It’s 5:50am and you hear the sound of the morning bell, announcing the start of a new day. You’ve already been lying awake for a while, listening to the songs of the morning birds.
There are so many birds here, including “Claudia Cardinale” who, with fierce determination, attacks her own beautiful but threatening reflection in the window every morning. You are impressed that even the birds at ToDo are involved with self-reflection in their own way.
The theme this morning is reflection on family members, including extended family. You’re given the choice of selecting someone. Who should you select to reflect on – your brother, your grandmother, your aunt whom you spent summers with as a child. . . ?
Gregg Krech, who is leading the retreat, offers a brief talk mid-morning, just prior to your morning walk. You sit outside on the deck with the other participants. Gregg speaks about our tendency to be self-righteous and judgmental, and he offers the maxim, “We find compassion for others in our own transgressions.” The sun is out after two days of rain and clouds, so you are especially eager to take your walk in the woods this morning.
The afternoon theme changes to “Lying and Stealing.”, a theme that similar to Christian commandments and Buddhists precepts. This process involves searching your entire life for examples of how you have violated the moral imperatives of “not lying” and “not stealing.” This is hard. It’s a direct threat to your ego and your self-righteous arrogance. You’re given a one page list of “guidelines” for this exercise. It’s going to be a long afternoon.
After an outdoor work period, you take a nice hot shower. As you change into some fresh clothes, you get a whiff of an intriguing aroma from the kitchen. It turns out to be a delicious curry made by Sabine, who traveled all the way from Germany to assist at this retreat. She delivers your tray to you and you thank her for the meal.
By the time the bedtime bell rings you are tired, even though your body has been relatively sedentary all day. Yet you are learning some very important things about yourself that have the potential to change your life in a significant way. You trust the process and continue making this investment in your future by studying the text of your life. What is next?
Gregg Krech Author, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-reflection (2002)| Author, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness (2004, 2011)| Author, A Finger Pointing to the Moon (2000)| Editor, Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living (1993-Present)| Director, ToDo Institute (Vermont) (1992-Pr......