A case of nerves & the shaving of the Sasquatch


Up until this week, I was doing a very good job of not thinking about the week-long meditation retreat I had signed up for at Spirit Rock.  When I initially signed up I was pretty excited and more than a little proud of myself.  It was a big step, and to me, indicated that perhaps I wasn’t such a lazy Buddist after all. (BTW, if you’re here just to see a shaved Maine Coon cat – a big percentage of my visitors, apparently – just skip to the bottom.)

There are things about this retreat that make me nervous as all hell.   In terms of my top attachments in life, I would say this retreat is going to be challenging at least three of my top ten:

Privacy: I have lived alone for over 25 years now.  And I like it.  I like it a lot.  Yes, that probably does make me a bit selfish and spoiled.  Except for on the weekends when the boyfriend is here, I am free to keep my own schedule, to clean up or not according to my whims,  and essentially do whatever I damn well please without having to worry about its impact on another human being.  During the retreat I will probably be sharing a room with someone.  Someone I can’t even speak to so as to take away some of the awkwardness of sharing a room with a stranger (the retreat is silent, remember?).   Plus, there is only one bathroom on the floor, so who the hell knows how crowded that will be.  (Yes, I have issues about doing certain bodily functions in public restrooms – and while this is not exactly public, I will be sharing it with complete strangers so it might as well be.)

Comfort: If I have a choice about challenging myself physically, chances are I’ll choose not to.  I know that in addition to three hours (!) of walking meditation a day, that there will be a lot of hiking around the hilly grounds, and who knows what other physical challenges await me.

Routine: While I don’t think of myself as a highly structured person,  I do have my routines.  And something that is definitely NOT part of my routine is getting up at the crack o’ dark.  According to the material I’ve read about Spirit Rock’s retreats is that the first sitting starts at 6:00 am!  Also, they are adhering to a very healthy eating schedule where the main meal is at lunch, and instead of an actual dinner around dinner time (for me 8:00-ish), there will be a “light supper at 5:30”.  What the hell?  At least there are are no prohibitions about bringing food, so I’ll be heading over to Trader Joe’s to stock up on energy bars, nuts and fruits.

The close to four hours a day of sitting meditation doesn’t scare me, nor does the silence.  I’m good with all that.  I’m looking forward to deepening my concentration and seeing what crops up from the darkest regions of my mind amidst all this silence. So, that’s where I should be focusing my attention instead of sitting around freaking myself out.  So yay! I’m going on retreat (she says with questionable enthusiasm)

OK, I need to stop thinking about this for now.  Instead, let me share with you Sasquatch’s trip to the groomers:

16 responses »

  1. Just remember to Just Be There and things will be fine.

    Why would a cat need a shave? (He’s gorgeous, btw.)

    Can we see the buns next time?

    • Thanks. Just paying attention to the present moment is the point of the whole thing, so if I can keep with the agenda I should be fine.

      Sasquatch needs to get shaved b/c well, he is not the most hygienic of boys, and besides, he feels so much better in the summer without all that fur.

      Yes, a buns (as in rabbits, people! Filthy, dirty-minded readers.) video can be served up sometime after I am done retreating.

  2. wow. thats a lot of cat…!

    Curious about the whole retreat experience. What happens if you accidentally talk on a silent retreat? Do people answer you out of politeness, or make all sorts of furtive gestures to try and remind you, no talking?

    You sound a bit different than I imagined. I wonder if this means my mental picture of you with a curly pompadour and one little curl always on the verge of dropping on your forehead is also off the mark.

    ….(doesn’t mention the sombrero)

  3. What a gorgeous cat! It looks like things went a little smoother this year than they did last year.

    I would have similar concerns about the retreat which is why I haven’t stepped out of my comfort zone to go on one even though I’d like to.

    I had to laugh at Amuirin’s comments about what happens if you accidentally talk. That might be one of my biggest concerns — I’d forget and start babbling away.

  4. i like root teens two ~ three or four ifeye kin git away with it. in the mean time (and eye due mean ‘meantime’) just thinkovit as spiritual boot camp = itznot suppozed to feel gude.

  5. Am – Well, you got the sombrero part right. 😉 It is an interesting disclosure, isn’t it, what our actual speaking voices sound like. We’ve become well acquainted with each other’s writing voices, but I can see how it would be a bit jarring if the voice voice didn’t match our imaginary one. With the exception of David (who I imagine would sound like either Cary Grant or Thurston Howell the III) I haven’t given much thought to our speaking voices. Hmm something new to obsess about.

    Re: what happens if we accidentally speak? I don’t know. Since I tend to go mute around strangers, it probably won’t be an issue for me anyway.

    Robin – Yes, there was no bloodshed at this trip to the groomers. Though I have to admit I still get very very nervous anytime I have to transport him. I’ve found the abduction method works best if I don’t have a 2nd pair of hands to shove him into a doggy carrier. I simply throw the blanket on him and wrap him up good, making sure to keep his head covered so he doesn’t freak out when he sees the car.

    I’m trying not to let my neuroses get the best of me, but boy oh boy, am I having my moments of wanting to bail.

    BBG Kangaroos – You’re right – they probably should call it Spiritual Boot Camp. A “retreat” sounds like there are going to be spa treatments involved. And please, unless you are willing to video the shaving of your Sasquatch, I’ll have no more of that talk here.

  6. You’ll do fine. I know a woman who goes on these silent meditation retreats two times a year. She loves them. She doesn’t do any writing during her retreat either because, to her, that would not be being silent or meditating. Consequently, she is full of stuff to write when she returns from these retreats! A real bonus, in my opinion.

    • Corina – thanks for the words of encouragement. I hope I can get to a place where a rigorous retreat is my idea of fun. I was a bit surprised to read that writing and reading are discouraged since those activities and sleeping are what I consider to be a true retreat from my work-a-day world.

    • Thank you for the kind offer, but my escape plan is already formulated. I’ll have my car on the premises. This could be a smart move or a bad move. It could be smart if it truly becomes intolerable (especially if I can’t sleep and the anxiety gets to me) or it could be a bad move in that it may be a little *too* easy to quit. We’ll see.

  7. ifya dunt wanna run screamin from the place at least a dozen times then yer knot dewin it rite.

  8. I’d find the just sitting still without a book or a sketch pad extremely difficult, but the not talking wouldn’t bother me, I don’t think. (Impossible to tell until one doesn’t have the choice, of course).

    I hope you enjoy it. Do you think they’ll let you take the video cam??!!

    Sasquatch is adorable. I love any animal with a bum bigger than mine, frankly. What a gorgeous coat colour. I bet he feels much more comfortable in the summer heat now.

    As for your speaking voice, you sounded exactly as I imagined: with a nicely modulated, soft and warm voice, especially when you were reassuring Sasquatch in the car in response to his meows.

    P.S. I imagine David sounding like David Niven.

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