I came back from our family summer holiday totally enthused about 2016. I had nominated it to be ‘a year of learning’. As my husband looked on wondering how much money I was going to spend on training courses and more importantly, how long I was planning on leaving the family for, I busily went about researching how I was going to spend my ‘professional development’ time and money (I know, it’s wonderful when this type of professional development is also very much personal development!).
Before too long I had found just the very thing. The Gawler Foundation in the Yarra Valley (yes, they educate and support people with cancer and MS, but they are so much more…. a whole centre for health and wellness) was offering a 5 day residential: learning to teach – and experience – their Mindfulness Based Stillness Meditation approach. A few of my yoga colleagues in Melbourne had completed the course and raved about it. It was local (well, if you count 3.5 hours as local….but as I told my husband, it wasn’t like I was getting on a plane and going to India). And, it was nicely scheduled in the school holidays making it easier on the family front for me to get away. “Fantastic”, I thought and booked it in!
So, on the scheduled day, I arrived. Shared rooms of 8 people. Each day we started at 7:30am. Feeling that this was a little ‘relaxed’ for a meditation retreat, I decided to get up at 5:30am each day to practice my own yoga & meditation before the formal day began. This seemed like a great idea, except that I couldn’t read my watch properly in the dark. As I hopped into the shower on that first morning I glanced at my watch again. 4:30am!! Oh my…. I hope my 7 roommates were not cursing. Still, I had two hours of morning yoga that day instead of one, so I felt like I was off to a fabulous start.
The week was essentially a parallel experience. There was a beautiful big lecture room where we were taught each day by the amazing Paul Bedson – a man with a wealth of knowledge and experience. We also experienced two substantial meditations each day and many smaller meditation sessions interspersed throughout our learning. There was time to be social with the other 29 participants (all women except for one man) and times of silence where we could allow for our own internal processing.
At breakfast, after a particularly beautiful meditation one morning, tears simply welled up and overflowed out of eyes and into my porridge (luckily we were in silence and everyone’s heads were down… & luckily my porridge was nearly finished). I’m not sure why the tears came. I had been feeling fabulous and had no conscious awareness of what they were about, but clearly something deeper was being shifting and released. I gained no further insight into what those tears were about while I was away, but I can say that I have come home feeling stronger and more assured than ever before. I am also brimming with enthusiasm to share this mindfulness approach to meditation. It is so accessible – anyone could do it. And it involves ‘effortless effort’. Sounds good, doesn’t it!
Join me: Monday 25 July, 7:00-8:30pm for an 8 week mindfulness journey.