It was two years ago. I recently lost both of my beloved dogs to cancer (they passed on from this incarnation three months apart). With no close family, and having been single for the better part of a decade, they were my entire world. I worked as a specialty veterinary technician for about eight years and was no stranger to the sadness that accompanies losing your beloved pet. Especially to a disease you are helpless to save them from.
I felt more alone than ever in my entire life. So I decided to give myself the gift of healing in the place I had felt drawn to since I was a child. My motherland:
Through divine guidance, I was led to a quiet, tucked away Buddhist center in County Clare Ireland. They were holding a four day silent meditation retreat, and it just so happened to correspond to the four days when I had nothing planned and nowhere to stay during my visit to Ireland.
And they had one more spot available!
My arrival to the Emerald Isle was anything but smooth. There was a giant mixup with my rental car (I ended up having to pay hundreds of dollars more than quoted), the car I ultimately ended up with was anything but easy to drive (part of it even broke right outside the Buddhist center), and the airline lost my luggage. But I didn’t care. I was at home with my ancestors, about to walk amongst their footsteps.
My second day in the homeland, I ventured from Redcross to Snaty, County Clare about three hours away. Five hours later (I got lost, Ireland is not easy to navigate), I arrived stressed, exhausted, heartbroken, and lost in life. The welcome meeting had already begun, but I was still welcomed in by a lovely woman who could see my current state written all over my face.
I was introduced to the amazing volunteers who would be helping to guide the twelve participants (including myself) during the next four days. There weren’t many rules to follow but a few:
- No electronics of any kind.
- No journaling (they asked us to remain fully present with our minds during the four days, distraction-free).
- No reading (unless specifically the Buddhist texts provided to us).
- Everyone must participate in a chore of ‘selfless service’ ie. gardening, cleaning, etc.
- Above all else…no speaking (unless absolutely necessary and only to one of the volunteers or the Buddhist Nun whom led the retreat).
The center (which I am purposefully not naming, but if you really wish to know, please reach out to me via email) was situated on a beautiful piece of old farmland with one end backed up to an enchanting forest of autumn-colored foliage, the other end overlooking the picturesque rolling green hills Ireland is known for with cows scattered about.
Each day at the retreat was pretty much the same as the one before:
- Wake before the sun for meditation
- Breakfast, immediately followed by self-less service (I chose gardening as a way to further connect to the motherland)
- Walking mediation
- Lecture by the Buddhist nun present
- More meditation (and a chance to speak with the nun one-on-one)
I’m not exaggerating when I say that we meditated for roughly six hours a day…or longer. It physically was painful for the first two days. My body hurt from sitting on the floor for hours at a time, unmoving. I had to push through the discomfort, because I knew magic was waiting for me on the other side.
And I was not disappointed.
To be continued…