A week ago, I returned from a five-day silent retreat in the woods for women held at Gillespie Youth camp in Tilden Park (though it is usually held at Alice Eastwood group camp in Mt. Tamalpais State Park). Attending were about 30 women and a committee of about 6 who volunteer year after year to organize the event and really make it happen.
Friday night, after we set up our camps, we had dinner and talked freely with each other until, after an opening circle and meditation, we went into silence. There was a meditation area with a tarp on the ground, partially in shade and partially in sun. We meditated on a chair or on a zafu pillow or whatever worked.
The weather was perfect—not too cold or too hot and sunny most of the time or at night, the sky was full of stars and/or moon. Some ask me why I would want to go somewhere that I meditate seven times a day for 45 minutes each and do over an hour and a half of walking meditation.
Well, I only know that the meditation outside in nature slows me down to the speed of love. Mostly, I find I see love out of the corner of my eye as I speed by it. This extensive meditation gives me a chance to catch down to that speed where everywhere I look, I see love—in the redwood trees, the insects, the multi-colored and tasty food, tea provided by faithful tea fairies, varied ways that the light filters through to me, the energy of the other women, the stars, the ground itself covered with blessings from the trees, the birds and the calls of the coyotes. And not least of all, in myself.
I have missed this retreat for the last 3 years due to circumstances beyond my control so I was so happy to be reminded why I go there and how critical it is for me for the whole year to follow.
Next year the retreat will celebrate its 20th year. Some of the committee who puts this together have been doing it for that long! We lost one of them last year, Shanti, who was sorely missed but present in dreams and visions and knowledge of preparing food that she passed along.
Please contact me if you would like to be on the mailing list for this retreat. Treat yourself next year to a way to catch down to the speed of love.