Monday, 7 March 2016

Ruminations on Retreat Part 2

Writing on the wall at Corrymeela

So the week continues. I am amazed how far some folk have travelled for this, New Zealand, Greece, Spain , all over the UK and Ireland . A large percentage of the  course participants were woman,  and came  from  diverse backgrounds, large numbers from the medical field, academia and therapy also featured . Just the one yoga teacher not hard to  guess who that was? Average age I guess was 45+ There were a few younger folk there but not many. Every day started with a practise of  mindfulness with accompanying  mindful movement, followed by breakfast, a bit of course teaching by the leaders this generally ended with a period of reflection and journaling. After lunch we had teaching practise in small groups . Dinner then another evening practise. Overnight silence during which we were strongly encouraged not to use our phones, not to bring any extra reading material, just to be present with ourselves alone.  We had one period of  24 hours of unbroken silence, other times we had meals in silence or parts of days in silence most evenings there was silence after 9pm.

The programme was intense and sustained encouraging us to enquire deeply into our inner selves. As it was experiential learning it  encouraged us to embody mindfulness meditation practise into our daily lives. I guess the best way to explain this is, say for example there was a farmer who grew potatoes and knew everything about  potatoes, he knew the taste, texture and flavour of potatoes , knew what they smelt like, what they felt like, how to grow them and so on, in fact knew everything possible about growing and eating potatoes. Then imagine you have an academic who has spent a life time studying the potato and also  knows  everything there is to know about the potato but has never tasted, touched or felt  a potato. Who would you say had the deeper knowledge about potatoes? Mindfulness is a bit like this , unless you have a felt sense of it in your body it would be pretty pointless trying to teach mindfulness. Hence the need for  deep experiential learning .....if that makes sense.

I did not find the periods of silence particularly difficult. I did not find the long periods of meditation too difficult either. I did find it difficult to sit and do nothing just be with myself right here, right now. I  didn't know what to do with myself . I felt a bit unstrung by it and ended up taking long walks which were allowed. It seemed a bit of a relief to be able to get away from Corrymeela every now  albeit just down the road to the sea.I could not figure out if I was simply resisting the process or even if it was a good, bad or neutral experience. I just decided to go with the flow and see what came out of it. Trying to let go of the need to analyse and draw conclusions . Just to notice what showed up for me.

It sure gave me plenty of time to study my other colleagues and my teachers.....but more about that tomorrow .

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