Trudy Goodman

From Trudy

Writing Retreat

I’m spending this month at Jack’s house on a writing retreat. Yesterday I finished a piece I’d been working on and, I had to admit, it’s not very good. This is the opinion of the inner critic, my own personal editor who looks over my shoulder and remarks, “No one would want to read this, just hang it up.” While I suspect this voice is intended to protect me from humiliation or rejection, it’s demoralizing to hear. Even if I don’t always believe it. This time, it gets my attention.

When discouragement sets in, as you know, it drags up other losses. First, random ones: the cavernous mall where I pick up new glasses is almost empty. People are going to lose their jobs. As I spool out this litany of reasons to succumb to discouragement (I haven’t even mentioned politics, prejudice, poverty, planet), I think of all my writer friends. Most agree, “Writing is hard.”

I know it’s a huge privilege to have this opportunity to take a month and write. I’m grateful during the day, honest! But during the night… well, last night I escaped. In my dream, I arrive at a meditation retreat I’d wanted to attend before committing to write. I’m soooo happy to be at the retreat! It’s in Hawaii, imagine that! Bird songs, rustling coconut palms, mourning doves cooing in the soft island breezes! Of course, everyone is glad to see me. I’m overjoyed to see Devaji, the teacher. He’s fun and funny. Perceptive and wise. Naturally, he’s thrilled to see me, too. I sense my spirit friend Saucha/Gavin’s jubilant presence. I feel completely at home. I wake up lighthearted and refreshed.

It’s so helpful to see how the mind works. Feeling discouraged or delighted is just a temporary condition, like a dream. I can hold my self judgment in compassion and not believe it. My states of mind can change in a flash. Praise and blame, joy and sorrow come and go. Mindfulness sees it all with kindness and understanding. Aren’t we lucky to have this marvelous practice?

Lessons? Take-aways? The changing conditions of life bring about different states of mind and heart. How are you relating to what’s happening now? What do you see in the ups & downs of your life?