Last weekend I went on my first non-residential silent mindfulness retreat. It’s been challenging, rewarding, intense and satisfying all at the same time. I’ve been meditating for some years now but it’s only within the last year that I’ve managed a sustained practice. I did my 8 week course back in 2012 and a year ago I completed a mindfulness instructor’s diploma. I’ll write separately about what actually happened on the retreat.
As this week has gone on, I’ve spent time reflecting on my experience and several things have occurred to me; there’s one key theme which I want to mention here.
Spaciousness and Striving
One I don’t allow myself to have enough of, and the other…well, let’s just say that there’s a little too much of that at the moment! One of the guiding principles of mindfulness is that of non-striving. This weekend, it’s been bought home to me sharply – and rather physically painfully – that this is a principle that would be good for me to develop.
Allowing more spaciousness may help me to strive less…to be rather than do all the time. To not try so hard, but invite things in and then leave space for them.
I wonder if this is something that you recognise in yourself too?
One of this weekend’s tutors recommended a talk by Tara Brach. In the talk, she references a poem, Fire, which has really made me think.
I’ve copied it out here for you. I hope you enjoy it.
I have a tendency to pile on the logs – how about you?
What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs,
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.
So building fires
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.
When we are able to build
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and the absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible
We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
simply because the space is there,
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.
I pile on the logs in almost every area of my life and this week I’ve been noticing this. I’ve started giving myself more space and time to achieve what I want to, knowing that it’s nowhere near as much as I think I can. I feel calmer, less hassled, happier.
And importantly, less guilty for ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ all the time.