Having picked up the book Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Prof. Mark Williams and Danny Penman back in 2013, I was enthralled. I joined a mindfulness group and maintained the weekly meetings and my own practise. After moving to Amsterdam, I kept practising myself, reading the books, listening to the app, yet always missed the group community vibes that tend to go with the weekly meet ups. It’s not a hippy thing, if anything I found the mindfulness practitioners here in Amsterdam to be more about their earnings than the raw essence of the practise.
And so, when I found out that the International Conference for Mindfulness was taking place here in Amsterdam, I jumped at the chance to join the weekend retreat, given by none other than Prof Mark Williams and Helen Ma. A silent 2 day retreat, only 15mins walk from my home – it sounded perfect.
On the Saturday morning, the ground rules were given, turn off phones, no phones allowed at all, preferably silent retreat right until we go back to work on Monday morning, and listen to our body. If we need a moment, to nap, to turn off, to get a drink, whatever, listen to our bodies needs. And so we began, with guided meditations, mindful walking, body scans and, mindful eating, 120 people, sat together, in silence, only listening to our teachers who became our metronome, helping us sense our own body rhythms.
On Sunday, through the body tapping to waken ourselves, a compassion meditation, mindfulness walking and finalising with interpersonal moment, where we practiced listening and sharing with a fellow attendee.
I have never felt more composed than when I walked outside on the Sunday evening. Having felt like a failure for so long at my practice, having tried and failed, having given up more times than started, I felt free to know that there is no right way, it each individuals own way. It was a powerful experience to be in the moment for those tow days, being presented in body and mind, and feeling each step, each shift of my trousers as I took a step.
As someone who is easily stressed, frustrated, anxious and, saddened by this world we live in, the weekend breathed life into me once more.