Instead of my regular Book Writing Saturday this week, I am on retreat. I am practicing with my fellow Open Heart Practitioners, and we are being led by our shared meditation instructor and friend, the brilliant Susan Piver. This is a virtual retreat, in part because we are scattered all across the globe, even as we are connected and practicing together.
So instead of literal book writing today, limited to four hours focused on the book, I’m doing a retreat. And yet, it has everything to do with writing this book, is structured similarly to the in person writing and meditation retreat I did with Susan in April, (and the one I’ll most likely be missing in October). There will be multiple sessions of meditation, dharma talks, and time alone to read, write, contemplate, and rest.
My word for this year was retreat. And as a practice, it’s become one of my favorite things, powerful and restorative. There’s a plan for a full week retreat at the end of Susan’s book, How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life: Opening Your Heart to Confidence, Intimacy, and Joy. It begins with a weekend intensive spent alone and away, along with a focused plan for the remaining five days back in your normal weekly routine. I’ve been wanting to do that one, but need to wait for a time when I feel like I can be away from my little family for an entire weekend. With the huge question mark about Dexter’s health and future, I don’t way to be away from him for that long, don’t want to leave Eric alone with that possibility.
Susan has asked those of us participating this weekend to have a book to read, “one that supports you on your inner journey. Use your judgment and select something that will challenge you to delve within.” I am reading Brene’ Brown’s Daring Greatly. Last night, we answered a writing prompt Susan provided, and as I said earlier, there will be other blocks of time for reflecting, contemplating, and writing–becoming still and quiet, sinking down, delving deep. I suspect there will be some tears, as well as epiphanies. There usually are, when you make space for them, when you show up with an open heart.
One thing I found interesting as I prepared for retreat is that suddenly all the things I thought were so important, that had to be done before this could begin, seemed to dissolve, to no longer matter so much, even though Susan had warned us about the opposite happening, about obstacles arising the closer the retreat got. I felt like I was moving differently, slowed down, stripped down to what was important and essential, relaxing. The only “obstacle” ended up being my struggle with any type of math: I got the time zone conversion wrong, added two hours to my time instead of subtracting, so showed up late, didn’t start the retreat in “real time” with every one else. D’oh!
In my post a few days ago, I shared lyrics from an Alexi Murdoch song:
May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.
Besides writing, contemplating, opening my heart, and meditating, opening up to this awareness is my intention for this retreat–for the grace of god to be with me always in my heart, to know the truth inside me, and to find the strength to know that I am a part of something beautiful.