IFS meditation retreat


Two years ago, I had a lunch date with a friend, and when she arrived, she was angry. Not at me, but she was very much in an angry emotion.

Previously I might have gotten swept up in her anger, or felt alienated by it. This time was different. I found myself responding calmly even though her emotion was strong. I was calm, but also present and connected.

There was a pause between what she was saying and my reaction to what she was saying. I experienced something like a calm split-second before I needed to respond. In this space I could choose my response. I wasn’t denying my emotion, but letting it unfold separately from me.

Where did this split second of calm come from? I had only been doing a guided mindfulness meditation practice  for two weeks. Could that be it?

I continued to notice this distinct change as I went about my life. It was like having this split second of calm before responding to someone. That split-second was a life changer. And I wanted more of it.

Mindfulness Meditation Made It Easy to React Calmly

iRest Yoga Nidra is mindfulness meditation. You move from awareness of your emotions and sensations, and then awareness of being aware, and eventually toward a place of being, or just presence. Once you have this, you can carry it forward into your everyday life. I jokingly tell my clients It is better than drugs, and it’s free and so good for you.

So last week I went to what I lovingly call “meditation boot camp.” I flew to Edmonton, Alberta for a week-long iRest meditation retreat led by none other than the creator of iRest Yoga Nidra, Richard Miller PhD.

It was my first time ever going to any kind of group meditation retreat and I wasn’t sure what to expect. So that’s the part of me calling it meditaton bootcamp. And like a bootcamp ( I had only seen them in the movies) it was extremely hard…..at first. Surprisingly I found the 70% silence was freedom to be with myself. No need for social engagement.

I actually felt so free that I felt playful. I climbed a tree! Something I hadn’t done since childhood, when I used to sit in my favorite tree and read books every summer afternoon.

But first things first. Let’s talk meditation. Which is where a talking moose joined me.

Musings from Meditation Bootcamp

After doing an amazing activity named body sensing, yoga nidra and meditation (where you sit in complete stillness for what at first seemed a very long time) I would write some reflections.

These delight me, confuse me, and astound me. And they are me.

Spending that much time in silence, I began to wonder who would even listen to how much I had to say inside myself.  I had been so busy with life I often would hear myself chatting away inside…but I wasn’t a good listener.

First Day Reflections

  • After my first meditation I wondered…Thoughts have a sensation to them. Could I feel the beginning of a thought as a sensation. Is this thought a habitual reaction I have gotten use to?
  • Later that day…I feel totally exhausted as I feel my body relaxing into total rest. What a paradox.
  • The last meditation of the first day…. This is really hard! Can I even do it? The Yoga Nidra and guided meditation are so much easier.
  • I notice the “blah blah blah” default network in my head that Richard talked about….
  • I thought this is like walking through a forest of trees that are all in your way as you purposefully try to move through. I told my talking trees not now. I did find myself for a short time in a large calm field but then a talking moose walked in.

Second Day Reflections

  • I notice such spaciousness inside me a leaving of the thinking mind and feeling in vibrations that seem to be me.
  • Sitting in calm and meeting a belief. The belief I must do everything myself to have it all work out.
  • And then finding the opposite belief in me. I can play and eat ice cream and lay in the sunshine.
  • When I bring these two belief together them as one combined sensation I find myself as an observing witness.
  • And I have an aching back and a part of me wonders if I can run away? Maybe I won’t be here tomorrow?

Reflections During Body Sensing Practice

  • I could sense my thoughts as habits as functions separate from me.
  • I was able to sense into these habits of thinking and watch them unfold and not get hooked or locked in what they were saying or I was sensing.
  • I could feel my body being energetic vibrational and peaceful at the same time. My body was sitting on the mat but also felt everywhere.
  • I was able to watch my thoughts unfold. I could choose to engage in that thought or just remain in the calm spaciousness I was feeling.

I felt no aches or contractions as I sat in stillness. Wow.

Reflections on Bringing Meditation Bootcamp into My Daily Life

  • I do think that being in a room with so many people doing the same thing supports more to happen.
  • When I get home maybe will it get more difficult?
  • Then I will have the structure of the iRest techniques that will guide me and support me to be mindful and calm in my life. I will rely on the guided meditations to support me.

Bringing Meditation Bootcamp into My Daily Life

Meditation Bootcamp guided me to become a better listener and friend to myself.

It was hard, but I am more connected to myself. I found some parts of myself that have real requests for me to make in my life and I am going to honor those requests. Even when a part of me suggests I climb a tree and be more playful overall.

Won’t you join me in trying this gentle respectful approach to knowing yourself better and bringing calm curiosity and compassion into your system? I say download the app from iTunes or at www.irest.us and just listen. Consistently take this time for yourself to be with yourself. Have the guided voice of Richard Miller or another iRest trained teacher will only add something positive to your life.

Even if you fall asleep that is ok too. Because that must be what you needed. But eventually you will stay awake to the meditation and be awake to yourself.

Image Credit

Moose in My Yard” by Flickr user Powhusku is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.