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A day on our silent retreat...

Updated: May 8

Imagine it is cosy wintertime, you are in the forest of Springbrook...

The gentle "wake up bell" has roused you from your peaceful slumber and you remember with a smile that you are on retreat and you have a whole day stretching in front of you with nowhere to be, no-one to look after, no plans to make, no phone to check, no cooking, cleaning or errands. Ah the bliss. You are tempted to turn the electric blanket back on, curl up and get another hour sleep before the private chef rings the breakfast bell, but one of your goals from the retreat was to take meditation back into your life, so you decide to go to the morning meditation class in the heated hall.

As the breakfast bell signals the end of the meditation you cannot believe 20mins just went by and you actually sat still the whole time. "This is not as hard as I always thought it was!" And you muse about how much better each day would be if you started it like this.

You are already looking forward to practicing mediation again later in the day. The clarity and calmness of mind just feels so good.

You remember reading once about the importance of "grounding" * so you take off your shoes on the short walk over to the dining hall, bending down to pick up and examine an interesting leaf. You think to yourself..."in my usual life when would I have time to notice a pretty leaf, let alone stop to look and admire it?" And you make a mental note to do that more often. There is SO much to look at and notice.

You see the fire is roaring in the dining hall and you know already what you are going to do in the free-time later this morning. Curl up in a chair in front of the fire and read a book. This day already has that slowed down, "endless" feel to it, and you realise you haven't felt that in a very long time.

After brekky is a guided walk down to the waterfall, it only takes about 10mins to get down to it and it is a sight to behold. The little creek falling away over the cliff with views sweeping down the valley and to the ridge of Beechmont in the distance.

One thing you notice (and love) is the rarity of having a group of people experiencing such a thing minus the usual distractions of loud exclamations and excited chatter. No phones being whipped out for selfies in front of the view. Nothing to interrupt you and nature.

There is now some free time in the schedule and you decide you are so tired from your busy morning of meditation, spoiling by a private chef and chilling at the waterfall, that you'd better have a nap. "The book reading by the fireplace can be postponed till after lunch with my coffee" you decide. 

And you happily realise that is the biggest decision you are going to have to make all weekend!

After a late morning workshop in the hall you hear the sound you are quickly growing to love - the chef's bell. You think about how you can possibly smuggle her home with you.

You marvel at how there is a group of people with you, all experiencing this in their own way - you feel so connected to them but so happy that you have no need to communicate and no one is going to disturb your happy silence.

With your mouthwatering lunch in hand, you decide to take a chair from the verandah, place it on the lawn in the shade of a tree and be entertained by the curious birds flitting to and fro. You become completely absorbed in their actions and communications, and drawn into their world.

You realise this past 10mins was a type of meditation. A mindfulness practice. You were not thinking of the past or the future, or plotting and planning. You were totally present - right here. Right now.

What a welcome and powerful rest for your busy, busy mind.

You wander up the path to your private room to get your book and some warm socks to curl up with by the fire with your plunger coffee and spend a happy hour there before your body happily surrenders to an hour of yoga. You remember again why you love yoga, how good it makes you and your body feel and make a mental note to try do just 10mins a day back home.

This afternoon's meditation session feels so familiar and comforting now that you have done a couple of sessions already. You know what to do, how to do it, and now it's just time to sit.

The only distractions from your meditation are the birds in the forest. It feels like they know what we are doing and they are quietly encouraging us. "Be present" they chirp. "Be right here, only here" they twitter. And you quietly thank them for the reminder.

After yet another delicious meal in front of the logfire you notice how different you feel from yesterday, before you arrived. You jot your thoughts down into your journal. So that down the track you'll be reminded how to connect back to this slowed down feeling. This connection.

You decide to go to this evenings meditation in your pyjamas so you can slip straight into bed afterwards.

During this meditation your resolve strengthens. You are feeling so confident that you can now practice this at home. And you know you can find just 10mins a day and that 10mins will be life changing.

* Great scientific study about the effect of "grounding" or "earthing"

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Beautifully captured Kara. Having done this particular retreat quite a few times now, I felt myself being drawn back to the tranquility of the bushland, the warmth of the fire, the sounds of the birds, and the taste of the food...oh, the food 😋 I can't wait to experience this all again next month.

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