In the first session of the December Drop In Retreat, we explored our past year from the biggest themes to the smallest moments. As the makers of meaning, we often create big themes about what is going on in our lives. Often these themes are based on what we feel should or should not be happening. Perhaps we are in a hero's journey, perhaps we are caught in a cycle of chaos or tragedy, perhaps it is the year we take the wheel, perhaps it is the year when every challenge is being thrown our way, or perhaps it is the year we are finally rising.
When we identify with big themes or narratives, we live our lives through our mental imagination, whether it's working for us or against us. As humans, we are storytellers, and so big themes can inspire us, give us a sense of meaning, and create momentum and belonging. They can also equally entrap us, narrow our vision, or put us on the hook. Ultimately, the art is to remember we are the storytellers not the story. No collection of moments lived across a one year period ever holds only one narrative.
"This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” - Mary Oliver
Remember, this lifelong great poet's favorite thing to do was walk alone in the forest, just taking everything in with all of her senses. No notion of what you should or should not have done or been by now. Merely, the invitation to be present with your sensory awareness to all that is before you: an invitation to participate in the eternal present. In this space, we are not only in our mental imagination. We are experiencing with our bodies and our hearts, too. This transcends chronological time and, often, our small sense of self.
Because all we have had, have, and will ever have is now.
So, we explored the vignettes and brushstroke small moments of our year, too. We reached back all the way to January. The small moments of interaction, connection and sensory experience that texturize and layer our lives, some of which may have nothing to do with our big themes. Also, the sights, sounds, smells, touches and tastes that pepper our daily existence. When we are filtering our lives or our years through big meaning narratives, what is happening or has not happened, these are first to slip from our awareness. To bring our attention back to the moment is to ground our meaning and sensitize our aliveness.
My invitation was to experiment returning your attention to the moment to moment experience of life. The Drop In Retreat will continue in 2024.
ALL MY LOVE,