One Week Spiritual Retreat – Day 1

Instead of grabbing my phone when I awoke to check the news, I started my spiritual practices.

I started with “The Mind Illuminated”. For those unfamilair, this is where you focus on the physical sensation of your breath at the tip of your nose as you inhale and exhale as you count your breaths from one to ten and then start over at one. It sounds simple because it is, but it’s not easy.

The point is to train all the different sub-components of your mind to focus on one thing – your breath – which ultimately leads you to be centered, calm, joyful but the ultimate benefits are self-realization and enlightenment. I highly recommend the book and practice to all.

I started a timer for one minute. It was difficult and I experienced dullness and my mind wandered. I did it for another minute. And another minute. And then another and another. I ended up doing around ten one-minute sessions and by the end of it there was nearly no wandering or dullness. I then did it for 2 minutes. 3 minutes. Then 5 minutes. Then 10 minutes. By the end of 10 minutes I had no dullness or wandering and I was much better at defending and recovering from it. I’d say I was at Stage 3 most of the session.

I moved onto doing the practices I’m learning in the astral projection book. Nothing significant happened there. It was just another training session which is fine. I experienced the usual symptoms I have – a spinning sensation and seeing odd shapes in my mind’s eye.

I was mindful at work. I performed walking meditation all day.

Once I got home, I tended to the family and dog and then sat in the living room to do my spiritual practices again.

I started with something new for me. I let my mind think about what it wanted to instead of trying to be mindful. It went wild. Instead of my mind just jumping around to random mundane thoughts which I thought would happen, I had intense, creative, scary, dangerous thoughts. It was exhilarating. I let my mind wander for ten minutes. I think I’ll do that at the beginning of every session to let my mind get out whatever it’s thinking about before I start mindfulness.

After that, I did more “The Mind Illuminated” and astral projection practice. Nothing to note about either except for one thing on projecting.

When I set my timer on my phone, and then close my eyes, I can see the blackened rectangular outline of the phone. This works for anything. Look at anything for a little while and then close your eyes and you’ll see its shape in your mind’s eye until it fades after a couple seconds.

I thought it’d be a good visualization exercise if I would try to hold the rectangular outline in my mind’s eye and try to not let it fade. I tried making the rectangular outline sharper in my mind’s eye and then something happened. Everything in the outline dissappeared and a street view appeared in full, crisp color and detail. I usually don’t see in color or detail in my mind. My visualization is more based on feelings so I don’t actually “see” much in my mind’s eye so, boy, this was this different. I could see the street, a couple parked cars, and a lamp post framing the scene. It lasted a couple seconds and just as I was focusing on it in wonderment, it dissappeared. Pretty wild.

Overall, it was a great day. I was centered and calm but it was overshadowed by a deep sadness. I say “deep sadness” instead of “I was sad” because I don’t identify with the emotion, I just let it come and I sit with it. I’ve learned that I don’t have to analyze or fix most emotions because they simply come and go day-by-day.

The sadness was at its worse when I got out of work. That’s when I usually call my dad but I’m not talking with him all week during this spiritual retreat. It really hit me how much he means to me and how much it’ll hurt when he’s no longer with us.

I did more practice right before bed. Nothing out of the ordinary to report there. Just more practice which is great.

Day 1 is done.