Self-Guided Retreat — A Reflection

by Stacy Hall de Gomez

Summer in Seattle can be so busy, with work, family commitments, visitors, travel, and all our region has to offer.  And then there’s that sense that we should get outside and not miss a single minute of the beautiful summer weather. Despite all this, about a dozen Seattle Shambhala sangha members made the choice to commit time this July for extended group meditation practice, dharma study, and personal reflection.  

From July 22nd through July 28th, the Seattle Shambhala Center offered a self-guided and self-staffed 7-day group retreat on site.  Retreat participants brought their own materials for practice and study (as well as their own meals), and we supported one another by keeping a good container and a proper schedule, including morning, afternoon, and in some cases, evening meditation and/or study sessions.

Some folks could only spare a few hours once or twice, while others were able to come daily all week.  I was lucky enough to be able to participate every day, and for me, it was a profound journey of opening.  

Each person contributed their particular gifts to the experience. 

Some led chants, Tonglen, or Shamatha Yoga; others made coffee, cleaned, or did some mindful gardening, rescuing our beloved hedge, cherry tree and bamboo grove from an invasion of Morning Glory.  Some participants contributed their sense of humor or their ability to pronounce difficult Tibetan words. We took turns in the umdze seat, and shared food, laughter, and hugs. Most of all, participants offered their presence, their energy, and their open hearts.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to practice, and for all the support on this journey.  Thank you, Seattle Shambhala!

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