In The Middle

Life, Family, Yoga, Stuff


A Day Of Silence

Little Portion in Republic, Missouri is where I spent my Sunday.  It’s where I spent the entire day, on a silent meditation retreat.  I’d never been on anything like this before.  I’ve spent weekends at yoga workshops practicing meditation and pranayama but never a whole day of meditating and being silent.  If you’ve known me for very long you know that I have the tendency to be, well…a chatter box.  This has shifted quite a bit over the last several years though.  I’m hoping I’m a much better listener than I used to be.

We started our day in that white barn that you see.  It has been converted into a bed and breakfast if you will.  Complete with a kitchen, public use room and bedrooms that were private and what not.  This piece of property has three buildings.  The barn, the yellow house that you see that used to be a milk house and a neat stone house where some nuns still reside.  This property also has several acres, a few beautiful gardens, a huge rock, and a stream that runs through the entire place.  Beautiful location.  And just a short drive from my house.  Who knew?  I want to go back here again.

We started out as a group meditating upstairs in a public use area.  I led us through some gentle yoga stretching to prepare for our sit.  We sat for awhile as a group together.  I don’t know how long.  I quit wearing a watch when I quit punching a time clock and purchased my video store.  After our group sit, we were free to continue sitting indoors, or go outside.  We all went outside.  The morning started out cloudy and a bit on the dewy side, but it cleared off nicely for the afternoon.  A few  of us chose walking meditation like we do at the studio.  Some of chose to sit on the benches by the water, or rest in the hammocks on the property.  I chose walking meditation with my camera and it was awesome.

Walking and meditating.  One person did this barefoot, awesome!

The creek.  Sun reflecting on the water.

Frodo.  Take me away.

A view of one of the beautiful gardens.

Someone asked me the other day why I meditated.  What did I get out of it?  And was it worth it?  My only answer at the time was that I liked it.  That question reeled out of control for the rest of my day as I continued to think about it.  I like the way I feel afterwards.  I like the way I feel while I’m meditating.  I like uncluttering and clearing  the junk in my mind.  I like the mental clarity that goes with that after I’m finished.   I’ve received answers to questions that I haven’t asked yet and that can be kind of scary.  I’ve also received explanations to things that have happened in my life.   And perhaps why they happened in the order that they have.  It’s cool, it really is.  And I do see now why some people come to class a few times and never return.  There’s a truth that happens during meditation not at all unlike the truth that you experience on the yoga mat.  It can seriously creep you out.


I left the retreat about two and a half hours early.  I had to teach a yoga class at MSU that evening and I didn’t want to stress out about it, or be in a hurry.  When I arrived home our son was at work and my husband and daughter were fishing together.  I was thankful.  I had a few hours to spend in silence and adjust to the tasks that had to be done in due time. 

So.  Do I quit meditating and forget all this stuff that keeps coming up over and over again?  Or do I stick with it?  Do I follow my heart and deal with the pain and other feelings as they present themselves?  I’ve answered my own question already.  I’m not qutitting.  I’m sitting with it.  Where I’m going with this I have no idea and I actually kind of like it that way.  I’ve lived my life without a plan for a long time now and it seems to suit me quite well.  I know that if I have enough money for today, I will be OK.  I know that if I have my health at this moment, everything is damn near perfect.  I know that if I get a “thank you” after I teach a yoga class that that’s all I really need for the rest of the week.  It’s all good.

I’m staying on the path.  It’s a good thing and I’m happy about it. 

 At the moment anyways and that’s all that counts really.


Retreat Reminiscing

IMG_1290This past weekend I brought one of my favorite yoga teachers to town.  This marks the third year Thomas Fortel has visited our area and it’s been a real treat every single time. 

We’d originally planned to meet at OTC so we wouldn’t disrupt our meditation group that meets on Saturday mornings.  But I had a last minute change of heart.  Our group was smaller this year and the space at OTC was gigantic.  And we didn’t just have one space reserved over there, we had two.  The other space was reserved for our catered lunch. 

We moved to the studio with no regrets.  The feeling at the studio was amazing and everyone agreed.  We settled in on Friday evening with pranayama, soft spinal twisting and restorative postures.  That evening pretty much set the tone for the rest of the weekend, which was slow, steady and quiet.

On Saturday we enjoyed over a full hour of meditation and breathing.  This is the total treat of the whole weekend.  The quiet and the focus that happens when meditating in a group field is amazing.  When the lights come up, everyone is so relaxed.  Eyes are wet and black with mascara that’s left the lashes and bed hair is abundant.  And the best part is that no one cares that they look this way.  After that we eased into an active asana practice for a couple of hours.  We took in some partner work, inversions and vinyasas. 

 After our active practice we enjoyed a catered and extremely healthy lunch.  Candi Davis, caterer extraordinairre, served us some wonderful yogi wraps, quinoa salad, white beans with butternut squash and fruit with an assortment of hot teas.  We took in gluten free brownies and raspberry oatmeal bars with our tea as our after lunch sweet.  She brought all glass dishes, cloth napkins and real silverware and carted it away afterwards.  It felt very good knowing we had no trash or extra clean up on our part.  I have her number if you want it.  She really puts her heart in the meal and you can taste it. 


On Sunday we all arrived at the studio happy and a bit sad to know this was our last day together.  We engaged in that quiet group field again for over an hour.  After that Thomas stepped it up a notch with a very active practice including inversions followed by a much shorter relaxation.  As always, there were a couple of people that showed up that I’d never met and that’s always really cool.  It’s work getting all of this together and happening.  It takes more than just me and I am so thankful for the help that I receive in order to make this event and others happen.  View more photos here.


There’s something about really diving in for more than an hour or two that soothes the soul.  I’m still receiving positive feedback and I would really like to thank those that chose to spend their weekend in this way.  Thanks Thomas, for giving us a wonderful retreat and we know we’ll see you next year if not before.


Kirsten and Thomas on Sunday at the end of the retreat.

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Yoga Retreat with Thomas Fortel

Wow.  The retreat went so well.  It really did.  It’s amazing, that how, even if you don’t feel well, you can just trek onward, and it’s OK.  The best thing for this cold, was the pranayama practice, it really was.

View more retreat photos here.

We had a nice practice of a few hours Friday night at the Firehouse.  We basically settled in, and time flew by, as it often does in the yoga room.  There was a little bit of noise toward the end when we were resting.  The democratic Halloween party was starting up downstairs, but it was all good.  They backed off, we finished, a good time was had by all.

Saturday, we headed back to the Firehouse.  All of our stuff was already there, we were able to settle in quickly and enjoy a one hour practice of pranayama (breathing, in different forms).  It was totally awesome.  Something that I’m sure none of us take a full and complete hour for very often and we really should.  I like retreats like this, as a reminder of how important the breath really is.  It’s what it’s about, it’s our life force.  Thomas doesn’t do any yoga “tricks” or sorts.  He guides a steady, strong, practice with his gentle nature.  There aren’t that many surprises, it’s structured, it’s gentle and tough at the same time.  Like yoga should be, to me anyways.  After practice that evening, we enjoyed a potluck.  Not too many stuck around.  I feel some people were spent, some had traveled from afar and some didn’t want to be around people.  Completely understandable.







On sunday, we met at the new boathouse on Lake Springfield.  It’s gorgeous, it’s quiet and the sun was amazing this morning.  Just the drive out there, was so peaceful, knowing what was to come.  We adjusted to our new space, took it in, enjoyed the view of nature and started our practice.  Thomas is a seasoned astrologer (though I’ve never had a reading) I find it all extremely interesting.  He has lots of thoughts and ideas and I’m always open to anything, as we all should be.  The weekend was all about slowing down.  Odd.  How fast time flies when we’re not moving quickly. 

Sunday morning pranayama was followed by an active practice at the boathouse.  Lots of strong, standing postures, making good use of the legs.  I love half moon pose (ardha chandrasana) and we did it everyday.  I also love shoulderstand (sarvanghasana) but my head was too stuffy to enjoy it.  I took a quick headstand and that was it for inversions and me.  I wish I would’ve taken more photos, but I hate to be a distraction.  It’s a beautiful building.  Actually, both venues were stunning and I feel lucky to have been able to enjoy both places in one weekend.

People showed up that I did not know.  I love it when that happens.  My only regret, is not having time to make small conversation with all the people that I didn’t know and some of the ones I knew well, but do not see that often.  When you’re running this thing, you’re busy.  It reminded me (sort of, but not really) of my days at the video store, when lots of customers were in line.  Only, I felt much happier about standing on the other side of the counter at a yoga event.  Thomas brought some beautiful hats from one of his yoga trips to Peru.  I think most everyone bought one.  I bought two.  He also brought some cool berets from Paris.  I wish I would’ve got a photo of all the cool wordly stuff he brought with him to peddle.

Afterwards, I had a quiet lunch with a friend, went home and picked up a few walnuts.  It felt right to spend the rest of the day outside, reflecting on the weekend, nature and the small things.  My life is so much simpler than it used to be.  My house is way smaller.  Everything we have is old, but it’s paid for.  I don’t really want for a lot of things and that feels really good as well.  Retreats are good stuff and I feel extremely grounded at the moment.  Normally, I would’ve wanted to get all the photos off of my camera, work on the web site and start a “thank you” newsletter.  Nope.  Not tonight.  All I needed, was to get a few photos off of my camera, do this little journal entry, and head to bed.  Peace out.