26 Oct
Posted in: Retreats
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Read All About It

We made the news!

St. Louis reporter, Debra Bass, attend a recent meditation retreat led by Shaila Catherine and Phil Jones, held this past August in the Kansas City area. (The retreat was organized by Mid-America Dharma, whose board I recently joined.)

This was Debra’s first silent retreat..but it looks like it won’t be her last:

I’m rather animated, and dramatic storytelling is one of my favorite ways to entertain friends. I’m a loud laugher, and I love a pithy exchange of verbal volleys. My typical retreat involves a passport, yoga classes, lux spa treatments and a juicy murder mystery book. Needless to say, some of my friends expected that I’d call to be rescued from this serene retreat in a 120-year-old building that was originally designed as a mental health asylum known as the ‘Home of the Insane.’

“Yet, in the end I wanted to stay a few days longer in my aged twin bed and vintage floral sheets, crocheted blankets and a stiff creaky mattress. I wanted to sleep a few more days with the gurgling moans of the window air-conditioning unit. I wanted to continue being awakened by the ting of hand-rung bells as 6 a. am.

“I knew I would miss doing yoga barefoot alone on the cool stones lining the Koi pond. I would dream of the afternoon ritual I dubbed porch swing meditation.

“I was not ready to leave. I had found my groove…

“When I returned to my daily life in St. Louis, my friends asked if I felt different (I did) and they asked if I thought my life would be better. At this I shrugged. Within hours of returning home from the retreat a series of unfortunate events showed me that life would continue to be life. The first text I received when I turned my cell phone back on was an image of one of my dearest friends in a hospital bed. He had emergency surgery (ironically, he was my emergency contact during the retreat). Next, a flat tire. At the service shop, I was informed that I needed four new tires that were installed as I waited with my luggage still in the trunk.

“Then, an email from the guy I’d been dating for six months telling me that we should probably just be friends. As I digested this news, I heard screams and shouts outside and a loud knocking on my front door. My neighbor told me that my air condenser had been stolen by two guys in a white SUV. I had been home 17 minutes when I stood staring at the empty concrete patch where the unit had been.

“After the police left, I took a shower, climbed into bed and slept. I lamented my losses and shed a few tears from fatigue and frustration, but I did not ask why me, why now, why does the universe hate me or indulge in grousing other than wonder. A recurring theme at the retreat was that you can’t change life’s cruel tide, but you can choose not to be roiled by it. The next morning I got up at 6:30 a.m. to mediate……”


She goes on delightfully from there. And concludes:

At the end of the retreat, we each shared thoughts, insights, impressions of our experience and one guy in his 30s who works as a lobbyist said that he never felt more alive than he did right then.

“I initially shuddered at the hyperbole, but I couldn’t deny that I felt significantly different. I felt clearer-headed than I could remember. I felt unburdened. I felt utterly and completely OK that I’d spent eight perfectly good summer vacation days sitting in a dimly lighted room with strangers I didn’t talk to. And I wanted to stay.”


Click here to read the entire article. It includes links to upcoming retreats, recommends finding a group to start practicing with….and: there’s a link to Dharma Town!!!!!! 


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