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Hello From the West Coast

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Earlier today I wrote a draft of a rather negative article about my initial impressions about Hollyhock, the spiritual/educational retreat I’m at right now. My expectations were completely wrong (aside from the astonishing food here) and I was resentful. I deleted my little rant. It was what I was feeling at the time, but since this morning I’ve changed my outlook.

Due to my own misunderstanding of Google Docs Offline, I saved over the article I was going to publish Monday and will have to write it again. I was very proud of the article, and that fact that I got it written successfully on the road. It was tremendously important to me not to let my trip upset my posting schedule, and I missed the very first post! Argh!

For what it’s worth, I also have not been able to upload photos because I didn’t bring the little cord. No I didn’t take the above photo. So I haven’t updated David Goes Kiwi yet. Time! I need some damn time to myself!

I was shocked to find that the course I’m taking here (today is the first of five days) keeps me busy from 7am to 10pm, with a few short breaks, and that made me quite upset. I do not have free time to write, or even hike the beautiful cedar woods around here. My dreams of solitary beach-walks and writing on the patio a few hours each evening were shattered.

I found out quickly that Hollyhock is not a resort. It is not where you go to have fun, and apparently not a place where you go to do your own thing. My first full day (which is one session away from being over) has been a 50/50 mix between grueling and delightful. It consists of looong (for me) sessions of sitting meditation, interspersed with walking meditation. Forty-five minutes a stretch — certainly longer than the 20 minutes I attempted in experiment No. 1. At least three of the sessions were hellish, and I was fighting sleep throughout them all.

Earlier today I was seriously considering leaving. But after a fantastic lecture from the instructor, I feel much better about this particular retreat and what it can do for me. Precisely the problems I was having (attachment to expectations, resentment, worry) were addressed in a very insightful talk. I can deal.

I made a lot of progress just today, after having spent the whole day in what’s called “noble silence.” That means no chatting, no unnecessary speech. Now that I think of it I’ve only uttered about two sentences all day, and that’s when a microphone was handed to me and I was asked to speak. I’ll spend the next four days in silence too.

I hate that I let Monday morning go by without a post. This will not be typical, though I’ll have precious little time over the next four days to write, and that makes me sad. I’m being challenged to keep my mind clear of unnecessary mental dialogue, but transcribing unnecessary mental dialogue onto the internet happens to be on of my favorite things to do.

Today was mostly rough, but I see now that it will be okay. The thought of Raptitude going stagnant is enough to give me nightmares. When I get back to Victoria I’m going to barricade myself in a library and do what I yearn so badly to do: write. I love doing that and I love that you’re here to read it.

More to come.


Photo by Vic Fan

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Brad October 19, 2009 at 11:06 pm

This is actually an awesome post, I enjoyed it. It adds character to something that sounds like it’s been written on the fly.

It’s no big deal to go a week without posting.
.-= Brad´s last blog ..Skin Health =-.

David October 20, 2009 at 12:13 pm

You’re right Brad, it really isn’t a big deal. I suppose a regular posting schedule has become something of disproportionate importance to me because it’s one of the only things I’ve been able to do with great consistency for such a long time. I was worried that missing a post could be the beginning of a gradual slide into inconsistency.

Emily October 19, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Thank you for sharing this update with us! I hope the rest of your experience at this retreat turns out to be something meaningful.

David October 20, 2009 at 12:27 pm

It already is, now that the initial adjustment is out of the way. I had misplaced expectations.

Lisis October 20, 2009 at 5:08 am

I can SO relate to this. You know that when I left on my road trip I had big plans to post all along the way, and make my journey a great adventure for myself and the Q4B readers. But then my back caused some problems so that I couldn’t sit and work at the laptop… and then we had some internet issues… and soon I realized I was no longer following MY plan at all.

I just THOUGHT I was going on a fun, adventurous road trip. But really, it was supposed to be a journey into the depths of my soul. A time to stop all the regular nonsense I do on autopilot and really think about who I am and what I want to do (and what role my blog will play in that).

I think it’s great that you are finding Hollyhock to be not at all like you expected. I’m sure this is the training wheels version of what you will encounter on the other side of the world. Frustrated? Bored? Not liking the way things are done? Can’t communicate your frustration? Not enough internet time? Ah… this is only the beginning.

You, my dear, have thrown yourself into a rock tumbler. It’s a slow and painful process, but the only way to become your shiny new self. :)

Thanks for sharing this, David… KEEP IT REAL. There’s a lot we can learn from your very real experiences.
.-= Lisis´s last blog ..Inspiration: Nobody Trips Over Mountains =-.

David October 20, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Thanks for this Lisis. Rock tumbler, that sounds about right. The sessions can be difficult, but I’m adjusting quite well I think. It’s strange; while in silence we do not interact with each other verbally and we don’t make eye contact, so the people in my group remain strangers in the conventional sense. But there is a strong connection emerging, because we all know that all of us are confronting the same things.

Nea | Self Improvement Saga October 20, 2009 at 7:03 am

Hi David. I’m sorry to hear that the retreat isn’t really meeting your expectations, but hopefully that will turn out to be a good thing. I can’t imagine having a 7am to 10pm schedule of anything…. argggh. Thanks for keeping us updated as best as you can considering the time issue. I can’t wait to read more.
.-= Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog ..Why You Shouldn’t Keep It Real: A Lesson on Unrealistic Living =-.

David October 20, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Hi Nea. I’ve come a long way in the last 24 hours, I’ll just say that. They are long long days, but wow what a difference a day of practice makes. I haven’t been this calm in a long long time.

Son January 7, 2014 at 5:17 am

I know this web site presents quality dependent articles or
reviews and other material, is there any other web site which provides these
kinds of information in quality?

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) October 20, 2009 at 7:22 am

My friend~ you really made me laugh ~:-) The crucible is not meant to be “fun”~ you already know this…

Perhaps the culture shock of Hollyhock is what is needed to push your envelope at this point in your life…that monk wrote that koan for a reason…

No cord = Moments for You

No writing (temporary) –> New ways of Being

Me thinks most of us will remain, regardless of your blogging schedule (it’s not as though time is linear). When the timing is aligning we will be here (or there, since space isn’t linear either); discovering what one is truly attached to can be liberating.

David October 20, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Yes, my attachment to blogging conked me in the head pretty good yesterday morning. I always knew it was there as I was preparing for my trip. But this is the first time the line was stretched taut, and it was pretty jarring.

Eric October 20, 2009 at 7:23 am

Thanks for sharing your experience. It is tough to go into something new with preconceived expectations, and then realize it’s not at all what you expected. (This is the reason I stopped reading movie reviews, I found they changed my expectations, and made the movie less enjoyable.) I wonder; had you gone in with no expectations, would you have had a different outlook after your first day?
.-= Eric´s last blog ..100 Things About Me =-.

David October 20, 2009 at 12:42 pm

If I’d had no expectations, yes it would definitely have been different. I became dependent on time that I thought I was entitled to. Classic case of counting unhatched chickens. It sure was a good lesson in expectations that will no doubt prove valuable this whole trip.

Good call on the movie reviews. They have tainted a movie or two for me.

suzen October 20, 2009 at 9:00 am

Hi David,
I enjoyed the “realness” of your words, and your struggle as it turns out. I also totally agree with Lisis, and loved her reference to the “rock tumbler”. Indeed you are in one and these unexpected little frustrations are all part of letting go. I think once you accept that and make peace with the fact that some “refining” is going on that you do not control at all, the journey will go smoother. Remember, you blog schedule is something YOU decided to control – perhaps the Universe has something else in mind. Not to worry, we’re all with you regardless!

David October 20, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Thanks suzen. Yes, I am keenly aware that I created the responsibility of posting at certain times, and for that matter, I am also the one who decides how much time I have; I don’t have to go to the meditation sessions if I don’t want to. But I know it is important for me.

John October 20, 2009 at 9:52 am

Awesome recap, David! We don’t blame you – your traveling so I actually expected some difficulties along the way.

Your retreat sounds grueling, but it’ll make you things that you never would’ve done otherwise that are beneficial to life.

Keep moving forward, David. Looking to the future for your next post :)
.-= John´s last blog ..Should I or Should I Not? The Curse of Indecision =-.

David October 20, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Hi John. Thanks. My experience here is already changing for the better. There is no place more welcoming than the meditation circle up in the hut in the woods. I’m looking forward to my next session.

Suzanne October 20, 2009 at 10:37 am

It’s a bit surreal to hear the frustration in your words. But that says something on its own. You are really experiencing new areas…less control…more quiet…and, hopefully, a great learning experience for the memories once you come out the other side.

Enjoy the process!
.-= Suzanne´s last blog ..My Best Tip for Housework Motivation =-.

David October 20, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Hi Suzanne. You should have read the post I deleted!

Yeah I had to butt right up against certain attachments and get to work on them. It was a pretty violent collision. The dust is settling.

I can’t stop talking in metaphor for some reason. :)

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) October 20, 2009 at 3:33 pm

some say the metaphor is the Reality ~:-)

(cf. Toshihiko Izutsu)
.-= Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor)´s last blog ..A Collection of Student Resources =-.

Hayden Tompkins October 20, 2009 at 11:12 am

Oh, I totally feel you on this! I took Chris on what I thought was a relationship retreat and it turned out to be an “enlightenment intensive”. Basically, we traded off asking random people “tell me who you are” which doesn’t sound all that bad but we did it for 5 DAYS.

It was also one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
.-= Hayden Tompkins´s last blog ..How to Get Organized =-.

David October 20, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Sounds familiar. I guess I’m glad it did not match my expectations because I could not have expected anything this intense. If all we ever experienced were our expectations, life would be pretty dull.

David October 20, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Thank you so much everyone. I am in silence but I’m glad I took the time to speak to you. You people do so much for me — not just those who commented but everyone who read my words.

Patty - Why Not Start Now? October 20, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Hi David – Sounds like each day things are changing for you. Moment to moment shifts that signify your increasing comfort level with all the newness in your life. Thanks for sharing this!
.-= Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s last blog ..Your Inner Magician and the Power of Naming =-.

David October 22, 2009 at 11:04 am

Thanks for reading Patty. I wasn’t sure how interested anybody would be in my rough first day at hollyhock. :)

Erin October 20, 2009 at 2:33 pm

So you will be all “meditated up”, when this is over? Glad you are coming to peace with the experience. Enjoy the journey!

David October 22, 2009 at 11:05 am

That’s one way of putting it. I’ll see how easy it is to maintain this level of peace when I return to civilization.

Big Sis October 20, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Hey David,

Sorry your trip got off to a rough start. I think Lisis put it well when she said this is the training wheels version of the rest of your adventure. There are likely going to be at least a few more days where you will feel like just going home. One of the first days of my big trip, I was so homesick that I hid from my roommate in the shower of our Taiwanese guest house so I could cry. I also wanted to come home but didn’t, and instead had one of the best years of my life. I hope that this is the worst of it and it just gets better from here. I’m proud of you.


David October 22, 2009 at 11:11 am

Hi Alison, good hear from you. If my first day here was the worst of it then I’m in for a very easy ride. I know there will be rough spots and homesickness, that’s fine. I feel like I’ve learned so much about myself and about how to deal with discomfort in the last few days that it wouldn’t be possible for me to have the same reaction again. I will be tested, I’m sure, but each test will better equip me for the future ones. This was the perfect way to start my trip.

John October 20, 2009 at 9:13 pm

This is a common experience in retreats like this. I’m not sure what the purpose of the retreat is, but in ones where the point is to look inward, or work with your own mind, there is often a rigid schedule. The first few days, you wonder why you aren’t doing something different, like going outside on a nice day or just enjoying a movie or something. But once you realize that this “is” what you’re doing, being with your attachments and aversions, you can be free to have the 50% glorious times and the 50% boring misery. But something happens on days 3 and 4. A natural rhythm occurs, and you settle into the schedule and yourself.

This happens to me almost every retreat I go to. Just thought I’d share the experience.

David October 22, 2009 at 11:13 am

Thanks John, I appreciate that.

That’s what I gather… this initial turmoil is common. It just doesn’t seem so because you can’t see it in other people, it’s internal.

Dayne | TheHappySelf.com October 21, 2009 at 10:27 am

I’ve always wanted to do a retreat like you are doing. I’ve heard they can be very tough, but in the end, it can really open us up in many great ways. Thank you for sharing your experiences David!

Cheers and best of luck!
.-= Dayne | TheHappySelf.com´s last blog ..Living Naked: Personal Transformation Through Bare Simplicity =-.

David October 22, 2009 at 11:13 am

It’s definitely worth trying. :)

Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching October 22, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Hi David — what an opportunity this retreat is giving you to sit with your self-judgment. :)

David October 25, 2009 at 3:23 pm

That’s what it’s all about. It was an amazing experience and it is sending me away with a completely new perspective to take on my travels.

Brenda October 23, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Your first lesson came fast: unmet expectation and how often it pains us. The pain itself is the clue to let it go, to simply flow. Your journey into nonattachment will doubtless reveal great truths that will bring you a lifetime of joy.

David October 25, 2009 at 3:24 pm

I learned so much in that first day. Textbook blessing in disguise.

Zengirl October 26, 2009 at 7:23 pm

I hope the whole retreat gets better for you. I took once retreat about yoga and hindu spritual things. It looked good on paper but it was taught almost by non-hindus and whole experience left me in bad taste because it was nothing that I know of hindu yoga or spiritual teachings of old Indian Rishis/sages.

It is like people like who never watched old “mission impossible” series liked the new tom’s “mission impossible” movie series but not old faithfuls who knew the tv series very well.

sometimes we do not need to be taught by others, just time to reflect ourselves.
.-= Zengirl´s last blog ..11 reasons we hoard on things =-.

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