We have just returned from a place and a time where magic happens, the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York for what they call "Family Week."
I'd like to share a few of the dot points of what was magical for me on this five night, four and a half day retreat and I'll make a separate blog post with what I shared in gratitude at the closing circle of our "Everyday Dharma" course I was in with Lama Willa Miller because I think it explains my personal reaction best. I could write a book about this experience so my intention will be to continue to blog occasionally about how I am incorporating some of the lessons I worked with during this week of practice.
- If felt like magic walking into this space and these people because it was so similar to a family camp experience that my older children were able to experience for many years- Lake Geneva Summer Assembly- and in so many ways it instantaneously felt like familiar and like I was coming home.
|understanding it will be wholesome local, homegrown vegan and vegetarian food all week|
- Instead of any jealousy or envy, when I was explaining the comparison of both spaces to my 19 year old, he could only express delight that his younger siblings were getting this type of experience. And now he wants to work Omega during his summer break next year.
|Fode- phenomenal drummer from West Africa|
- There is a Springfield person, Rhiannon, actually working at Omega now- we had interfaced at a women's conference previously . . . It was great to see her in this environment
|we ran into each other on the garden path the first day . . . serendipity|
- At the end of the first day, all of our children asked if they could come back every year and make this a ritual in their lives.
|First night heading to supper: sense their fear of the new environment? Not!|
- The amazing teacher that allowed our class, which came from a variety of religious traditions or no religious tradition, to learn how to incorporate this profound practice into our everyday life and into any religious or spiritual practice was magical in her gifted ability to gently guide and teach our group.
|My teacher Lama Willa Miller|
- For me after years of studying mindfulness, meditating, and attempting to practice compassion it was the perfect environment and teaching at the perfect time in my life for very many profound reasons-- and it all came together in a magical way.
|Baz's photography class got us during a walking meditation- me on the left|
- The space that allows the children and teens to bond with others and have enriching learning experiences and wild adventures while their parents are doing the same (and can relax with the knowledge that their children are being well taken care of) is almost other-wordly and such a gift for parents AND their kids.
|Insect house building|
|Magnificent storyteller Regina Carpenter|
- All three got to be "the daring young kids on the flying trapeze." Hard to believe, but think about it-- facing your fear, being in the moment, experiencing exhilaration: priceless.
Freya and Peter Gold
- At the closing ceremony a very sweet woman sat by me and we talked about our children and experience and she mentioned she had taught a workshop last year. She was called up as part of the ceremony to lead us in a chant that incorporated chants from a variety of traditions starting with om mani padme hum, a Tibetan chant of compassion, (the bracelet I wear to remind myself to be compassionate) and ended with Gloria from the Christian tradition--eventually all being sung in unison. Her voice was beautiful and the sound of the melding of a room full of voices resonating was a magical experience. The night before I had watched as her youngest beautiful daughter had ended her performance with her class on African drumming & dance and came off the stage and fell into the embrace of her older teenaged sister who expressed her pride and sat and cradled her younger sister like a baby. I was move to tears and wished I had taken a picture and was happy to hear when her mom and I spoke of this that she had captured this on camera and she expressed gratitude that I was able to experience that moment as well- duly noting that, of course, that wasn't always the dynamic between her daughters at home. Incidentally, this beautiful mother-singing-chanting-spirit was the actress Maggie Wheeler from Friends (she played Chandler's girlfriend Janice) among many other credits, and yes, in real life she has a spirited giggle and a glow of joy. I just checked out her website and encourage you to do the same. I can only imagine that her workshops would be transformative. I'm glad my son captured the chant on tape so I can go back to that and be in that moment again and again.
|Maggie Wheeler leading chant- Atticus and Freya on right from their performance|
- Elizabeth Lesser who is cofounder of Omega and dreamed Family Week 25 years ago is a best selling author and several of my classmates insisted I get her book Broken Open and read it as they had the opportunity to hear her do a reading from it; with the three children I was not able to attend. She was the touchpoint of the week and she has a newer book out as well and I can't wait to read them both. You can find them HERE. Blessings to her for having the dream of Omega Family Week.
Goodbye OMEGA-- we hope to carry you with us in our heart and see you again next year! Thank you.
Sebastian 13, Atticus 6, Freya 10 and me at the Sanctuary