If you had eight days off to go anywhere in the world, where would you go? For me, the choice was simple, literally. I chose to be in silence for eight hours a day at a beautiful Vipassana meditation retreat center in Northern California. Call me crazy but, yes, this was my idea of fun and relaxation. It was a silent retreat. Nobody said a word to each other even during meals. Eye contact was kept to a minimum. The schedule began at 5:30 a.m. with the sound of a gong and ended with the sound of a gong at 9 p.m. There were alternating sitting and walking meditation sessions, qigong, yoga, hiking and meals throughout the day. I came back home with a clear mind, rejuvenated and completely recharged. I couldn’t have asked for a better siesta. Traditional vacations don’t do it for me – too much action and not enough down time. Some may think it’s selfish, but I think meditation is one of the most selfless things anyone can do. Why? The answer is inherent with nature. Look at plants. Plants need that delicate balance of sun, water and nutrients to thrive and survive. Humans are not much different. So what do humans need to achieve balance? Can money buy you balance? Sure, it can buy you a fancy vacation, but vacations are temporary. For many of us, going back to “reality” from a vacation is like being hit with a semi-truck head on. Two days pass and it feels like you never left. So in retrospect, material things can only bring you temporary relief of life’s pressures. I see meditation as a kind of convenient affordable vacation for the mind. When you get good at it, you can close your eyes any time and send yourself to a place of ultimate bliss. It’s better than what any expensive vacation can give you. Meditation is always there. It’s with you always. And you don’t need to go on a retreat to learn meditation. There are many places in your local communities that offer classes. The retreat was a luxury, but I learned many valuable insights to take back home, especially how to get deeper into meditation. This is highly recommended if you get time off. Namaste.
By Cheryl Schneider