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a reflection from the april 2022 sesshin, monchique

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

I just finished my 5th retreat and what a profound experience it was. It was so healing. My thoughts were, as I had anticipated, quite repetitive in topic and regularity. But I sat. I noticed I followed them a couple of times, only to come to the conclusion I already knew. I had to laugh. I have the answers within me. I can let go of the past. I have reconnected with that part of me I hadn't realised I had lost touch with. That spiritual, deeper sense of connection and self. I mentioned in the sharing circle how I hadn't noticed the impact the pandemic really had on me. The effect of bing isolated. Living alone. Not being able to work. My sister being a new mum and my mum going through chemotherapy. I was totally alone. I didn't meditate, I just 'got through' each day, coping. I was desperate for connection and I just hadn't realised. The impermenance that had been staring me in the eyes with my mum's cancer switched something in my head, I could be without a mum, I need to be ok on my own or find a new family, perhaps in the form of a partner. 1 man, another man, several dates and then my last relationship. I've always known I value self-introspection in a partner, but its as if I lost touch with that in my last relationship, I was prepared to 'take anything' when it came to him. The first two men were self aware but after the experience with the third, I had lost my way. 1 last go I thought and with that, I gave it everything. I invested my all, my complete self. My main realisation is that my self-exploration, my journey, my meditation, is a huge part of my life that I hid or surpressed in my last relationship, perhaps to make him more comfortable as that wasn't something he was aligned with, or even a language he'd be open to speaking. I know now not to do that as it is not authentic, I must honour it.

I feel a deep desire to full commit to my practice now, especially after reading 'A Monk's Guide to Happiness in the 21st Century'. It was such a helpful source to inspire and support me through the retreat and to reconnect me with my inner self and remind me why it can be such a transformative tool. My other reflection is to be more present in everything I do. Take my time. I know now, confidently, that I am good. Happiness must come from within and I have found a piece of that through this retreat. My growth as a human and my place in this world is something I value highly so it is a 'non-negotiable' to 'find' a partner with this in common. I also now have the passion to travel again and find myself asking, is London really for me? This retreat was so timely for me, I've never felt more ready for silence, practice and reconnecting. Challenging at times, of course, but I completely and wholeheartedly committed to it. I surrendered to all it could be and with ease, I didn't have to force surrender. My sitting was more stable than before, more grounding and more present. There was a depth like never before. I know the practice, I hear the teachings but its as if something finally clicked and I was just there, totally in it, opening the hand of thought. I felt it.

The yoga was more amazing than ever. I usually got frustrated with the slowness of Yin in the previous retreats. But again, I showed up, committed with ease because I knew I needed it. My body needed it and so did my mind. I relaxed into it all for I think the first time. I think my body and mind connected. I breathed, I moved further into poses with patience and my breath. I held them. I rested in Savasana without feeling annoyed we were 'resting' again. It all flowed.

The whole retreat experience, the sitting, to the meals, the walks, the yoga and even individual poses. I never knew how much tension I was holding. Mentally, I know I overthink but my body told me 'you need this, go' almost in a whisper. The emotional release on the Thursday, doing a hip opener, the fire in my hips, I breathed, 'that was so powerful' I said to Helen when I came out of the pose. 'Do you want a tissue?' she asked, 'Nah I'll be alright', I said. And then came the heart opener, 'The Plough' pose, I used a block to help me bend further into it and on release I felt the tears. I pictured my dad being here, the concept of him maybe coming on one of these with me, seeing him everyday the thought made me want to cry. And then the image of every time he would drop me off at my mums after spending the day together as a young child I would weep. Then the tears really came. It was such a release. My core wounding as if everything after that ripped apart like elastic bands over my ribcage to get to this wound. All the past relationships which followed in suit, ending, fixating on the end, why, how, what now, when this, this was at the core.

From this experience I want to continue developing my practice, committed, reaching in instead of out. Recognise the grasping, realise acceptance, forgiveness and compassion and most importantly trusting myself, trusting my inner being, feeling and voice. I know the answers. I have the answers. There are no more I's to dot and T's to cross. I can let go of the identity I have built, the broken child, abandoned, rejected unloveable. I can let that fall away to nothingness, take the veil off, to be totally naked, vulnerable and the deepest me, authentic me, the radiant heart. I can be the adult now.

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