Summer Retreat

Self-Care As a Way of Life

Impact Reports

Namaste and Welcome.

This page will be updated within 24 hours of a new Impact Report being submitted.  

Week 2: Relaxation:

  • I’ve found over the past 3 days of doing morning sits with this week’s guidance that I have become so relaxed that I’ve gone back to bed for 1-2 hours more sleep afterwards.   Besides having gratitude for being able to do that, I’ve discovered a greater depth to the tension that has always resided in my body, probably as a result of very old trauma.  

  • No “aha” moments as of now, but I have been using the straw breath and find it very helpful.

  • That chinmaya mudra is amazing!  I get a strong feeling of clarity that stays with me – it happens as soon as I begin.  And the grounding part of the meditation makes me feel like my feet are anchored to the center of the earth!

  • Although I am generally a “good sleeper”, I have been sleeping even better!  Longer, deeper and more restful sleep. I have also noticed more vivid dreams. The general theme is usually I am engaged in some high-risk outdoor sport out in the “open air” requiring “balance”. Others too are involved, some are nervous, others are calm, some doing so despite concerns by “parents”.  The only other comment is that I have more difficulty picking up again those things that cause me strain, after having “dumped" them now several times!!

  • My experience over the week was that it was quite natural to actively relax my body, particularly my neck and shoulder area where I seem to store a lot of tension.  It seems that the work I've done with yoga and meditation have helped me develop a nice body/mind connection.  I also found that the relaxation often allows me to get in touch with the deeper emotions I'm feeling, e.g. moving through anger to the underlying hurt and sadness.  I also found that the chinmaya mudra hand posture wasn't that appealing to me.  During your guided meditation, I usually found that laying my hands, palms up on my lap seemed more natural--I sense that I'm more in need of opening than grounding. 



Week 3:  Soul Value:


  • Significant impact during your talk last night.  Surface mind kept saying “why the f*** did I sign up for this?”  Like a boulder being thrown into the lake of my heart, not just a drop.  Can’t wait to see what’s behind the next door.

  • The question that has arisen for me, right away, loud and clear, and repeatedly, is “why am I here?” But my surface mind shouts out "No!! I don’t want that question!! That is too much like the question that you have been agonizing over all of your life!! I want a nice ‘easy' question, that lets me sit quietly for the rest of my days on a meditation cushion, gazing peacefully over the water lilies and pondering, 'what is beauty?' 'What is art’?”

  • So I find myself approaching things in a different way.  Being calmer brings about better sensibilities for me.  Even situations I’m not consciously working on are benefiting from this.  In communicating with others, instead of plowing through to get what I’m after, I find myself start to respond my old way, then quickly (!) a better approach comes to mind.  Note, comes to mind.  No preconceived plan. I believe this is the intuitive thinking winning over the surface mind.

  • Swimming while tense: I learned how to swim relatively late in life, in fact, I really learned when I moved into this building a few years ago, which has an indoor pool. As a child, I didn’t enjoy pools much – it was noisy, crowded, the water was freezing and I couldn’t see (I discovered corrective goggles much later!!) While swimming today and engaged in our assigned “exercise” of asking myself, “what is your motivation for doing this?” I realized that I swim with intensity, as if my life depended on it, striving to get from the safety of one pool’s edge to the other and back again. As I did that body scan for tension, it suddenly dawned on me that I could RELAX!!! I DO know how to swim! But even though my body had learned how to swim, it seems as if a part of me did not realize this and I have been carrying all of that childhood angst with me, and “swimming while tense.”  Wow! What a difference!  Maybe it holds true also outside of the pool???   Thanks again so much for these sessions - very insightful and interesting. 

  • I’ve been trying, throughout the days, to “explore me” and the question I constantly ask myself is why I am here? What is the purpose of my experiences? I have tried to respond to it, I suppose with my surface mind, but have not been able to respond to the point that I am comfortable. 

  • I've been as open as possible in taking on the issue of what is the existential question I am seeking to answer.  I've noticed that part of the process seems to be encountering and beginning the process of getting underneath what I see as foundational insecurities. Specifically, the first question that came up after wading through surface mind responses was "Am I okay," which I posed to myself as "What is it to be okay?"  Next time I used the guided meditation, the issue that came up was "How should I connect with others,"  which I similarly posed as "What does it mean to be connected with others?"  It seems that the "connection" inquiry is perhaps truer than the "Am I okay" question because it's more expansive, but I'm not certain about that.  Much of my experience has been about "process" rather than identifying a particular question.  In what I think of as something of a culmination of my meditative practice (for the moment at least), much thanks to my work with you, I've focused my attention on getting out of my mind (and what always seems like an overly intense "thinking" process," even while in a very relaxed meditative state) and letting an intuitive listening process unfold.  The heart/lake image and the idea of letting the question of what is my soul question drop from my mind into the lake of my heart has deeply resonated with me.  I feel like I'm at the inception of this process.

  •  I feel like a four year old when I try to form words around my feelings and instincts.   Makes me smile at myself.   This is not a particularly quick process.  

Week 4:  Soul Value Integration/Living from Discovery vs Conclusion:

  • Phew!  This really reminds me of gritting through Step 4 . . . . just sayin’.  You can quote me.

  • I found my question, at least for the time being.  "Who am I?"  My mind is a cacophony of peaceful acceptance and irritating frustration this week.  Yippee.

  • My response to the Soul Question exercise has evolved (so far) in what in hindsight seems like the following 3 phases:

    1. Initially, I was reminded of a beautiful scene from The Bucket List, in which the Morgan Freeman character explains to the Jack Nicolson character that when you die and arrive at the gates of heaven, you will be asked (only) two questions - Did you find joy in your life? And did you find a way to bring joy to others?  My heart always responds so deeply to this recollection.

    2. But as I continued to ask “why am I here?” my heart responded with sorrow and disappointment. “Clearly not to see any of my dreams fulfilled!!” surface mind would reply.

    3. Asking the question today, my heart responds simply in surrender, in a willingness to open, open open. It is as if the question and the answer have become one and the same.

     4.  Later during the day, out of the blue, I recalled what someone had said to me many years

         ago  -  “The purpose of your life, Jeannette, is to open up your heart.”  It hit me like a lightening

         bolt and I began crying. It was a flash of insight, difficult to explain in words.  



Week 5:  Exploring Integrity

  • You know....taking that brief time to run every response---verbal or action----- though the aware  filter of "my soul song" does not take that long......and interestingly enough does not change almost all responses..... just seems to make them feel deeper.   Like a little voice going, "check...that works."  And the few that changed today were with my sister.....a small shift....we are close .......and my husband.....another small shift and we are even closer but I was happier with what I said both times.    And it is not like I am really thinking about it either..... cool. loving the class direction...........and weeks assignment (new life skill)

  • This week has delivered both insights and struggle. Though it presents itself with some ambiguity, I believe that my soul value is connecting with other people.  This is challenging since I have tended toward being highly judgmental and, often, to encounter the world in a subtly rejecting way.  The part of the week that most strikes me has been my experience with your guided meditation.  I've found myself deeply immersed in my bodily experience, particularly focusing on my heart area.  This is new for me since I've spent most of my adult life focusing attention in my head.  In taking on the question, during the meditation, of how I might help myself integrate my soul value of connecting with others into my life and daily encounters, I was surprised to feel, quite strongly, a tightening of my chest.  In being with that feeling, I've sensed that the most helpful thing I can do to help me live with integrity is to release that tightness (which is clearly psychological as well as physical) through a grieving process.  I've also noted that when I actively get out of my head I'm able to bring up images of others with a sense of unconditional caring, which I sense is key to living the way that I'd like.  So far, I haven't been able to do this very readily outside of the meditative process, but it seems like a good start..

Week 7: Devotion

  • I just had what I sense is a very valuable experience listening to this week's guided meditation.  I've noticed as I used the meditation earlier in the week that I felt a sense of hesitation when you talked about giving or offering attention to my breath and to my soul value.  It more or less simultaneously occurred to me that the issue is that I feel that I don't "have enough," so it feels depleting to "give" even when I'm offering attention to my own experience.  This feeling of not having enough, of course, plays itself out in my relationships.  As I sat with the guided meditation today,  I had this experience in mind, and when I reached that place in the meditation, I initially had the sense that I was being given something by my breath and, therefore, had enough to feel comfortable "giving" my attention back.  As you described the breath happening without my effort or control, I was able to recognize that I am being given a constant gift every time I take or release one.  This may sound a little spacy to some, but it feels like a really important shift in perspective for me.  In the same way, this shift allowed me (and hopefully will continue to allow me) to see that things that I've taken completely for granted, like the energy that other beings provide by their mere presence is really nourishment that can help me feel whole.  Good stuff.  I plan to work with this as I encounter others.