Sunday, May 2, 2010

Packing For the Retreat

Packing for one week retreat, starting today with Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella, I am bringing a lot more than the IMC recommended list of 'personal items to bring'. And I don't mean stuff. 

It has been a long time, twelve years exactly, since I went on a week long silent retreat. While I am eagerly looking forward to that time of undivided presence with myself, I am also very aware of the many thoughts and emotions that I am carrying with me, in anticipation. Some of these may be familiar to you, who have gone on retreats before. In the pit of my stomach, anxiety, excitement, relief, aversion, doubt, fear, faith, and curiosity, collide to form a nervous ball. In my mind, concurrent thoughts stumble in a cacophony of voices, some louder than others. "This is good, exactly the medicine that's needed at this point in my life." "I wonder what's going to happen." "I hope I will have a good roommate." "I hope the food will be ok." "This is not going to be fun." "I can't wait to come back home." "I wish they had a pool so I could swim." "It will be so nice to unplug, and get away." "Will I be able to sit for that many hours?" "Maybe I can take one long walk every day?" "What will I find inside?" "Will I get down to the bottom of my anguish?" "I hope I will come out with some greater clarity" . . . 

So many thoughts, so many emotions, I am bringing with me. 

PS - Of course, I will go unplugged for the whole duration of the retreat. That means no blogging, no tweeting, no ninging, until May 10th! May you all be well, and at peace, and may you all enjoy many moments of kind mindfulness.


  1. I'm not sure what to wish you for the retreat... "May whatever is supposed to happen, happen" comes to mind.

    I'm a bit jealous - though I am by no means ready for a week long retreat, silent or not. I've been listening to the IMC podcasts for a couple of years now, would love to meet some of the people someday, but I live in the Midwest, so who knows when that will happen?

    Looking forward to your future posts :)

  2. Gee - I feel this way about life most of the time! :) Have a great week of peace and settled quiet... Christine

  3. wishing you a fruitful retreat. I can identify with the strange brew of dread and anticipation as I am doing a 4 day retreat for the first time in 4 years on May12th, already those thoughts pop into my head!

  4. Belated thanks to you! (responding on the day after I got back from the retreat)

    Mihaela, each thing in its own time . . . The talks at the retreat were recorded, so you should be able to listen to them in a few weeks on Audiodharma!

    Christine, yes, so much we are 'bringing' into every situation . . . One of the things that happened during the retreat, was the quasi-disappearance of such thoughts about half way in. Mindfulness is such a wonderful way of being!

    ZenDot, can't wait to read your impressions pre- and post- retreat. Knowing you, I am sure there will be plenty of goodies for us to ponder :)

    Much metta,


  5. I loved reading your list of thoughts pre-retreat. Oh yes...will the food be good? That's a big one for sure. I went on a three-day retreat to Sivananda Ashram in upstate NY about a year ago and thoughts around food were HUGE for me! Feeding time was so exciting I could hardly wait for dinner time every day. Granted, this wasn't a meditation retreat, but let me just say I relate :)

    Now with a bit more practice under my belt, I would be interested in a meditation retreat. Are there any you recommend?

  6. I am most familiar with Vipassana retreats. On top of my list, IMC and Spirit Rock, of course, both in SF Bay Area. And on the East Coast, IMS.