A Different Kind of Labor Day Celebration

A Different Kind of Labor Day Celebration

For me, the Labor Day holiday usually includes being with friends and family, barbecuing, consuming too many hard seltzers, playing in the water and lots of talking, but this year I will be in a tent, on the mountaintop, at a meditation retreat all weekend. 

Sounds like a dream, right? Now add in the fact that this is a retreat hosted by Refuge Recovery where 72 hours of silence is required, no electronics are allowed and of course, no drugs or alcohol from the time we arrive Friday until we break the silence on Monday morning.

For some of you, that may seem like an easy task, but for this extrovert who loves to talk and is addicted to my smartphone, Netflix and checking emails, it creates fear and anxiety. Not to mention the thought of camping without alcohol - I don’t know that life! And as a longtime food addict and emotional eater, the idea of not being able to control the food I get to eat is also unnerving. 

But that is what the retreat is about - relinquishing control and living without all of our addictions for three days whether you’re addicted to alcohol, drugs, technology, food, sex, codependency or any other habits that may be holding you back. 

I heard about this event several months ago on Facebook through a mutual friend who sits on the Refuge Recovery board in California. He announced the retreat and shared a link to register. Because a documentary crew will be filming this retreat in the mountains of Western North Carolina, the cost to attend was only $108! 

I had already been looking for some kind of retreat to attend in the fall to find some time to relax, reset and get some writing done. I looked at different yoga retreats, meditation retreats, writing retreats, but I couldn’t afford any of them. By the time I had done my research on Refuge Recovery and its controversial founder Noah Levine, I felt good about signing up. I went to the website to find the silent retreat had already filled up that quickly. 

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I decided to add my name to the waiting list and told myself, “If I’m meant to be there and do this, the universe will make it happen.” Retreat capacity was only 80, and I knew there were over 100 people on the waiting list so chances seemed slim. Well damn it if the universe didn’t send me an email at the end of July saying I could now sign up for the retreat. 

“Shit! I guess I have to do this now,” was my reaction. 

So I’ve been gathering together everything I need - tent, sleeping bag, flashlight, an actual watch so I’ll know what time it is without my phone, notebooks to write in since I can’t have my laptop, a reading list, hiking boots and rain gear. 

I’ve also been reading up on Refuge Recovery, listening to Noah Levine’s podcast and reading his book, “Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction.” I like the message, I love the benefits of meditation and I would love to deepen my practice. I also look forward to practicing yoga, hiking and writing while being in nature. The idea of living without distractions is exciting and also scary. I think it is for many of us whether we realize it or not. 

Within the distractions of life, we don’t have to tune into the thoughts in our heads or pay attention to the messages our soul is sending to us. We just go about our day with all those subconscious thoughts and feelings pushed down into the depths of our bodies where they get stuck. 

We know they are there, but we ignore them and watch TV or play on our phones instead. We drink to numb the uncomfortable thoughts, we take pills to hide the pain for a few hours, we eat to comfort ourselves in the moment, we try to fix other people’s problems to avoid our own internal work. 

I do have a lot of fear and anxiety going into this weekend, but I also have a lot of curiosity about the experience and how I will feel when I leave the retreat on Monday. Will I want to continue letting go of those unhealthy habits or will I go back to my old coping skills? 

Stay tuned, I’ll report back next week. 

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