An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
A Cherokee Legend
Welcome to the world of Michael Hallock; a meditation retreat leader, spa enthusiast and all ’round general healer. A man who breeds serenity and oozes calm as he weaves stories like this into his mindful meditation workshops.
But where to begin? There’s so much to share, Happies.
I met Michael when the amazing staff up at The Golden Door Elysia alerted me of his impending arrival. He visits there often, fusing his knowledge of meditation into their already transformative health retreat a few times a year. Think of it as an add on, a series of classes that you can tack onto your stay if you want to learn about meditation, breath awareness and living in the present.
So up I went, with Alex eagerly by my side, to experience what it is that Michael had to offer. As an avid fan of meditation I’m forever interested in improving my skills, learning new ways to sit quietly and clear the mind, and most importantly, tricks to keep me going back more regularly. Because hey, it’s hard to make time for it everyday.
Here I am with Michael, sans makeup feeling alive and revived!
Michael’s belief involves bringing that sense of awareness that you get through classical meditation (i.e sitting in silence) into your everyday life, thoughts, activities, memories and emotions as it’s the key to becoming more at ease with both yourself and the world around you. It gives you a choice to act a certain way, rather than spending your life reacting to external factors. Sounds good, right?
The weekend was made up of a number of sessions that Michael interweaved into The Golden Door’s already vast retreat. We woke up at 6am for Tai Chi, followed by a 5km walk around the golf course, came back for breakfast and then leisurely strolled to meditation class, which involved either learning about breathing and classical meditation, or mindfulness practices. We did diaphragmatic breathing, Yoga Nidra, mindful eating, mindful walking and even a session in the famed Watsu pool in the spa at The Golden Door. Basically, we covered a lot in just two days.
So what can you take home from all this, Happies? Well, for me, it was the mindfulness practices that were new, different and completely practical. Of course, the meditation is an important aspect, but Michael’s approach to take this one step further is what set his retreat apart from others I’d been to in the past.
According to Michael, “Mindfulness practice incorporates what we cultivate in stillness: the ability to be a relaxed witness to our experience…The point of mindful practice is not necessarily to ‘think good thoughts’ or be comfortable, it is to reveal whatever is in our experience in that moment. Like it or not!”
Aha! It’s about LIVING IN THE MOMENT!
So how can you get a little bit of this goodness at home? Well, try one of these two activities we did at the retreat.
1. Mindful Eating: This was so much fun. Grab a piece of fruit. We used raspberries, passionfruit, orange… anything goes. Now, grab the fruit, twirl it around in your fingers, look at it, focus on it, admire it. Then, bring it your lips, smell it, then pop it in your mouth. DON’T BITE YET. Swirl it around your mouth, feel it on your tongue. OK, now bite into it. Taste it, relish it, enjoy it. I promise you this will be the best piece of fruit you’ve ever eaten. It might also make you realise how mindlessly you eat your food now. As I was enjoying this exercise I realised that I was always too busy in my head to truly enjoy the flavour of food. Now, I try to eat mindfully all the time. It’s tough, but the intention is there.
2. Mindful Walking: This exercise is about exploring the outside world with the curiosity of a child. Imagine there’s no such thing as time, and pick a route that you take regularly. If I was at home, it would be Centennial Park, but for you it might be around the block, from home to the bus stop, even on the bus in the morning…again, the value is in the process, not the where or why. Now, take a deep breath in and take a step. Repeat this process, focussing on your breath as you step, breathing and stepping in sync. Go slowly! Then, stop controlling your breath, just let it inhale and exhale the way it wants to, as you continue to focus on your breath as well as the environment around you. Look at the trees, the ground, feel the grass below your feet. EXPLORE! It’s amazing what you see when you’re really looking. Try it.
As I mentioned, the weekend also covered lots of practical advice on breathing, meditation, living in the present moment and bringing this sense of awareness (or being a witness to your thoughts) into your everyday life. The good news is that Michael will be back at The Golden Door again this year, and I highly recommend making it there to experience a retreat with him. You won’t regret it.
Tell me Happies…
Have you ever done a meditation retreat?
How are you at bringing mindfulness into your everyday life?
Like the sound of this?