Monday, January 11, 2010

Retreats: "Wherever You Go There You Are"

I love the title of Jon Kabat-Zinn's book about mindfulness meditation in everyday life. As I consider various ideas about offering a yoga retreat, investigating retreats that are already out there, I keep coming back to this idea. "Wherever you go there you are."

Old world sites offer deep art and culture, vineyards and romantic literary references. Air fare is terribly expensive. Exotic tropical places are beautiful, exuberant and usually cheaper. Various resorts or conference centers in the US have the attractions of local cities, easier transport, familiar styles of accommodations.

What does all this have to do with my yoga practice and the sharing of practice? Wherever I go I am sharing that which I am. I've learned that over the course of a lifetime. My impulse is to invite people into my life and offer to guide their meditation and practice for a few days, providing light and fresh foods, opportunities for walks, weather-appropriate activities like biking or swimming, gardening or snowshoeing, community service or other choices (did I hear bowling?). I would like to give others a few days in a rhythm that more easily includes the mindfulness and physical practices that mean so much to me.

Yes, I can see that the vacation aspect is an important draw - the relief from the daily hassles. But working together to make meals, to garden and harvest the food, to watch the sun set as the vegetables cook on the grill, even hanging the laundry on the line in the breeze can be part of daily life that includes morning and evening meditation and journaling, energetic and restorative yoga practice, and many moments wide open to just being. Seems that this approach would much more easily translate into meaningful understandings as part of daily lives.

The exotic and cultured retreat sites attract me too, wishfully imagining life as others live it in places that have an aura different than my own quotidien existence. But does this separation from my normal illusion of reality encourage deeper insights or just shift the illusion to include the idea that if only I were somewhere else I would be more insightful?

Actually, in my "retreat" I think I would offer time set aside for cell phones and internet... so people could experience not being where they are too. Let's acknowledge who we really are, and see what might happen if we take that person on retreat.

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