This Sunday, my sister-in-law invited me to join her at a mindfulness retreat. It was offered through her work as part of a stress reduction series and participants could bring a family member to this retreat at the beautiful SF Zen Center’s Green Gulch Farm. The day was rainy and overcast, and as we made the drive to the Marin headlands, I was a little wary of what to expect.
We began with awareness raising where we paired up and took turns asking our partner what we were aware of in that moment. We repeated the exercise several times for one minute and it was fascinating to discover just how quickly our minds wander from one thought to the next. Little did I know that would be the last few words I would speak for the next five hours. Our teacher lead us through a day of silence, doing yoga stretches, body scans, guided meditation, mindful walks and more.
We ate lunch in silence and it was amazing how that heightened the other senses. The crunch of the bread, the saltiness of the olives in my salad, the aroma of the freshly brewed rose hip tea… We practiced mindful eating which was a treat - most of my meals are eaten in front of a computer or television. It felt like a luxury to eat in silence, to roll the food around in my mouth, to feel the texture of it on my tongue, to chew it thoroughly before swallowing.
We took a mindful walk where we invited a frustration or difficulty to join us and we learned to accept and to tolerate its presence, while being in the moment and realizing that it is a wonderful moment. Thankfully, after that, we did a gratitude walk. Again, we walked through the beautiful gardens mindfully and would pause to think of something for which we were grateful. So many images and feelings rushed in that it almost felt overwhelming, but in the very best way. At the end of the day, we practiced the awareness exercise again and it was interesting how our minds wandered so much less from the present moment than it did when we began the journey that morning.
Living with diabetes is not easy, yet to learn to live in the present moment, to embrace it as a wonderful moment can bring peace, serenity, and happiness.