Amy Ward Brimmer

mother daughter wife teacher writer dreamer sister worker seeker activist minister healer student human


Leaping Into Mindfulness, Part One

After the Oscars, Before Super Tuesday

Lately I've been pining for a long retreat at Insight Meditation Society (IMS) or somewhere. I get such amazing results in my practice when I have the time and space to do nothing but meditate and do mindful movement. The 9-day silent retreat works in a powerful way to stabilize my attention and lead me into a depth of awareness that daily meditation cannot. Alas, it will be late April before I can get back here:

So I decided to try something I read about or heard from someone like Tara Brach or Sharon Salzburg or Sylvia Boorstein: a one-day silent meditation retreat at home. I chose Leap Day, February 29, because I figured, what makes more sense than to celebrate getting an "extra" 24 hours of time by practicing nonstop silent contemplation of the present moment?

This can succeed because I'm an empty nester, my husband leaves very early on Mondays to teach in New York and doesn't get home until later in the evening. I can turn off the phones, set an away message on my email, and follow a schedule very similar to the one I follow when I'm at IMS. Of course my meals won't be prepared for me, and there won't be a crew to do my dishes, but I have made meals in advance and will cook and clean mindfully (and there's a work period in the schedule). I've arranged my time in 60- or 45-minute segments, alternating between sitting and walking meditation, with periods for meal prep and eating, housework, mindful movement like outdoor walking and Qigong, and even a nap.

The midmorning sit is with guidance and in the evening I'll listen to a dharma talk. I can do this because there are literally hundreds of recorded meditation sessions and teachings at Dharma Seed, a priceless resource for curious yogis and meditators. I will also mine the 31 video podcasts from last October's Mindfulness Summit, which I have archived. There are so many options, I'm going to download a few to my Kindle and then use that for audio and video delivery. Other than that, no electronics allowed! I'll be going off the grid after the Oscars tonight and won't return until early on Super Tuesday.

I realize that one of the other reasons this is possible is because of my privilege. I have a job with flexible hours, I have a safe home, I have good health, I have the ability to give myself this day of self-care. I am grateful for my secure situation in life, and the first blessing I will recite tomorrow is one of praise and thanksgiving.

At this writing, I have about 6 more hours to speak, use my phone and computer, watch TV (the Oscars are like the Superbowl around here), and live "normally."  After the retreat is over, I'll post Part Two and report back on how it all goes.

Does this sound like something you'd like to try too? What would you need to put into place in order for it to be possible?