…Actually I’ve been back for three days now. I had an absolutely brilliant time on retreat…it was an amazing combination of stimulating and calming. We meditated several times a day and there were silent periods too; there were talks on Buddhism, some of them quite personal and therefore fascinating, communication exercises, group meetings, ritual, work periods and yoga. There was so much on offer that I didn’t want to miss out on that there wasn’t much time for going for long walks in the beautiful surrounding countryside. The food was nearly all vegan and fantastic, even by my exacting standards. There were 96 people on the retreat so potentially different dinner companions every evening.
I had such a great time that it wasn’t easy coming home. I’m still struggling a little with touching down in my own life again. I didn’t want to blog or go on the internet, or do any of the usual things I do. I felt unsettled by the glimpse into another kind of life that the retreat gave me. Seeing more of Richard since I’ve been home hasn’t been easy either. Plus I haven’t done yoga or meditated since I’ve been back…and today I got the nearest to compulsive overeating that I have since joining OA and becoming abstinent!
I had some very valuable insights about myself while on the retreat, mainly concerning the way I do or don’t relate to others. I couldn’t help but be faced with my own inadequacies in this regard…my irritability, intolerance and tendency to quick judgments, even if all of them are only thought and not said. I also had a very vivid dream, in the midst of all the calm and meditative focus, of being repeatedly violently beaten up by a malevolent but gender-unspecific figure. When I thought about this, a little rattled by it naturally, I knew immediately that this was a part of me…my ‘Inner Bully’. Yes, I repeatedly do a violence to myself in my thoughts, no question! That’s why I knew I needed to get more tuition on how to do the ‘metta bhavana’ practice, the meditation that aims to develop ‘kindly awareness’, ‘metta’. I was able to get this on retreat.
However the main thing I got from retreat was, loud and clear, the message, Zoe, stop isolating! You need to be part of a spiritual community, you are a social being and if you don’t use that capacity it will not develop. Even in a matter of a few days I saw myself develop into a far more social and sociable person. And I loved it! I did have to go through a sort of pain barrier first, mind.
So I did not just come back thinking ‘good, I learned some more about meditation’. I came back knowing that my feet would be tracing a path to the Buddhist Centre on a much more regular basis, and that I would be booking another retreat as soon as I identify a suitable one! I probably won’t be bothering much with holidays in the future either. I’ll go on retreat instead!
Take care all…Zoe.