First-Time Retreat Experience, January 2019
Can you imagine … just stopping … everything …your daily life …Gratefully? … With calm? … With joy? …With golden silence?
This was my experience in my week at Wonderwell, from the moment I arrived to the moment I left. It was another life, another “family”, another way of being, another way to grow, and to feel, and to rest.
I arrived a bit early. The lovely and competent retreat managers, greeted me warmly, picked up my very big load of stuff, and showed me to my room—the women’s dorm. I was awestruck immediately, as the entire back wall of the spacious room was glass, and framed a spectacular view of mountains and blue sky. I chose the beautifully dressed bed right next to that window—I would sleep in a treehouse for this week:)
If I were using a quality-rated checklist , this is how it would look, 10 being the Golden Five-Star Best Ever, and including my personal descriptions.
10 — Overall Organization & Flow/Balance/Integrity of Daily Schedule and Program
10 — Exceptional Courtesy, Respect & Support between All Staff, Teachers and Retreatants
10 — Delicious, Creative & Healthful Meals, (including vegan);Snacks and Tea & Coffee 24/7
10 — Peaceful, Beautiful Spaces to Learn, Study, Meditate, & Practice Yoga In
10 — Teachers of the Highest Level, and of the Highest Devotion to Their Work & Students
Noble Silence. Being a professional musician, I enjoy silence very much as a respite from so much sound in my daily life. As it happened, Noble Silence was an entirely new, spacious world for me. Our communications were quickly rendered to just the necessary (like a hand gesture or quick smile). I pondered on the wastefulness of most verbal communication, and on our reliance on words, which are frequently not effective and sometimes harmful.
Noble Silence allowed me to stay, without interruption, in the place of just being, of current experience, and of mind/heart permeability to what I was learning every day, nearly every hour. It was freedom, mental rest, a refuge in and of itself. I believe Noble Silence also brought us together in purpose and gratefulness. Our ears and eyes were opened and used in new ways as well.
Teachings and Meditations: Our teachers presented their lessons with grace, humor, expertise of knowledge and experience, and sensitivity to who we were as a diverse group of students. The teachings were ordered in a way that overlapped and reviewed the core lesson concepts. The teachers gave generously and wholeheartedly, and also in our private conferences/interviews toward the end of retreat. They led our lesson meditations with clarity and care. I found meditations simple to follow and very productive for my own needs. A person with no meditation experience would probably be quite comfortable, as everyone has their own unique experience of meditation. No strict rules here.
The kindly Closing Circle was our good-bye , with all four teachers present . We were sent on our way with love and encouragement, and new eyes and ears and bodies (the yoga was stellar), and for me—the hope and resolve to stay in my new place of refuge, calm and growth, forever.