I slip off to the Juice Factory for a mango smoothie at 8 am. The all day meditation retreat is scheduled to start at 9 am. We meditate 4 sets of 25 minutes before breaking for lunch. Salad and lentil soup which we eat mindfully.

A mindful walking meditation follows lunch where we walk very slowly for 25 minutes. After two more 25 minute meditations I decide to sit out the next one. Instead I lie in the hammock. I sit through two more 25 minute sessions. At 4:30 pm we break our noble silence and pass the talking stick to allow each one of us to share our experience.

Another salad and soup is served for dinner. I have a 1/2 hour before the sweat lodge is set to start. The fire to heat the rocks has been burning since 3 pm.

16 people show up for the sweat ceremony. We smudge using palo santo and sage before entering the lodge on our hands and feet. I am the second last person in. Women enter first. There are slightly more women than men.

Bernie explains the process before the red hot rocks are laid in the center. Each rock is anointed with tobacco. Once the rocks are in place the door is closed and water is thrown on the rocks. The temperature quickly rises as some drumming and singing begins. In no time sweat is dripping off me. I discover that inhaling by mouth and exhaling by the nose is the most comfortable. I stay upright through the first “round” when the door is opened and fresh cool air rushes in.

More red hot stones are brought in for the prayer “round”. Every person says a prayer out loud going clockwise. It’s hotter than before and someone launches into a long prayer. I start feeling anxious and wish she would wrap up her prayer. We move on. It feels very hot. I’ve laid down to feel cool mother earth when Bernie launches into a very long prayer to push envelope. I start humming just to push through the discomfort. The door opens and I follow Jason out. There were two more rounds to go but the cool outside shower won out.

Only minutes later disco like music starts blasting through the normally cottage like quietness.
I did some remote computer work and started getting frustrated when the program stopped working properly. What normally would take a few minutes turned into the hour. My tolerance for the loud music was decreasing. I got to bed a 11 pm and fell asleep within a few minutes as I released the frustration. I woke up one more time and the music was still going but once again I was asleep within minutes.