Sunday, July 23, 2017

Day 1 - amazing!!!!

So so so happy that I have chosen to attend this retreat.  Already I am feeling motivated, that I have learned a ton, and a lot of stuff to transfer back to school and life.

The drive was really easy and just 3 hours.  My cabin is situated way in the woods but there are just 2 of us sharing a 4 person suite so lots of space.  It is well ventilated and has a fan, hooks, very comfy beds, and tons of windows with full blinds.  My walk back to the main house and washrooms is about 2 minutes so no big deal and actually it is through a meadow and very peaceful.

The group is 15 people in total and from all over Ontario, Canada, and even the Caribbean. Out of respect for the guests I do not want to reveal to much about them as this is a very personal journey for everyone.  But I can say our journeys are very similar.  Tired, frustrated, overwhelmed with aspects of our lives but everyone is so friendly, kind, funny, and very willing to learn a ton.  There are both men and women here from all walks of life with some tough lives and jobs.

13 people are staying here on site in a cabin while 2 guests have rented a nearby motel or cottage.  We get all our meals included and Liz's husband does all the cooking.  This is a pet friendly place so there are dogs and cats all over and some guests even brought their dogs.

The day officially started at 3:00 pm with introductions and expectations in the yoga studio which is equipped with everything anyone could ever need to meditate or do yoga.  We were given a binder to fill with all kinds of handouts and homework, we got a pen and journal (I brought one but didn't need to), and then were given our first "practice".  Mindfulness is very clearly taught as simply "paying attention".  For example, we were given 2 raisins and asked to feel, smell, hear, taste, chew, swallow one then the other.  It was amazing how the attention you give to an object as simple as a raisin taught us to "pay attention" to it and be able to focus on something for a long period of time.

Dinner was amazing and full vegan.  Risotto, veggie bake, salad, sausages, were all served family style and you could take as much as you need.  Dessert was a form of cinnamon roll or fruit.  There is always tea, trail mix and granola bars if you need something else.

After dinner we did another "practice" and this one was on finding your breath and being able to "pay attention" to where you breath.  Liz (our leader) then taught us how to sit to meditate and the importance of being comfortable.  She explained that it is important to have your knees at or below your hips.  I wasn't too uncomfortable so just had my legs straight out.  We practiced sitting for 10 minutes and it flew by (if you are paying attention to your breathing!) and we even tried lying down but most agreed that sitting was better as lying down lead to napping.

I feel fantastic and so ready to get up tomorrow for 7:00 am yoga to get more flexible and stronger. I thought it might be a bit silly to sit and meditate, do yoga, and talk about mindfulness with a bunch of strangers but everyone is here for the right reasons and really working hard on themselves.

I need to go as we were given some homework to complete before tomorrow.  Did I mention we are going kayaking on Thursday?  So excited to continue to explore the grounds as they are so peaceful and beautiful.  I will for sure be snapping so great photos with the fancy camera.