I went on a mindfulness retreat last month and came home in a state of bliss. Seriously. Having spent 2 ½ days not speaking, not writing and only reading a few pages of Call of the Wild before bed, I entered this new place inside me. Honestly, I was not prepared for the feelings of lightness, calm, peace, whatever you’d like to call it.
Before heading up north, I had given little thought to what I was about to experience. I knew there would be some days of silence and I was excited about the lessons, the teachers and the people I’d meet but I didn’t think ahead (hey! I think that might be called living in the moment!).
There were 90 people on the retreat and the silence was a big topic of conversation before we went silent. It was very difficult for some. For me, it was not difficult. The difficult part for me was practicing mindfulness all day! We did sitting practice then walking practice, then sitting practice then walking practice then a meal. Repeat. When I learned the schedule was practicing mindfulness all day, I got nervous. But in the moment-to-moment of it all, I was fine. I sat in a chair so I didn’t have those “my body is killing me from sitting on the floor” feelings and I figured out the walking practice pretty quickly (hint: go somewhere that you don’t have to worry about walking into someone!) and I just took it all a minute at a time. I think it was easier being surrounded by people who were also taking it a minute at a time.
I enjoyed the silence, the not having to come up with small talk with people I had just met. The surroundings were beautiful and peaceful. Animals came around and hung out. I took the time to notice all that! But by the time we were talking again, we had common experiences to share and the small talk came very naturally.
Most of us missed talking at meals and discussing how wonderful the food was. I missed sharing sightings of deer and other little animals, fires on the horizon and a beautiful moon. But we all had a chance to catch up in the following days. Plus we were getting into our lessons so there was even more to talk about. We could share our inspirations and our passions.
This group of people is amazing. They’re mostly classroom teachers but there are other teachers (art, yoga, dance), there are mental health professionals, administrators, and people like me who fall into none of the above but hope to become “Outside Providers” and bring mindfulness to children either in schools or other settings. I kept looking around at the teachers and thinking “I hope my son gets teachers like this at some point in his education. Teachers who are excited about life and teaching and sharing and inspiring.”
I was struck by what a friendly, smart, kind, group of people this is. In the beginning, I felt “less than” since I am not a trained teacher but felt supported and respected for bringing something to the party. I made a number of friends who I look forward to walking this road with and am excited to meet more. They all share the same desire to try to make the world just a little better and we’re all sharing ideas and ways to do that. I was inspired by many of the people and continue to be inspired now through our weekly lessons. I feel so incredibly lucky to have found this path.