Mindfulness in Nature: epilogue

I’m so happy I get to blog about this now. Following the past few events over the summer, I had decided to register for a retreat called Mindfulness in Nature. It’s a program that brings you back to connect with yourself, the natural environment, and other like-minded people. This experience was so refreshing, and I’ve never felt so full of love, respect and patience and gratitude.

It sort of clicked after I had my breakdown. My good friend Maxine has been coordinating this program for a few years now, and after many attempts at committing to attend, I finally knew I had to go this time around. Even with everything that was going on with my family, I knew it was my time.

The program itself proved magical. It was held on a beautiful 170 acre piece of Earth near Chatsworth, Ontario, and the people who were hosting us were just as so. I wasn’t really expecting faculty so qualified – some where Buddhist Chaplains, others yoga teachers and one even a psychotherapist. All of these traits really made the program so special, and made a space that felt welcoming and free.

The retreat consisted of 5 days, all associated with Buddhist philosophy and psychology, as well as indigenous medicine. We went through a series of activities aligned with the medicine wheel – Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Space each pertaining to themes that belonged to our inner journeys.

The Medicine Wheel and the Four Directions

Every morning began with meditation, and each day we met with smaller groups that included a mentor to help us on our journey to healing. We looked at ancestral patterns in which we act upon certain patterns that were taught by our parents, and our parents’ parents and so on (Earth). We looked at passions and what we really cared about (Fire). Then, addressed grief and emotions (Water) and finally movement, and communication (Air). To wrap it all up, we all participated in an Inner quest where we had all night to contemplate our time, and certain prompts that were given to us. It was a beautiful ceremony, and I was definitely tired the next day.

There’s so much I could say about this program, but I don’t want to overshare. It was something that I needed for a long time. To face certain issues and have the chance to talk about what each person was feeling, really helped connect everyone on an emotionally intelligent level. It’s hard to find that in the city and I’m glad I met everyone there and also listened to their experiences.

Integrating afterwards, however has proved somewhat difficult. I missed the bus coming back from the retreat and that definitely proved a test of mindfulness and breath. Immediately after that, we headed to Montreal for a convention with almost no time to decompress. Returning to work yesterday was even harder. But as the day went on it got better, and it’s still getting better. I’ve been continuing a morning practice to keep the fire burning. And hopefully someday (next year) I can return to give back to the wonderful land and people that helped me find my way.

Sarana Institute, I love you!

Water Day at the Grandmother Springs at Sarana Springs, Chatsworth, Ontario.
Photo by Naty Howard
This was our wonderful group!

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