Archives: Silent Meditation Retreat

Moving Forward From Retreat

Sweep

I recently returned from a 7-day silent meditation retreat at Vallecitos Mountain Ranch in the (stunning) mountains of northern New Mexico. And I wish I could report that it’s been all bliss and rainbows ever since returning back to life in Los Angeles.

But that would be a lie.

The truth is, as I’m writing this, I’m teetering on the edge of falling back into the depression I was mired in before I left. I can sense it right there in front of me. A poem by Portia Nelson comes to mind:

Autobiography in Five Chapters

1. I walk down the street

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in. I am lost… I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

 

2. I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place, but it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

 

3. I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in…it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

 

4. I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

 

5. I walk down another street.

 

Perhaps you recognize these patterns in your own life?… I’m smack-dab in the middle of stanza #3, and I feel like it’s finally time to make the quantum leap to #4.

But I’m encountering some serious resistance.

This past retreat unearthed some deep insights for me—things I’ve “known” on a certain level, but haven’t wanted to face… I’ve survived just fine by sweeping these things under the rug all these years—by looking the other direction…But it’s time to “level up.”

The funny/annoying/amazing thing about my mindfulness practice is that the things I’ve swept under the rug all my life have, in due time, started making themselves known. And, another funny/annoying/amazing thing is, once I’ve unearthed an issue and start seeing it in plain sight—it’s nearly impossible for me to try and “un-see” or ignore it again.

Before I left for this latest retreat, I mentioned a lot of Shit got kicked up from the body work I’ve been doing to heal my chronic physical pain issue. I wasn’t clear exactly what was causing the emotional pain. The malaise felt general—like a heap of Crap all tangled in a giant steaming pile in the middle of my metaphorical living room floor. But, while sitting in silence during the retreat, the individual issues began to sort themselves out—making themselves more and more clear.

And now I sit here just staring at it all. Separate piles of previously ignored issues splayed out in front of me. And I feel paralyzed. Despite seeing the individual issues for what they are—every fiber of my being wants to sweep them all back under the rug and pretend like I don’t see a thing.

The brink of depression I’m feeling now feels like the sadness of not being able to ignore the mess any longer. There’s a huge part of me that’s wanting to throw a tantrum at the thought of how much effort it’s going to take to change my behavior and face (let alone heal) these wounded parts of myself. There’s also a big part of me that’s feeling relieved that they’re all finally out in the open. Such is the life of a spiritual warrior.

So right now I’m just doing my best to BE with myself. To get used to seeing these issues and not trying to sweep them under the carpet anymore.

This, of course, is where the “real” work begins… 

 

Under Deconstruction

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I’ve been feeling blue for the past few weeks. Going through yet another big shift in my life—working with a body worker to heal severe chronic neck and upper back pain that was caused by a sexual trauma 15 years ago. 

And while the physical pain has significantly subsided since I started this work—my emotional pain has skyrocketed.

The correlation is no coincidence, I’m sure.

Up until this evening, every time I’ve sat down to blog about this journey, I’ve felt blocked—an endless parade of stops and starts. Beginnings with no clear endings. Start overs.

Delete.

Repeat.

And then earlier tonight, I finally found enough clarity to finish the entire post. I felt sufficiently “good” about what I’d written, and I was ready to hit “publish.” But when I clicked “save draft,” WordPress decided to do just the opposite. The post evaporated into cyber space.

And I was left with nothing.

Of course, part of me wants to stay up all night to try and painstakingly reproduce every word. But the other part of me is telling me it’s all quite poetic, given the current state of things. This part is also telling me the compassionate thing to do for myself is to allow myself to feel the frustration/anger/sadness and then to let it go. And go to bed.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

As is the nature of everything, I know that whatever emotional pain I’m experiencing (on all levels) will change. I don’t have “this too shall pass” tattooed on my wrist for nothing. 😉  I’m also blessed to have the world’s most compassionate and nurturing partner by my side to comfort me during this ride (seriously, she’s THE. BEST).

And I’m sure when I get back from my upcoming 7-day silent meditation retreat later this month, I’ll have loads to share. In the meantime—if the theme of pain resonates in any way, you might be interested in checking out what I wrote about my last silent meditation retreat

Onward and upward (and inward)….

BE Well,

jennifer

Tranquility du Jour!

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I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on Kimberly Wilson’s “Tranquility du Jour” podcast, where we chatted about mindfulness, meditation, retreat experiences—and of course, tranquility! Click on the image above for a link to the podcast online. Enjoy! 🙂

The Mindfulness Diaries (free ebook TODAY)

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You might have heard me talking, in one form or another, about the book I’ve been working on for the past nine months. It came to “be” after returning from my first nine-day silent meditation retreat this past May….

As I was reintegrating back into my life in L.A., I felt moved to journal about my struggle to maintain my sense of compassion during the retreat (for both myself and others). And, while I was writing about my experiences, I felt a palpable and unexpected sense of purpose—so strong, in fact, that I was, literally, struck by sudden tears of gratitude and joy when I realized that I wasn’t just writing about my experiences for me…. I was writing about them to share with others.

In 20+ years of journal writing, I’d never experienced anything quite like that moment.

Nine months later, I’ve officially set up my very own small press, HOWD Media. And The Mindfulness Diaries: How I Survived My First Nine-Day Silent Meditation Retreat is now officially available in paperback and as a Kindle ebook. It’s been a long road, but I’ve SO enjoyed the journey… And now I’m very excited to be sharing the result with you! 🙂

My marketing strategy is to roll the book out slowly. So, before I start promoting it to the masses, I’m offering the Kindle ebook for FREE to friends and supporters. This free ebook promotion on Amazon begins TODAY (Monday, Feb 24th) and ends at midnight (PST) TOMORROW (Tuesday, Feb 25th). You can download your free ebook by visiting the book’s page on Amazon here.

Your feedback is incredibly valuable—and greatly appreciated. So, once you’ve read the book, please consider writing a short review on Amazon and/or Goodreads to help spread the word (you’ll also find links to do so in the back of the ebook)….The more reviews a book gets the more successful it has the chance to be!

Here’s a short blurb:

The Mindfulness Diaries: How I Survived My First Nine-Day Silent Meditation Retreat

Jennifer Howd had been building a mindfulness practice for two and a half years before taking on the challenge of her first nine-day silent meditation retreat. In this debut memoir in “The Mindfulness Diaries” series, she chronicles the humorous—and often harrowing—adventures of the dueling inner voices that emerge in the silence: one intent on focusing on the seemingly negative aspects of her experiences, and the other on helping her see the positivity that can come from them.

Illuminating for those who are new to mindfulness and resonant for those with established practices, The Mindfulness Diaries: How I Survived My First Nine-Day Silent Meditation Retreat is a vulnerable, touching, playful peek behind the curtain into the mind of a woman learning how to befriend herself.

Thank you so much for your support—and please feel free to pass this promotion along to any of YOUR friends….

Happy reading!

With Gratitude,
jennifer