I've always had such admiration for folks who regularly meditate. Anyone who does swears by meditation's grounding and mind-clearing powers. One of my best friends, Christine, and I joined a meditation retreat this past weekend at the Mount Madonna Center nestled in a redwood forest overlooking the Monterey Bay.
I had this grand plan to be all centered and in the right headspace to emerge from this weekend an enlightened version of myself. Instead, I was sick all last week and hit my apex Friday night, just in time to miss the orientation part of the weekend, where we were to learn the game plan for the experience. While I partook in Saturday's morning session, I spent most of the day in bed.
Not all was lost, however. I was able to join enough sessions and glean Christine's insights from those I missed to be able to at least form the foundation for how I can incorporate meditation into a regular practice. We also our butts energetically kicked a few other ways.
What I learned:
- I am actually physically able to sit through a 25 minute long meditation! This means setting aside 5-10 minutes a day isn't a hopeless feat.
- Meditation is both physically and mentally tough. Sitting, grappling with numbing legs, is no cake walk. Getting the brain to STFU isn't, either.
- It's OK to change the rules we live by any day. We set our own expectations of ourselves and others. Life is flexible and our very own like that. (Energetic butt-kicking #1)
- It's important to accept and process pain-points, whether physical or mental/emotional. Accept them with kindness versus suppressing and move through it all. As Christine says, the body is impermanent. (Energetic butt-kicking #2)
I do think being on such spiritually charged ground helped me purge whatever my body was fighting. I believe in that kind of higher energy. With the stunning natural beauty and sheer peace across the grounds, it was hard not to slow dow both our minds and bodies.
You can walk the grounds for hours, endlessly enjoying sites like this.
The sunrise view just outside the building in which we stayed.
While I don't feel I maximized my weekend, I have no regrets. I got a taste of meditative direction, I got R&R in a beautiful setting and I got QT with a bestie. I'd explore other programs to return to the Center.
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Stay. Mount Madonna Center offers a variety of housing options, from camping to staying in dorm-like rooms. You may select whether to have a private bathroom or go communal. Cabins are also an option for those who don't mind the latter option. Pricing ranges based on preference. See here for more detail, and note program pricing will be higher to cover the cost of curriculum.
Shop. Definitely pay Ayurveda World a visit. My nap-time didn't jive with their hours, but Christine went and stocked up on vitamins and other goodies. The on-site bookstore, Oceanview Books & Gifts, offers an eclectic collection of reading material.
Savor. Carnivores and Paleos, beware. This is a vegetarian facility. I broke my roll and adhered to the community's ways. It was all good, and I commend the chefs at the Center for making a mean tortilla lasagna. I'm sure there's a proper name for it.