The focus of my blog is usually on my home improvement, but today I am taking a slight detour today to talk about self improvement. I have been interested in mindful meditation for a few years now, but have always found it challenging to weave it into my everyday life.
All too often I am doing a task and realize my mind is completely elsewhere. Have you ever driven home from work and realized that you basically blacked out until you arrived in your driveway? My goal of this retreat was to get out of autopilot and become more present in every day.
One of my new years resolutions for 2018 was meditation. I booked a 3 day retreat in Sedona as a sort of bootcamp for my mind. I didn’t really know what to expect on this trip but was excited to try something new..
My experience at the Mago Retreat Center felt like a roller coaster. At the high points I would feel very connected with the practice and at the low points I would feel very uncomfortable with exercises and didn’t feel like I was doing it “right”.
Each day we began with a morning meditation at 6:30 am and would end the day around 9 pm. Focusing on myself for that long was emotionally draining. I was able to recognize that my low points were the areas where I had the most opportunity to grow. I made it a priority to complete the exercises to the best of my ability and lean into my discomfort.
High Point of the Retreat
My high point was the sunrise meditation on our final day. Our group met at 6:45 am and hiked to a site on the property to meditate at sunrise. We watched the sun as it first peaked over the horizon and listened to our teacher guide us through our meditation. We were instructed to give thanks to this amazing event that happens every day. The suns rays hit our face and felt the cool air all around us – two vital resources for all living things. In that moment I felt very grateful.
Low Point of the Retreat
The low point was realizing how much my ego controls my actions. On the first day of the retreat, we went to the pond at the healing garden. We took off our shoes and followed our teacher around the pond. The instructor walked us around slowly to feel the gravel under our feet, hear the trickling of water and birds in the air. We then gathered around a willow tree for a meditation.
At the end of the meditation we were instructed to find a partner. We were told to hold their hands and look into their eyes. We told each other what we were grateful for and took turns saying, “I like you and I love you” and then embraced in a long hug. How many of your are already cringing with discomfort?! LOL. The final step of this exercise was to hold hands around the willow tree and share our energy with it. Throughout the exercise I felt awkward staring into someone’s eyes for so long and telling a stranger I loved them. It felt weird giving my “energy” to a tree.
My discomfort, I realized, was rooted in what other people thought about me doing these exercises. I needed remove judgments from my mind if I wanted to get the full experience of the retreat.
Another challenge of this weekend was trying to keep a straight face as our teacher repeatedly told us to close our anus to prevent energy from leaking out. I know, I am such a child, but with so much seriousness during this trip, it was a welcomed distraction to have a good laugh.
At the end of the retreat, we wrote down our vision for how our practice would look once we went back to our daily lives. Mine was to start my day with a 20 minute meditation to show gratitude for everything I have in my life. With the realization that my ego can get in the way of trying new experiences, it also included leaning into exercises that made me uncomfortable.
Now that I have been back home for a few days I recognize when my brain begins to wander. I have been more patient with my kids and have been more present during the time I spend with them. As far as implementing the practice, these first few days have been challenging. I was able to take 15 minutes this morning to complete a meditation which I will take as a win!
The idea of writing a personal post that is not centered around home improvement is definitely outside of my comfort zone. I am being true to my vision by writing about my experience honestly and know that this is helping me to grow.
What self improvement resolutions do you have for 2018?
If you want to learn more about the Mago Retreat Center, check out their website and programs here.
60 minute Mindfulness segment with Anderson Cooper that first peaked my interest:
Resource for Mindful Meditation Beginners:
During the retreat, we watched a documentary called I Am that I found really fascinating that helps explain energies. It is about a film director who had a near death experience and went on a journey to find happiness. If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch it for free.
See the trailer below: