Groups meet for meditation throughout each day. (Spirit Rock )
My anxiety grows as I get to Larkspur, several hours into my drive to Spirit Rock. I stop for a snack, worried the food will be hippie-style brown rice casseroles. When I pull into the parking lot, I'm told I can carry my bags up the hill or put them in a pickup. I heft them, worried it's too indulgent to do otherwise. Later, walking to dinner, people talk tentatively; it's our last chance to speak to one another, and rather than motivating a full-on chat stream, that makes me pretty uninterested in small talk.
Mindfulness meditation: It may be essential, but boy, it isn't easy
Meditating the first night has the allure of the untried. Today I think, "Really? More?" I wonder whether I'm built for so much stillness. I find myself surreptitiously scanning the meditation hall. I covet that woman's cashmere shawl. And, look at her, in logo sweat clothes from the college my younger son will attend in the fall; maybe he'll meet her?
One of the rare chances to talk comes in our small group meetings, about 10 of us with a teacher. I feel unwilling to give much away about myself, and just ask a question. But one woman talks of wanting to move away from Alaska because it's getting harder to live there as she ages; another of the solace meditation has given her as she copes with cerebral palsy. Their stories make me take it all more seriously.
Yes, even you can meditate
My morning routine is to use the first walking meditation to wander up into the hills across from the dining hall. I'm connected to nature, I'm silent, and I feel like I'm cheating. I'm not doing that slow, monotonous, zombie-like walk near the meditation hall. But I am happy. And not alone. There are always a few others on these curiously narrow trails, dotted with Buddha statues. We're careful, when we pass one another, not to make eye contact.
I'm feeling itchy to go now that my retreat is almost over. I don't need to talk, but I want to decide for myself when to eat and what to eat. I want to read. I feel emotionally a little lighter than when I arrived, but I'm glad it was five days, not 10.
Meditation resources to help you on your journey
Early Sunday morning, when I get in my car, I have no interest in my email or text messages; is it really such an easy addiction to break? It's a little early to call my husband, but I can't wait. I don't so much want to talk as to hear about his week, our kids. Later, I say, I will tell all, but I need time to adjust.