or negative. I get attached to things and beliefs.
I come from a background of believing I was not noticed. I was invisible. I best served others by not rocking the boat. I have learned over the years that my people did the best they could, they loved me the best they could. My perception is what molds my beliefs, not necessarily the truth.
I have felt separated, apart from, on the inside looking out, in fear, no confidence. I now know all that is up to me, not others. If I want to belong, I must insert myself into community, make myself vulnerable, allow others to get to know me, be interested in others. I create my separateness.
Now it is up to me to practice. I ebb and flow. I try not to judge myself, but just get back on track.