Lately I have been very busy just loving life. Living mindfully and remaining open to what life brings resulted in an opportunity to meet Julia Cameron, author of The Artist Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice. On the first weekend in May, I spent the weekend at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Wellness located in Stockbridge, MA. It was a wonderfully relaxing experience and I met many interesting people all on their own journey. I chose to stay in a shared room with four bunks. Arriving a bit late resulted in my sleeping on a top bunk. It was not a bother at all because the mattresses were the most comfortable that I have ever slept on outside of my own home. Lights were out at 10 pm. I am generally up until midnight so I thought this would be a problem. It wasn’t. I gladly went to bed at 9 pm and rose at 6 am to take a walk. The women sharing the room were from different states, some traveling from as far away as California. Two of the young women had been in the Peace Corp but at different times meeting for the first time on that weekend. Two other women had been visiting Kripalu together for a quiet retreat together for several years. It was a very interesting mix and each of us were visiting for different workshops or reasons.
Every moment of the weekend was special. I walked barefoot through the labyrinth, down the path to the lake as well. A very interesting moment occurred while hiking in the woods I found myself lost with no idea how to find my way back. At first a bit of panic set in. Then I stood taller and took a deep breath. I noticed the trees, the complicated root system on the fallen tree above, watched birds chasing one another through the woods singing along the way and that is when it occurred to me that we are never really lost. Everything is where it has always been so how can I be lost. A thought flashed through my mind that no one would know I was missing, not even family. This stopped me for a moment but I was in the woods, not just woods, but old growth forest. The ground was still covered in leaves from the fall and the smell of earth welcomed me.
I knew eventually I would find a road, the lake or catch sight of the building so I carried on. One time I came out to a beautiful green field with no sight of the road or building. I walked across the field and noticed a piece of the lake through the trees. Walking along in the leaves I noticed a path which brought me to the lake. Not the location where I had been earlier in the morning but it was the same lake so I continued along the path. Ahead I noticed a large white rock near a tree so I bent down and placed my hands on it. The rock was very cold. The water behind me started to move and slurping sounds of the water lapping along the shore startled me. There were no motor boats or any people so the movement of the water seemed unusual. I stood and begin walking along the path once again. The water quieted. It was a little eery.
The path disappeared once again so I continued to follow the water’s edge. To my right I noticed a path trailing up the embankment so I went to meet up with it. Eventually I found my way to the original path and after an hour and a half made my way back to Kripalu. The original loop that I had planned to walk should have taken a half hour. At this point I was late for my class with Julia Cameron.
For those of you unfamiliar with her work, I have included a photo of her book and the agenda. We wrote and shared. A room full of strangers were not strangers for long. We had break out groups continuously throughout the day. Julia would tell us to meet with strangers, strangers you have not met with before. I am sure we all met at least twenty or so other people throughout the weekend.
I had read The Artist Way years ago when my youngest daughter was still living home. Writing three pages every morning when I woke became a part of my morning ritual. I looked forward to it. As you can see from the photos below, writing in journals is part of who I am. Some are from the early 1990s. Not all are from the morning pages but many are.
What are morning pages you ask? Well, Julia calls it Mind Dumping. Keep a journal and pen next to your bed. When you wake grab the journal and pen and start writing any thoughts that come into your mind. I have to pick up milk today, the sun is shining, I’m tired, my shoulder hurts, the birds are singing, change the oil in the car . . . anything that come to mind until the three pages are complete. Then shut the page and go on about your day. Don’t reread what you wrote until a month or several months. What I love about this is a theme will shine through, at least it has for me. There are some things that come up daily and eventually you start to bring up creative thoughts they may have been hidden deep down within. It is a process to dig for creativity. If you are interested in learning more I suggest you pick up her book.
Living mindfully allowed me to enjoy every moment of the experience. While in the book shop I purchased a Ganesh made of volcanic ash. This is something I have been wanting for a long time so it is now displayed on my alter with the praying Buddha. After the class was over on Sunday, I wasn’t ready to leave. It was a beautiful day and my children are grown so there was no rush. Remembering what it was like most of my adult life, living in the mad rush of the world, I decided to slow down, breathe and live in the moment as I had all weekend. I pulled out my book and sat in the chair to enjoy the sun.
I am looking forward to visiting Kripalu again next year. Maybe the next time I will attend a weekend yoga retreat.
Love and Light,