Thoughts While On Retreat

Storm Coming, 9/13/11

Last night a hard rain with lightning and thunder.  This morning the sun rises before me, filling the day with a brilliance that seems to happen only after a late summer downpour.  The air swept clean of yesterday’s heaviness, welcomes a deep breath as I slip out the door for my morning walk.  Where the road turns, seven robins flutter and splash in a puddle, left by last nights deluge.

Climbing the stairs over the dunes, I hear the surf rushing the shore, the way I hear it during meditation practice, when I see my empty mind as the ocean. The in-breath, an inhalation of a broken wave back into the sea.   The out-breath, the wave returns, washing ashore the detritus of my thinking mind.

I decide on a direction, up the beach to the north or down the beach to the south.  It’s always determined by how many people are in evidence. Always I go where there are fewer.  It isn’t that I don’t want to be friendly and wish those I pass a happy morning.  It’s that this walking barefooted in the sand becomes a meditation in it’s own right.  Here, on the beach, I move more slowly.  A deliberate pace that my friend and massage therapist, Grace, calls round walking. The heel sinks into the sand, turning upward, followed by the ball of the foot and finally the toes.  Every step a round motion, like peddling, stretching out the entire foot and connecting with Earth’s sweet energy.  A way of becoming grounded after being in the world of not enough time.

I walk daily, in the morning and late in the afternoon, after writing, reading, stretching.  At the end of the evening walk, I sit in on the beach, contemplating where the next wave will begin. Like the breath, its beginning is invisible, but at the core of life.

The first few days I do little more than walk on the beach. I simply need to unwind, stare into space, watch the pelicans drift by.  By the third day the rest of the world has slipped away.  I’m not interested in going out.  Not interested in visiting the small boutiques I’ve frequented in the past.  Even the book store has no pull.

I only had a week.  Today it’s half over. I’m sleepy, lie down for a nap. But my Muse is calling.  The images breathtaking, the words compelling.  I leave my bed. Begin tapping keys as she whispers her thoughts.

This is something I need to do more often.  There is no schedule. I choose to stay up as late as I want, knowing there is no alarm clock or to-do list waiting on the kitchen counter. If the Muse calls, I’m ready.

Everyone needs time like this.  It is essential.  It makes life in the other world easier. It frees the spirit, the mind, the body. I will go home on Sunday, ready to jump head first into my other life, happy to be home, cuddling my cats and dogs and marveling at my garden.  I will also begin making plans for another time to sneak away.

Clouds, 9/13/11

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6 Responses to Thoughts While On Retreat

  1. patti stark says:

    Such a lovely story – thank you for letting me go on your beach walk with you!

    I’m going to ventura soon, and will practice the round walking at the beach!

  2. Sharon says:

    I love the imagery and the photos. They are beautiful. I am so glad that your time there has been wonderful – storm and all. And I love being available for the muse, something that I long for.

  3. jzrart says:

    Sharon,
    Yes, I love it too. Often when I’m at home I’m in the middle of something else that I can’t stop doing when she calls. Just setting aside a day can help hugely, but sometimes it’s hard to do.
    Thanks and blessings to you,

  4. Becca says:

    It’s been such a long time since I’ve done a retreat completely on my own. After reading this, it’s really calling to me. I have a feeling I’d better get one in before the end of November when my grandson arrives 🙂

  5. jzrart says:

    That baby will be here before you know it! Hope you get a chance to have some quiet time before he comes!

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