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Retreat Review

Last weekend I attended a writing/meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center.


It was a wonderful experience. I had my own room, which was clean and comfortable..


and the meals were generous and delicious with both vegetarian and carnivore options daily.

The retreat format was simple and consisted of meditation sessions...



followed by journaling and writing. We had an evening session where we shared our work, but for the most part we just meditated and wrote.


I'd be lying if I said I achieved a major writing breakthrough while I was there, but it was a fantastic little getaway. I especially enjoyed hiking up to the Great Stupa, which is a sort of Buddhist shrine.



I also liked watching the birds, which were a variety I hadn't ever seen before, and I made friends with a cat.


In sum, it was a peaceful weekend that left me buzzing for several days after returning to Houston. I've committed to making meditation a daily practice for thirty days, just to see what happens, and I've settled upon a new routine that loosely follows the format we followed during the retreat: meditate for fifteen minutes to clear the mind, then write. I write (or draw) for a minimum of thirty minutes with no internet, no distractions. After that, if I want to do something else, look something up, etc, I allow myself to open a web browser, but I'm trying hard to get out of the habit of giving in to "monkey mind" when it's time to create.

Has this helped any? Who knows? I have no new work to show for all this yet, with the exception of a cute little story I wrote during the retreat that I might shop around to some of the web zines. I feel happier though, and I'm spending less time pointlessly clicking links on the web and more time in productive activity. I feel more calm and I have a renewed sense of optimism.



I also want to go back to Shambhala Mountain Center. I can't emphasize enough the value of getting out of the old routine for a few days and doing something that's just for you. Find that special something, writer friends, whether it's a mountain or a beach, a Buddhist center or a Trappist monastery. Escape and shake yourself up a bit. You'll be glad you did!

3 comments:

Thomma Lyn said...

It sounds absolutely fantastically delightfully wonderful, Ann. :)

November 8, 2010 at 1:26 PM
Alice Audrey said...

What a great retreat. I think you'll see results simply from not letting yourself go online first thing. That clicking business gets out of hand so quickly. OTOH, I'm really glad to see you back online. :)

November 9, 2010 at 4:11 PM
Alice Audrey said...

How's it going now?

November 15, 2010 at 10:33 AM