It has been almost a year since my first retreat at Moon Cabin. I shared about my adventures and the lessons learned (click here to read about that powerful experience). With my 36th birthday approaching, I found myself longing for a retreat from my normal routine. Longing for the quiet space on the river, and longing to share this with a very special person in my life, my son.
At six years old, Shayne may not make the best meditation retreat companion. He is after all six, but his depth and timeless maturity made me think it was worth a shot. My expectations for this retreat of sorts did not include the hours of mediation and yoga that I created last time, but I knew it would be just as rich since I would get to share it with my son.
We arrived at Moon Cabin in the afternoon. I open the door and unpacked the provisions for our brief stay. Frame drums, food, clothing, a deck of cards, a couple books and a bag of party favors that Shayne received at a birthday party he had just come from. Just the essentials which still required a couple trips to and from the car. We settled in to the space. The space is familiar to Shayne and I as it was our home for a few weeks this summer. This has been a year of major transitions for us both, new home, an end to the marriage of nine years between myself and Shayne’s father, and even an end to the job that sustained me the past few years. It is wild when I reflect where I was a year ago as I ventured to this space to find clarity in my life.
That retreat the most powerful storm of the winter raged outside while I did every meditation I knew to find peace and stillness inside myself. I smiled at the complete shift that has lead me back to the Moon Cabin on the mildest Fall day that I can recall of all the birthdays of my lifetime. So much has happened in this past year to bring me to this space. I began Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training at the start of this year and the practice I was playing with last year became my intense work and focus. Upon completing Level One I dove into Level Two of Teacher Training and began teaching a couple Kundalini Yoga classes a week. There was no way for this commitment to not effect me and change me. Now it hasn’t been a pretty process every step of the way, but to look back on last year and to see where I am today I can see that there has been a good bit of progress made.
So here I am. Back again and this time with my son. Now I must admit that a part of me was nervous about bringing him into the wild. It wasn’t the wild animals or rugged terrain that I was concerned about, it was the lack of connectivity via internet and cell signal that worried me. Even though my son isn’t online too much he expressed his concern about venturing so far from society. I too wasn’t sure that not being able to google the answer to a question or youtube a video of his favorite song was such a good idea, but it was part of the adventure.
We made our way down to the river. The walk was familiar since we had walked the path numerous times in the summer. Today acorns and fallen leaves covered the path reminding us that it had been a while since our last visit. We got to the water and stuck our feet in to cross. Another reminder of the season change as the water is icy cold.
When I was here last year the water was at least 15 feet higher. It is hard to believe and I tell this to Shayne. He can’t imagine the water that high, that fast. The river last year was moving huge rocks and trees with it, but today it is calm. My mind a nice reflection of the river’s mood.
We scramble on the rocks and adventure aways and then return to the shore. Shayne takes up the practice of cracking acorns on the rocks. I gather, he cracks. It is good old fashioned entertainment with Nature’s toys. He mentions something about damage points as he cracks the acorns, reminding me that he is still a child of the modern era. We talk about how people have eaten acorns in this area for food. Shayne decides to leave his acorns for the squirrels and we head back to the cabin.
When we get there I lite the fire that will keep us warm as the evening cools. There is such a deep warmth from a wood fire that is so soothing to my spirit. It is beautiful to watch the flames and Shayne and I sing a little song to the spirit of the fire. For me it is practical since I really want this fire to last.
“So we really can’t watch a video or play a game?” Shayne asks. “No” I tell him “It is quiet time”. I tell him how we need to get quiet from time to time so we can hear our soul. He understand and says it is because our soul talks quiet. “Yes, it does” I say. There have been so many times this year where I wished my soul could scream to me, to spell everything out clearly in bold writing and leave no question as to what I should be doing and whether I would be safe. I have strained to hear my soul, cried with frustration the times I felt abandoned after initiating so much change, and have been surprised at the sudden powerful whispers that would catch me when I least expected it. It took a lot of getting quiet, still, and most challenging, patient. The rewards have come through the process and becoming quiet is something I want to do in this retreat.
We eat a simple dinner and then go for a quick walk. It is dusk and will be dark within the hour but it feels good to be outside. Shayne starts asking me about the wild life in the area and if I am afraid. I share that I am not, after all we are together and most wild animals don’t want to mess with people. My step is powerful as I say this- the wild mama leading her child into the wild to teach him about the natural world. He continues with his questions about all the wild animals that live in the area, bears, mountain lions, etc. They all feel very far away until we turn a corner and there on the path is the remains of a deer leg. ‘How brave do you feel now wild mama?’ I hear in the back of my thoughts. ‘Well you can’t be brave if there is nothing the be afraid of’ I banter back. We continue on for a bit longer, but I admit we did turn around sooner then I intended due to the evidence of wildlife that we encountered.
Back in the cabin the fire is warm and the sky grows dark. We can see Venus near the Western Horizon. I tell Shayne how Venus is the planet of love and that some cultures thought she was a goddess in the morning or evening sky. I pick up one of the frame drums I brought and begin to drum. Shayne picks up a toy drum that came in his party favor bag that resembles a damaru and begins to play. The mantra Adi Shakti, an ode to the primal female energy of the Universe, comes on. With the mantra and the rhythm of the drums we watch Venus sink below the horizon.
I am ready for bed, when I realize it is only 6 pm. The lack of technology and the time spent in nature makes my internal clock long for more rest. The quiet time seems to have reached its max. I panic a little and then pull out the copy of a Pema Chodron book that my friend gifted me for my birthday. I begin reading it out loud while Shayne plays with the Chinese yo yo in his party bag. He seems fully focused in his play, but I know the words of wisdom I am reading are penetrating this space around him and will be seeds planted for when his awareness is ready. The time passes, I put more wood on the fire and prepare for my evening meditation. Shayne wants to arm wrestle which I assume could be considered part of the meditation. Yogi Bhajan says that it is perfectly fine for mothers to be interrupted by their children in meditation, and children seem to know this. After a few false starts, I dive into my meditation with a sleeping Shayne snuggled next to me.
That night I dream I have a frame drum the size of the Moon cabin on my wall and I play the most beautiful drum I have ever seen. I also wake many times to feed the fire and to watch the moon sink into the trees.
We wake. It is my birthday and I am adamant that I will complete Surya Kriya AND a mediation because it is after all my birthday. Shayne compiles and begins playing with the party favors. Soon I am meditating amidst whirly birds and Chinese yoyos passing within inches of my face. It is, lets say, challenging to focus. I think of Buddha taunted by Mara just before he reached enlightenment. Perhaps it isn’t the same level of distraction, but I feel as if my momma meditation powers have reached at least one of the intro stages of focus on the path to enlightenment.
I finish my practice. It is warm and cozy in the cabin and cold and shady outside. I note this because I have a secret ritual in store which means a trip to the river. We head down bundled up. It gets colder the further we venture down into the canyon. My resistance rises towards the ritual I have planned. We reach the shore and I get Shayne occupied with acorn cracking. He is engaged with his task of feeding the squirrels as I slip away to the waters edge. In a flash and without much thought I strip off my clothes and rush into the water. I gasp. It is icy cold but make myself dive under water. Just as soon as I surface I make my way back to the shore gasping. I feel very alive, very clear and very ready to start this new year and very glad that is over. Once dressed and relatively warm again I proceed to the next step in my ritual. I look for small rocks. This is a great practice for Shayne to participate in since he had spent hours doing this very thing since he was a small boy. We hold the rocks near our heart and make a wish. Then throw the rock into the water. The passing water will carry our wishes. I have my rocks, my wishes to make from deep within my heart. Wishes for myself and for others, wishes for all beings. Shayne has his wishes too and each wish makes its own ripples and patterns on the still river’s surface. We walk down the river to find some sun and sit by the water listening to the quiet.
Soon we will venture out the river canyon and back to the world of distraction, but in this moment we are calm, quiet, listening to our souls and listening to each others soul. The water is calm today, the sun is shining and I feel the same.
TayaTaya Malakian is a poet, an artist, a yogini, a mother, and a minister/spiritual advisor. She strives to be a "Medicine Woman for the Modern World" bringing deep wisdom, ceremony and soulfulness into every aspect of daily life. She lives in Nevada City, Ca.View all posts by Taya →