It’s hard to believe we left Toronto just four months ago. We’ve packed a lot into such a short time. We started with an ambitious plan the day we left Toronto: to drive to Newfoundland. We made it to Perth, Ontario. We stopped instead to rest and decompress with friends for a week on their beautiful farm. Then we embarked on a spectacular mid-summer road adventure across Canada, heading west to our family in Vancouver. We took our time, exploring our beautiful country and visiting old friends along the way. From Vancouver we headed to England, to live outside and explore the rural countryside for several weeks. When we left, we could already feel the season turning to autumn as we landed in Ukraine. Our volunteer time in Eastern Europe went by fast. Suddenly, we were in Berlin, visiting family and exploring a city with a fascinating history and culture.
Our time in Berlin has come to an end. You can feel winter quietly knocking as we prepare to head back to the UK to attend a long (45 days) silent meditation retreat in Hereford. Time passes by so quickly.
We left our jobs four months ago because we wanted to devote some serious time to meditation. It’s been our experience that regular daily practice along with attending longer meditation courses helps us to be better human beings. We’re happier. We become better employees, better friends. But such a long commitment without access to the Internet, or phones, or our employers is just not possible when you are working in full-time office jobs.
You might be wondering why anyone would want to meditate alone in silence for so long… It is hard to explain in a short blog post. It would be hard to explain in a long one. But if you are curious, you can read more about these courses here: What is Meditation – Q&A
I will say that the beginner course is just ten days. But we’ve been doing this for many years now, and the longer courses are helpful to our practice.
“Sorry,” you say. “The beginner course is ten days? How could it take ten days to begin?”
Good question. We’ve all spent several decades developing habitual and unconsciously negative ways of reacting to things in life. We’re all familiar with our anxieties, anger and fears. We’re all intimate with our unskilful, self-focused, and unfriendly minds. What takes years to build will not be undone in a couple of hours, or even a weekend. Like anything worthwhile, it takes time. And practice. People always hope that there is a shorter course to start. But ten days gives a new meditator a fighting chance to build a mental foundation. This is hard work.
But isn’t it just self-absorbed navel gazing to sit and meditate? There is so much going on in the world, so much work to be done. Also a good question. All I can say is that a well-trained mind makes better, clearer decisions, which can only help you to better help others. There are other people who have explained this much better than me. Here is a great talk by Dr. Paul Fleischman called Meditating in Uncertain Times. As it notes on the page, this talk was given to people who’d already sat a 10day course, so there are words used and references made to the discourse that is given on a 10day course. Still, it has some relevant information.
I’m not in any way trying to convince you that you should run out and learn meditation. But since we will be offline and unreachable for such a long time, we thought an explanation might be nice. You won’t hear from us until Christmas. There is no internet, no reading, and no writing for 45 days. After the course is over in late December, we will post an update on our travel plans for 2018!
With that we will sign off for a while. We want to thank all of you for following our blog, for sharing it with your friends and family, and for your heartfelt comments and appreciation. It means the world to us. And for those of you that we know well, we thank you for your generous friendship, it means much more than the world.
We wish you all the greatest happiness.