This past weekend marked my first weekend-long mindfulness retreat! My mom and I spent Friday evening, all day Saturday, and most of Sunday at a non-residential retreat hosted by Mid America Dharma.
I went into it thinking that the weekend’s beautiful weather would be lost on us, but that was not the case. The retreat alternated sitting meditation with walking meditation, so we were able to get quite a bit of fresh air while enjoying the just-opening daffodils, the sounds of tree frogs and birds, and the view overlooking the Mississippi River.
The retreat was both rewarding and challenging. Friday night and the first 2/3 or so of Saturday went down quite easily; it felt like a port in a storm after a rather challenging week. A period of mindful movement followed Saturday’s lunch hour (mindful eating), and after that, I hit a wall. Both my body and mind wanted to curl up in a ball and take a nap, but that was not on the schedule.
The next sitting meditation was agony, both mentally and physically (my neck hurt a lot); it wasn’t pretty, but I kept returning to the breath, and I made it through. I regrouped during the walking meditation that followed, and then, for the final sitting of the day, I was kind to myself, and used a side-lying meditation posture.
Sunday was a little challenging, but it helped knowing that I only had to make it to 3pm. While there were times I struggled throughout the weekend, on the whole I’m thankful that I was able to make the time to deepen my mindfulness practice in this way.
I’m not sure whether or not it will happen this year, but I would like to experience a similar-length (not yet ready for a week-long!) residential retreat, which will be a very different experience than going home to “normal” life in the evening and morning. While a residential retreat is, in some ways, my top priority, I may first have the opportunity to take part in another non-residential retreat. There is one coming up in June which focuses on “Awakening Joy” — that might be too good to miss!
While I was engaged in formal mindfulness meditation practice, Matthew spent the weekend engaging in his form of meditation — gardening!
The cold and wet of the past few weeks meant this was his first opportunity to get his hands dirty. He took full advantage of the cooperative weather, spending all day Saturday AND Sunday at the garden . . .
. . . with a helper, of course!
Along with my MIL, my garden boys planted all of our onion & leek starts, lots of seedlings (cruciferous and fennel), and potatoes. New in the garden this year is the Earthway Seeder — Matthew estimated that this saved him four hours of work, just this weekend!
They returned with a lovely harvest of kale and arugula from under the low tunnel, plus some more goodies from last year’s harvest — the last of the potatoes (we still have quite a few to eat!), plus frozen green beans, broccoli, and sweet peppers. Time to eat up!
I’m really impressed with your mindfulness practice. I totally suck at meditation – which probably means I ought to try to do it more often. I can’t imagine doing it for hours on end… this scene from Eat Pray Love comes to mind… 🙂
If definitely did not come all at once. Before taking the 6-week course, I would have also said I sucked at meditation. A year ago, when Matthew would suggest that we meditate, I was good for about five minutes. Ten minutes was an eternity! Mindfulness is a very gentle, accepting approach — it acknowledges that the mind is going to wander. Being aware that your mind is wandering, and bringing it back to the breath is part of the practice, not “doing it wrong.” It’s all about starting small, but being consistent, and then building from there.
Well… there’s another issue for me. When I am able to completely clear my mind – like at the end of yoga practice in corpse pose, I have a tendency to just lose it emotionally. I think this is probably a good thing all in all – getting the pent up emotions out and everything, but I fear any sort of class or retreat where one has to be in the presence of others who will think I’m in need of an intervention or something! I have heard of other people experiencing this with yoga, but I’m not sure about meditation – have you ever run across this sort of thing in your practice? I mean not necessarily you yourself, but have you heard of people dissolving into tears for no particular reason when they meditate? Perhaps I shouldn’t worry about being crazy, and should just do it anyway – but honestly, it does freak me out a little bit.