I experienced my first meditation retreat last weekend. I allowed plenty of time to drive the 3 1/2 hours, but by the time I left, Friday traffic was in full swing. I tried not to stress about arriving late and missing dinner.
Fortunately, I arrived only fifteen minutes after dinner had started. The moderator checked me in and then told me to meditate for twenty minutes before joining everyone.
As hungry as I was (after an extra long drive), I knew meditation was the perfect way to start the weekend.
After dinner we were given the weekend’s agenda. We were encouraged to rest – and sleep – as much as we wanted/needed to. During the lecture portions of the weekend, we sat in very comfortable chairs. It was acceptable to fall asleep.
Before we headed back to our rooms that first night, we listened to music “to prepare us to sleep” and then filed out quietly. Our instructions for the morning were to get up when our bodies “kicked us out of bed,” do some yoga, mediate and rest some more. It was my private version of heaven. Get up naturally, instead of with an alarm? Ease into the day with yoga and meditation? Yes!
And that’s exactly how I felt Saturday morning. Relaxed. Grateful to be [required] to take care of me, in my own room, at my own pace.
Lecture. Lunch. Free time to walk (the retreat center was located on a beautiful lake surrounded by woods). Then back to our rooms for two more rounds of yoga, mediation and rest.
It all sounded doable – until I missed my walk at lunch because of too much chit chat. Instead of heading back to my room (like everyone else), I headed outside. Solo. And because I was solo, I brought my phone. And because I brought my phone, I looked at it. And responded to the ten text messages waiting for me. We were supposed to be “off the grid.” Breaking protocol is not usually my style. I do my best to be respectful of the leader’s requests.
I made it back for one round, instead of two.
Dinner. More videos and lectures. Bed by 10:00 pm (9:00 pm if you include the extra hour for Daylight Savings Time). I’m rarely in bed before midnight so this was a challenge. Plus, there was a full moon waiting for me outside. I’m sure its reflection on the lake was magnificent. (After breaking rules in the afternoon – I didn’t feel good about doing it again.)
I laid in bed, with the lights off until sleep eventually came.
Another round the next morning. Lecture. Lunch and then lots of hugs, coupled with our good-byes.
The two hundred miles home quickly reminded me the weekend had been like a dream. Not my normal existence. I made it almost 48 hours without my phone. It will be easier the next time.
Have you ever been on a retreat? Would you do it again? I’d love to know below!