Only one post about my weekend silent meditation retreat was planned but yay! Just when I thought the creative juices were running dry my stay at Gaia House has yielded enough material to stretch to at least three pieces to inspire and entertain. I nearly didn't get there though. Although the centre is only five miles from home, an easy detour on the journey from work, I got hopelessly lost in the narrow country lanes, even at one point ending up in the village neighbouring my own. I almost took this as a sign that I was supposed to jack in the whole idea and celebrate my birthday in a more conventional manner involving wine and chocolate rather than being a yogi for the weekend.
Entertainment is certainly the flavour of the day because I've decided to share those not so 'spiritual moments' that the experience brought, those times when instead of directing my full attention on the present, other thoughts came to the forefront of my mind and were maybe allowed to linger a little longer than they should have.
- 'I bet the farmers round here love this place.' I thought as fellow retreatants practised their slow walking meditation in the garden in full view of the road swathed in colourful blankets. 'They're sitting in the pub at Denbury saying 'they're all weirdos up there. I've seen them outside and they've turned them into zombies'.'
- 'Pleeease, just stay away from the road!' My inner response to yet more strange goings on in the garden.
- 'This is good', I thought whilst tears were streaming down my face as I sat 'meditating' just after my work period in the kitchen. 'Other people are going to think I'm having a deeply emotional mystic experience'. The reality was otherwise. I'd just peeled enough onions to make soup to feed the whole population of France for an entire year.
- Another veggie chopping related thought 'Where have they all bloody gone?' Delicious roasted carrots coated in honey came in a small dish at lunchtime with a sign saying 'Moderate Portions Please'. Yet I'd cut up a field full of the things.
- 'Wow! that's the second time I've broken wind during walking meditation just as I'm passing another 'yogi?'
- 'Hey I could run this place better than these dudes. It would have a swimming pool and the kitchen would make use of local cheese.'
- 'Okay I know stuff is communal here but who's stolen my mug/that nice IKEA chair in the lounge that overlooks the big tree/my favourite bathroom?'.
- Our teacher advocated the use of a chair instead for those of us who needed to build structures on the floor that looked like thrones.'What a good idea!' I thought, heading to the zafu cupboard and taking four extra cushions.
- Why don't I use this period of sitting practice to come up with a cushion design that never gets uncomfortable!
- 'Now that's way more interesting than keeping my eyes closed!' The fit bloke in front of me got too hot and exposed a muscly back whilst removing his jumper. Surely that doesn't come under the category of lustful thinking that the teacher mentioned but is merely a display of the highly developed sensitivity of an aesthete!
'Just ring the f******* bell, you Sadist!'