Dear meditation diary: From doubtful to mindful


Day 1

My anxiety grows as I get to Larkspur, several hours into my drive to Spirit Rock. I stop for a snack, worried the food will be hippie-style brown rice casseroles. When I pull into the parking lot, I’m told I can carry my bags up the hill or put them in a pickup. I heft them, worried it’s too indulgent to do otherwise. Later, walking to dinner, people talk tentatively; it’s our last chance to speak to one another, and rather than motivating a full-on chat stream, that makes me pretty uninterested in small talk.

Mindfulness meditation: It may be essential, but boy, it isn’t easy


Day 2

Meditating the first night has the allure of the untried. Today I think, “Really? More?” I wonder whether I’m built for so much stillness. I find myself surreptitiously scanning the meditation hall. I covet that woman’s cashmere shawl. And, look at her, in logo sweat clothes from the college my younger son will attend in the fall; maybe he’ll meet her?

Day 3

One of the rare chances to talk comes in our small group meetings, about 10 of us with a teacher. I feel unwilling to give much away about myself, and just ask a question. But one woman talks of wanting to move away from Alaska because it’s getting harder to live there as she ages; another of the solace meditation has given her as she copes with cerebral palsy. Their stories make me take it all more seriously.

Yes, even you can meditate

Day 4

My morning routine is to use the first walking meditation to wander up into the hills across from the dining hall. I’m connected to nature, I’m silent, and I feel like I’m cheating. I’m not doing that slow, monotonous, zombie-like walk near the meditation hall. But I am happy. And not alone. There are always a few others on these curiously narrow trails, dotted with Buddha statues. We’re careful, when we pass one another, not to make eye contact.

Day 5

I’m feeling itchy to go now that my retreat is almost over. I don’t need to talk, but I want to decide for myself when to eat and what to eat. I want to read. I feel emotionally a little lighter than when I arrived, but I’m glad it was five days, not 10.

Meditation resources to help you on your journey


Early Sunday morning, when I get in my car, I have no interest in my email or text messages; is it really such an easy addiction to break? It’s a little early to call my husband, but I can’t wait. I don’t so much want to talk as to hear about his week, our kids. Later, I say, I will tell all, but I need time to adjust.