I am home safely from my week of silent meditation. People have asked me why I meditate and why the heck would I leave my family and stay in a little box of a room, pictured below. Instead of delivering a sales pitch for mindfulness that you don't want to hear and I don't want to offer, I'll share my dream.
I imagine a life unattached to the emotional roller coaster of daily minutiae. Im not talking about the big griefs and agitations like death and trauma, though they certainly need some emotional unbinding. I'm referring to waiting in line at Target without a litany of impatient fueled banter in my own head. I'm referring to hearing gossip or judgment about me, and genuinely not feeling insecurity and self doubt so strongly in my stomach it is as if I got "sucker punched". I'm referring to better work relationships, better partner communications, and more present awareness for my kids even in the midst of feeling stress. I imagine a life that is unattached to the stress that is infused into all of our daily lives by our own thoughts. What if I could live my life and not get on the roller coaster? I imagine a life of being truly free, if only in this moment, from the ups and downs of the mind and its stories.
A few logistical notes about the week for those seeking some peace. This retreat offered no cell phone, no talking, no writing or reading for 6 days. Everyone at the retreat center honors silence, even staff. The meditation teachers speak and guide our formal practice, and answer questions if we felt it necessary to ask.
All retreatants are assigned a daily yogi job. Mine was dinner clean up. Having been a bus girl and waitress for many years I was happy to do this instead of some of the other jobs. Like toilet cleaner, laundry washer or dish washer. Thank god for small blessings.
The yogi job brought up many things for many retreatants, but all obliged and did their task. Remember this was a mindfulness modalities retreat that attracted many highly educated, prominent professionals from all walks of life. Some real heavy hitters of the academic world were present but they, and I, left the chest pounding ego for a week, stopped talking about ourselves and started scrubbing each other's toilets. A great equalizer for sure.
This past week has brought me so much peace and clarity. Living a mindful life is such a gift.
I am so happy to be home with my family, mindfully. Well sometimes mindful, then I get lost in thought, then I'm aware I'm lost and bring back the mindful. Again and again...that's all there is to it really. And in the wise words of the little ones I teach, "Sometimes focusing on my breath is hard, and sometimes it is easy."
More about the Insight Meditation Society and on their Facebook