A New Day

I always get a little nervous before a retreat begins and now it is over and I am on my way home. I am sitting at the airport happy that it went well. It was a five day one integrating MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction) into clinical care. My colleague and co-facilitator Lucia McBee left the night before so I am alone. When I arrived a week ago I was exhausted. I was relieved to have arrived safely after driving on unfamiliar mountain roads in a rental car that didn’t hug the road like the one at home. The scenery was beautiful but I had to concentrate on navigating the narrow curving roads so I could not really take it in. Breath by breath I drove telling myself to be safe and careful. I slowed down and leaned into curves. I was tired, it had been a long day but I was awake. I was forced to be mindful. Now today I was relaxed and the drive had been easy. I did not have to strain to drive or force myself to be mindful. Having Lucia next to me made it more fun and I navigated the curves as we chatted about the retreat with ease.

Our group was diverse and some had never meditated before but were interested and open to learning. Lucia and I worked well together and complemented each other. The setting was new to us as was the food and the altitude, 4000 feet above sea level. We were at an Aruvedic Center, high in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. It was a large beautiful place but there was a-lot of uphill walking. We were not all accustomed to doing this but gamely walked until Lucia tripped over a door sill and my back began to hurt. Then we used the car and were thankful we had it and could also give a ride to any participant who needed a lift.

There is a lot of not knowing in leading a workshop/retreat as it is impossible to anticipate the nature of the group and what may arise. Lucia and I are both experienced and we had prepared a workbook and PowerPoint.This is a guide rather than a precise manual. Teaching for me is about embodiment of mindfulness and transmitting information from my heart and gut. This is based on what arises moment by moment. It requires concentration and being REALLY present. Shepherding people into a calmer more aware place is meaningful and reinforces my own practice.
Now that the retreat is over the challenge is maintaining my practice and forgiving myself when I lapse.

Last night I slept in a motel near the airport. It was very basic and my room was next to the parking lot and dingy. The air conditioner was loud and not working well. I had to remember not to complain, maintain perspective and appreciate that:
1. I found the hotel even though it took three tries. It was behind a restaurant and not visible from the road and I was able to ask a person who knew its location and gave me good directions
2. I had a place to stay.
3. It was clean.
4. I get to fly home on a new day refreshed rather than pushing on after teaching and driving.

This morning at the airport I needed to remember to breathe through my experience going through security. I was behind a family of five and the mom took a lot of time putting all the kids packs and miscellaneous in the bins. She finished and was told that she had to remove all the food in her pack. It took quite a while for the assortment of snacks to come out. Then I realized I had to remove the food in my pack as I did not have TSA, expedited security check at this airport and I had to remove my iPad and kindle. I did this mindfully and then forgot to take it with me after it was scanned and came off the belt. As I sat down by my gate in this small airport, two people came up to me to tell me I had left my electronics at security. “I wanted to take it to you,” each said, “but they wouldn’t let me.” How wonderful they cared. And when I returned to security the guard there handed it to me with a big smile: Gratitude!

........It’s a new moment. I am on the plane and it is landing. I will transfer at the large, bustling airport in Atlanta. I am glad I can walk and happy that I checked my bag. Traveling takes energy and attention. I instruct others to meet what arrives with awareness and kindness without resistance. I hope it is only my luggage and my husband greeting me in Boston—and this new day will be rich—and uneventful, my plane won’t be delayed or cancelled.and I have enough time to get to the gate where the plane to Boston departs. Again and again I am challenged to live what I teach. Lucky me.