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Touching the Earth Deeply: Canoe Trip Meditation Retreat August 16, 2012

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I recently had the wonderful opportunity to take part in a combined canoe trip and meditation retreat aptly named Touching the Earth. The retreat was led by a meditation teacher from Saskatoon who I had met years before at a Day of Lovingkindness. I had heard about the retreat from a friend, and other sangha members told me it would be a wonderful opportunity.

The main reason I wanted to go was because I needed to go camping. I didn’t go camping last summer while living in Ontario for many reasons, and I thought I would be okay going without just this once. I thought I could compensate by going outside a lot. I was wrong, I wasn’t okay.

I gave up an annual family vacation in BC to go on the trip. I had to explain to many of my family members why I was going, and told them plain and simply I needed to go. This is what I need.

The trip lasted four days, and I caught a ride with a sangha buddy to a small, quiet lake up north in Saskatchewan. There were 11 people total.

One of the main benefits I received from the trip was a huge letting go of my preoccupations, and I enjoyed a great amount of space, freedom, ease, and peace inside. It was truly a delight for me to let go of a lot of burdens and preoccupations. I felt like the environment around me was the perfect setting to do this. I experienced a lot of harmony with my surroundings, and a great deal of deep connection and communion with all of the wildlife around me–I had never seen so many birds in my life! It was like I was letting go of everything and letting all of the Earth, all of Nature, all of the trees and birds and plants and animals just hold it all for me until I ready to deal with it again.

I experienced a great deal of healing on the trip. Being surrounded by so much space–such big sky, such huge expansive lakes, so many trees as far as I could see–in an environment where I felt safe and secure and supported created so much space inside for myself. I was able to take a step back and look clearly at how I was living my life this past little while and see what was causing so much pain in my heart. My heart had been hurting and grieving for some time, and I was too ashamed and afraid to look at the reasons why. The teacher’s guided lovingkindness meditation really helped, it was a wake up call for me to treat myself more kindly, more gently, more lovingly.

The retreat was named Touching the Earth, and I really felt like I touched the Earth deeply. We actually got to do the five earth touchings from Thay’s book Happiness which I have practiced on several recent retreats. I find that ritual to be very deeply moving, and I had tears streaming down my face the entire time. When we prostrated to touch the Earth, I really had a powerful feeling that I was touching deeply and intimately with the Earth below me. Very moving.

The retreat was actually held in silence with sharing circles. At first I was a bit ambivalent about the silence because all camping trips I had been on before were never silent, so I wasn’t sure what to think, maybe I even thought it was a little bit silly. But as always, once I fall into silence, I absolutely love it. I am so comfortable with it. I forget the delight and freedom of not having to engage in social conversations, while still enjoy the company of other people.

One more aspect of the trip about which I was a bit ambivalent was not being able to fish. I love to fish (maybe because I’m Metis), and find it to be so much fun. While on the trip, I would see and hear fish jumping all of the time, and my immediate reaction was, “Oh, I bet there’s fish over there!” And then I would realize, oh, yeah, I don’t actually have any fishing gear with me, so sometimes I would just smile to myself. Habit energy, I guess. It was actually kind of nice not to have to worry about all of the fishing gear and what to do with fish once you catch them.

All in all, the trip was exactly what I needed. It was worth it, all of the work I put into it to get arranged and all of the other opportunities I gave up. I knew it was worth it the first night we were out on the lake paddling on the calm water, the sky so big around me. That moment was pure magic, pure fulfillment of some of my deepest desires. It reminded me of feeling so filled with the amazing spirit of Nature and the Earth on my high school canoe trips.

 

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1. Nature and Meditation « Living Abundance - August 21, 2012

[…] noticed after posting my previous article about the camping and meditation retreat that I didn’t say much about the nature setting of the retreat. Because it was my first […]


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