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Saturday, August 15, 2015

2015 Mindfulness Retreat in Garrison, NY; or Mindfulness for the Non-Hippy

Before I go any further, I'd like to explain my use of the word "hippy."  I mean nothing bad by it.  I grew up in the 60's, and as a young child, saw the Beatles and the "counterculture" practicing TM (Transcendental Meditation) on TV.  They were the hippies.  So, by using this word, I am merely distinguishing those who have practiced some or many forms of meditation for many years. I admire them.  By distinguishing myself as a non-hippy, I am obviously not one of them, although I hope to change that.  Anyway . . . on with my journey.

Day 1 Aug. 7
Left Bishop Airport in Flint, MI at 5:55am (left my house at 4:15am!)  Flew to Atlanta, GA (what?!) and then to NYC.  Arrived at LaGuardia airport at 11:00am.  I had volunteered to be the "flock shepherd" for the 18+ people arriving at LaGuardia that were taking the shuttle to the Garrison Institute.  So, that meant I had the contact information for all of them, and I was to make sure that everyone was accounted for before the shuttle took off at 2:00pm.  Yesterday, I decided it would be a good idea if I sent them all an email, introducing and describing myself so they would have a better idea of who to look for.  "Look for a short, round, middle-aged woman with a fluorescent pink shirt on.  See you tomorrow outside of the baggage claim area at Terminal D, pillar #7!" Great.  One problem . . . we were all supposed to meet at TerminalB! I wasn't aware of my little mistake until after I had landed, got my bag, and tried to find pillar #7 at Terminal D (there isn't one).  I turned on my phone to check Sachiko's (the coordinator) email, and saw a long list of replies to my email: "You have a different meeting location than the original email." "Terminal D or B?" "Ok, see you at Terminal D pillar #71" - NO! That was 7 exclamation mark, not 71 !  YIKES!!  I haven't even met these people yet, and they all either hate me or think I'm a bubble head!  So, I walked about a mile to Terminal B, sat myself down on the cement, leaning up against pillar #7, and sent texts, emails, and phone messages to everyone on my list that I had totally confused in my attempt to make things easier!  Oh well . . . it all worked out alright.  Everyone made it, the shuttle was a big, air conditioned bus with very comfortable seats that reclined, and we were off!

BTW - good thing those seats were comfortable, because we were on our way at 2:30pm on a Friday, driving through NYC.  Two words: traffic jam! A trip that Google Maps says should take 1 hr. 7 min. took almost 2.5 hours!  At least most of us got in a nice, little nap!

Garrison Institute is beautiful.  Overlooking the Hudson River.  Lush gardens, lots of trees, beautiful hills.  West Point is just across and a little further up the river.  It used to be a Capuchin monastery on 95 acres of property called Glenclyff, formerly the estate of Hamilton Fish, Gov. of New York and Sec. of State under Pres. Grant. I checked in and got my room assignment - room 408. Yay! 4th floor rooms are the only ones with ceiling fans (no air conditioning).  The down side - no elevators.  I don't mind climbing stairs - its good exercise. But, lugging my suitcase up to the 4th floor with a bum arm and asthma was a challenge! I was lucky to get a double room all to myself.  It feels like a cross between a dorm and camping!

The food here is vegetarian and all organic.  I knew this ahead of time, so it was not a shock (for those of you that don't know, I'm a "meat and potatoes" kind of girl. Vegetables are not high on my list of favorites!).  1st meal: Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche, Roasted Yams, Corn on the Cob, and Mixed Greens.  Looks like I'll be getting my fill of salad this week!

Cooled off nicely this evening.  Everyone met for the first time in the Meditation Room - beautiful! Its nice to see Megan, Chris, and Vinnie from curriculum training, and to meet the other instructor, Pam. Love the Mindful Schools team!! First group meditation was very easy, peaceful.  I think the room makes it easy.  Tomorrow we begin our first day of silence.  Not sure if I'm ready for this!

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