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
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:
“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
Confessions of a Struggling Minimalist: The Joys of Tidying Up and the Struggles of Living with Less
It’s hard to imagine a more quintessentially American expedition than taking a train out West, a.k.a. our holiday season this year. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of traveling by rail or landing in the frosty winter of Montana, here are a few images to capture the experience.
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).