Mindfulness: Retreat and last class

I spent Saturday morning attending the half-day retreat portion of the mindfulness workshop (the retreat is in addition to the weekly class).  Part of the attraction of this particular workshop, at Masterpeace Studios in Webster Groves (MO), was it’s location, just a few miles from where we live.

Given the distance, I went into it thinking that I would bike to most of the sessions, but it didn’t work out that way.  If I’d had to, I certainly could have biked to the weekly classes, but taking the car was much more convenient, given the timing.

On the way to the 7:00pm class, making the extra 10-15 minutes to bike was tricky, compounded by the fact that I would have been biking on a full stomach.  Biking home from class at 9:00pm would have left me too wound up for my normal bed time (a general problem for me with nighttime biking).  All of this to say that when you have access to a car, it’s easy to find an excuse to use it, even if you could choose another mode . . . .

The Saturday retreat, however, offered the perfect opportunity to bike, and the weather couldn’t have been better!

The Retreat
I really enjoyed the retreat.  Unlike the [understandable] anxiety of some of my classmates (can I do this for four hours?), I went into it feeling very calm and positive (once I found out that I would not have to go four hours without food — hey, I have a very high metabolic rate!), and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

My classmates and I practiced “noble silence” (i.e., not speaking during the retreat), and our instructor led us through a series of guided mindfulness meditations.  She alternated sitting meditation with practices that involved movement (e.g., mindful yoga, walking meditation), which was really nice.

Our final practice was mindful eating, and then we broke the silence and talked about our experience.  I was soaking it all in and didn’t have much to say, but given my classmates’ comments, I’m very glad the timing worked out so that I didn’t feel conflicted about spending those four hours at the retreat instead of attending to a long to-do list.  Having the time and space to go into it unburdened was really a gift.

Former students are invited to join any future retreats, and I already have the March retreat date penciled in my calendar.

Last class
Last night was it.  The last night of [this] mindfulness class. I’m going to miss it, but I’m determined to keep practicing on my own.

The past several weeks have not exactly been low stress, between wrestling with decisions about PA school and replacing my bike, and other, broader issues that are an indirect part of my life.  I won’t say I haven’t been anxious or down at times, but, overall, I think I managed much better during that time than I would have if I had not been practicing mindfulness every day.  Results are good motivation to continue the work!

I’m currently reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living, the book on which the course I took was based, and the more in-depth information there is reinforcing what I’ve learned these past six weeks.  I’m finding ideas there that I can incorporate into my own practice going forward.

As I mentioned last time, I’m planning to continue recording my daily practice.  I was wondering what I would do with Monday nights, now that I suddenly have them free again, and I might try to establish them as Mindfulness Mondays, a dedicated time for a longer mindfulness practice.

I’m also looking into longer retreats (2-3 days), ideally ones that don’t require a trip to the east or west coast.  I’d like to find a good, nearby option (i.e., easy drive or train ride) and plan on deepening my practice that way in 2015!


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