From January, 2016

Ten Days of Silence in Pecatonica, IL: See You In About Two Weeks

On Wednesday, I will be leaving for a seven-hour drive to the Vipassana Center in Pecatonica, Illinois.  I will be going alone and leaving behind quite a few things I love- my family and friends for one, but also things like: books and other reading materials, pens and paper, COFEE, yoga and other forms of recreational/health-based exercise, alcohol of any type, SUGAR, my laptop and cell phone, eye contact with other humans, and the ability to speak at will without breaking social norms and written agreements.  Oh yes, and also yoga pants and leggings- for modesty’s sake.

…So… This should be interesting….

The schedule for a day in the life of a silent retreat is something like this:

  • 4:00 a.m. wake up call

  • 4:30-6:30 meditate

  • 6:30-8:00 breakfast

  • 9:00-11:00 meditate

I won’t go on as you probably get the picture

So what is this about, you are probably wondering?  Here is the description of Vipassana practice from the code they sent me:

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Gaining Power Through Mindfulness: Thoughts, Feelings and Actions

“What worries you masters you.”

                                                            – Beam, “Ten Mindful Quotes…

Aaron Sherman, long-term partner in the Pages program and teacher at ACPA, asked me a few months ago to visit his class, creatively themed around power.  He wanted me to present/co-teach a lesson on gaining power through mindfulness over various aspects of one’s life.

We explored this topic in three different areas:

Power over thinking– In this part of the two-day lesson we explored how focused attention practice, such as focusing on the breath, can allow students to get distance from their thoughts enough to decide with which thoughts they would like to engage.

Power over feeling– In this part of the lesson, we focused on practices for dealing with negative emotions due to overwhelming stress via heart-focused breathing meditation.

Power over actions– in the final section of the lesson, we focused on how loving-kindness meditation can be used to feel more compassion and connection for others

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Confessions of a Struggling Minimalist: The Joys of Tidying Up and the Struggles of Living with Less

     When my husband and I moved into our 960 square foot house (plus partially finished basement) eight years ago, we originally thought that it was a “first home.” In other words, a place that we would eventually leave for something different- and probably larger.  My family confirmed that this was so. “When you have more kids,” they said, this place will seem small really quickly.
     And there have been challenges.  When we first moved in, there was no dining room. Our narrow alley kitchen had a small space for a table, and we had to get a bench seat so that we could walk through the room when we weren’t eating.  When someone wanted to get up to get a glass of water, there was a lot of shuffling. (Since then I converted a living space into a partial dining room, too.)

We were considering building on a dining room space via a four seasons room, but after watching the documentary Tiny: A Story About Living Small about people who choose to live in tiny (much smaller than ours) houses, Jamey came home to a dining room in our living room. Problem solved!

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Welcoming Our Worst Selves

I have written previous posts about unconditional love, including the love of self. It is a popular topic on the blog because it is so inherent in human nature, at least in our society, to love with conditions, a.k.a., “When I accomplish this, then I will be worthy” or “When I behave in this way, that is when I am deserving.”

When the good times are rolling, it is easier to be self-congratulatory or pleased with the results we have garnered through our hard work. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is not love. Not if when the bad times roll in, we can’t still accept our selves whole-heartedly, forgive, and say “you are enough, even now.”

I am, briefly, having one of the latter moments- a time when my worst self is out on display.  Despite all of the hard work in self-acceptance and careful introspection, I find it is easy to slide down that slippery slope of “What’s wrong with you?” in these type of moments (occassionally at least).

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