Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Year, A New Life.....I'm Back!

I'm back in the saddle again....I'm ready to go! I feel the New Year around the corner and I'm ready to embrace 2010, the Year of the Tiger. For some reason, when I say that, the Rocky theme song, Eye of The Tiger, starts playing in the background of my mind. I think "Tiger" best defines how I feel this year will go. When I think of a Tiger, I think of strength, precision, focus, and beauty.

I didn't feel like a tiger two weeks ago. I felt more like a mole or a bear in hibernation. I just wanted to bury myself in a hole in the ground and remain in it. It wasn't that I was depressed or sad or worried, it's just that I felt the need to let go of outside things and go inside. I needed to feel myself again. I needed to retreat.

I'm coming out of my cave now. On Dec. 9th I went to a 10-day silent meditation course in Onalaska, WA.

I had a room with hardly anything in it and I didn't speak for 10-days.

People may ask, "Well what did you do then?" I meditated...and that's it. No other activities except eating, sleeping, and bathing and responding to calls of nature. I do this at least once a year and I have a daily practice. I find it very beneficial. It's easy for me to get lost in the drama of life be tossed and turned by what is going on around me. A 10-day Vipassana course is not easy, it's rigorous. Many people have an idea that going to meditate for 10 days is like going to the couldn't be farther from that idea. It's serious work. It's surgery. The benefits I get from practicing meditation outweigh the benefits I've gotten from anything else in life, so I keep practicing. It's been almost 14 years. I feel clarity, peace of mind on a very deep level, balance, and understanding of the impermanent, changing nature of things.

Before I started meditation, I felt a lot of anger, worry, and self doubt. I don't feel these as much anymore and if they come to pay a visit, they don't stay long. The most amazing thing that has happened since I started meditating is that I find myself exactly where I need to be. There's no second guessing. Things fall into place very easily. I get lined up with the right people, places and things. I feel a connection to those I meet and feel the importance of those who come into my life, whether they be a reader of this blog, an author or fellow blogger on another blog, a yoga student, an ESL student, a neighbor, the postman, a stranger, whomever it may be, I feel the importance of why they are in my life. I'm not saying that things don't go wrong anymore, they do, but I don't seem to have a strong reaction like I did before. I'm able to observe the situation a bit more from a distance. I don't feel so attached.

Another thing I've felt like doing since I started meditation is share with others the things that I have learned or the peace and happiness I feel. There's a lot of negativity in the world these days. If I am not aware, I can follow people right into the hornet's nest of negativity. Realizing that I can't please everyone is a big lesson for me. Some people will not be happy with what I say or do, but if I feel o.k. with it, that's all that's important. My purpose in life, I believe, is to share, open up and extend myself to others. Also, there are times when I need to retreat, gain energy and take care of myself.

When I came back from meditation, I wasn't quite ready to come out of my shell, but Christmas was right around the corner and my family had big plans. We had planned to meet at my father's lake house in Washington. I went from the nothingness of total silence right into the craze of Christmas shopping at Northgate Shopping Center near my house in Seattle. Christmas shopping at peak season, if anything, will shake you from your shell. I was still moving slowly through the hordes of people and had to sit down often.

Christmas with my family was nice. It was nice to see everyone and spend time together. I'm not sure I really had time to get into the "Christmas Spirit". I was kind of thrown into it. When I was young, I celebrated Christmas because my family did. I don't think much has changed. The Christmas I see in America seems to be about spending time with family, buying a Christmas tree, buying presents, decorating the tree, making Christmas cookies, watching Christmas specials, listening to Christmas music, etc. Christmas is also about the birth of Christ, but that gets lost sometimes, I feel. I am not a member of any religion and I am member of ALL religions. Maybe it's good to celebrate everything. celebrate life! I was happy to finally be celebrating at this peaceful lake setting with family.

I think I was more excited about the new year.... I already feel things are lining up. While I was meditating, my husband and his friend decided to start a yoga business together and they already found a building in Seattle that they are interested in. I feel that this will happen. The most amazing part of the "possible" yoga school is the atrium.

It has an indoor Eichler-style atrium. I've never seen an older building in Seattle with this feature. It's perfect for a yoga school. I feel like my husband and are I both working towards our goals and dreams simultaneously and they both support the same goal of sharing peace, happiness and joy with others. The creation of his yoga school will be a collaborative effort of friends who are painters, gardeners, designers, construction workers. I think it will be so interesting to see this process of so many people coming together to leave a part of themselves for others to enjoy. It's like one big art project. Stay tuned for more information as this project progresses. Happy New Year everyone!!!


  1. i did a vipassana retreat october of 08 in the joshua tree. It was my first time and i decided to do it alone. although there were times i thought I might not make it through after the 5th day it was sublime.

    on my 3rd day around 7pm while we were in the meditation hall I was having an unbearable time. I ached everywhere, my insides felt cold but I was sweating ... I was crying and although i know you're not supposed to call on a god, i prayed so hard to the heavens to help me through iit. In my mind i kept repeating the words, "just give me a sign to keep on, give me something, SHAKE ME! " and just as those last words flew into the ether we experienced a 5.6 earthquake ...

    everyone shot up almost, shaken no one was hurt and all was okay but ... i opened my eyes with biggest smile on my face.
    i talk to one of the monks later about what had happened.
    he simply said, " you shook the earth tonight, well done."

    haha... amazing experience. I cant wait to do it again.

    thank you for this blog. i dont comment often but it brings a bit of help with equanimity every time i get to read it .

    happy new year

  2. Dear Gina,
    I did my first 10-day Vipassana course in October 1996 with my husband in Nepal. It was extremely hard. I also didn't think I'd make it through. I thought meditation should be about peace and happiness and I felt a lot of pain and agony. I swore I would never do it again. When I left the course and was wandering through the streets of Kathmandu with my husband, I realized that something had changed. I felt very light and clear-headed. I felt like something had been lifted. I felt a lot of peace. After I returned to Washington State, I found myself at the meditation center there, again,only two months later. I'm not sure how that happened because I didn't think I go back. But I kept doing it...again and again and again. Each course and my daily practice revealed more and more to me about the true nature of things and about myself. I got something from it, so I keep going, keep doing it. I even participated in several long courses of 30 and 45 days. My husband and I had the opportunity to be center managers for a year at the center in Washington State. If you keep going, you will realize that it really is a valuable jewel. It's not easy, but the more you go "in" the more you will understand. So much metta to you Gina, Kathy