It was the evening of Friday the 13th. The coronavirus was not going away. They closed the schools in the state of Oregon earlier that day. It was dusk and starting to snow. The weather app on my phone forecasted snow and cold temperatures for the next three days. My phone calendar showed no plans for the weekend.
Everything about that moment felt like life was closing in on me. I had felt that feeling before.
It was the feeling at the beginning of a silent meditation retreat.
Ten days later, it still feels like I am on retreat. Since I have been on my share of retreats, I am inspired to share some of the things that seem to come up when I am on retreat. Things that nobody told me.
The first rule of thumb: things come up. There you are minding your own business and something hits you. It might be a realization about something that you were not wanting to face. Or it might be a sad feeling with no known origin.
Two days into my first retreat, an uneasy feeling about my job came up. It was a feeling that my job and I may not a good fit. Crazy, right? I dismissed it.
But the next morning ever coffee, there it was again. And again later, on my otherwise delightful walk in the forest.
Which leads to the second rule of thumb, a given thing will keep coming up until you deal with it.
Dealing with it can mean several things. It could mean, as in the case with my job, to take it seriously. To fully accept that this is something I need to attend to.
It also could mean feeling the sadness of unknown origin, or just as easy, feeling some unexpected, boundless joy.
And for the third rule of thumb: do not judge yourself. Some of the things that emerge may not be flattering. Just see, accept, and feel them. Do not beat yourself up. It’s challenging enough without that.
At the end of the retreat, I felt amazing. I felt wide open, extremely alive, and mysteriously purified.
So to sum it up, when we are sequestered in a way in which our ways of avoiding ourselves are taken away, we may be forced to look at some things.
It's not the most comfortable experience sometimes. And granted, it was a bit scary at first. But over time, I realized it was a huge blessing. It reconnected me with my life.
It was so much a blessing that I now pay perfectly good money to experience this several times a year.
So think of the bright side, a retreat is coming right to your front door, and it’s free.
As the teacher at my first retreat told me with a huge compassionate smile, “Enjoy yourself!”
7 Ways to Integrate your Spiritual Nature into your Everyday Life
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