We arrived. The Garrison Institute grounds and building were healing. The contract of the hustle of NYC compared to the calm greenery and stoic buildings felt right. The accommodations were simple and minimalistic. No plush pillows. No fancy duvet cover. No flat panel TV. And, no locks on the doors. It helped clear my mind. I put my phone in airplane mode, and put it in my bag. I was committed to no calls, no emails and no text messages the whole weekend. After all, the retreat was called disconnect to connect.

Day 1: 

HallThe Wisdom 2.0 Disconnect to Connect retreat began Friday evening in the cathedral — cushions were spaciously and perfectly centered around  a rectangular carpet. Each of us had our tiny little island. I was happy to be there, but the layout created a sense that we were each distant and out-of-reach.

Soren opened the session by sharing that this space is a container for our inner growth and to see what naturally emerges. We were invited to share: What brought us here? And, what are each of our intentions?

I sat with what my intentions were, and initially wanted something profound to say, but nothing came to mind. The feeling was relief and a warmth in chest, and the need for me was rest. As everyone shared, it seemed as though rest and rejuvenation and healing were common themes throughout the group. But, I also heard so many things that stuck with me:

+ Gratitude: What you appreciate, appreciates. I have been continually told that gratitude is so crucial to our lives, but for some reasons this comment from a gentleman made me pause.

+ Meditation: We promise nothing, and we deliver. Soren spoke about this around meditation retreats. I couldn’t help but find this hilarious as I reflected on the many meditation retreats I have been to.

+ Technology: What is a reasonable amount of information for human being to comprehend? As a part of the businesses I run, I have been delving into digital marketing and am often being overwhelmed by the hundreds of pieces of information.

By the end of the evening — all of our meditation cushions were disorganized and closer to one and other. The perfect circle of meditation cushions became a bit messier and real.  The one thought that kept coming up for me: breathe and let go.

Day 2:

The following day began with 30 minutes of meditation. I came and most were already sitting, and my body dropped to the floor like a log. I sat so comfortably for that sit, and enjoyed going to my breath.

Throughout the second day, the group naturally and the group activities connected with one and other. Here were some thoughts and lessons that were emerging:

+ Self-Love/Self-Acceptance and the realities for growth and progression. I am feeling a pulling from the center of my chest to share with an open heart, and for each of us to put our mud in the center of the table.

+ Healing: I spoke about the businesses that I am working on and the great healing that is occurring of me and everyone around us. And, the ultimate reality, that it is not a money problem; rather, it is a need for healing.

+ Being What Is; Being What You Want: There is an aspect to feeling what is going on (e.g., fear and sadness) and then there is opening up to what you want and desire.

+ Letting things Fall Apart: We can either be putting up resistance and trying to hold every piece from falling apart. Or, we can feel comfortable with it all falling apart. And, this is a practice. To feel the fear and be okay with it and then keep moving forward. Perhaps, this ideal vision of the promised land will be a reality, and perhaps not. Being open to an extended set of possibilities is a heart opening exercise.

In the afternoon, the gifts of so many were shared. In the great cathedral hall, I entered and heard beautiful kirtan. I pulled up some meditation cushions and let the singing take me to sleep.  And, in the late evening, Carin Winter, a fellow retreat participant,  led a group of us in an ecstatic dance class — to say the least I felt free and enjoyed every moment.

Day 3:

It was 7AM the next day, and It had been over 1 full day since I had turned off my phone. It had been months since I had felt this lightness in my chest, and freedom from not being tied to my phone.

I wanted to call my mom for Mother’s Day. The moment I turned on my phone, I received a slew of text messages, emails and beeps. I felt a tightening in my chest and this vision of a ever expanding to do lists in the emails. It was then, that I learned a very important lesson for myself:

If I don’t have the time or space to respond to emails, don’t check them. 

The day ended with shares from the group, the one that has stayed with weeks after was about Teru Imai who walked around the world. Soren spoke about joining her for portions of her walk, and how she believed in “trusting the road.”

It was to live not by trying to know everything at all times but by trusting in the mystery of not knowing. Since members spent practically all day walking alongside highways, this fearlessness was often referred to as “trusting the road.” Walkers would say, “Don’t worry, the road will provide food for us. Just trust it.” Just who this road was or how it worked could not be explained, but work it did. ~ Trusting the Road by Soren Gordhamer

The day seemed to end with this idea of trusting the unknown… trusting the road ahead outside of this safe container of kind individuals and this oasis in upstate New York.