Friday, May 8, 2015


 "Don’t meditate to fix yourself, 
to heal yourself, 
to improve yourself, 
to redeem yourself; 
 do it as an act of love, 
of deep warm friendship to yourself."

I was in need of continuing education credits to renew my nursing license, so I decided to attend a MINDFULNESS-BASED STRESS REDUCTION RETREAT at Commonweal Center in Bolinas. I would receive 24 CEU's and it was promoted as:   a place where you can be “unplugged” for several days to recover a sense of personal presence and well-being.  The location was idyllic-- Point Reyes National Seashore.  I had no idea that "unplugged" would literally mean NO wi-fi or cellular service.

The you that goes in one side of
 the meditation experience
 is not the same you that comes out the other side

I didn't know what to expect.  I just hoped I would have some good food and relax for the weekend. Didn't want to have to do any role-playing or oral presentations!  

I hadn't noticed that it advertised- "gourmet vegetarian meals"- I was just so set on getting the CEU's! 

We left Sac, the temp was 92 but as we got closer to the coast, it began to cool dramatically! The scenery was beautiful as we curved through the  green rolling hills and arrived at Bolinas. Our group was an eclectic bunch.  Some professionals in need of CEU's, several alumni, and then   others who like me had no idea what "mindfulness" 
involved, but thought their lives were so stressful, they would benefit from stress reduction. 

 I thought the weekend would be filled with lectures, maybe a few power point presentations, and a syllabus to follow along with.  I was in for a big surprise.  Basically, it was 3 days of meditating.  Sitting, walking, laying down for "body scan". Our leaders Steve & Bob, would talk a little, then we'd meditate. Usually once or twice a day, we would go around the circle, or divide into small groups expressing some of our thoughts or feelings, what we expected, feared , enjoyed or anticipated about our meditations. I confess that during our meditations times,  my mind at times became so uncluttered and blank that I nodded off now and then. But on the whole I stayed focused.


We started each day with some yoga or Qigong.  We even had one day of "silence".  For those of you who know me--not one of my strong suits.  I enjoy the fellowship with others and feel I learn a lot from hearing other peoples stories. Once again, I may have slipped a little on the "vow of silence", so guess I wouldn't make a very good Trappist Monk or Vestal Virgin for that matter.

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt, containing a tornado. 
Dam a stream and it will create a new channel. 
Resist, and the tide will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry you to higher groun



As I mentioned before, I had no idea that the highlight of this retreat was the fantastic food!  Certainly gourmet and all vegetarian, organic and locally grown.  While there were books and CD's on meditation, I wanted THE cookbook.  However, our chef said it was "under construction"!  Every meal was a culinary delight!

There was plenty of time to take long walks and enjoy the countryside. I could meditate on the beauty of the ocean, blooming flowers and magnificent trees. I didn't miss the lack of cellular service one bit!!

 Mindfulness meditation doesn't change life. Life remains as fragile and unpredictable as ever. Meditation changes the heart's capacity to accept life as it is.


I was surprised that I really did come out a different person, more aware and that I really wanted to have a time everyday to meditate and quiet the chatter in my head.  It was amazing to watch many morph into kinder, softer, and less stressed persons.

 The time will come when with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the others welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, 
 to the stranger who has loved you all your life, 
whom you have ignored for another,
 who knows you by heart. 

I highly recommend you check out one of these retreats! 
You will find it is a rich and powerful program.