Updated: Dec 15, 2019
Call me crazy, but I get excited reading about meditation retreats...okay, maybe "excited" is an exaggeration. Intrigued is more accurate. The possibility of spending several days in ascetic practice seems alchemic and mysterious. According to various websites, retreat goers seclude themselves in idyllic locations, adorn comfy-looking (yet trendy) meditation garb, while feasting on clean, sustainable meals in between sessions. They claim these trips dramatically change their lives; meditation becomes deeper; a-ha moments click-in and make a lasting impact, all while soaking in the beauty of nature around them.
But I've also heard first hand, these same participants admit how grueling the first days felt; how isolation became the norm; how they lost all sensation in their legs and feet sitting for hours motionless; how they felt stripped emotionally and psychologically before finding inner peace while trying to forgo the urge to scratch the multiple mosquito bites acquired from non-air-conditioned rooms. Okay, wait a minute... this sounds like bizarre logic, like the starvation diet that leads one to appreciate any bite of food.
Yet, I'm still open to investigating the idea. (Maybe I am crazy)
Do these retreats really lead to big breakthroughs? And are they essential to a life-long practice? Possibly, one day, I'll commit to one of these retreats and find out. If I do go, I'll definitely write about the experience. For now, I'm engaged in the here and now and my daily 30 minute practice helps me stay present in the roles I choose to live of mother, wife, daughter, friend, teacher, explorer, and life-long learner. Thirty minutes a day fits my current needs. Somedays it fluctuates and other days it may happen in the morning and in the evening. Regardless, I've learned to reserve time for meditation. I carve it into my day.
In my twenties, I was more nonchalant...if I had some extra time to spare, I'd practice. Being young and single allowed me the luxury of uninterrupted time. Then, in my thirties, I had three kids and I found myself dreaming of having 60 seconds of alone-time without someone hanging on my leg or crying out for me. Meditation time became a practice of awareness while incorporating my kids: learning to deeply breathe while watching my babies sleep, marveling at ants moving sand or butterflies fluttering to flowers while playing outside; counting my steps like a silent mantra while pushing a stroller. When the kids got into school, I noticed my practiced changed again. I craved sleep instead of getting up early to practice so I chose moving meditations like walking, biking, swimming, and dancing. The older my kids got, the more I gravitated back to a sitting practice, which is where I find myself now. The beauty of my practice is how it serves ME; not how some retreat guru says it should be.
These years of practice have also served me in my teaching role. I love helping people develop their personal meditation practice. When I ask my students how they want to learn, I hear the following statements:
"I want something easy and consistent."
"I need constant support."
"Short sessions fit my schedule and guided practices help me not fall asleep."
"I want someone telling me if I'm doing this right."
Do these comments ring true for you? If so, maybe a week long retreat isn't your ideal way of learning right now either. Schedules are full and it can be a struggle to make time for something that seems uncomfortable, long, or boring. I'm now offering live online sessions as well as my private in-studio lessons for those that need more one-on-one guidance. Thirty and sixty minute sessions are available to explore new tools and techniques, set consistency, and maintain motivation for your practice. If you're interested in finding out more, send me a message and we can discuss options. And, I promise, I'll not force you to endure long hours of motionless contemplation. This is your practice; let's find out what serves you best.
In the meantime, explore your curiosity, remain playful, and fill your days with wonder. (side note: meditation helps you do all of this. So, keep practicing!)
All the best!