We hosted our second overnight retreat this past weekend, a 24-hour getaway short in duration but long in the ways of spiritual purification. Beginning the begin with lunch on Saturday, June 23rd and running through mid-morning Sunday, June 24th, yoga classes, sitting meditation, Ceremony and healthy, nourishing meals were sandwiched in between - often on gluten free bread. Orchestrating activities that develop people spiritually coupled with the sun-dappled, breezy atmosphere of a couple days living in nature allows people to shake free of agitation and disturbances for a time, offering opportunities to peek underneath the surface of their own lives. Like I explained to the student I was teaching meditation to this morning - a lot of folks want to rearrange the furniture on the sun deck of their lives, or make changes akin to swabbing the floor clean, working at outer constructs to tidy things up a bit. True sitting practice however takes you down into the psychic innards of your own self, down into the engine room, to the devices that drive the vessel that’s you.
It’s dark down there, it’s hot, and not all that comfortable. You’re going to sweat, exposing yourself to the grime and friction of those mechanisms, and there's a high probably you'll dirty up your little white tennis skirt. This is the nose to the grindstone vibe that inspired Carl Jung to say, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.” True at one time but today growing in popularity, as more and more people realize that despite its challenges, accessing the systems and sub-systems of your own makeup is worth the hassle, literally placing you in the cockpit of your own psychic Spitfire, feeling a lot less rudderless as you find your spot, the place where your world is born into being moment by moment. In time, guiding, directing and controlling - or perhaps not controlling - the flight pattern of your own life becomes a far more empowered endeavor as you step through gateways into the unconscious mind. “It’s not a quick fix,” my own teacher Shinzen Young is fond of saying. “But it’s a very, very deep fix.
With the summer solstice upon us last week, dawning at 6:07 a.m. EST, I didn’t want the auspicious time to pass without running Ceremony or making some type of gesture to The Powers That Be. Fortuitously, a great group came together to open the season with a transformative lil' weekend made up of Steph and Lana, Olivia and Ericka, the venerable rock man and wood guide J. Scott Campbell, and Nancy O’Donoghue, a long-time Red Road practitioner and Sundancer, as well as a great singer. Scott slings hot stones with the best of them, and as I like to joke any rock man not a little jammed up breaking them in correctional facility works for me. I hope he keeps coming around with his gifts. Speaking of, Tanya Walker joined us from the local wellness center to lead a pair of gentle, centering yoga classes. Olivia and Ericka came from East Lansing, and found The Higher Haven online, a new, encouraging development. “I just searched for retreats in Michigan and found your place and all the reviews were so positive, we wanted to come.” If you take a closer look at that photo of us in the kitchen at the Wopila celebration post Ceremony, Ericka is to the far right, laughing and beaming. She was nervous about sweating, too, as many first-timers are, but clearly got the taste of purification, benefiting from Ceremony. Olivia also looks lit up. In fact, everyone lights up after visiting this place, and I’m happy just being the extension cord that makes the connection.
I could tell more stories about how they all found the house enchanting, the garden delightful, the woods otherworldly, but then there’d be boring talk of how these reactions served to again dispel all my self-doubts, and self-doubt at this point is just so unnecessary. I like you have had enough of the same rutted ways of being, and quite frankly am aching to tell a new story, beginning again with how my nature was again markedly changed by Saturday night’s Ceremony. What happened the very first time happens time and again. “At the start, every retreat changes you,” to again quote my teacher Shinzen. “Then every sit changes you. And eventually every moment changes you.” Reaping a growing harvest from seeds planted years ago, I’m elated that I stayed the course doing an awful lot of things I really didn’t want to do over the last seven years in order to set up an entrepreneurial endeavor that would support me doing what I love and long to do. “If you were to study the Inipi, it would take you your lifetime”, to quote Chief Philip A. Crazybull, and now an incredible clearing is opening up to do just that, mostly in service to others but happy I'm also along for the ride. It’s a wonderful gig overseeing individuals who come together searching for the deeper recesses of their own spirituality. When people connect with others on that level, the experience can be extremely uplifting. Find out for yourself by joining us for the next One Day Overnight at Noon on Saturday July 21st, as we circle up to support one another in the work of finding a better way.