I Remember: Mindful Schools Closing Retreat at Garrison Institute

For me, the closing retreat for the Mindful Schools training program for teaching mindfulness to youth started before I even arrived at Garrison Institute. One year before, I had attended the opening retreat for the same program. Last year, it was all new. This time, after a year of hard work and community building, it felt like re-connecting. I attended several dance and movement meditation classes in my core practice tradition during the days right before the retreat. On Sunday morning, my all-time favorite dance partner was at class; and we shared four or more dances over the course of the two hours. 

From the dance studio in the West Village, I drove two hours to Garrison, New York, did another dance and movement meditation class just a few miles from the retreat center, then went to an Italian restaurant in Fishkill to meet friends from the Mindful Schools training. We greeted each other like old friends. At one point, each person told a story about a turning point when we realized the power of mindfulness in our life. Even with six of us at the table, each story was met with full attention. 

The next day I spent several hours at a cafe in Beacon, then decided to visit the Dia:Beacon–a converted factory that is now a museum for modern and contemporary art specializing in famous, minimal, large-scale artworks. 

I spent all of my teens, twenties, and thirties devoted to artmaking, and even taught art at the college level. For the past few years, I haven’t been active as an artist, and I forget how much knowledge and skill I’ve amassed, how hard I’ve worked, and what an important part of my identity being an artist has been. I also recollected long diatribes against the macho-ness of minimal art I had delivered over the years, and wondered if any of it still had weight for me. 

At a very sensitive time, when it was already becoming difficult to make new work given the circumstances of my life, I had a painful exchange about artmaking with someone I trusted, and my artmaking practice dissolved, perhaps finally.

I had to admit that the artworks were impressive, perfectly sited in this cleaned up, 160,000-square-foot industrial space. I was grateful to find the work of a female artist, Charlotte Posenenske, in the central gallery. I learned that her sculptural work was exhibited alongside prominent male minimal artists in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I also learned that her strong interest in labor rights had lead her to defect from artmaking and pursue a PhD in sociology. She became a labor activist and went on to specialize in employment and working practices. 

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I moved through, remembering infinite conversations and experiences that touched on many of the artists and artworks included in the permanent collection, remembering a former self that I hadn’t noticed I was grieving for.

Stepping out of the museum, I found a roiling white sky, with shifting opacities and incredible depth, and quickly changing forms and layers. My eyes wide with light, I filmed a series of one-minute videos of the sky, with no up or down orientation, no reference point. At one point I lay on my back on the ground to record, a bit hesitant about seeming weird, but alight with the fever of artmaking, remembering what I loved about it, remembering a forgotten part of myself.

I wanted to arrive early to Garrison so I could try to get a room with a window facing the river, but as I drove the few miles from the Dia, the sky exploded with rain. I couldn’t see at all and had to pull over to wait it out. 

I recalled the year before, at the opening retreat, when there had been a thunderstorm during a period of community silence and relentless heat. We were told there was a severe weather alert and that if we felt nervous we could take shelter on the lower level of the building. The storm tore the sky apart, and it was like the outside came resoundingly inside the soaring, once-Franciscan-cathedral main hall. Still in silence, several of us made our way to the front steps where we had a view of the sweeping lawn and river. The pavement and plants gave off steam. Mist exhaled into the entryway and landed coolly on my exposed arms, legs, and face. A white cliff-waterfall on the other side of the river tripled its size. A woman seated next to me on the marble steps ate a crunching apple, savoring each bite.

Back in the meditation hall, the storm continued as mindfulness became increasingly concentrated. At one point, I realized it was too intense for me, and stepped into the foyer, intentionally interrupting practice. After a few minutes, I went back in and sat down on the cushion again. Then, I had a sharp, sudden sensation on the left side of my head, and was seized by the fear that I might be having a stroke. 

I remembered something the vipassana teacher, Dipa Ma, once told a practitioner who was freaking out during a sitting period. She sat next to him and said, “If you can stay with this sensation, you will accumulate great merit.” I settled down and the flash of pain and fear soon faded. 

The teachers reminded us of basic meditation instructions, including choosing some kind of anchor for the attention, such as breath, sound, or body sensations. The next day, the teachers each offered thoughts on the topic of befriending, focusing on befriending even difficult emotions. 

That first evening, following dinner and an evening program, we entered into almost three days of silence, which enfolded me like soft fabric.


I could see the river and waterfall from the window of my small room. The Hudson line trains charged by, whistling loudly at regular intervals. I slept unclothed with a light sheet, loving the sensation of my bare legs touching each other, and of my feet, one cradled inside the arch of the other. I woke to the sound of a roving bell not long after dawn and made my way to the shower before the 7.30 AM morning sit.

In silence, I didn’t feel like I was closing others out. Even in avoiding eye contact, it felt like we were energetically very much in community. It was like we were all in on a precious secret, witness to a deeper layer of reality than the one we spend most of our days navigating. We were still seeing each other, but on a deeper level, taking a break from all the noise of projecting ourselves. For just a few days, I was not colluding in anyone’s ego stories, nor asking them to collude in mine.

The day was passed in alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation, interspersed with brief commentary by the teachers, Alan Brown, Argos Gonzalez, and Erin Woo. Sarah Ludell Beach, who was the retreat coordinator, also stood in the role of teacher at times.

That night, I bounded to the wide front lawn during a final walking period, hoping I would be able to dance with the fireflies, as I had the previous year. This time, we were two weeks later in the season, and the fireflies were not as abundant. Though I still got to dance with the tiny, intermittently glowing creatures, it couldn’t compare to the previous year, when I had been doing walking meditation on the lawn, and wound up dancing at length and through several different energies with the fireflies in a spontaneous expression of pure joy.


On this retreat, walking meditation delighted me. My feet delighted me. The natural world delighted me, including the sky and its endless parades; and the gravel, sand, stone, and pavement surfaces that provided so many engaging textures for the soles of my feet.

During a dance and movement meditation retreat in the same soaring main hall just a month before, I had imagined myself as though in a different lifetime. I was a young nun in threadbare orange robes, vulnerable and bare underneath, bald headed and slight, with no holding whatsoever in my body. 

My whole architecture was entirely different. My shoulders and upper body were drawn more forward, with none of the “push your shoulders back, pull your chest forward, have good posture” that my culture demands. It almost felt like I was leaning forward and curving myself, but actually I think I was just gracefully upright, belly fully released, diaphragm fully released, with no ego demands on my carriage. As this young woman, I walked through the hall with tender humility, my hands gently cupped together at the height of my navel. 

The most extraordinary part of this vision was my feet. In the past year, I had severe heel spurs, and struggled with debilitating pain that I feared might persist. The young nun’s feet were these soft, aware, exquisite creatures who felt and sensed the earth as she patiently walked, practically caressing the road beneath her. 

Sitting in silence on a bench during a break, my feet dangled, too high to reach the floor, and muscles in the arch of my right foot spasmed repeatedly. During the week, tiny muscles in my feet released again and again, surrendering many micro-grippings–ego armorings I had designed to hold out experience, to keep me safe from the sometimes-unbearable reality of being fully alive.

Walking outside, now on my third retreat at Garrison Institute, I finally discovered that it’s possible to walk all the way around the main part of the property on a circular road. I was grateful, as walking on grass without shoes in a place with high incidence of Lime’s Disease seemed ill-advised. I walked with uncharacteristic patience and engagement, feeling every point of contact. At one point, I paused to touch a small, fuzzy, white caterpillar with my pointer finger, then put my foot into her path. Without pausing, she climbed right up onto the offered foot, and I sobbed, whispering “I remember, I remember, I remember,” grateful that the caterpillar did not perceive me as separate from the ground, and continuing to marvel at the sensitivity and intelligence of my feet. 

Alan offered the instruction that if it felt right, we could let go of our mindfulness anchors at this point, and experiment with open awareness, but I had already made this shift. As mindfulness was well-founded, I knew I could let in more of the world’s vibrant and dynamic displays without losing my ground. At this time, I also noticed how sensitive my sacrum had become–almost like a tuning fork, vibrating with subtle energies. 

During a sitting period, scanning my inner body, I became aware of the dark, mysterious recesses of the pelvis. My attention shifted to the cathedral ceiling, then outward to the  blue sky above it, then continued to rise into dark, boundless outer space, dotted everywhere with points of light. The inner darkness and the endless mystery of the cosmos seemed to blend seamlessly together.

I thought about an idea gathered from the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Reggie Ray, that being fully embodied involves not only individual embodiment, but also interpersonal embodiment, and embodiment on a cosmic level.

At least once every day I danced with the river. My river dances from the previous year had stayed with me and remained alive in my dance since the opening retreat last year. Sometimes, remembering these dances, I move in the slow, liquid currents of a dancing room, my hands softly conducting and receiving, feeling ribbons pass directly through my porous body as they curve and express themselves, sometimes even cascading in from the corners of the room.

There is this one spot that pulls me powerfully. To get there I walked down a wooded path, across a bridge over train tracks, and up onto a glacial rock lodged into the river’s bank. On top of the rock, I could see the surface of the river from slightly above. The complex play of currents was hinted at by the dancing lines and patterns and erratic flat, smooth places. Moving, the river pulled me deep into it, and I would rise to the surface again with darkness streaming down my back and shoulders. Sometimes my excursion was just a sight-seeing trip to the river, but more often than I expected, I found the moving stillness that underlies all surfaces–a resonant silence that is active and alive. 

I’ve been carving a groove so I know the way there, and I found myself chanting again, “I remember, I remember, I remember.”


On the afternoon of the third day, we transitioned back into speaking. At first, it seemed ok, but I felt tired and slept poorly. The fourth day was marked by intensive social and professional exchange. The main activity of the day was to self organize into groups of four, then each present a demo lesson to the group. I learned a lot from this activity and gained valuable knowledge, but I again felt exhausted and slept poorly. 

On the fifth day, some participants lead breakout sessions on specific topics. Though it was a huge amount of information to take in, all of the sessions I attended left me feeling inspired and added to my knowledge of the many different aspects of mindfulness work in the world. In the evening, we had a show-and-tell period, and people presented activities they had used successfully with their students, songs with themes of mindfulness, and dances.

I had been invited to lead a class in my dance and movement meditation practice for the group, but, although I am in the teacher training process, I am not yet authorized to teach. Instead, I offered to lead one of the twenty-minute breakout sessions on the fifth day, where I would present some basic information about the practice, and talk about the importance of some kind of embodiment practice in conjunction with sitting meditation. 

Breakfast was in silence most days, and I sat at length after finishing my meal, visualizing how I would present this information.

After attending three excellent breakout sessions led by colleagues, I went to the main hall, where the session would take place. Twenty or so people appeared, and I gathered them to the most inner part of the room and asked them to sit in a circle. The first thing I said is that I’m not authorized to teach the practice yet, but I would present a brief overview and invite questions. I also emphasized the importance of including some kind of embodiment practice along with sitting meditation, whether that be yoga, tai chi, 5Rhythms, or any other modality. I also shared that the dance and movement meditation practice I do can be seen as a way to embody the creative process; and that it would look different for everyone.

My firefly dances of the previous year had become part of the group’s lore, so I decided to embody the different stages of my dance with the fireflies to show something true about what my practice is for me. I also hoped to inspire people to have faith and integrity on their own path to fully-realized embodiment.


Later that day, arriving at the river, I somewhat half-heartedly started to dance on the gravelly sand of a little inlet next to the big rock. I told myself it was ok if I wasn’t that into it, I would just move through the formal practice and see what happened. I started by making circles in the sand with my feet. I kept finding straight lines and angles, then falling back into circling. I softly let my head go, let my body go, let my stories go. Still moving, I ascended the rock where I could see the river from above. After only a few light gestures in my fingertips, the river’s stillness opened its gateway. 

During my dances, I had imagined that I could perceive an ancient force, a Naga, a kind of serpent deity that lives in large bodies of water, in this complex and powerful stretch of the river. On this final day, I thanked the Naga and asked it to help and guide me on my path. 

The wind grew stronger and seemed to pass directly through my body, curving around my heart and rushing right into the plants of the river bank behind me. A low sound emitted from my belly and throat, and I moved unselfconsciously, whispering “I remember, I remember, I remember” as tears coursed down my face and over my chin.

I had no idea how long I was at the river, but it seemed likely I was late for the afternoon session in the main hall. I started back up the path to the retreat center, feeling my soft feet and noticing the layered textures of green around me. As I emerged from the woods, I encountered three friends, walking with their arms around each other. They asked me something about the closing party we would have that night. I blinked, took a breath, and answered, leaving the world of the Naga and of the many forces by the river, and stepping back into the light of day.


An alumni of the program acted as DJ for the closing party, which took place in the dining hall. Without any alcohol, many danced with cheerful abandon. The people I had been grouped with for study meetings over the course of the year had decided to dress as fireflies. One of our members bought yellow tutus and installed a light in the layers of tulle so our tails would glow. Another had purchased wings. The eight of us trailed through the crowd in a glowing line to join our teacher on the dance floor during the Whitney Houston song “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” 

For the final session, we assembled in a giant circle of over 100 people on the front lawn for a closing ritual. As the ritual ended and the retreat formally dissolved, we were invited to say goodbye to people silently. I lingered in patient embraces as the room gradually transitioned into chatter.

On the drive home, I chanted, “I remember, I remember, I remember,” as the cloud sky shifted, the Hudson river curved and twisted, and tears streamed down the valleys of my cheeks.

This blog consists of reflections on my own experiences, and is not sanctioned by any organization or teacher.

Garrison Institute building exterior from: https://www.garrisoninstitute.org/retreats-events/facility-grounds/

Garrison main hall photo from: https://non-duality.rupertspira.com

I Hear a Glow on You

“Mommy I hear a glow on you,” my eight-year-old son, Simon, told me when I spoke with him for the first time after three days of silence.  I had been in the woods, wondering at the complex root systems of the trees underneath the forest path I walked on, sitting at length in a meditation hall, eating in silence, and noting the intensity of a thick heat wave.

When I spoke with him, I was in the middle of a week-long retreat with 90 other educators who are entering an intensive, yearlong program for teaching Mindfulness to youth.  The retreat center, Garrison Institute, was formerly a Franciscan monastery, but has been repurposed for use by groups of any and all spiritual traditions.

The meditation hall was once a cathedral, and still has inlaid wood floors, soaring, curved heights with a circular narrative of symbols in stained glass, and an overlooking balcony that may have once housed the pipes of a resonant organ.  Half of the space was populated with meditation cushions and chairs, arranged in a semicircle facing the four teachers.

During the first morning of practice, the teachers provided considerable physical instructions and we did sitting and walking meditation throughout the morning. In stages, they described three fundamental “anchors,” or places to hold the attention, including breath, body sensations, and sound, suggesting finally that we pick one anchor to work with.  I chose breath, and so returned my attention again and again to the physical feeling of breathing.

Before lunch, one of the teachers, Kaira Jewel Lingo, gave instructions for mindful eating.  “Eating is a celebration,” she said in her remarkably gentle voice.  I heard, We can consider all of the many people and conditions that had to come together in order for this meal to come to us.  We can really take the time to notice all of the flavors and textures of each bite.  We can chew until the food is really liquid before we swallow it.

Despite my increasing mindfulness, lunch seemed kind of bland.  To remedy this, I shook a  bottle of tobasco sauce vigorously over my plain brown rice.  Within a few bites, my eyebrows raised in shock and my tongue and lips burned.  I had also spooned on a considerable amount of chunky salt, and after the first wave of heat started to normalize, a salt crystal landed on the tip of my tongue.  I raised my eyebrows still further, continuing a roller coaster of culinary sensation.  I got up to investigate the label on the tobasco sauce, my lips still on fire. Surely this must be a special edition, habanero, extra spicy tobasco sauce? It couldn’t possibly be the same tobasco that I regularly douse my food with?  I was surprised to learn that it was in fact regular, standard tobasco sauce, the exact same.

Setting out for a walk in the woods after lunch, I chose the only path that seemed available.  After a short time, I chose to veer left from the path and crossed a bridge over railroad tracks.  To my delight, this path emptied onto a big rock formation at the edge of the Hudson River.  I felt slightly tired, but hoped I could dance a wave, moving through each of the 5Rhythms – Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness – in sequence, the fundamental ritual of my core practice.  Instead, after moving with noise in my ears for a few moments, I clicked into a groove and entered directly into Stillness, moving gently with breath, expressing the different currents of the river and ribbons of energy as they reached me.  It was as though someone had turned the sound off on the world.  I moved closer to the edge of the water, descending to where waves created by passing boats touch the rock.  A gentle Staccato found me, the rhythm that has had the most to teach me lately – the rhythm of form, expression, direction, and of making things in the world.  I moved with my arms and hips to the flips and curves and edges and advances and retractions of the relationship between water and rock.

Back in the meditation hall in the afternoon, I felt slightly sick, constricted through the diaphragm, and hot at the level of the face.  Lately I have recognized the need to be able to release energy when I am overfull, like a pressure valve.  How to do this hasn’t been exactly clear, however.  It seems that the energy of mindfulness has its own strong momentum.  Once I’m in the stream of mindfulness, I can’t just say, “OK, I’m not going to be mindful anymore.”  Then, I just start being mindful of trying not to be mindful.  In this case, I stepped briefly out of the meditation hall, letting go of the attitude of concentration, and that seemed to regulate me.

Reflecting later, I considered this progress in my practice.  I’ve been reluctant to back off of my edges in the past, occasionally resulting in depression and ill ease.  After these few short moments of casual attitude in the foyer, I re-entered the hall and took my seat among my peers in a more relaxed state.

Another of the four teachers, Erin Woo, presented a talk that evening on the topic of authenticity, and the many limiting stories we tell ourselves that diminish authenticity.  She included personal examples of a story that has impacted her own experience, the story of “not good enough.”

During the final walking period of the evening, the early July sky lit with sunset.  I stood on an overlook, facing the Hudson river and a wide field.  I gasped as the field and bordering woods shimmered, alive with fireflies.  I was concerned about seeming like a show-off, and of hogging the space of the overlook, but I slipped into motion, tracking the fast appearing and disappearing lanterns of the little bugs, again in Still Staccato, spine released, and long, ranging gestures with sudden stops and dips, and with occasional twitters in the hands and fingers, expressing the tiny dots and pauses of light that danced in the field below.

Silence wrapped luxuriously around me.  Part of the instructions for silence were to avoid even eye contact.  I felt too meek with my eyes cast down, so I held my head up instead, occasionally meeting people’s gazes and lighting up slightly.  In the past, I have inhabited silence with a hard line, entering so deeply into my own small space that I might even feel the need to defend it if someone spoke with me or made beseeching eye contact.  In this case, although I was in silence and very much turning in to the experience of my own inner body, I was still part of the collective field, and remained energetically porous and connected to the people around me.

A moving bell at 6.45AM mingled with my dream state and woke me on the third day of the retreat, which happened to be the 4th of July.  After a morning stretch, meditation period, and breakfast, I walked in the woods again.  I felt enveloped by the tunnel of trees, and imagined the deep and complex root systems which allow the trees to communicate, even crossing under the very path on which I walked.  This time, I cried at length, thinking about the current state of the country.  I reflected especially on the fact that its current prosperity is due in large part to the labor and subjugation of enslaved peoples, and to the land taken without remorse from its original inhabitants.  An extra painful history to consider at this time, especially as racism and xenophobia have increased exponentially.

The teachers offered a taste of many different practices, and during the afternoon session, another teacher, Robert Thomas, offered a practice that involves open awareness, letting go of a reference point or anchor and hanging out in open space.  As we prepared to move out of the meditation hall to practice walking meditation, he suggested that we consider gazing upward toward sky.

I made my way to a hallway of tucked away classrooms, but finding them already occupied continued on to a covered walkway between two second-floor sections of the main building.  Three people were already there, arms resting on the balustrade, gazing upward.  After some moments, a low growling began to emerge from the darkening sky.

At the end of the walking period, I made my way back to the main hall and took my seat again as the sky continued to rumble.  After longer than I expected, rain began to pelt the high ceiling, creating a loud hush.  After some moments of meditation, the retreat manager announced that there was an emergency weather advisory, suggesting that some might wish to leave the big cathedral and move to the basement level.  No one seemed inclined, but the teachers suggested a five-minute break in case people wanted to close windows or decline to practice in the main hall during the storm.

Along with several others, I made my way to the front steps, where the sweeping vista of the Hudson River was blurred by heavy rain.  The heavy wooden doors were each held by one retreatant.  Without hesitation, I stepped out into the rain, tipping my head back and letting rain pour over me, grateful after several days of grueling heat.  Acknowledging the frequent lightning, I returned to the stone steps under cover, and sat in silence.  A woman next to me ate an apple with decisive crunching bites.  Two enthusiastic birds continued to sing in the bushes to the right of the doorway.  Mist from the rain landed on my forearms and cheeks.  Across the wide river, a cliff waterfall I hadn’t noticed before swelled to three times its size, crashing with white water.

A bell summoned us back to the meditation hall, but some of us lingered on the steps, breathing the storm in.

Returning to our seats, the storm continued to activate the big room.  I found myself rapt, counting the spaces between the thunder and lightning, aware of the dynamic, dimensional space of the sky around the building and of its intersection with the inside. At one point, I felt terror approach from the left, from the direction of a simultaneous flash of lightning and crack of thunder.  My vision got weird and I felt terrified:  heat, sick, rising.  For a moment I was afraid I might be having a stroke.  The words of an Indian master to one of her students came to mind, “Don’t worry, if you can just stay with it, you will accumulate great merit.”  The experience rushed through me, arising, peaking and concluding in less than a minute.

In the evening, after a patient, slowly-chewed, silent dinner and evening sit, Kaira Jewel gave a talk on how to cultivate mindstates that lead to happiness, and discourage mindstates that lead to suffering. She called these processes “The Art of Happiness” and “The Art of Suffering.”

Kaira Jewel began her talk with a reflection on “Interdependence Day” and the fact that there is no thing that is only America or American, but there are many phenomena that make up what we know as America.  Some include the enslavement of human beings and the experience of being enslaved, and the genocide of the people who originally inhabited the land.  Walking in the woods earlier, I felt strongly that July 4th needed to be formally addressed, and I was grateful for Kaira Jewel’s words.

After Kaira Jewel’s talk, we headed out of the meditation hall again for the final walking meditation period of the day.

Instead of staying on the overlook, this time I headed down the stone path straight into the heart of the firefly field.  I hesitated briefly, afraid some part of me might want to show off.

Within moments, however, I was immersed, moving through a full 5Rhythms wave, the fundamental ritual of my core spiritual practice.  I moved in Flowing, feeling and honoring my feet on the forgiving grass, then began to move in the direction of every firefly I perceived in the expansive field, exhaling forcefully, sinking low into the knees, using the pinky sides of my forearms like swords, rising and falling, building heat in the body, watching the edges of my vision for a new flicker, responding to three nearly simultaneous lanterns, then waiting with full lungs during a brief pause in flashing.  The precision of Staccato attention built to the fever of Chaos, and I let my head go, the pricks of light in the air around me blurring as I spun, dipping and coiling inward and away from my own axis, and in and out of my own field.  Breathing erratically and sweating heavily, I began to notice the individual fireflies around me, lifting up onto the toes and reaching toward a rising light with the fingertips, leaping and falling, beaming unreservedly, in an expression of pure delight.

Finally, sound fell away again, as I moved with one tiny bug at a time.  Lightning bugs tend to hover and linger, so they make excellent dance partners.  Still dusk, I could see and track an individual even when it was not lit, and I cupped my palm, letting it lead me, rising and opening my hands in a slowly turning gesture, delighting in its slow transition into illumination, bowing my head to its tiny expression of majesty, part of the unified whole and spectacularly unique at once.

Still pulsing with life, I sat with my peers for the final meditation period of the evening.  Every time I half-lowered my eyes, I saw shimmering lights both inside and outside of me.

The next day passed in a river of sensations, challenges and joys. We moved out of silence and began to consciously build community through a variety of exercises and shifting constellations.  Kaira Jewel led us in an optional movement session, introducing us to the practice of Interplay.

Another of our teachers, Alan Brown, offered a talk, making a compelling case for the importance of self-regulation, especially for teachers. “Attention is a form of love.  Embodiment is a form of safety,” he said as he described how young people can regulate themselves and can learn to self-regulate through the adults they are in contact with.  “Just being a self-regulated adult in the classroom, before we’ve even taught anything about Mindfulness, is already a powerful intervention.”

He opened his talk with an astonishing story about his own path, which includes a diagnosis with Tourette’s syndrome.  “Mindfulness was literally a medical miracle for me,” he shared, as he summarized the insights of many years of practice.  In his case, deep investigation and inquiry into the body, along with some strategic questions posed by his teachers at opportune moments, lead to a radical decrease in the symptoms of Tourette’s and enduring faith in the power of Mindfulness practices.

Following an afternoon of community building which included tears and howling laughter, Alan was also very, very funny, and the room roared with good humor.  The teachers also shared several games we could use with students in our classrooms, including a competitive game that physically modeled the paths of neurotransmitters through a line of bodies, and a game that involved passing a full cup of water around a circle.

At one point, Kaira Jewel led us in a structured Lovingkindness practice within a smaller group we will work closely with throughout the entire year of the course.  At its conclusion, we offered Lovingkindness to all beings everywhere, without exception.  I saw a pulsing dome of energy high above us, into the sky and beyond, twisting light ribbons edging moving planes of energy:  powerful, building, resonating.  The woman to my right perfectly described my own vision, saying she could see it through me somehow.  “We should consider teaming up in card games,” I joked.

The retreat formally ended with writing prompts and shared reflections in our small cohort groups, inspiring words from each of the four teachers, and a ritual of passing a string around the gigantic circle.  At its conclusion, the teachers cut a tiny section for each of us, and we tied it around our wrists, a way to remember our experience and to recall our purpose as we re-enter the streams of our lives outside the container of the retreat.

During the days after we let go of silence and engaged in speaking, at least ten people commented on my dance with the fireflies.  “Are you a Tai Chi master?” one generous woman asked.  “Was that Brazilian fight dancing you were doing in the field?” asked another.  I smiled and said with some effusion, “I was just dancing with the fireflies.”  If pressed, I would describe the dance in more detail, and if pressed further, shared information about the 5Rhythms dance and movement meditation practice.  Many said they thought it was great that I wasn’t afraid to let go, something that never crossed my mind, though I did hesitate because I feared that part of my intention was to show off.

What most said was something along the lines of “That was so beautiful!  I just stood there watching you.  Your joy was enormous!  I love your energy.  It made me feel so happy.”  Some even said it inspired their own joy.  I inevitably choked up, touched that the people in this new community were so unreservedly happy for my happiness.  Had I given in to self doubt and kept myself contained, I would have missed an opportunity to experience joy, and in the process of suppression would also have missed a chance to share joy.

I’m not surprised that you “hear a glow” on me, my dear son.  This week has lit me from the inside.  The path, at least for the moment, rises to meet me, showing itself a little at a time, tiny increments of light, moving in a collective field.

This blog consists of my own subjective experiences on the 5Rhythms® dancing path, and is not sanctioned by any 5Rhythms® organization or teacher.