I’ve been on many silent retreats at the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts. All of them have been at the Retreat Center, the facility at IMS which provides great support, and regular routines, for the yogis. Basically, all one hundred of us would be doing sitting meditation at the same time – the same with walking meditation. There’d be talks every evening to educate us about Buddhist principles and meditation.
There is another way at IMS … a second facility, called the Forest Refuge. This is where you can work with a teacher in developing your own program. Maybe really short walks and sits would be best. Or a long sitting session of two hours (but for some yogis that would be far too long). Fewer talks.
At the Forest Refuge, unlike the Retreat Center, yogis can read. They can study some aspects of the Buddha’s wisdom in depth. I’m especially interested in the Brahma Viharas: lovingkindness, compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity. I’d like to deepen them in my life.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to apply for a month’s stay at the Forest Refuge. I knew I could handle the independence. So I did all the paperwork, including a detailed questionnaire … and waited.
One day stretched into two, four, seven. I listened to what was inside. “I’d love to have this opportunity. I’m excited. But IMS might say no. I’d be sad.” As time ran onwards, I watched my feelings ebb and flow. And my thoughts would sometimes explode. “What are they thinking?” “Maybe I’m not good enough.” “Of course I’m good enough.”
And yesterday, I just let go. All is fine.
Lots of condo details to handle today. Wrong toilet seats arrived – too big for the bowls. Wanted to pick up the lights I’d ordered but some of them were still at the warehouse. Kitchen counters won’t be ready until maybe September 26 but I can still move in on the 20th.
Take a break, Bruce. See who’s e-mailed you.
And there it sat, titled “Your IMS Forest Refuge Acceptance”. That last word barely registered. Click and here was the letter:
Your application for retreat at IMS’s Forest Refuge has been approved, and I’m happy to say there is currently space available for your dates of February 1-28, 2017.”
And lots of etcetera.
I stared. I get to go. I cried. I get to go