What Draws me to Retreat work Annually?

What Draws me to Retreat work Annually?

Oct 15, 2021

I recently got this amazing respectful inquiry from a friend on the 'gram:

"Well I was hesitant to inquire since I try to keep my retreaty experiences as something I don’t always plan on retelling everyone. You know what I mean? Like I don’t want to have that moment in the woods where I’m formulating how I could share this over Instagram or how I will caption it or explain it. That can cheapen it and makes me too aware of the future me and not the present me. All that to say, if you’re offering this seems like a super intentional time and space for you each year- so I just wondered what it was that draws you each season. Is the familiarity or the lack of? The adventure and spontaneity or the silence and the emptying? Or neither. Or both! 😂🙏 whatever you’re comfortable sharing. Just appreciate you and how you see the world and ponder it and wrestle with it. So I’m sure there are some powerful and poignant moments that have happened."

This got me pondering. I took this with me for a few days, as I love to do with many prompts and inquiries. Then one day, I found something flowed out of me:

The magic of the retreat Center and Ithaca Zen Center is a living of the Dharma. Dharma meaning the natural inherent nature of all things. In spiritual contexts, communities, books, IG pages, etc. we often talk about love and light and teach and read all day long about how a spiritual, conscious life is lived, but nothing will grant you the same gifts as the experience and practice of being in the world, living it. At this retreat center I've been living in community, dealing with challenges as they arise and being held in a community that highly honors values of self-care, communication and service. Here, there are expectations, but no hierarchies. (Of course there are some hierarchies because there are two people that created + own the center)

In our modern world, productivity is valued above anything else. Often times we are given conditional love based on our productivity. This starts at such a young age. We are told money and success matter above all else. We are taught to go out in the world and be someone. Here, at this retreat center, you learn how to un-layer all that. You're asked to soak in the beauty of being and appreciating life while you are working. To take productivity off of the pedestal. To speak for yourself and to honor whatever comes up for you. In the end, supporting one another to get things done. Learning how to work for something bigger than yourself. It is a (can be severe) dismantling of the ego.

People come from all over the world to be here, mostly from North America (that includes Canada and Mexico); both staff and guests alike, but some from across the pond as well. It's beautiful to witness and live in community with so many different people all upholding a similar value structure. There is a sanity and safety here that is essential to our innate being that you often do not get in the everyday life, out in the regular day to day, and if you do, it is hard to hold onto. One of the biggest pieces of feedback that I have witnessed my teacher receive, and he has shared many stories of still other great teachers coming to visit their center, proclaiming the same thing, "This is the real deal. This is what the teachings are really about." they say.

It doesn't mean that we don't have hiccups or drama. It doesn't mean that mistakes aren't made. It doesn't mean that we all get along 24/7. It does mean that we tend to face things head on, that we continue to learn and grow together as we explore our edges. Here, we work between generations to better understand one another and shift deeply ingrained paradigms of all kinds. We continue to honor the oldest tradition known to humankind: a tradition of honoring being alive.

That is why I have continued to come back for five years now. I always get a deep life lesson that shifts things within myself and that I carry with me from here on out. Many pivotal moments I have learned in my life stem from this place. I have created a private podcast that I'll be calling Pivotal Points Private Podcast (I'm all about that iteration) that will be available soon on this page!!!

You may have seen on my Instagram recently, I left the retreat center early and came home...

I had been away from home for 11 weeks upon my return. I missed out on the last retreat, helping to put everything away at the end of the summer and of course my 7-day silent meditation retreat that would have been my second one, that I was very much looking forward to this year. I can't share more as of why I left at this time. Know it was nothing radically specific and a big part of it was certainly a homesickness calling to me. It was a big decision, a very hard one and I am proud that I was able to listen to my self and receive immense support from my community. I will say that I feel like I am where I am meant to be and that brings me immense joy, even some relief.

👉​​ Next week I'll be sharing about a conversation I had in early August that has really stuck with me through this season and I am holding close to heart as I transition home and into the holiday months. I hope it can help you find some solace as well. 

Other than that, {{ subscriber.first_name }}, I'm settling back into being at home. I loooove the home sanctuary I've created for myself. I'm remembering part of coming home early was to give myself extra time + space to recalibrate. I'm constantly reminding myself that I can take it slow.​ Rest is in my birthright, it's yours too, you know.

​until next time ~
​ 🙏♥✨​

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