‘So, what are we gonna do for New Year’s Eve?’ I asked my best friend.
‘Hmmm, I don’t know. Maybe a wellness weekend would be nice. Or dinner in Salzburg or Munich and then party.’
‘Hm, alright. Let’s see what we can find.’
Hint: That’s never a good point to start.
The objection ‘Let’s see what we can find.’ without any specifics literally lets universal intelligence know that you’re open for everything and don’t really care about the outcome.
We got served exactly what we asked for.
I found a nice little party here and there that sounded alright, a fancy hotel that was overpriced and didn’t feel worth the investment or a more affordable accommodation and no plan how to spend the night.
Things weren’t looking so good for NYE 2017.
Then I got mad at myself.
Months ago I decided I was gonna be back in the sunshine by the time the new year rolls around and that clearly didn’t happen which is okay but I knew whatever we were gonna find I was gonna be disappointed because it wouldn’t be remotely close to what I wished for.
So I did what every good friend would do….
I tried to find something cool for us to do and I mean I really tried, I have no idea how many countless hours I spend trying to find a good fit.
But… nothing felt right.
Despite the fact that I’m a grandma, I also just didn’t want to party.
The spas on the other hand were all overbooked or ridiculously expensive (or had terrible reviews) and the classic New Year’s Events just did not sound appealing whatsoever.
Feeling my frustration rise as I scrolled through Facebook events at about midnight roughly a week before the 31st I stopped myself, took a couple deep breaths and said to myself ‘Eva, stop it. Stop lying to yourself. If you don’t want to go out, then don’t! And with the mindset you have right now you’re not gonna be able to find ANYTHING decent.’
So I paused and tried to re-center myself.
Instead of getting more annoyed and giving up I took a moment and started thinking and putting out there that in fact, I WILL find whatever I need this year to have a good New Years Eve.
30 seconds later I opened my MacBook again and kept mindlessly scrolling Facebook events with my new, more positive attitude and it must have been less than five minutes that I read:
Starting the new year with practice.
Meditation retreat at Tibetan Buddhist Center 31.12-3.1.
I looked up in wonder as if Buddha himself was waving at me from above saying
‘There ya go! You asked for some good stuff, there you have it!
Now you just need to do it.’
I started laughing.
Then I googled the place and found out it was less than 2h away from where I live.
2 hours!! Are you kidding me??? How have I never heard of a huge, world-famous buddhist center so close to my house?
I went to bed thinking about it, unsure whether to go for it or not but really, what do I have to lose?
The next day I rang the place and found out they have nice rooms, vegan/vegetarian food, wi-fi and she assured me that everyone is welcome, no matter what the religion or experience.
‘Alright.’ I said and asked how strict it was and if I was gonna be forced to meditate for hours everyday (a few months ago I couldn’t even sit still for 10 minutes without thinking about what I’ll have for dinner and conversations I had 2 years ago that didn’t add up…), she started laughing and said ‘No. Absolutely not. You can come and go or get up anytime you please.’
Funny thing is, since I got here 3 days ago I haven’t missed a single practice (except the one at 7am because I’m still working on my morning person skills…) so I have actually meditated for roughly 5 hours every day.
And I enjoyed it.
Because I didn’t feel obligated to do so, I actually wanted to.
Back to last week.
I registered for the retreat, told my best friend about it and being the amazing friend she is, she wasn’t mad at me at all and understood my choice even though I felt a little bad.
Sometimes you just have to do what you need to do for yourself.
There is no point in forcing yourself to go out and do something because you promised someone else to do so when really your heart is not in it and you don’t want to be there.
A real friend will always understand.
In between deciding and actually leaving for the retreat I had several small breakdowns thinking stuff like ‘What am I doing? Do I have no friends or why do I have to go to a retreat all by myself while everyone is partying and having a good time? What the hell am I doing? Who am I? I have never even practiced Tibetan meditation before and have no fucking clue what I’m getting myself into???!!’
But I tried (and succeeded this time!) to calm my monkey mind, trust my gut, stay on course and pull it off.
I packed my stuff (too much, as per usual but you never know.) said ‘bye bye’ to my Mum was also wondering what I was doing and off I went.
I got there and it was super awkward at first, everyone knew each other and I was the new one like back in high school, coming into a room full of people and everyone is just kind of looking at you whispering ‘Who is she and what is she doing here?’.
Deciding not to break down and drive back I awkwardly introduced myself to a few people and immediately forgot all names again and 10 minutes later the first practice began.
I went upstairs and entered the meditation room, a nice little set up with cushions, blankets, and of course a big golden buddha statue and other unidentifiable ornaments and ‘things’ I couldn’t really make much sense off.
Someone handed me a script for the recitation, I tried to find a spot where I could absorb properly yet would be the least visible to others in case I did something offensive (I mean I had no idea about how to behave in a buddhist centre…) and the first thing I did was sit down and drop the script in front of me, for which I got a few shocked and weirded out looks.
I thought it might just be me until a lady later pointed out that it is very disrespectful to put any sacred texts etc onto the floor and that you should alway hold them or put them onto a specific box (I was wondering what they were for…).
Great way to start haha.
So I sat there and tried to just look like I knew what I was doing when in my head I was so curious and amazed by this whole new world of meditation I just sat food into.
On the 31st (the day I got there) we started of with a recitation and tsok offering to remove inner and outer obstacles that hold us back and prepare for the new year.
I don’t want to talk to much about it because I was glad that I had no idea what was gonna happen and thus could completely let it happen and surprise me. I was totally open and not influenced by anything because I simply had no clue about Tibetan buddhism.
All I knew is I had to go there and that it was the right place for me to be.
All of it felt strange, odd and unfamiliar but none of it felt wrong.
I just kinda went with the flow, let go of everything, poured myself into the practice and the conversations I had with the people there, completely tuned into the vibe and energy or the place and I can’t even put into words what it did for me.
I was only there for three days but I could almost feel my brain moving. Re-wiring.
It felt like something inside of me was finally starting to heal.
I was calm, focused, centered.
I still felt anxiety, fear and doubts come up but I was not so much the victim anymore, I was the observer.
I noticed the thoughts and feelings coming in, I acknowledged them and let them pass.
I allowed myself to fall back into old thought patterns, caught myself doing it and chose to move on from it instead of dwelling on it.
The practice and offering rituals were held by Lama Tenzin Sangpo, an amazing, kind and hilarious recitation master. In between there were short, silent meditations to reflect on previously made dedications and aspirations.
I personally have been mediating more than ever this past year but I always struggled with it. Almost every time I found myself thinking about so much non-relaxing bullshit and getting annoyed, not being able to sit still and simply uncomfortable.
I switched to guided meditations before I go to sleep (which helps me sleep well too, there’s some great ones on YouTube if you just search for ‘Guided Mediation’) but I found that when you’re not actually sitting in silence you don’t get the peace of mind as much. It’s still good and relaxing but the silence after chanting and reciting for a long time just NEXT LEVEL.
Lama Tenzin rang the singing bowl once – which meant stfu and tune in with your mind – and I closed my eyes, sitting in lotus position and all I could hear was the sound of the bowl and my breath and I just sat there in awe that I was thinking absolutely nothing (well, that was a lie, I was thinking that I was in fact thinking nothing ha).
My mind was at peace. Quiet. Just chilling.
It felt sooo good.
And sitting here in London, writing the second half of this post now I realize I have to do everything in my power to find this head space again.
Long story short…
I had an amazing, life-changing experience.
- a peaceful escape so close to home (which is incredible).
- a way to somewhat practice religion that I feel aligned with
- a community full of love, peace and healthy food (link below)
- new friends
- peace of mind
- a place that has been waiting for me for a long time
- that I just have to put a wish out there and I will receive exactly what I need
- that I can heal, let go and shift my mindset in the matter of days
Everything you desire is out there!
You just have to dare to ask for it and BELIEVE in it.
You’re desires are given to you for a reason. – Jen Sincero
I have nothing left to say (for now).
I am in awe of whatever got me here. Thank you.
I hope you enjoyed this insight, feel free to ask any questions you might have.
If you’ve been interested in meditation/buddhism or you are now, the place I went to is Rangjung Yeshe Gomde in Austria but they have centers all over the world and I’m planning on checking out the one here in the UK soon.
Now to the official part:
Happy New year 2018!
I hope you’re all doing really well wherever in the world you are.
PS: Here’s a picture of a buddha statue in the little shop they had at the center.
I like it because it expresses the synergy between male and female, physically and energetically.
I also like how openly displayed it was and that there is no shame at all associated to an image like this.
Growing up in a really conservative and catholic environment all I could think was:
Can you imagine seeing anything like this in a Christian monarchy or church?!
It was nice to see that there’s a place where people come together sort of in the name of religion but that is so welcoming to everyone, no matter what the backgroud or beliefs and that is open and liberal enough for everyone to be able to express who they are and say whatever the hell they want without being judged or looked at in a weird way.
It doesnt have to be an either/or situation.
You can be religious and like to have sex. With different people. Before marriage.
You can be catholic and practice buddhism.
In fact, you don’t have to believe in anything or anyone to be a good person and have virtues.
You are allowed to try out different things and just because you were born into a certain religion, doesn’t mean you have to follow through with it forever.
I think the most important thing I learned at this retreat is that it’s actually very simple to live a meaningful life.
Take care of yourself and others.
Love the ones who do you good and forgive the ones who dont.
Never harm yourself or any sentient being.
Enough said now,
Good night x