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Monday, August 31, 2015

2015 Mindfulness Retreat in Garrison, NY; or Mindfulness for the Non-Hippy Finale: The Silence is Over!

Monday, Aug. 10 - The Silence is Over!!!

Looking back (now that it's done), the experience was good.  I liked the feeling of not being obligated to speak or even interact non-verbally with anyone. There were no expectations other than just being for me. It allowed me to really take in everything around me.  In self-reflection, I came to realize that a lot of this I've really been doing to a certain extent for years.  I am a very reflective, self-inquisitive person. That's why my time alone late at night, after everyone has gone to sleep, is so vital to me. That is my mindfulness time. I think that's why I've been drawn to mindfulness so quickly and completely - there is something familiar to this "new" thing!

But, now that the silence is over, I did not forget how miserable meals were, or how kind of crazy I got yesterday when I took a walk and found myself at the main road and saw civilization.  I remember that feeling of wanting to make a break for it.  But, I also know that my little walk to the edge of civilization and back was all I needed to rejuvenate myself for the remainder of our silence.  I had no desire to break my silence or turn on my phone other than to take pictures.  I just needed to get "out." Although, it would have been amazing to have stumbled across a pop machine or an ice cream stand!

Tuesday, Aug. 11 - Class and Reflections

RAIN, RAIN, STEAM, SAUNA, CAN'T BREATHE!!! Serious asthma alert day.

In class, we got into the cohort groups that we will be working in throughout the year.  Yay Michigan group!!  We also formed affinity groups so people with similar backgrounds and goals can work together and share ideas.  We learned very useful information when marketing ourselves, and learned more about what will be coming this year.  We also did more group activities that allowed us to share, get to know more about each other, and more about ourselves.  Some of these activities were very deep, and raw emotions were exposed.  Its amazing how close you can get with a room full of complete strangers! 

Pam gave the evening talk.  Now, before that, during our afternoon break, I received messages about picking dates next week to give mindfulness workshops to teachers that I've been waiting to put together.  My 1st reaction: EXCITED! It's finally coming together!  Here we go! My business is getting off the ground!  And then: Oh my gosh! What am I doing? I can't do this. I'm going to make a fool out of myself.  I don't know enough about this yet. I'm not good enough at this yet. Maybe I should wait and practice more.  Why did I quit my job?  What was I thinking? Everyone's counting on me.  I can't let them down . . . and what will happen when I do? Yadda, yadda, yadda.

And then Pam started to talk.  It was as if she could look into my mind and channel my thoughts, because she articulated every thought and feeling I was having as her own.  She asked a question that really stuck with me: "When will I be enough?" She has always felt, and still does - as do I, that she's not good enough . . . or smart enough . . . or thin enough . . . or pretty enough . . . or ______ enough. She does not fit the mold of a mindfulness trainer that I had fashioned for myself.  She is not young, she is not skinny, and, as she put it, she is not blond-haired and blue-eyed. But, she is intelligent, she is confident, she is a great teacher and mentor - whether she feels all of these things inside or not.  And, she is now my "angel." Thank you, Pam.

Wed., August 12 - Our last full day here.


Spent the day and evening taking lots of notes, exchanging phone numbers and emails, making outlines, writing lists, and planning our first steps.  Wednesday evening after dinner, we pushed the tables and chairs to the side and transformed the dining hall into Party Central!!! After a week of deep emotions and reflections, it was time to let loose - and that we did!!  Snacks, sweets, beverages, and dancing!! So much fun!  After clean up, we went outside to see the meteor shower - perfect!!

Thurs., August 13 - Saying Goodbye and Re-entry

We talked a lot about what it will be like to re-enter life.  I felt bad for most of the group who were going right back into their classrooms and going from a week of silence and peacefulness into full-blown, school-year chaos! I am very grateful that I can gently get back to my life - my new life.  As happy as I am to get back to my family, I will miss all of these people. As we officially ended our retreat with a touching ceremony solidifying our bond with string bracelets, we all hugged, cried and said goodbye.  It was amazing to me that just a few short days ago these were all strangers to me. Now we all feel like family. 

I came here expecting to learn more about mindfulness, and I left here with so much more than that.  I am counting the days until next summer's retreat!

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