On January 2nd, WIMG held its annual Day of Mindfulness with the theme of ‘Loving-Kindness’ (metta) at St. Peter’s Anglican Church from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.
I always find this silent retreat a wonderful way to end the previous year and start the new year. It’s nice to share this experience with other members in a safe environment, under the guidance of our practice leaders.
When I tell people I’m doing this or any retreat, their reactions are funny. Most think they could never be silent for that long, that it would be way too hard for them to accomplish. The thing I've found is, it’s not that hard. If I look at how often I’m in silence during the day (when I’m at home, at the lake, meditating, going for walks or on a photography adventure), I’m in silence. Even at work, when things are chaotic, I wish for silence and will take five minutes or use one of my breaks to be in silence. Silence just takes practice and an awareness of when you need to recharge.
Loving-kindness practice is about showing compassion to others and to yourself. It teaches us to see others in a different light. Instead of being judgmental toward those we barely know, those we just don't seem to get along with and even those who have caused us harm, this practice teaches us to wish them well.
It starts with ourselves and moves on to:
- a respected, beloved person - such as a spiritual teacher;
- a dearly beloved - which could be a close family member or friend;
- a neutral person - somebody you know, but have no special feelings towards, e.g. a person who serves you in a shop;
- a hostile person - someone you are currently having difficulty with.
I was fortunate because it was very easy for me to find a name or face of someone I know to fill each of those spots and to send loving-kindness to them with ease. I think, for the most part, it’s because I have been working on forgiveness (forgiving myself and others) as a daily personal practice for a while now.
This personal journey I’m on has had its ups and downs, but I see how far I’ve come in the last few years and know that my life has been enriched by these retreats and practices.
I hope others who have not taken part in WIMG’s retreats or Days of Mindfulness will look at attending at least one to see how it goes and to enrich their meditation practice. The experience is one that you can reflect on and go back to. And sharing the experience with other members of the Sangha in a safe environment is truly something I am grateful for.
I would like to thank Marc, Nelle, Bruce, Amy and Jillian for organizing this special event and for making it a peaceful and wonderful day!