Monday, March 7, 2011

Silent Retreat

One of the precepts I agreed to upon entered teacher training was to speak only honestly. And I put off writing this blog about my meditation retreat because of that. I wasn't sure exactly what to say about my weekend, because I didn't want to diminish the retreat for anyone else. But then I was reminded (thanks Erica!) that my blog is about my own experiences. And my experience is just as valid as someone else's.

This past weekend, our yoga teacher training class went on a 3 day silent meditation retreat. I had never meditated before and had no idea what to expect, but I had heard such amazing things about meditation that I was excited to go.

Showing up and meeting everyone was amazing. I felt so close to these people already, even though we had only had one TT class together. However, then Noble Silence began as well as countless hours of meditation.

Even though I was a newbie to meditation, many of the ideas were ones I have lived with since I was a child. I have never been one to tear up at commercials, or lash out in anger, or freak out during tragedy. I am usually the calm level headed one who sometimes comes across as "cold" because I don't let my emotions take control (for example, I don't think that I have ever cried at a funeral). I would detach myself from emotion to get done whatever needed to get done. One of my mom's friends even nicknamed me "The General" at a very young age. It was just who I was (am). I wasn't suppressing anything, I could just see the bigger picture when it seemed like others couldn't - how acting on impulse rarely made a situation better.

So the goal of meditation was a very familiar one for me: become an observer to your thoughts, emotions and actions. Step outside of them. Control them instead of letting them control you. I am always up for learning and practicing, but the way in which we practiced it over the weekend didn't really do much for me. I don't think I was ready for 15 hours of sitting in meditation right out of the gate. I did learn a lot about myself during it, little lessons that I am sure will be discussed in future blogs, but I didn't feel this life-changing sensation that many others expressed. There was nothing spiritual for me, nothing cosmically-altering. This was strange for me because I am an extremely spiritual person. Maybe I wasn't ready, maybe I didn't do things correctly, maybe I expected too much going in, maybe, maybe, maybe. When it was over I was just ready for it to be over. It didn't leave me wanting more - like some people who were eager to go to a full Vipanassa 10 day silent retreat. I didn't feel accomplished. I felt pretty much blank by the end of it. It was what it was and then it was over. I was hesitant to be this honest because I felt like it makes me lesser than someone who had huge awakenings during the retreat. Like I am so far behind everyone else on this journey. But I need to be honest to myself in order to grow and so I needed to write the truth.

That said, I am excited to begin daily meditation. I do feel I can learn a lot about myself through this ancient practice (when done in moderation). I think I needed to work up to a retreat that intense in order to really appreciate the benefits.

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