Last weekend I took myself off to Mangrove Mountain Ashram for a 2-night Meditation 1 Retreat. The reasons for my visit were 3-fold. Firstly, after a 4-night solo trip to Melbourne in 2014 to attend a yoga workshop, I realised the family can actually get along without me and for my own health and sanity, I should make a ‘Me Time’ getaway an annual event. Secondly, in order to be a legit yoga business owner and teacher, I’m required to complete regular ‘Professional Development’ programs. Lastly, I really want tolearn more about meditation and how to incorporate a simple practice into my day, and hopefully share that with you, too! ’
Meditation 1 - Cultivating Tranquility’ ticked all the boxes. Plus, the ashram (near Gosford, NSW) is just a 90 minute drive from home and the fee included all (vegetarian) meals and accommodation. I really enjoyed the whole experience, and here’s a few interesting things that bubbled up for me:
1. I’m a control freak/ slave to my phone.
Upon arrival I realised my mobile phone was flat. I knew I would be without internet and phone service for the weekend, and had left the ashram number on the pantry door for the Hubster, just in case. However, immediately I started apanicked chain of thoughts about how I would contact Simon to let him know when I’d be home on the Sunday, and how on earth could I wait til I was back in civilisation to check my emails?? And would I survive without my IPhone clock and torch? Could I remember the route home without Google Maps?? It was also really hard to get out of ‘Mama-Mode’ andaccept that Simon was more than capable to hold the fort in my absence.
2. Just enough is enough
The vegetarian meals were served school-camp-style; grab your plate and bowl, line up and take whatever is dished out. The food was wonderful and I ate every last bit, every time! It was lovely to have the decision about what to eat taken out of my hands, and I found it interesting that when we don’t have achoice, what’s on offer is usually perfect. I toyed with the idea of offering my kids just one breakfast option when I returned. Inspired by day 2’s breakfast, I thought they’d be thrilled to try Coconut Polenta Porridge. No thanks, Mum. Toast please. I also noted how much I savoured every meal, because I knew that was it until the next snack or mealtime.
3. Intention trumps perfection
Friday and Saturday nights are party-nights, yoga style! For those that wanted to, Kirtan, or devotional singing was on offer for an hour after dinner. Here, a group of the Ashram residents sat at the front of the room with instruments and led us in several ancient Sanskrit chants. Although the words were written up for us to follow, the emphasis was on just soaking up the experience - the correct words weren’t so important, rather the intention to be part of it all.
It also reinforced that sound can be so calming and being a part of something emphasises that great sense of belonging, community, being human!
4. Silence and spare time can be all at once scary, comforting, nurturing and spacious.
Between 8.15pm and 7.30am the Ashram encouraged the practice of Mauna, or silence. This early-bird was very happy to call it a night after Kirtan so I quite enjoyed this time. Also, as an introvert, the practice took the pressure away from having to make small-talk with strangers over breaki the next morning!
My course took up 12 hours of the weekend, leaving lots of spare time. At times I found this really difficult! I’m used to three kids and a dog constantly tugging at my attentions, noise and clutter! I realised just how much of my time is spent (happily) attending to others, and that motherhood has chipped away a little at my sole identity. Something (more!) to work on, eh! Once I realised it was OK to do nothing, I quite enjoyed starting up at a tree for a bit and lobbing in to the yoga room for some extra practice.
5. It's so refreshing to get out of your comfort zone and see how others live.
I love a change of scene and routine, just for a little while! To eat differently, be part of a community and enjoy some ‘me time’. Ahh.
6. I am much more than a wife/mother/biz owner etc!
All that time to myself allowed me to peel back a few layersand start to glimpse my true self. A work in progress, no doubt, but an important journey, I think.
7. Meditation is hard work, but very worthwhile!
I’ve dabbled in meditation on and off over the years, and I think my ‘off’ times occurred because I felt like ‘I’m not doing it right’, or ‘it’s not working!’. Upon returning home and attempting some meditation time by myself, I figure meditation is just like a muscle, for it to get stronger I need to use it! Oommmmm
I'm Bronni. I love to lie down. On a mat, perhaps with a blanket and yoga bolster. A 20 minute session can help me go from chaos to calm... These musings are all about finding calm, Restorative Yoga and it's amazing benefits.