The “All Day” retreat can bring some anxiety to new participants. It also brings confusion to some participants’ family members. I remember my husband’s confusion as he thought about me spending the entire day in our guest room, with my class, not speaking…and paying money to do this. Don’t knock it until you try it.
On the other side of the continuum, the participants who are Alumni of MBSR courses often cannot wait for this 7.5 hours of intentional silence within the community.
The day starts at 9am. We arrive in the zoom room with our spaces set up. Water, snacks, medications, blankets, pillows to place under our knees and bums…our nest for the day. This day is to experience what it might feel like to move in awareness moment to moment for an extended period of time.
We start with a brief sitting meditation then yoga, then a lying down body scan….bringing our attention back to the breath, or movement or body part when the mind wanders off. Again, the reminder is to notice when the mind has wandered and then with kindness, bringing it back to the present moment. We do a walking meditation, encouraged to go outside if that is available to us.
We take lunch or breakfast or dinner depending where each participant is in the world. Eating mindfully. Considering where our food has come from. Finishing each bite before taking another bite. Eating in silence.
We return back to our spaces and drop into the mountain meditation. We are introduced to the Loving-Kindness meditation written by Sharon Salzberg. We do a shorter walking meditation. We drop into the lake meditation.
At the end of the day, we break silence. The teacher starts the dialogue highlighting that the day itself, the structure was not meant to be pleasant or unpleasant but rather to notice how we meet with whatever thought or feeling arise. The dialogue is brief and participants are reassured that in the next class occurring in a few days there will be more time to talk.
For now, it is recommended to enter into our lives with gentleness. Recognizing if we live with people they may be interested in knowing what happened and perhaps responding to those questions with a, “how about you tell me how your day was instead”? Asking for a few days to process the experience. We are reminded to perhaps continue the evening with decreased stimulation, maybe avoiding the TV or news for the rest of the day. Everyone unmutes and says their goodbyes and thank yous.
This is it.