So I did a thing the other day.
I booked myself a private cabin in the woods for my upcoming 50th birthday.
Not for a chance to “blow it out” in a massive celebration with friends and family.
No, I reserved the cabin as a solitary retreat for myself—a silent, fasting retreat at that—to reflect upon the past three decades of my adult life and to contemplate what I want out of the next three decades (maybe more!) of my life.
“Good grief,” my mom told me. “That’s not my idea of a birthday celebration.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m a little weird this way,” I retorted.
Needless to say, my friends and family think I’m nuts but we’re all used to my unconventional ideas by now.
Since committing to a deepening meditation practice, I’ve begun longing for a silent retreat to unplug from technology and interaction with other people to create the space and opportunity to see what bubbles up to the surface of this overactive, sometimes scattered, mind of mine.
Since I’m not ready to commit to an actual retreat hosted by someone else, I figured I’d host my own private retreat instead. No rules per se but I do want to be silent, turn off all technology, journal, meditate, take long walks in nature, and maybe read.
The jury is still out on reading. I haven’t decided if reading will distract me from my purpose of self-discovery. And I certainly don’t want to use reading as a distraction from my inevitable bouts of boredom. So, if I do decide to read, it will be either memoirs or non-fiction material related to meditation.
Speaking of boredom, I’ve spent my entire life running from it, trying to fill every waking minute with activity, whether productive or just time-killing pursuits, like shopping, television watching, internet browsing, or checking my Facebook feed.
But the more I explore the topic of mindfulness, I’m beginning to understand the value of being bored instead of numbing myself with these mindLESS pursuits, which after all, are empty calories for your life.
I’m learning a lot about myself, my thoughts, and my emotions by taking frequent moments to stop and ponder what’s happening around me and IN me.
For instance, as much as I’m proud of my past accomplishments with my education and building two successful businesses, I realize now in reflecting back that I made the journey so much more difficult than it needed to be.
I’m a recovering perennial goal setter and productivity hacker. I’ve read hundreds of books, attended more seminars than I can count, and brainstormed in tens of dozens of journals on how to build my businesses and “improve” my life. Dare I admit that I may have spent more time planning than actual doing? It feels like that sometimes.
All of this planning, goal setting, then planning and goal setting some more, has left me tired, like a hamster on its wheel—no end in sight.
So instead of planning and worrying and projecting and daydreaming, I’m instead cultivating a new practice of Living in the Moment. Just let it be. It is what it is. Radically accept what’s happening around me without trying to control it or judge it.
Much easier said than done for this activity laden, control freak addict.
I’m also starting to not be so hard on myself and just enjoy my journey.
After all, I actually enjoy my life. I enjoy my business helping others plan their affairs to give them peace of mind and make things easy on their loved ones in the future.
So, I expect my upcoming silent retreat will skyrocket my gratitude levels as I assess that I’m pretty darn lucky to have the life that I have.
I’ll keep you posted on how my Walden-esque adventure unfolds.
Kristen “Channeling Her Inner-Thoreau” Marks
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