What is Your Inner Most Request?
This year my vision board includes attending three meditation retreats. I am currently filling out the application for my first retreat, a five day residential meditation and study period. I’ll be meditating five to six hours a day, attending group study sessions, sleeping and eating at the retreat center. I am feeling daunted.
I have been meditating now for a few years. Please know, I am no guru, no saint, no spiritual guide.
I practice Buddhism but meditation is not necessarily Buddhist. Many faith traditions, including Christianity practice meditation. It’s also quite possible to meditate and not attach the practice to a religious tradition at all.
Meditation for me started as a pursuit to clear my mind of negativity. I wanted to be happy. I quickly became frustrated and thought, “I can’t meditate, my mind is too busy.” A meditation teacher gave instruction on this frustration and advised, “Do not to worry if you keep having thoughts. Just watch the thoughts.” It seemed like an exercise in futility and the benefits weren’t clear to me, but I was stubborn and a bit desperate—I stayed with meditation.
I am most certainly changed because of meditation and the benefits have been vast. Yet I’m getting hung up on a question on the retreat application.
“Please describe your inner-most request for this retreat.”
Well, ideally I want relief from the busyness and worry of my mind. But I know what I’ll get is more—more thoughts, more fear. There’ll be no errands to run and no Facebook to distract—so I’ll have more. I have sat on the meditation cushion often enough to know this—the cushion is not an escape.
Frankly, I’d welcome an “ah ha!” moment. Honestly, I wish I could pontificate with some eloquence on how I’d like to gain insight on a particular personality trait of mine or work on training my brain to focus on koans, Buddhist riddles.
I notice my mind darting. What do I want to get out of this retreat?
I wonder if I’ll crack. I wonder what cracking would look like this time around.
I experience doubt and fear. I worry my body will not be able to sit still. I worry about the food. I worry I won’t be able to sleep and my roommate will snore.
I tell myself—“Be here now. Here. Now.” I focus on my breath.
I imagine the retreat will have interesting people to get to know. I imagine how much more disciplined I’ll become. I know I’ll gain understanding. I know I’ll gain humility. I know I’ll practice self-love.
The answer comes to me—“What is my inner most request for this experience?”—The answer is simple. I want to intimately know my inner most self. I want to spend some time with myself, this sometimes stranger, and make friends.
I want time with no fixing, no building, no critiquing—just being.
We grow and change directions. Our story may be dynamic and many layers. Our lives can seem complicated and our path unclear.
I invite you to pause, step out of your story, and ask yourself, “What is my inner most request for this life, right now?” Lean in to the question, listening and pausing. Then lean in to the answer.