Friday, December 26, 2008

Silent Night (& Silent Day)

Later this morning Ma'ikwe and I will drive to the outskirts of Rockford IL and begin a 10-day Vipassana retreat. There will be no talking, no radio, no writing, no reading,… and no blogging. It'll just be me, my body, my mind, and my reality—such as it is. For ten days, the rest of the world will have to get along without me. For the rest of the world, I'm not worried.

Part of my partnership agreement with Ma'ikwe is that we'll try new things, and that extends to spiritual inquiry. During the last week of our honeymoon in Italy, we did six days worth of the introductory Avatar course, Resurfacing. Now we're doing a Vipassana retreat. Last night, at Christmas dinner, a friend asked what I was doing to prepare myself for the retreat. I answered: "Nothing. It's not that I don't think there will be challenges for me; it's just that I don't think that there's anything I can do mentally to prepare for them. Instead, I'm just going to surrender to the experience, and face the demons as they come, whatever they may be."

While Ma'ikwe and I will be going through the experience simultaneously, we won't actually see each other during the retreat. Our understanding is that the men and women are housed separately and sleeping will be dormitory style. Even so, retreatants are encouraged to not look at each other—this is meant to be a solitary experience, to the extent possible.

In college, I did a Zazen meditation practice in the pre-dawn for an hour every weekday morning of winter term (10 weeks). It's my only other taste of meditation and that was 38 years ago. I now have a different body, a different mind, and a different spirit. We'll see whether I have a different experience.

Regardless of what happens, I expect to have something to say about it. Look for it as the subject of my next blog, after I return home Jan 7.

Meanhwile, I expect to have one of the soberest New Year's in my life. Though it will be Jan 1 on the calendar, it will just be Day Four of my retreat (and probably a great deal like Day Three and Day Five). Instead of the football I'm used to on that day, it'll just be the footfalls I've grown accustomed to. Still, I note with curiosity that the last full day of the retreat will be Jan 6, which is Epiphany on the Christian calendar. Coincidence? I'll tell you when I get back.

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