Monday, September 22, 2014

A Mindful Weekend

Books seem to magically appear in my life when I need them the most, but I may not know it at the time. A book may even sit on the shelf for months, until my life catches up with what its pages are waiting to share. It was because of a book that I spent the past weekend at Copper Beech Institute in West Hartford, Connecticut at a mindfulness retreat.


The book, of course, came along on the train ride from Grand Central Station to Waterbury, Connecticut, then in friend Marian's car on to Copper Beech. I'm not sure which of us was more excited, although I kept hearing muffled giggles from the zippered compartment of my suitcase.
The book's author, Sharon Salzberg, was the featured speaker at the retreat. Book and author were to be reunited, and I was going to meet the author whose words course through my mindfulness meditations each morning. It was a toss-up.




 Kindness as a Force sounded like a misnomer when I first picked up the book seven years ago. A force is strong, heavy, powerful. Kindness is well, kind. Gentle. It doesn't bowl you over like an 80 MPH wind, but sits beside you and helps you hang on. It stays and picks up the pieces afterwards. A force, perhaps, with a quieter nature.

The well-loved book - read three times, underlined, starred, decorated with blue post-it notes - continues to push me along a path of compassion toward self and others. It introduced me to lovingkindness meditation and, along with Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh, encouraged me to live in the present moment. It prepared me for a longer path, a journey of labyrinths, where self-discovery and insight spiral through other walkers I meet along the way.

With a hundred or so men and women this weekend, I practiced sitting meditation, walking meditation, lovingkindness meditation. I stretched my body in gentle yoga. I walked a peaceful labyrinth in the early morning as the sun was topping a circle of trees.

   
I was kind to myself. The place where all kindness must begin.









As I handed Sharon my book to sign, I had a gushy speech, filled with flowery words of author admiration, all prepared to deliver. But when it came to the moment, I said simply,
"Thank you. Your words have made a difference in my life."
















The book could hardly contain its excitement as Sharon's pen touched the paper.













We both carry her words inside us with a smile.


  

  



 

4 comments:

  1. You write so beautifully, Twylia. I feel content just reading your gentle presentations.

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    1. Thank you for those kind words, Michele! I appreciate your taking time to read and comment. Kindness is a force, for sure. :-)

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  2. I can't recommend it enough. Hope you find it to be meaningful, as well, Ellie!

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