image from SF Zen Center Website
It took almost 24 hours to really get there. Not geographically and not physically - that only took about 4 1/2 hours stretched over 2 days. But mentally, the transition from the world out there to the world in there took hours and a few soaks in the indoor plunge and several long breaths and a whole lot of mindfulness.
So it was around dinner on my second evening at Tassajara that I really arrived. And when I did, I really did.
I could never really turn off the "my baby is with grand-ma for the first time and he is not here with me and I get to sleep 3 nights without him and my husband is at home" voice but instead of fighting it, I just sort of let it be. That is simply my chatter or at least the topic of my chatter and I knew that it would be with me the whole time. What I did not reckon with was the subtle physical ache that not being with the nugget caused. It was not extreme - just enough to feel the tugging at the muscles of my heart, like a reminder that freedom means something new for me. Something new that I have not yet figured out and am still trying to define.
So I let the missing be there and let myself talk about him if I felt the need, but mostly I just did what I wanted, when I wanted. And that, was simply divine. I was going to say kick-ass but somehow that didn't seem to fit this story about this sanctuary for the spirit, but really, that is what it was. Having 3 divinely decadent vegetarian meals prepared for you is also not bad, nor are the baths, and the freezing river, and the pool, and the supremely silent evening meditation. Different from my practice, and certainly more formal, the evening zazen (Zen meditation) was a reminder to me what it means to sit in community. To sit in silence, with others, and simply be.
Let's just say, that second night provided the deepest and longest restorative sleep that I have had in a really long time.
Thursday morning came as expected and I was indeed ready to return to my family. I was ready to be with them - not necessarily ready to be back in the world of the doing. Transporting them into the valley would have been the best solution - wonder what the residents would have done with the nugget? He is walking Zen, most of the time. Maybe I'll try that next time.
Just as I had come, I returned to the world of the doing via one hair raising, rugged road and simply let the ease of the last few days settle in. When I arrived at the dance studio, grand-ma and nugget were beaming - I am not sure who had had more fun. And when he saw me, I knew I had done the exact right thing for the both of us, by simply taking care of myself.
For more information about Tassajara, the Zen Mountain Retreat, affiliated with the San Francisco Zen Center, please follow this link.