The retreat was held at the Mercy Center in Madison, CT, a beautiful location right on the ocean. Despite predictions of rain earlier in the week, the day was sunny and the water was glittering. We met in a room of windows looking out at the sea.Michelle was an excellent leader who made it possible for all of us, with our different physical capabilities and our different leve of exposure to mindfulness, to feel accepted, welcomed and included. She combined practical tips with spiritual reflection in a way thatmade mindfulness practice accessible toall.
The day started with a meditation on our motivation for coming, what it took to get there, and what we needed from the day. In the discussion that followed trainers shared the pressures, business, crisises, personal and physical distress, and constant caring for others that made being there so important. It was clear how hard it is for us to accept this day as a gift that we deserve, without guilt.
On our break we wandered the lovely grounds. Michelle instructed us to each collect four pebbles. After break she led us in the Pebble Meditation, which helped us to connect with the beauty and strength in ourselves. One pebble represented a flower, the second a clear water, the third a mountain, and the fourth space. We took the qualities og each into ourselves.
We ate lunch and speant the following hour in silence. Tis included not making eye contact with each other or communicating in any way. We savoured the delicious food served by Mercy Center mindfully, and walked the labyrinth and the rest of the grounds with only our own selves. Afterwards we talked about how it felt, and there were many reactions. It was hard not to say thank you to the servers! Some had sad or difficult emotions arise, others felt comfort, others did not like it. Michelle then led is in a body scan. Many of us fell asleep for at least part of it, but that was fine, it was what we needed.At the end of the day the trainers all expressed how impotant and valuable this was, and wished we could have them regularily. Many thought of the staff on their teams and wanted to giv an experience like this to them. The ideas of using art, music and yoga were also suggested.
I felt so lucky to be in a community of such a caring and thoughtful people. We were also lucky to have a skillful and kind leader in Michelle. With all we do, give, care and take care of others, a retreat like this is essential.Have you had a similar experience? Please describe by clicking “comment”.