where to start!?!?
this month has been full of big events
work stuff hit a peak with assessments, 25 of them, and the launch culminating the week before i left for Stillness in Action.
I’m still processing my experience. It was fantastic. A week of meditation and ‘deep change’ work EI the work of Joanna Macy. It was the perfect balance of dealing with our feelings for the world and meditation teachings and practise. I’d been wanting to develop my spiritual self for a while and this was the perfect opportunity.
Each day we were awoken by the sound of a bell at 6am, from 6:20 to 7 we had ‘morning movments’ a very informal session that got the blood going with gentle yoga, sun salutations, stretching etc. 7-7:30 was morning meditation, followed by breakfast. All of this was in silence until 2:30pm. Occasionally the silence was broken during the work period after breakfast, for questions about which vegies to chop or who was going to get the wood for the fire. I began to appreciate the silence but also found it frustrating to curb my desire to communicate with my workshop mates. It was interesting to observe myself and noticed how much i judge both myself and others. One of my intentions resulting from the workshop is to have the courage to move from judgement to compassion.
After the work session we made our way to the octagon (4-6 min walk from the Wedge- main building) for the Darmah Talk and then Walking meditation, followed by sitting meditation. Then we got to spend time outside with ourselves in the ‘larger than human nature’. Journaling was encouraged but i found myself just resting and staring up at the trees most of the time. Remember this is all in silence.
It took me a couple of days to get out of my grumbly, wound-up state. It was the thrid day that i realized i’d stopped writing my evaluation in my head and realized i was getting something out of it. The opportunity for self observation and learning about myself was incredibly valuable. I didn’t realize what a poor state i was in. The afternoon sessions, the ‘deep change’ work not only gave me an opportunity to express my grief and despair about the state of the world in a safe setting but it allowed me to shift my perspective of how i fit in the world and how i can more easily move through being who i am with the values i hold in this world. This is connected to moving from judgement to compassion but also to see that my efforts are not only appreciated by others now but by future generations.
We did one excersize where half the group represented future beings from seven generations hence and asked questions about how we managed through the difficult times. (If you find a copy of Joanna Macy’s ‘Coming Back to Life’ it’s explained on pg 146 – The Double Circle.) It gave me a chance to feel the appreciation of future generations for the work i do and the life i lead and it helped me feel like it’s worthwhile, not just an isolated struggle. This was big for me to realize.
We also had a chance to say what we were doing to bring change in the world. I included my pee rags in my list of personal actions and people really picked up on it! They wanted to know how to make them! I told them to slimply cut up an old towel! It was neat to see people get excited about the idea! There were mostly women in the workshop. The participants numbered 12, ten of whom were women. We plan to get together ever few weeks to support eachother with keeping what we learned close at heart and to continue practising. I managed to get up early for the 3 days after the retreat, i even did morning movemetns and meditation but then i got my period!
One thing i appreciated about the retreat was an opportunity to develop a connection with one of the participants mostly through silence. I realized that i put all sorts of walls up to start, as per my usual, and became aware of how unnecessary it was! I began to challnege myself to open up and allow a connection. It was amazing to see how this companionship developed over the week. I felt frustrated to become aware of how i erect this barrier based on all sorts of assumptions when i meet people. It’s been a factor not just in trying to integrate here in oz but in my relations with people in general. I’d been protecting myself in a way that isolates me. This has got to stop!
This was another big realization for me, lots of self observation allowed me to see things about myself and the environment gave me the space to let myself feel things i would normally suppress. It was a fascinating process.
The person i connected with is working for Greenpeace in Sydney, helping them convert to opensource software. He’s from Germany and has remarkably good english. He stayed in Melbourne for a couple of extra days to see the city, so i took him on a bike tour of the best spots, CERES environment park, down Merri Creek, along a bike path that used to be a rail line, and stopped by the house i lived in when i was 5! We met up with some folx from the retreat at the Vic Markets, had lunch, bought some fruit he’d never had before, feijoa’s, mangosteen and nashi pears. On the way to Flinders Street Station to buy his train ticket back to Sydney we stopped at a Max Brenner Chocolate Bar for some chocolatey indulgence! Then we went and sat on the river to eat the fruit. It was really nice to spend the day with him because i wasn’t quite ready to say good bye to him at Commonground. At the end of the day we went and met up with the rest of our crew who had gathered to see “What the Bleep Do We Know?” at the theatre. We went for Japanese diner after the movie and made plans for our first gathering which happens this sunday! I can’t beleive that was a week ago!
thats all for now, i’ll keep you posted on how i go
PS yes i actually did get up at 6am 4 of the 6 days!
hey look! i learned how to make hyperlinks! finally! i’m a realy blogster geek now!