Thoughts on one-day retreat with Gilbert Gutierrez

Thoughts on one-day retreat with Gilbert Gutierrez       By Ross Bowns

Being that I work most weekends, I was excited to hear that I had a free weekend for the retreat with Gilbert. It had been a long time since I went to a retreat and I was eager to go and practice, to learn more, and to be with other practitioners.  I remembered attending a retreat that was conducted by Gilbert some years back.  I felt I had learned much then and wanted to do it again.

At the same time, I have to admit that I was a bit worried I would struggle with the meditation practice during the retreat, as it had been a long time since I meditated regularly for any extended period of time. In fact, to say that I practiced periodically or irregularly would be a generous assessment of my practice. 

I am glad I attended.

Gilbert explained practicing meditation in simple clear terms that I could understand. Though I have practiced for a while, I still feel that I am new at it and feel I have so much more to learn.  I often find myself confused by the concepts when learning about Chan and practicing but not by Gilbert’s talks.

The best lesson I got from this retreat was the simplest one - I need to practice regularly.  Often I tell myself that I am too busy, that I don’t have time, or I am too tired.  These are excuses I tell myself to avoid practicing meditation in my daily life. The retreat was a reminder that I was letting my mind control me and that this was a hindrance to me working on quieting the mind. 

Gilbert also talked about attachments and letting go of them. The time meditating allowed me to practice letting go.  Besides, I was once again reminded that meditation has many benefits. It is the soul food for your mind and body and could transform your life. Though these messages were simple, they were good for me to hear as they can be difficult to do.  

I will admit that I struggled a bit during the one-day meditation retreat. After all, I had not been practicing consistently. I am glad that I had the day to work on it. One of the things I am learning is that meditation cannot just be talked about or thought on, it must be experienced. The only way to experience it is to practice - even starting with 5 minutes a day. I learned some concepts to help with practicing meditation and I am very glad that I took a day to focus and practice.  

It was such a good experience and I find myself practicing more regularly now.