An excerpt from Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me.
Meditation doesn’t just happen; it requires intention, effort, and skill to succeed. I signed up for this course knowing what to expect in terms of commitment and perseverance. I knew it would test the breadth of my boundaries—physical, emotional, psychological, educational, religious, and spiritual. I expected it to challenge my determination and firmness of purpose. I anticipated that it would check my optimism, shake my self-confidence, and rattle my convictions.
Reality washes through me as I step out of my car. “Do I really have what it takes to live like a monk for ten days?” I wonder. Although in the midst of other retreatants, we cannot make eye contact, much less communicate with each other. The day begins promptly at 4:00 A.M. and ends at 9:00 P.M. Breakfast, lunch, and tea is provided every day. All food is organic and vegetarian. No dinner. No access to the outside world. No cell phones, no computers, no TV, no reading material, and no journal writing. Gender-segregated accommodations are pretty basic—group cottages that are lighted and heated, have beds and bedding, and bathrooms and showers. Retreatants meditate for ten hours every day for ten consecutive days. “Will I make it through this?” I question. Out pops an inner voice of assurance. “Of course! You’re here to change old habits. Habits that cause you pain and grief. Set aside all doubts and fear. And give it your one hundred percent.” “Okay. Okay,” I promise.
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