For a few months now I’ve been looking forward to this weekend. Yes, it’s finally here: the weekend I get to go be with my brother and sister in beautiful Maine. Three days of yoga, meditation, delicious home cooked meals, and silence. I get to wander 100 acres of trails. Visit the sheep in their pasture. Sit in the sauna again and wander out underneath the stars. For those of you who know me, you know I came back from my first silent retreat at Rolling Meadows with a complete mind shift. It is easy to think back on this weekend with such fondness for all the gifts it brought me.
Well, now it’s here. And I’m kind of ready to dissolve into a puddle of tears. I have that what-if lump in my throat. There are many what-if-mix-tapes that were totally popular in my head for most of my life. I still get them, but my brain’s dj only plays them now and again. I can mostly recognize them for what they are: anxiety-that’s-trying-to-distract-me-from-something-else. The one playing right now is: What if something unspeakable happens to my family while I’m away. I can’t even get more specific than that because the possibilities running through my mind are that horrific and I’m too afraid to type them out.
Here’s the thing. I have been pining to get back to this retreat ever since I left there this time last year. But, now that it’s here, I remember that it’s hard. It’s hard to drop away from my to do lists, my business, my responsibilities. It’s hard to sit with myself. It’s hard to not be able to rely on my social interactions to put me at ease in a roomful of strangers. It’s hard not to check in with my brother and sister even though they are sitting right next to me. It’s hard to just be and to just feel whatever thoughts and feelings come up. It’s hard not to have coffee, wine, humor, exercise, novels, friends, food, TV and manicures to distract myself. It’s hard to remember to not get caught up in the What Ifs and just remember the What Is. It’s hard to face the fact that I’m not in control of the safety of my family and that is the truth whether I’m with them or away on retreat.
But I so believe in befriending myself. My true nature is nothing to fear. I can sit with anything that comes my way. This weekend isn’t about finding bliss. It’s about remembering that I am ok just as I am. I don’t have to do anything to fix a feeling or a thought. I don’t have to attempt to control outcomes. My personality is not who I am. My body is not who I am. I value them, but they are not me. My true nature, my soul, is who I am.
This is what I strive to remember while parenting. My hope is that I can help my kids know and greet themselves with unconditional love. I want them to know that they can handle any thought or feeling that comes their way. I want them to know that there is no amount of winning, losing, achieving, or mistake-making that could make them any more or less lovable. I want them to know that what lies between an event and their response to that event is the present moment. In this present moment lies their true nature. Dwelling in the present moment and embracing our true nature fosters a freedom like no other. This freedom empowers us to step away from distractions and live our life. Right now. In this very moment.
So goodbye, What-Ifs. Hello, Right Now. It’s nice to do nothing except breathe you in.