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Retreat Into Kindness

Blossoming Flower“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

Retreats hold a sacred place in my heart. My first mindfulness retreat was a daylong in Seattle.

On this retreat we were given a particular prompt during meditation, why are you here? I can’t recall my answer. I think it had something to do with becoming a better meditator. After several minutes – my energy further settled – we received a second prompt, why are you really here? To get better at self-compassion sprang forth. This made sense. In the preceding months I had been awakening to the fact that I wasn’t all that good at self-compassion. To be honest, I sucked at it. Dropping into a deeper level of inquiry I touched a sense of readiness to face this. I continued to sit, allowing the more nuanced awareness to percolate.

Several more minutes passed when we were given a third prompt, why are you really, really here? That’s when, unexpectedly, tears leaked out. In that moment something cracked open – an awareness that I was actually afraid to be nice to myself. Riding myself, by way of a bruising inner critic, had been my means of accountability in life and for others. I didn’t think I knew how to be a good person if I was good to myself. It was a terrifying a-ha.

That daylong retreat years ago began my journey in discovering as much as I could about this self-compassion business. Along the way I’ve learned some important things – I’m more accountable when my head can be counted upon as a safe zone, I connect more deeply with others when connection to myself isn’t on the line, and I wasn’t alone in struggling with inward-facing kindness – insights that continue to shape the work I do today.

Wanting more ease in navigating life’s rough spots inspired me to get on the mindfulness path. Kindness is what sustains me. Retreats, now a staple in my practice, help illuminate where and how I might let more light in.

Over the next two months I have the honor of co-teaching two daylong retreats centered on growing capacity for inner and outer compassion, as well as the perks they bring. Whether you struggle with self-compassion or your nervous system would simply benefit from a retreat into kindness, I hope you can join me. The first is December 3rd at 8 Limbs Phinney Ridge (home of my first mindfulness retreat) – A Day of Kindness with Senior Yoga Teacher Tracy Hodgeman. The second is being held at the lovely Tacoma Nature CenterAwakening Kindness – A Daylong Retreat for the New Year, January 6th with Erin Joosse, Director of Source Yoga.

If you have any questions about these offerings, or the role mindfulness can play in growing kindness from the inside out, feel free to get in touch with me here. (For a full calendar of my classes click here.)

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