Hi guys. And welcome to another play time session.I’m not sure if this is actually going to be a playtime session. I’m not going to do a Q&A. This week instead, I just really felt compelled tonight to share with you what I’m doing and where I’m at, at the moment.
So I’m not sure if this qualifies as a playtime session. I think maybe it might be more of a Daring session where I just take a moment to get really real.
And so right now, I have returned to one of my most favourite places in the world which is a place called Guayrapa which is a retreat centre on top of a mountain, in a small village, kind of near the coast, a couple hours south of Barcelona, in Spain.
And this is where I spent six months meditating full time when I first discovered meditation and where I became a monk and where I trained with the Ishaya’s of The Bright Path. I graduated from that course three years ago this week. And so, quite nicely really this week I’ve returned for the first time. And I’m planning to spend all of September here.
It’s been a really magical few days coming back to this beautiful place. And I just want to set the scene for you a little bit. Right now I’m actually sitting on the roof outside of my home for the next month. Tonight the sky is clear and there is a full moon and I’m staring right at it right now. And I just had to come outside onto the roof and record this episode. So you might hear a little bit of wind. There’s a small breeze coming through. I’m hoping you hear the crickets because there is a little background symphony of crickets going on.
And this place in terms of a retreat is kind of everything you would want or hope for a retreat to be. The village that it’s in is really small, it’s called Mont-Ral. There’s probably less than 100 houses in this village. It’s based on the top of a mountain and right at the top of the mountain is this amazing old church. I’ve never had a chance to go onto it yet because it’s always been locked. I’m not quite sure how old it is that I will take some photos and I will share them on the show notes so be sure to link through to lilab.life if you want to check them out and then the retreat centre itself. It’s called Guayrapa and it’s on quite a large property, kind of on a sloping hill and we have a dining room and a student lounge which is where all our meals are prepared and we get food three times a day. Breakfast. Lunch and Dinner.
All mainly vegetarian food. They have this beautiful organic garden just below the kitchen so a lot of our salads and fresh vegetables come straight from the garden. Below the garden, there’s actually this kind of clifftop lookout that you can walk along to and then above the student lounge you head up the hill and the first thing you come across is a beautiful little yurt which is just a lovely place to spend time and meditate, particularly in the afternoons.
Go a little bit further up the hill you’ll find a swimming hole and it’s September now it’s just starting to cool down. The weather’s just about to turn slightly into autumn but I dipped my toe in the pool today because the sun was out, really for the first time this week and it’s not quite warm enough.
And then as you go further up the hill, we get to our meeting room where we spend most of our time meditating and have meetings a couple times a day. Normally one during the morning and then a big meeting during the evening with our teachers. These meetings are an opportunity for people to share their discoveries and experiences of their meditation that day. And for the teachers to give guidance and students to ask questions and for everybody to kind of just learn and discover more. And that’s also where we often will receive homework and things and focuses to place our attention on as we are meditating. And so the whole point of being here is basically to meditate as much as possible.
But it’s not a silent retreat as such. It’s very social. You get to meet everybody, you get to get to know people and connect. But it’s also about closing your eyes and kind of in a way getting down to business.
And by that what do I mean? I just mean about closing your eyes and going inward. And it’s really only through extended periods of closing our eyes and meditating that we get a chance to start to dissolve not just the stress of today, which is what we do when we when we’re at home and we meditate you know 2 or 3 times a day, for 20 minutes at a time -that’s to help us deal with the stress of that day, or what’s going on all that week. But when we’re here meditating for more extended periods of time it’s about starting to dissolve the layers of stress and beliefs and grooves and stories that we have about our lives it’s about dissolving a lifetime’s worth of stress.
And so everybody arrived here on the first of September. And some people are staying for two weeks. Some people are staying a month. Some people are here for three months. And some people have already been here for three months and they’re staying for more. But there was only if only a handful of those who were here last month that have carried on to this month so it’s been kind of a fresh new group. There are about 80 people. About 25 percent here have already completed a six month course and are meditation teachers and the other 75 percent are students and they’re all part way through their six month mastery course. You don’t have to do it all at once.
And so everyone is coming in fresh. That’s meant there’s been quite a lot of energy moving. Everyone in the first few days, as you start to wind down they experience a lot of fatigue, a lot of sleepiness, a lot of tiredness. There are headaches, there’s trouble sleeping. There have been bad dreams and it just sometimes takes a couple of days for just things to settle down. And I’ve certainly been experiencing that as well. But finally last night during last night’s meeting I finally started to feel some of the fogginess that I’ve been experiencing not just this week but the last few weeks and couple of months, feel that that fogginess start to lift.
I’ve had a lot of thoughts and I’ve been pretty wrapped up in those thoughts. I’ve been aware for a while that I’ve been wrapped up in and focussed on the do and the doing. In the never-ending to-do list of life and the never ending to-do list of having a new podcast.
And forgetting how to just be. And so that’s kind of why I’ve come back. This month is just to remember how to simply be. And so yes finally last night and over the last 24 hours I’ve started to experience that kind of simple state of simply being and reconnecting to stillness and silence and remembering how easy it really can be to simply choose that. And one of the first homeworks that we’ve been given is to be really super gentle with our meditation.
And so we have these meditation techniques and we call them Ascension Attitudes. But I think it would probably apply to any type of meditation technique that you might be using and that is basically simply to use the technique and to introduce the technique as gently as possible. Almost like you’re trying to place a feather on to a pond of water so gently that you created no ripples. And so that’s something I’ve been playing with the last couple days as has everybody here. And then people were standing up this evening to share what they had discovered about being super gentle with their meditation techniques and something I noticed that they were saying was one of the results of acting in that way or approaching meditation in that way, is that they notice that with the simple act of being gentle with the meditation technique they suddenly became more gentle with everything. They were suddenly feeling more gentleness in their lives and the people around them and being more gentle with themselves, more self-compassionate, and more self-love.
And I noticed as they were sharing that that that hadn’t been my experience. I have been thinking my techniques with gentleness too. But that’s all.
And it’s not that I’m like I’m comparing our experiences and thinking, “Oh man they’re having such a better experience than me!”. But I just noticed that perhaps I’m not playing big enough, that I haven’t really committed myself to this act of gentleness and that perhaps there’s a lot more that can be done with that, that can be experienced from it. And that’s really exciting to me and that’s why I love this type of environment, where you learn so much from others. And these are students who have been sharing this, who haven’t completed the full six month course and I’m learning from them! And that’s amazing and beautiful and I love it. And I don’t feel any regret or badness in any way about it. I’m just like, well thank you. Thank you so much for the reminder and for showing me where maybe I can step up more. So that’s what I’m really looking forward to playing with over the next couple of days, leaning into this idea of gentleness, more and more.
So I just really wanted to share that with you tonight. But there’s one other topic I feel compelled to talk about and that’s because I’m literally sitting here on the roof staring up at the full moon and looking at this full moon.
It brings me back to when I first arrived at this place four years ago now. And when I first rolled up here I was super green. I was super innocent. I had done this weekend course like nine months earlier. I had learnt to meditate. I had learned this meditation. It was called Ascension. I really didn’t know anything much more about it. I just knew that my friend had come to this place in Spain and spent six months here. I’d been living in the south of France all summer. I had tried my hand at working in the Superyacht industry. I was strung out. I was tired. My body was wrecked and I noticed I still wasn’t all that happy.
So I decided to pop down to this place that I’d heard of just south of Barcelona in Spain and try this meditation retreat out for a couple of weeks to see if I could maybe finally just start a consistent practice because my practice was by no means consistent.
And I didn’t know what the Ishaya’s were. And everybody talked about this thing or this person, I wasn’t really sure, that they called a Maharishi and I had no idea what they were talking about. They’d have these meetings every evening and most of time I’d walk out of there and I had no fricken idea what the hell just went on. It was like they were talking another language. Half the time they were actually talking in another language! Everything was translated. So everything took twice as long to say.
They’d have these meetings every evening and most of time I’d walk out of there and I had no fucking idea what the hell just went on. It was like they were talking another language. Half the time they were actually talking in another language! Everything was translated. So everything took twice as long to say.
And people would go, “Oh my god, that was amazing! I learnt so much” and I’m just like what on earth am I doing here?! And every morning we would have a small group of us who were new, that had just arrived here for the first time and we’d spend some time with this guy called Manyu and I’m planning to hopefully get Manyu on the show, cause you’re going to love him.
He’s awesome, he’s crazy. He’s from Vegas. He’s loud. And his job is to work with the newbie’s and to help them discover this thing we often call stillness, or silence, or awareness, or connection to source, or there’s so many things you can call it. And anyway everyone would close their eyes and they would describe what they were experiencing and they would say things like “It’s deep and it’s wide, it’s intense and it’s wonderful. And it’s home. It’s like coming home.”
I would close my eyes and I feel like it’s dark. It’s like looking at the inside of my eyelids. And that’s pretty much all I see.
And then one day I went to do this exercise and the day before I was feeling like I was not that into it and I had no idea what you’re talking about. This is stupid and I can’t do it. And for some reason the next day I was like, Alright whatever. I’ll give it a shot. I’ll play your silly game.
So I wasn’t taking it seriously at all. And I closed my eyes and it was like everything suddenly went whooosh!
And it was like everything disappeared.
And then all of a sudden I found myself saying, “Oh my God, it’s like so wide. It’s completely different. It’s not normally like this. It’s quiet it’s peaceful.It’s calm.
I don’t know really what it is. But it feels pretty damn good.
Yeah. So it was pretty amazing. And this was one night and we were sitting in the yurt. And as the meeting finished I walked out of the yurt. And just like tonight I looked out and the moon was full.And in that moment I recognized and realized that I did know this experience, that I had experienced it before.
And in that moment I recognized and realized that I did know this experience, that I had experienced it before.
It took me back to a memory three or four years earlier just a couple of months after my boyfriend died. And I had a friend move into my boyfriend’s house kind of to keep me company for a bit. And we went to a yoga class one night and at the start of the yoga class the yoga teacher said as we’re standing on the mat:
“I just want you to just let go of your day and just arrive here at the mat”, and in that moment the day just dropped away.And then she said, “Now just let go of the whole week”. And in that moment the whole week just dropped away. “So now just let go of the whole month”.
And in that moment the month just disappeared. And finally she says, “Just let go of the whole year” and I was like, “Oh man, the year I’ve had!”, and the year just disappeared.
And I didn’t recognize it quite at the time. I didn’t know what it was. But everything just felt better. And I did that whole yoga class pretty much with my eyes closed. And when the class finished I couldn’t talk. I didn’t want to speak. I didn’t want to break the silence, beautiful bubble that I was in. And fortunately my friend had driven us and I just looked at her and I said nothing. And I just got in the car and she drove us home. And I said nothing. And we got home and I said nothing. And I walked up the stairs to my bedroom and there was a picture window above the stairs and looked out and I saw the full moon.
And I sat there for about 20 minutes just staring at this moon, just bathing in that silence, in that still, silence, space where I was not in pain anymore.
I was not in grief.
There was nothing wrong.
In that moment there was nothing wrong with me. There was nothing wrong with my life and it was just such a relief after the last few months that I’d had. And so that night I walked out of that yurt after feeling or believing I had experienced the stillness, the silence for the first time and glanced up at the moon and remembered.
That I knew what this thing was that I had experienced before.
And so tonight here I am sitting on the roof staring at them remembering again….
Wow. So that was a really different kind of episode. I can’t even begin to explain where it came from. I believe that’s what’s known as a divine creative download. I’m not sure I’ve ever really created in that way before but it was pretty fun. I had actually been trying to record this episode for a couple of days and it was not flowing easily until just then. When I got out of the way and just let what was there, be said.
So I’d really like to know what you thought about it. Did it even make sense to you? Was it of any value to you? Let me know. You can e-mail me privately at Lila@Lilab.life or pop over to the show notes page and leave a comment.
Finally, before I leave you today I wanted to remind you again about the More series of videos over on YouTube. I’m going to have the producer of these short films, Sally Lewis, on the show in the next couple of weeks. And she has very generously made these videos available for free on YouTube.
I especially encourage you to check out the one on self-love featuring Dhira. Dhira is actually my roommate here on retreat at the moment and we are even staying in the same house where she filmed this video. In her story, she shares her beautiful artwork as well as her journey of being adopted and how her belief that she wasn’t worthy of love affected her life until she discovered meditation and the infinite love within. You can link to all 11 of these short films by going to lilab.life/more.
And with that I want to express my gratitude to you for listening and praise you for your willingness to show up, play big, be courageous, find peace and live happy.