balance · boundaries · career · creativity · meditation · self-care

You Spin Me Right Roun’…

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I’ve been looking up meditation retreats. There’s this one
I’ve heard about for years that’s a 10-day silent meditation retreat – I
remember a guy I knew once shared that his therapist advised him against going on a silent retreat! (He went anyway, and
reported great tidings.)
But, one thing I always seem to forget until after I’ve gone
on such a retreat or weekend away is that I can effect the same kind of stillness without going so far, and without paying so much.
I remember last year, I went north to Marin to participate
in a half-day meditation retreat. The meditation itself was lovely; the grounds
are nestled into the hillside near the ocean, and there’s an organic farm and
garden you can walk through during the walking meditation part. But… the zen
talk… eek.
This day’s particular teacher stuck in my craw the whole time, so before the second “dharma talk,” I left. I felt good about having gone, being
among the greenery and the eucalyptus. I even saw a chipmunk on my way back to
the parking lot. But, I didn’t need to stay and “practice listening” to someone
whose personality shone way larger than his teachings. It was way more about
him, than his teachings.
As I left, I noted that I could have found the same or a
similar degree of stillness, just by driving up into the nearby national park
in Berkeley. I didn’t have to sit in a “zen-do” or listen to teachings –
really, I just wanted to listen to the silence, and although I can do that in
my own home, I prefer to go somewhere nature-y when I really want to recharge. 
I’m reminded of this as I look up retreats this morning: a
day-long one at the same retreat center, the 10-day silent retreat place, even
a hot-spring zen-center-meets-spa related to a nearby center.
But really, what do I want to achieve or gain or experience?
Stillness.
I feel very harried at the moment, with a lot of irons in
the fire around creative endeavors, work endeavors, and even friend endeavors.
I’ve been wanting to strengthen my relationships with
friends, form new or stronger connections, and this weekend has been the
perfect exercise in that – it’s been chock
full of friend-related activities that have been truly wonderful. But, I’m
tired.
Yesterday morning, spur-of-the-moment birthday plans were texted to
me: “Join me in Marin for dinner and a hike under the full moon.”
Um, Yes, please!
None of the 6 dinner attendees knew anyone except the
birthday boy, and we had a great time. The hike was fantastic. Epic, really.
The view over the Bay, the fog rolling in, the lights below, the reflection of
the “super moon” in the water. – That, my friends, was meditative.
But, it also wasn’t. Different personalities require
different levels of reverence, and for some people, silence isn’t really an
option. – I’d love to go back and experience it in the quiet. It was
awe-inspiring.
And, I wasn’t home til after midnight … which if you didn’t
know, is way past my bedtime. But, so
worth it!
However, I begin to feel a draw inward. I’m an “X” in the
“introvert/extrovert” Meyers-Briggs scale. Meaning, I am neither an “I:
Introvert” nor an “E: Extrovert” – I fall so perfectly between the two, needing
both in such equal amounts, that I am an “X: Right in the middle.”
So, with all of this external push (creative stuff, job
stuff, friend stuff), Anty needs a recharge. (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids reference, fyi.)
But, it is important for me to remember that I don’t need to
retreat from the whole world, put huge parameters around my life in order to do
this. It’s as simple as committing 2 hours, getting in my car, driving 20
minutes, and crunching through the soft-fallen eucalyptus leaves until I get to a spot
where I can sit – no incense required. 

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