I just returned from an incredible 10-day retreat. Actually, I returned about six days ago and somehow found myself dog-sitting at one house and cat-sitting at another nearby home for those days. (Note to self – I prefer being around animals post-retreat, rather than fast-paced, coffee-brain-type people; but I would rather not have to do anything for several days after retreat. No dog / cat / house sitting post-retreat next year!)
Retreat itself was magnificent. It was held at a beach house just south of Virginia Beach. We got to watch the majestic sun rise most mornings. I was in charge of shrine care and offerings – filling water bowls every morning at 5:30 am, always keeping a candle lit, and offering incense throughout the day.
It was a very dynamic retreat format. We blended somatic processing work (Pre- and perinatal psychology, Zapchen Somatics and other embodiment-oriented exercises), dream work (primarily from Continuum Movement teacher Susan Harper), Tibetan Buddhist prayers and Thai Buddhist meditation. Oh and we were able to do a lot of inner child work as well – during the Metta (loving-kindness) hour.
Therefore I believe this to be one of the most efficacious retreats I have ever been on. No longer do I believe that I will chant enough mantras and everything will be magically fixed and blissful. No longer do I believe that only deity yoga practice or enough silent sitting will remedy my double binds and other wounds from my early developmental and primal periods (primal period is from pre-conception up until we start talking – about 18-24 months). This is known as spiritual bypass. When we think that doing enough Qigong – working with the Heaven and Earth and moving energy through us will fix unmet childhood needs – not going to happen. Sorry to burst any bubbles. Don’t get me wrong – qigong, mantras, zazen meditation, deity yoga are all exceptionally quality forms of self care and spiritual practices – but sometimes we have to dig deep if we truly want freedom from suffering.
[Edited: as a side note, I think I need to write a longer post about whether or not the Buddha-Dharma contains all we need to attain enlightenment, efficaciously swiftly and parsimoniously. I wonder if there are modalities which serve as good supplements to the Dharma. Or as H.E. Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen put it, these other modalities might fit under the purview of “Process Buddhism.”]
Rather, I now firmly believe that I have to repair / resource my inner baby / toddler / childhood wounds. No more beating around the bush. I spent an average of one to two hours a day on retreat saying the Good Mother Messages to my little (in the womb, little 3 day old, little 7 day old, 11 day old parts of me – very little!) baby-prenate-fetus self. There was an embryology book there which I used for the pictures of these little bizarre blastocysts and fetuses. Seriously some of those pictures could easily be alien babies forming too :-O
But I have never experienced the juicy resourced feeling that I did toward the end of retreat. To spend that time with my little one, and then from time to time, staring out at the vast ocean and the boundless sky – curiously wondering about where these two great spaces meet (apparently at the horizon). I am hooked.
I hope my family doesn’t mind – I might just have to have early or late Christmases most years if this is when this 10-day retreat is occurring. Especially at the beach – I’m not going to drive an extra seven hours to go home for a day or two. Rather rest in the unity of clarity and emptiness. I don’t expect you to understand that, but that is why I took this rebirth on this planet – to free my mind of dualistic grasping.
This is the perfect slingshot for my new year. I see myself teaching more workshops and classes once I get through massage school. And now I can bring this new level of clarity with me, and hopefully I can access it with ease via sitting, yoga, self care and more good mother messages! And of course I intend to continue my Dharma practice – I took refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha (first and foremost). Refuge is still my go to, grounding, resourcing, matrix of support practice.
I will write more when I get the chance – I especially want to describe one of the dream work sessions. Just wow!
For now, want to rest in Ahhhh…. with me?
Thanks for reading,
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