This was my first retreat, a 40th birthday present to myself. Life has a way of building clutter, complications and jumbled thoughts. I was feeling spread too thin, too impatient and too distracted. I knew the problem, but didn’t know the solution. Somehow the subject of meditation seemed to be surfacing more regularly. I wanted to experience it with full guidance and ended up at this retreat with only a month of short, irregular, app guided meditation sessions under my belt.
The only thing required for this retreat is an open mind. While I could describe the grounds, the buildings and schedule (all have a simple beauty), there are no words to describe the atmosphere – The sum is greater than its parts. As I sit here trying to find a way to describe the experience, I realize it is a labor in vain as everyone likely experiences it differently. While I can’t say my introspective ‘moments’ will be the same for others, I do believe if you arrive with the above requirement you will leave with a new sense of calm and appreciation.
Time stands still while on the retreat…I could have been there two days – or two months; could have been a stranger to the fellow retreatants– or known them my whole life. I was different when I left than when I arrived…could it really be less than 48 hours later? Upon leaving the retreat though, the memories fade quickly. Effort is needed to continue the practice and maintain a sense of presence and calm in a world which is not cooperative towards such undertakings. It is not an impossible task though – you will realize the tools have been there all along, the retreat just helps you realize it’s worth the effort to learn how to use them.