A 14 Day Silent Meditation Retreat Experience

Have you ever wondered what going on a multi-day silent retreat is like?

In this episode of The BE ULTIMATE Podcast, Travis shares the highs and lows of a 14 day silent meditation retreat — including stories of meditating through an earthquake, having a profound mystical experience, falling in love with life, and a meeting with Jack Kornfield.

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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of “The BE ULTIMATE Podcast.” Please note that this is direct from Travis speaking unscripted and unedited.]

Welcome to episode 25 of The Be Ultimate Podcast. 

This is your host Travis Eliot, and I’m excited to be back because I’ve been gone. I’ve been away on a three-week summer hiatus. 

In this episode, I want to share with you my experience, 14 days, Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat at a new retreat center up in Big Bear, California. So Big Bear is a couple of hours outside of Los Angeles way up in the mountains. Elevation is pretty high. So 7, 8 thousand feet or so. And they just opened up a new retreat center, and I had the honor and the privilege to go spend two weeks at this new retreat center. 

This particular retreat was hosted by InsightLA, which is a well-known, well-established community of mindfulness that was created by the prolific Trudy Goodman, the wife of one of my dearest, most beloved teachers, Jack Kornfield. 

The teachers that led this retreat were Melissa McKay and a woman named LC or Lienchi Tran. We call her LC for short. And then Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman, they came and they spent a couple of days with us in the middle of the 14-day retreat. 

I’m going to talk about the Jack and Trudy visit a little bit deeper into the podcast. 

This was a Vipassana retreat. And a lot of us when we think Vipassana we may think about the Goenka style of Vipassana. Goenka was an amazing proponent for a style and a form of Vipassana meditation, and he was from Burma. He originally got into Vipassana because he had migraine headaches, and he started to heal these migraines headaches. And then he started to realize there was a lot of other benefits to meditation. So he went and really started to spread his style of Vipassana that he had learned from his lineage and his teacher. And now Goenka Vipassana Centers exist all around the world. 

But this was a different Vipassana, and this type of Vipassana that we did was an open-awareness Vipassana-style retreat. The word Vipassana is sometimes translated to mean “to see things as they really, truly are,” because often we don’t. We see things through our filters, our filters of limited beliefs, our filters of past history and experiences, our filters of the mind constantly being stuck in the past, stuck in the future, and not really present, aware to the present moment experience.

So, first day of the 14-day retreat drove up from Los Angeles, got checked in. And I went down to where they do all the meditation. There’s a building dedicated to just meditating called the Sitting Hall. And I picked out my spot. I got my pillow set up. And after that, I just went out on the patio outside the building. 

I just sat on a bench and started to shift gears from the busyness of life and started to really soak in this beautiful environment that we’re in, the trees, the mountains, the birds, the animals, the wind. And after some time doing that, I started to walk back up to where I was staying. And on the way up the hill there, I ran into the owner of the Big Bear Retreat Center, a guy named Bill. And Bill invited to show me around because there’s trails on the property. 

We started hiking up a trail, and he asked me if I wanted to keep going. And being a trail runner and hiker enthusiast, I said, “Yeah. Let’s do it!” So we kept walking and walking and walking, and then eventually, we ended up in this amazing clearing surrounded by the mountains and with such a beautiful view. You could even see the lake far off in the distance, the Big Bear Lake. 

We spent a little bit of time just enjoying the scenery. He was sharing the history of the property and all the synchronicities that brought the retreat center into manifestation for him. And then eventually, we started to head back. 

We’re walking down the trail, and we’re talking. And I’m talking about teaching meditation in the prison system and having a great conversation. And then all of a sudden, we realized that we were totally lost. I’m with the owner of the retreat center and thinking he knew where we were, but we got totally, totally lost and eventually ended up in the backyard of some huge horse ranch. And I’m like, “Bill, I think we’re in some guy’s backyard.” And he’s like, “No, we’re not.” And sure enough, we were. So we had to jump some fences, and eventually, we had to trail blaze through the forest, and we finally made it back to the retreat center. 

So was a good opportunity for staying calm and to stay nonreactive and enjoy being on an adventure and getting lost and going with the flow and trusting that all is going to unfold and be the way that it should be. Eventually we made it back.

Then that night, we were given yogi jobs. 

One of the things that you do when you’re on a lot of these meditation retreats is you’re given a yogi job. And I decided to pick a job that I had a lot of resistance and a lot of aversion to, and that’s working in the kitchen by cutting veggies. 

If you asked my wife Lauren, she’ll tell you that I am disabled in the kitchen. I decided to lean into my discomfort and to lean into my aversion, and I signed up for slicing vegetables every day. So that was my yogi job, and I got my training in that on that first night. 

We had our opening talk that evening, and we went to sleep. 

I had my own room, my own bathroom – super comfortable – and shared a cabin with just one other guy. He had his own room and his own bathroom. All the accommodations felt comfortable.

And the next day, we began our schedule, and the schedule’s pretty intensive. You wake up at 5:30 in the morning, and then you go to your first meditation at 6:00 AM, and you meditate from 6:00 AM until 6:45 AM. And then after that, you go to breakfast. Once you eat breakfast, then you go and do your yogi job. 

After breakfast, I would go and I would cut veggies. Now, I got lost on the very first night with the owner of the retreat center. On the very first full day of cutting veggies, I’m in there with the chef and then his assistant chef. And the chef’s showing me how to cut veggies, and he’s like, “You got to do it real carefully. These knives just got sharpened, so be very, very careful.” And he’s cutting this fennel, and then all of a sudden, the knife just slips and gashes himself in the wrist, and then blood starts spewing all over the place, all over this fennel. And I’m like, “Holy shit. This is like being in a horror movie.” 

And I’m supposed to be learning how to cut veggies mindfully, and we’re having a big disaster in the kitchen. So we had to call help, and somebody had to come in and do first aid and wrap his hand up. We had to clean up all the blood off the counter. And again it was like man, this retreat is off to a crazy start. But luckily, he didn’t have to go to the hospital, and the wound was able to heal after a few days. He was super embarrassed because he was supposed to be teaching me. All these things interesting things are coming up at the beginning of the retreat.

So back to the schedule. After the yogi job, we go back and we do another meditation at 9:00 AM. And this meditation is guided by one of the teachers, which would be either, again, Melissa McKay or LC. And then after the 9:00 AM meditation, we would go into a walking meditation. We’d walk at 10:00 AM, and then after that, we would go back and sit at 11:00 AM, do another meditation. 

And then it was time for lunch, we would have time to go to lunch, eat food, and then have some time to rest as well. And a lot of times on my breaks that I had, I would go into my room and do yoga because you’re sitting so much, and your body’s aching. You have all this tension and tightness, so I would do yoga. And that really, really helped my meditation out tremendously just to keep the body open and relatively comfortable for all the sits that we were doing. 

After lunch, we go back at 2:00 PM, and we would do another seated meditation, 45 minutes, have a short break, do a walking meditation for an hour or so, go back and sit for another 45 minutes.

And then at 4:00 PM, we would have a dharma talk where the teachers would teach the dharma. And if you’re unfamiliar, the dharma is a multi-faceted word — it has a lot of different meanings to it, but it’s often translated as the truth or nature or the way of the Dao or the way that the universe unfolds. 

We would receive these beautiful teachings that were always inspiring and uplifting and one of my favorite parts of the day because I got to learn a lot on those dharma talks. 

After the dharma talk, we would go to dinner at around 5:30pm. Some of us elected out of the dinners because this is what the monks do. 

A couple of years ago, I did a 10-day Goenka silent meditation retreat, and I always had dinner. But I decided to challenge myself a little bit more on this retreat, so I elected out of eating dinner. I basically would have a breakfast and a lunch, and that was it. And during dinner time, I would go back to my room, and I would either read or I would do more yoga. I did a lot of yoga. 

After dinner at 7:00 PM, we’d go back and do another 45 minute seated meditation. And then, typically, after that, I would go back to the room, and I would do more yoga. But my ending of the day yoga was always yin yoga, I would do deep stretches. I found this rhythm where I was doing a lot of meditation, seated and walking, strong yoga, yin yoga. And it felt so incredibly good. 

After doing yin yoga, I’d take a shower, go to bed around 9:00, 9:30. Wake up again, 5:30. And that was our schedule. So basically, 5:30 in the morning till around 9:30 PM and just meditating, seated meditation and walking meditations.

The first couple of days when you’re on retreat and you’re in this schedule, it’s tough. It’s really, really challenging, physically and mentally. It’s tough on the body to sit. It’s tough for the mind. Whatever it is that you haven’t processed or digested in your life– the Vipassana meditation is like a mirror, so it’s just going to reflect whatever’s going on within your body, within your mind, within your heart. And you have to sit with that, and it takes a lot of courage to not run away from it. 

Essentially, what you’re training yourself to do when you meditate is to not push anything away and then to also not hold on or grasp or try and pull anything to you. And when you release the push in the pull, you become free. And as you learn and you train yourself to do that in the meditation, naturally you bring that into how you move and how you flow through your life. 

You’re no longer pushing away experience. You’re no longer fighting reality, and you’re also not trying to grasp and hold on to things that you have no control over like other people. 

Being in this human body and having this human experience is really opening up to the great river, the great flow of life. And when you fight that river current, you exhaust yourself. Some people drown by doing that. And at the same time, when you go against it or you cling to it, you also create so much unnecessary wear and tear. You expend so much energy when we all have the capacity to learn to let go to this flow of life, to the flow of the Dao, the flow of dharma. 

Now the river current is carrying us, and we’re able to steer our way down this river with awareness. And we’re no longer fighting the river.

As you sit in these first two or three days on retreat you feel the river of sensations within your body. Some sensations are pleasant. Some are incredibly unpleasant. Some are neutral. And your mind, over the course of the retreat, becomes more and more equanimous. 

So again, you’re not pushing away the unpleasant. You’re not trying to pull to you the pleasant, and you’re also not becoming unconscious in the neutral or the mundane, but you maintain awareness regardless of what sensations that you feel in your body. 

You begin to have insights these sensations are impermanent. 

Eventually, the pain subsides. It goes away. It doesn’t last forever. The itch that you get in the back of your head, it’s also impermanent. It doesn’t last forever. And so instead of reacting to these sensations, you learn to respond to them with greater wisdom, understanding, care, compassion, and awareness. 

But again, it’s a process, and sometimes you’re going insane in the meditation. The more you fight it, the more you struggle with it, the more difficult it becomes. 

One Zen master describes meditation is like being locked in a phone booth with a schizophrenic, and the schizophrenic is you know who! 

It’s like being with yourself, right? But eventually, the schizophrenic begins to chill out. It begins to mellow out, especially as you meet it with compassion.

So there’s all these aspects of us. We have the river sensation. We also have the waterfall of thoughts. You’re in your meditation, and here you are supposed to be anchored into your breath or anchored into the present moment. And you can go off for 10, 15, 20, 30 minutes, maybe even a whole hour down this tangent and this waterfall of thinking. And you realize those moments of where you just become unconscious. 

But the moment where you realize you became unconscious is when you become actually conscious, and that’s a moment of victory because you just became aware. 

You become awake, so you come back to the present moment. And just like training a wild stallion that’s difficult. It’s challenging. It doesn’t listen at first. It’s bucking you off the horse. It’s not doing what you say. Your body, your mind is the same way. And with persistence and perseverance and commitment, you begin to train that stallion. You begin to train your body. 

You become the master of your own mind. You become the master of your own body. It does what you tell it to do, so when you say, “Sit,” it sits. When you say, “Go,” then it goes. And this is how we become empowered so that we’re no longer a victim.

Up in Big Bear, the altitude’s 7,000+ feet. You’re also having to get adjusted to that level of altitude. Once you do, there’s something about being up in the mountains that’s just incredibly, incredibly elevating, right? You’re elevated up in the mountains. 

“Though one may conquer 1,000 times 1,000 men in battle, he who conquers himself is the greatest warrior. 

-The Dhammapada

There is no greater act than the act of conquering yourself! 

And you’re not going to really get this just in your normal life meditating 10, 15, 20 minutes a day. It’s the retreat, the immersive experience where you get to go so deep where you really get the skills and the practice to be able to conquer that mind. 

Gradually, the mind quiets down, and you begin to create space between your identity and the awareness of your identity. It’s that space where your freedom lies. And this is a big deal because we get entangled within our identity. We get entangled and ensnared within our thoughts. We think that we are our thoughts. We think that we are our feelings. We think that we are this body with these body sensations, and what you begin to learn is that you’re bigger than that. 

You’re much more spacious than that, and so a certain type of liberation begins to happen. 

You become free. 

So you’re in the meditation hall, and a lot of times, not only are you struggling but other people around you are struggling. All sorts of noises are coming up. People are coughing, and you’re like, “God, when is this person going to shut up?” People are squirming around. People are trying to conquer their own stallions. 

I remember one time on my first Goenka Silent Meditation Retreat, there was this guy the whole entire 10 days that was squirming and moving around in his seat. And to be honest with you, I had a lot of judgment. I’m like, “Geez, is this guy ever going to get still? He’s got some issues or something going on.” And I ended up running into him at the end of the retreat and turns out right before he had come on the retreat, he went skinny dipping in the woods. And he had set all his clothes in a big bush of poison ivy. So he put his clothes back on, and he ended up getting poison ivy all over his body, including his balls [laughter]. And so it gives you some perspective. This is why the dude is squirming all the time because he was uncomfortable. So you never know what’s going on with other people. And once I learned the justification for why he was moving so much, I felt so much care and compassion towards him.

My teacher, Jack Kornfield, he tells a story about one of his retreats where there was this Marine who had all these tattoos, and some of the other females felt very scared around this intimidating looking guy. And this one girl would actually express her concern and fear about this Marine to Jack Kornfield. Until one day deep into the retreat, she was doing her walking meditation, and she saw this Marine next to a stream. And he was looking at these flowers. And then he started to cup the flowers in his hand, and he would just gaze at these flowers and wonder in awe. And after she saw that and she saw this tough exterior but this vulnerability that was shining out through that rough exterior, it reframed how she perceived that Marine. 

This is a great teaching. It’s so easy to judge other people. We put people into these boxes and these categories, and we like this person. We dislike this other person, and we never know what’s really going on with that person. So to just be as kind and compassionate as we can within everybody that we meet.

About halfway through the retreat, I think it was about day six or day seven, I was at the 6:00 AM sit, and I was meditating. We were about 10 minutes or so into the meditation, and then all of a sudden, the whole ground started to shake and the walls started to rumble. I quickly realized that we’re in the middle of an earthquake, and I had the strangest experience where I was so calm and so serene, so relaxed in that moment, so beyond my body that I felt like if the walls would have come crumbling in, if the ceiling were to come down, if I essentially would have died, that everything would have been totally okay. 

It was this strange paradoxical moment where my awareness felt like nothing could damage it or hurt it. But the same time, being aware and being six or seven days into the meditation, I could also feel my body gripping. I could feel my abdominal muscles beginning to brace and beginning to prepare for the worst. But the same time, there was that part of me that was just ready, that was so at peace.

And then all of a sudden, I had these thoughts rushing in. 

What about my wife? What about my kids? 

And then I started to feel the fear and the panic and the anxiety, and so I’m just watching all this go down. And then eventually, the earthquake subsided. 

The walls never came down, thankfully. And after that experience, the rest of the meditation, I felt incredibly free and light and open and deeply, deeply, deeply at peace. 

It was almost like a little test. Inevitably, we’re all going to face death. It’s just a matter of time. And then these eastern traditions, they don’t try and hide death from us. They actually lean into it. It’s part of the process of waking up in this life and realizing the miracle of this life, the gift of this life right now, by having the clear understanding that eventually, this body will die. Your body will die. Everybody is going to die. And that when we meet death and have a clear relationship to death with wisdom, then we have the capacity to really move through our life with greater joy and greater nobility.

And this felt like a little test. It was like, “Well, if I would’ve died, it would have been okay.

So after that, I was in a whole other space. 

We’re halfway through the retreat, and I remember going to breakfast. And I came around this corner, and I saw this big grey squirrel on top of this rock. And he was there eating his morning breakfast. Had an acorn in his mouth. And then a couple of minutes later, as I just sat there and watched this squirrel standing completely, completely still, I heard this incredibly cute chirping sound. And it was another squirrel who came running up to the first squirrel and jumped on the rock, and they had this little conversation between each other. They were chirping at each other. And I just had these flashes and created a story inside of my mind that these two squirrels were best friends or lovers or whatever and that they had lived this whole entire life together and just how beautiful it was that in the same way all humans want connection and want love, so do animals.

All life really wants the same thing. And how sad it is when we harm animals or we create suffering in other forms of life. 

Eventually, the first squirrel jumped off the rock and went down this ravine, and the second squirrel sat there as if to say, “Hey, where are you going?” 

This whole time I’m just standing there completely, completely still. And then all of a sudden, the second squirrel came running straight at me because he didn’t realize I was there. It was as if he couldn’t sense my humanness. And I thought to myself, “I better take a step so he doesn’t beeline straight into my leg and accidentally give me rabies or something.” 

So I took a step very slow and compassionately, and it scared the hell out of him, and he went running off in the opposite direction. 

It was a beautiful moment of being able to transcend humanity through stillness. And usually, animals are much more mindful than us as human beings. But I was so present, so still, so aware. I won the mindfulness contest with this particular squirrel.

The momentum continued. 

I went to do my yogi job. And I remember cutting this cucumber. And as I’m cutting this cucumber, I’m just lost in the beauty of the green and all the different shades of green and yellow and the texture the cucumber. And I’m thinking about how this cucumber was grown and how somebody planted a seed and somebody had to water it and somebody had to eat food to give them the energy to do this and just feeling the whole interdependence and connection of life all through this cucumber. 

Enlightenment is falling in love with life. 

And this is what I was feeling, feeling the interconnectedness of all things.

Halfway through our retreat, Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman, came to visit us. And this was phenomenal because this was actually a very small retreat. Some of these retreats have 100 people, 80 people, but our retreat was very, very small. There were only 13 students. 

It was incredible to get to spend time with my meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield, and his wife Trudy in such an intimate setting, to get to meditate with them, to get to be with them during their wonderful enlightening inspiring wisdom-infused dharma talks. And then we also got to sit down and talk with them. 

We would have these interviews with them, and they would check in and ask us about how our meditation practice was going and then offer guidance. And when it came time to me to get to share my meditation experience so far in the retreat, I shared the story about meditating through the earthquake, seeing the squirrels, chopping the cucumber, feeling the interdependence of life. And at the end of it, Jack looked at me, and he said, “Have you ever considered to be a mindfulness teacher?” And this was huge. This is Yoda telling Luke Skywalker, “You’re ready to be a Jedi [laughter].” And I just felt so moved by it. I felt like it was an endorsement. It was an official giving of permission to go and spread these teachings of meditation. 

You know my message is the greatest teacher is the teacher inside of you, and I believe that I don’t technically need somebody else’s permission to tell me to teach. But the fact that Jack did, meant so much, and it really, really moved me to tears.

I remember later that afternoon I was doing my walking meditation. If you’ve never done walking meditation, you pick a stretch of ground that’s about 10 to 20 feet, and you just slowly go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. So I’m doing this walking meditation that same afternoon, and all of a sudden, I see this golf cart zooming around me, just fast-moving object, and I hear this sound. And the golf cart is going over this speed bump, and it took me out of my meditation. 

It was very, very distracting. I take a quick look to see what’s going on, and it turns out it was Jack Kornfield in the golf cart going full speed over this speed bump. It was so hilarious because here’s the Zen master, this incredible dharma teacher, and he’s acting like a child. He’s just totally reckless and having fun driving over this speed bump. And it was very, very endearing and also a great reminder that look, all teachers, myself included, we’re all human. We have weird things about us. We make mistakes. There’s a lot of imperfections really. And that’s part of the human experience. 

Eventually, Jack and Trudy left after a couple of days, and it was sad to see them go. But also, I was incredibly grateful to get to spend time with them in such an intimate setting.

I remember the next day after they left, being at the dining hall after breakfast, and I’m sitting there drinking a morning cup of coffee. And I really couldn’t help but just feel how all the retreat participants, on a deep level, we’re all connected. And everybody was so beautiful and so magnificent in their own uniqueness. And I had this image or this visualization that each person is a wave, but the wave is connected to the ocean on a deeper level. 

“We’ve just forgotten that we all belong to each other.”

-Mother Teresa

And one thing that the retreat reminds you of is our connection. And it helps us to heal this great divide and this separation from each other. 

A lot of the issues that we face as human species is this issue of feeling separate from each other, separate from life and animals, and separate from nature. But we’re all in this together, and the more that we realize that, the more that we begin to transcend suffering and anxiety and stress and fear and greed and depression and the more we begin to cultivate these benevolent qualities like joy and happiness, compassion, kindness, etc., etc.

On day 10, we’re getting towards the end of the retreat, and I’m sitting there meditating. And about halfway through the meditation, all of a sudden, I start to feel my whole body. Every cell in my body started vibrating. And this time it wasn’t an earthquake. This time it was an internal earthquake that was taking place, and I started to feel all this energy just moving from the tailbone, the lower abdominals, up the stomach, towards the heart, towards the throat, and then eventually, towards the forehead and the crown and the head. And like a space rocket taking off, all this energy shot up with so much force and so much energy. My inner focus went from my two eyes to this crown. And then inside my mind, I saw this tunnel. And the tunnel was like a wormhole or a rabbit hole that was black and dark. And I started traveling down this wormhole super, super fast, and I could barely hold on.

It was like moving beyond the speed of light! And then eventually, I came to the end of this tunnel, and there was this explosion of light. And right before that explosion of light, my eyes are closed, I remember seeing inside my mind the neural framework and structure of my whole entire brain. And it looked like an electrical storm taking place. All these flashes of lights pulsating out from all these different branches.

It was a glimpse of the brain and then boom, puff, just light. And then the deepest, deepest, deepest experience of spaciousness and lightness. And it’s hard to put it into words because it’s beyond words. You move beyond the world of form and duality, and you come back to oneness, to wholeness, to a sense of unconditional love. And in that, there’s just no way to fully bring justice to what that’s like. 

But once you’ve had this experience, there’s no turning back. And eventually, when you do come back to your body and you come back to this world of form and back to this world of duality, you bring that experience with you in the same way that a mountain climber goes to the top of a mountain and they had the perspective of seeing the oneness of all the things below them. 

Eventually, they come down the mountain, and they still remember that experience. They still remember that feeling and that sensation and the visuals of what it was like to be on the summit of the mountain. And you carry that with you. And again, you stop falling into this illusion that everything is separate. 

You’ve moved beyond the prison in the cage of your ego and your identity, and you’ve tapped into a part of you, a dimension of you, that’s much, much bigger than that. So you no longer sweat the small stuff, and it puts everything back into perspective.

So after that experience, we’re coming to the climax of the retreat. And I’m in the zone. I’m in it. I’m far away from this identity of Travis. I’ve moved beyond the small self back into the big self. And then it happened to be the full moon on the night of day 11. So I said, “You know what? I’m in the zone. I’m going to meditate all night. It’s not on the schedule, but hell, let’s do this. It’s the full moon. I’m going to go for it. I’m going to keep this meditation awakening party going.” 

So I did. I meditated until 4:00 AM in the morning. And it was tough. I wouldn’t even describe it as being fun or that enjoyable like some of the other meditations. It was tough. 

I’d be meditating. The first hour that I meditated was great. And then I went outside, and I was walking. It was actually pretty cold, but it was beautiful doing walking meditation back and forth, back and forth for about an hour with the full moon and the sky above me up in the mountains.

But I also had a lot of fear coming up. You’d hear these wolves howling throughout the forest, and I would see coyotes. So it felt real, real primal.

Everybody was asleep. Everything was so still. And so it really uncovered and brought up this element of fear which, of course, was all illusionary.

None of it was real. 

“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.”

-Mark Twain

We worry so much. We have so much fear, and 99% of these worries and these fears are completely unjustified. So I had to do what I did all the preceding days, which is just to come back to the breath, trust in the dharma, trust in the practice, and bring the mind back to equanimity and move through those waves of fear and those waves of unease. And eventually, they pass. 

You realize like the sensations pass and are impermanent, what the Buddha called anicca, so are these feelings of fear and these feelings that are associated with negativity.

Once 4:00 AM came around, I went and laid down for a couple of hours and did a laying down meditation and then went to breakfast, and I repeated a whole other full day of meditation. And that was day 12, really, the day where I was like, “All right. I’m deep in this place, deep in this dimension. It’s time to begin to transition back to Travis, back to beginning to prepare for that transition to go back home. 

And I did. And before you know it, we were all leaving the retreat and just feeling so much gratitude for the teachers: Melissa McKay, LC from Vietnam, Jack Kornfield, Trudy Goodman, InsightLA, Bill, the owner of the Big Bear Retreat Center. 

I hope if you listen to this podcast, you watch this video on YouTube — I hope that one day you’ll go do a meditation retreat yourself, whether it’s 3 days, 7 days, 10, days 14 days. 

One of these days, I want to go do a 30-day maybe in Burma or Thailand. There’s just nothing like it. And if you really want to know who you are, then you got to turn your attention inward. 

A lot of what I said may sound very, very weird and bizarre, and I get it. I understand. But if you go and you do these retreats, then you put yourself into the seat of possibility of really beginning to not just know this from hearing it on this podcast or reading in a book but really, really having the experience yourself.

And as they say in India, experience is the real teacher. 

Now, at the same time, you may go on one of these retreats, and you may not have the same experiences that I have. Lauren, my wife and I talk and sometimes share what our experience is like, and they can be very, very different. 

Trust that whatever your experience is, even if it feels challenging or not enjoyable, it’s all good. I experienced many, many meditations and many moments in meditation that was painful and torturous and not fun, but that’s part of the process, meeting the vicissitudes of your practice with a mind equanimous. 

And then if you can do it in your meditation practice, your yoga practice, then you can do it in your life. 

The more people moving through the experience of life with a mind that’s calm, and a heart that’s loving, compassionate, and caring, ultimately, the better off this world is going to be. 

So let’s wrap up now with the ultimate prayer. 

If it feels right, you can bring your hands to prayer position in front of your heart. 

“May we bring strength where there is weakness.

May we bring courage where there is fear. 

May we bring compassion where there is suffering, and 

may we bring light where there is darkness. 

May we be ultimate.”