I've always wanted to attend a mediation retreat after I took classes many years ago, but wasn't sure I could commit to a whole week of it. When I found out about the Daylong Mindfulness Retreat with Dr Sharn Rocco I signed up straight away.
The retreat was held at the South Brisbane Sailing Club in West End. I was surprised at how noisy the location was and it took a leap of faith to try to relax being surrounded by the unusual noises. The day is about learning a variety of formal and informal mindfulness practices.
I was surprised by the people who turned up. No one was dressed like they were a hippy or sporting the latest fitspo trends. The group was made up of everyday people of various ages and included two men.
We began the day by introducing ourselves and then we committed to not talking for the rest of the retreat. I did find this unusual for a little while as I wanted to ask questions, but this urge soon passed.
Sharn talked about what mindfulness is and then stepped us through a body scan exercise. She said we needed to 'learn to be our own best friend'.
Then we were led through some basic yoga like stretches on the floor. At this point someone did fall asleep as I could hear snoring. This was fine to do, but isn't considered meditation.
Dr Sharn Rocco
Sharn talked about some of the ways to sit when meditating which was something I had not learnt. There are lots of adaptions to the tradition cross-legged position, such as using firm pillows and bolsters or purpose made stools or chairs.
We were then given instruction on mindful walking and were allowed to take a stroll in the nearby park along the Brisbane River. I enjoyed this break in the fresh air.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear we would be getting a whole hour for lunch, where we were to practice mindful eating and to take a mindful walk around the nearby Oxleigh Park.
At the end of the day we were allowed to talk again and were encouraged to ask questions. We talked about our favourite meditation teachers. Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron and Jon Kabat-Zinn were mentioned. We then went around the group and most people said they felt incredibly relaxed and peaceful, and some members resonated with the practice of loving kindness towards themselves.
There are so many benefits to meditation and I think it should be taught in schools. It improves your cognitive flexibility, stress reduction, decreases anxiety and depression, and improves your focus and concentration.
The retreat is ideal for people who do not want to commit to a week-long retreat, who are new to the practice of meditation or seasoned meditators. The retreat doesn't delve in to religion so any one can attend no matter what your beliefs are.
Sharn holds Daylong Mindfulness Retreats in various locations along the Eastern coastline of Australia. Please join her Mindful Works Facebook page to hear about upcoming events.