Last summer I sat an introductory seven day retreat at Shambhala’s Karme Choling, in Vermont. After seven days of sitting and walking meditation, delicious food (much of the produce was grown in Karme Choling’s garden), and some of the nicest folks I’ve ever met, I was the most relaxed and mindful I’ve been in years. Seventy-two hours later, back at my desk in a law firm in New York, it was gone. All the calm and equanimity vanished like one of the frequent, brief thundershowers that rolled over the meditation hall every other afternoon.
Since then, I’ve often daydreamed about going back and finding that spacious inner state again. Conveniently, the fantasy doesn’t include the unpleasant stuff: back pain, boredom, frustration with my practice, and the feelings of panic that would rise some afternoons after two or three hours of sitting. In any case, I’m headed back for two week’s of the 28-day Dathun starting on Saturday and I’m both excited and nervous. Nine or ten hours of sitting a day is going to be a real challenge, but I’m looking forward to the relaxed, summer-camp vibe from last year.