After - March SL Retreat

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    The weekend 'slightly more structured' retreat that Zen and I co-organized seemed to work well. We were an intimate five: Darren, Gaya, Wol, Zen and myself. We started off with a rather ambitious schedule which we then tapered down slightly on the second day. Quickly, we realized that for five people, 90 minute sessions are just right. If I had to find a label, I might call this a ‘Goldilocks’ retreat, due to revisions requested along the way.

    Finding of our comfort together was an important aspect. We were open about whether we had been distracted during sittings which ranged between 10 and 20 minutes, and open about fatigue/mental wandering. That is what we have in life, after all, whether SL or RL. Two fifteen minute sittings (pauses) within most sessions seemed to work best, and the time felt quite basic, practical; real.

    This group also seemed especially tuned to how our experience might benefit others who organize future retreats in-world, so some took notes. In a volunteer organization which strives to be egalitarian, it seems important to appreciate everyone for their very individual talents, contributions and personalities, without projecting unrealistic expectations. It is really important to communicate beforehand, especially in virtual worlds where we can't communicate too much in between retreat sessions.

    I found each of our eight sessions to be quite different, with two in particular standing out as having a beautiful tone and depth of the sort that causes one to marvel. You can’t plan these moments. They are like wild nature watching... crouched into the scenery still as can be. One has just a chance to catch a glance or wink from an exotic creature. What treasure.

    One thing that came up personally, is something that I’ve been finding balances with from childhood days, though I wouldn’t have used this term before Play as Being: not fixing. What does it mean to make room for a totality that includes bliss and irritation and love and confusion, and just stays with that openly... not solving, not hiding... allowing others their own interpretations and impressions, not tampering? I'm comfortable leaving the question open. 

    So for me, this was a rather formal, perhaps even professional feeling retreat, with quite a few tender moments interspersed. Very interesting and I would definitely follow this kind of structure again sometime, as well as wildly different ones, since the safety to let my hair down and to let silence do its work, in the same place with the personalities and sharings of friends that I ‘practice’ with, seems deeply important as well. 'Can't step into the same river twice.' 

    Sharon has been lovingly recreating the retreat area, and as this group of just five, we decided that we liked the intimate area near a fire and drums, best this time. It seems warm and hidden, with the rays of light shining just so and everything feeling so natural ... a just right, amount of wildness.

    The themes of 'contexts' and 'the edge of practice' came up a few times, as also something I'm working with in general, of allowing every setting to reveal its own particular attire in its own particular moment, and not take it to heart, when it feels difficult to meet known and unknown expectations.

    Zen has very good instincts and I’m grateful for his guidance. He also shared a few wonderful quotes along the way, which I see posted in his own retreat report.

    Lastly, I'm surprised by the ‘after effects' which for me, came soon after we dispersed. Retreats are surprisingly potent. Even when they feel like 'nothing going on,' just stopping has a significant effect. In every retreat I've attended, more seems to come up to work with than I could tell from within the setting, and I hope I'm learning to trust the process, which is still working its way through everything. :)

    As usual I'd opened the retreat with another ‘well intended’ sort of 'goal' in mind.  :)

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