The alarm failed to go off this morning. I guess that is because I had set it for 6:40 pm rather than am. Luckily I woke naturally with just enough time to spare for grabbing a cup of tea and meeting the crew in the chapel for the early meditation. Each man would stand and read a short passage from a spiritual book they had chosen and the participants would meditate on it for a few minutes before the leader would ring his Tibetan bell then the next man would contribute his reflection for the day and so on. The morning was cool and crisp. Great way to start the day.
The food here has proven to be a step above the fare that we had been accustomed to at the other facility. There were several breakfast options and we all had our fill, chatting at the tables and catching up with old friends and getting to know new friends.
We followed breakfast with a practice of walking meditation. The grounds around the mission have lots of paths and side trails where we were able to quietly walk in slow contemplation and move consciously matching our breath with our steps. Each man headed off on his own and we regrouped after to talk about our experiences. I have a very busy mind and didn’t really get it to calm much until I was near the end of my little trek.
After a short break, we met back in the Luiseno room and one of the guys lead the group in a loving kindness meditation. Started with a bit of guided meditation, then we continued silently with an occasional encouragement such as touch your heart with your hand and send love. After each session, we all share our thoughts on what we experience during the meditation.
A silent lunch was next on the agenda, so we tried to arrive at the cafeteria early to avoid the other large group that is here on retreat. The idea is to eat thoughtfully and mindfully concentrating on where our food came from and focusing on the hands involved in getting it to our table. Each bite is consumed slowly keeping in mind what we are putting in our bodies. Had a few minutes to bask in the sun in the garden afterwards before moving on to our next meditation. The topic for this practice was honesty, open-mindedness and willingness. The moderator gave his take on the subject, read some inspirational words then we sat for twenty minutes and shared afterwards. The session went long and my back was giving me grief. My mind was like a ping pong ball in a shoebox and I was never really able to find a peaceful state.
Next up, Chris B. led us all in a yoga session out on the back lawn. We all gave it our best effort and were rewarded with a mini-nap during savasana at the end of the session. Chris did an admirable job herding us cats through an hour long set of poses and stretches. Definitely welcome after spending time sitting.
The late afternoon was designated for quiet time, a free hour and a half to use as we pleased. A few of us wandered over to the mission sanctuary and prayed inside. I lit a candle for Pete and sat in a pew and sent healing prayers to him, Carole and my friend Bernie O. We looked around inside and took some photos of the statues and architecture. Three of us continued over to the graveyard and walked around the grounds. PJ’s sister’s mother in law Claire had recently been laid to rest in the mission cemetery. I found the spot where she is interred and picked a couple of twigs of purple statice and added them to the little flower holder attached to the wall and said a quick prayer. There was already a sprig of purple rosemary there so I slid mine in behind it.
We returned to the retreat grounds where I came upon Chris doing a bit of urban sketching of the retreat building on the interior terrace. I poured a cup of orange spice tea and joined him at a patio table until it got too cold and it was time to get ready for dinner.
The other larger group had gone home after lunch, so our crew was the only diners other than a pair of young ladies eating at a table near the door. I sat with a couple of guys I hadn’t spent much time with and got to know them better. Quiet dinner. Afterwards, it was back to the Luiseno room for a candlelight meditation on forgiveness, acceptance and letting go. The darkness seemed to help as I got deeper into meditation on this session than the others earlier. Or maybe it was the fish at dinner🙂
We had a short break after so I called PJ to see how things are back at the ranch. She went into town with the workmen in the back of the stake bed truck and went to the Bucerias meeting. She was a little down with concerns about her family and ongoing health issues that her parents are dealing with. Doesn’t feel right being here while she is so far away. Prayers going out to you all.
The retreat ended the night with a guided body scan to relieve tension throughout the body. Several of the crew got pillows and blankets and lay on the floor. The leader slowly moved from head to toe pausing at each area to look for issues and to release any tightness found there. Totally relaxing and a great preparation for a good night’s sleep.