Friday, January 1st, 2016
I was having dinner with a friend of mine earlier this summer. In the middle of eating, she dropped her fork, shook her head quizzically and asked: Why on earth would you want to go on such a long meditation retreat? What are you going to do isolated in a mountain cabin for 100 days? I didn’t quite know how to answer – it seemed like such a natural, healthy, inspired thing for me to do. Seeing her puzzled, skeptical face, I realized I owed her an explanation.
Why does anyone take themselves “out of the mix” for a such a long period of time? In some ways it can seem a bit self-indulgent. People might wonder: Is this an excuse for an extended vacation? Do you just want to get away from your job or escape family obligations? What are you hiding from, anyway?
Understandable questions! But, frankly, I enjoy my work and I don’t need or want a vacation; I have a such a loving, supportive family that it’s actually hard to be away from them. And, if you’ve trained with me, you certainly know I’m not one to shy away from a good mental, physical or emotional challenge!
The answer to the question “Why?” is so extraordinarily complicated it’s actually quite simple. When you get to a certain point in your mind training, you want to go further – to stretch yourself, to test your limits.
Let’s face it: how much meditation practice can you really squeeze into the average workday or diversion-filled weekend? In between the shopping, cooking, or trying (in vain) just to get to the gym, take a short walk or spend some quality time with the kiddos? How about all the social obligations and community commitments? Not to mention the allure of internet surfing, “binge watching,” or that tempting novel you’ve be hoping to read (I could go on and on, but I’m sure you’re already right with me on this).
It’s next to impossible to carve out enough time in the day to turn your attention inward with the consistency and presence required to train and nurture your most important asset: your own mind. A few minutes of belly breathing here, a half hour of seated meditation there – sometimes it’s just not enough.
How can we simplify, relax and add a bit of sanity to our busy, stressful lives? We all know the world is a demanding, complicated place – how do we make positive, significant changes that last; changes that stick? Well, that’s a big part of the reason I’m up here, writing to you from 9,000 feet plus somewhere in the foothills of the remote, snow-packed Sangre de Christo Mountains: to make positive, significant changes that last; changes that stick.
Bill Filter, Trainer & Co-Founder, VUmind
Next week: Musings from Retreat II: How Your One Mindful Minute Supports My One Hundred Mindful Days (and Vise-Versa)