I spent last weekend on a meditation retreat. It was one based in London so it wasn't like I was out in the boonies somewhere, totally disconnected from civilisation. I did refrain from using my phone for most of the weekend and only went on my computer late Sunday after it had ended.
After a retreat I'm exhausted.
This can be difficult to explain because how does one get so tired just sitting around all weekend?
But meditation isn't just 'sitting around'. Meditation is about being present and for anyone who has ever meditated - even once - you'll be very aware of the fact that we're almost never present.
In fact, the entire theme of this particular weekend, presented by the incredibly delightful Jane Hope, was about recognising the stories we tell ourselves and learning to see what actually is, rather than what we perceive there to be.
One of my favourite bits of the whole weekend was when Jane was talking about studying these teachings and grasping them at the level of mind (intellectually) but having moments when the teachings suddenly sink deeper and we 'know them on a cellular level'. I found this to be such a wonderful apt description for what happens when our understanding of the world around us deepens because it really does feel like that.
In the case of this particular retreat I found myself revisiting an old wound - seeing a lot of messiness about myself that I always hope I'm leaving behind or that people can't see but that I know is there. Effectively, I spent the weekend just totally embracing that I'm a fraud.
I never really think I'm 'together' but I know how easy it is to mask something or cover it up and feel like maybe I'm actually more stable than I realised. This was a weekend of seeing my neurosis, how deep it runs and still loving myself regardless. Because I know the people who matter most in my life can see all the messy stuff too and they still love me regardless. They accept me as the complex, messed up human being that I am because the people closest to me know they're just as complex and messed up too. We love each other for it - even if it's not always easy.
So I spent this weekend seeing how much I've not shed and where I'm still messing up and causing pain and being arrogant or foolish. And the neatest thing about it was that it didn't break me because I know that I can't work with anything I'm not willing to see. And I can't accept things as they are if I pretend to be something different. And ultimately, none of this stuff defines me.
But I've rambled on quite enough. I felt this was a good opportunity to share a snippet of a photo piece I did back in February when I shaved my then blue and pink hair off. This is just the first instalment of a triptych which will be on display at my exhibition come December.