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Dover Town Library

For the second year in a row, I used the day after Thanksgiving not to go out and buy things (although I actually did a little of that) but to use it as a time of contemplation. Last year, the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge started after I went to the Peace Abbey in Sherborn to meditate, read, walk, journal and get grounded. I knew I wanted to do that again, and I was searching around for a retreat center that I could go to, but since the Peace Abbey is now closed, I was having a hard time finding a place. I then thought about how I could go to one of the many beautiful libraries in Massachusetts and do my retreat at a small town library. I wanted one that I didn’t have to drive too far to, but that I hadn’t been at yet. I chose the Dover Town Library, which is the town next to Sherborn.

It’s a beautiful, newly constructed library in a historic, old building. They have a nice reading section with many comfortable chairs. They even had coffee and desserts available (not that I could eat any of them, as they were all gluten-filled). I spent about four hours there, and I just alternated back between journaling, drawing, meditating, reading, and looking at my plans for the future, and seeing what I really wanted to do with my life in the coming few months. It was very grounding to get away from the busy-ness of my current life, and to start listening to that little voice in my head that had great dreams and wants. I think that we don’t listen to that voice in ourselves nearly enough. Usually, we can’t even hear it over the cacophony of the roar of our lives.

So, when was the last time you heard your inner voice?

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Another video blog on where do you go when you need a break!

I haven’t posted in the past week, as I’ve been on a sort of personal sabbatical.  I’ve had quite the busy and full past few months, and I needed some time that I could take to slow down, take stock of where I am, and get prepared for the months ahead.  I’m just now coming out of it, and I think I’m better centered to do what I need to do for the winter.

Part of that was doing my Alternative Black Friday retreat.  I had planned on doing that at a location in Arlington, but as luck had it I instead went to The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts, which is a lovely place.   The day consisted of meditating, journaling, reading, walking, and other activities.  I’ll be planning on doing it again in the future, so let me know if you’d like to be a part of the next session!

Part of doing this was to see what interesting and creative ideas could come out of my head at this time, and I think I got a good one.  Massachusetts has 351 cities and towns.  I’ve been to a majority of them (having lived in the Commonwealth for most of my life) but there are a number of towns that I haven’t been to yet.  I have seen at least one blog about a couple working to visit all 351 towns and cities, and I thought this might be a great idea for me, as I’ve been looking for ways that I can incorporate practices to my life. I’m calling this the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge.

So, here’s my spin on this: I have to do a number of things in order for a town to count in the 351.

  1. I have to actually be in the town and either meditate/pray/sit quietly for at least 10 minutes.  This makes it so I can’t count places that I’m driving through on the Massachusetts Turnpike (Yup, just picked up Blandford!)
  2. I have to take a picture of me in front of a landmark or building that would only be in that town (e.g. post office, town hall, police station, etc.) It doesn’t have to be a government building, but at least one where there’s no mistaking where it is.  For example, I could choose Durgin Park or Fanueil Hall in Boston.  It also means I can’t just step over the border 3 feet and sit for 10 minutes.  I have to find where the life of the town is.

When will I finish this?  I don’t know.  It will be a fun project, and might get me to go out of my way to see a town I’ve never been to.  I’ve always wondered about Nantucket, Egremont, Wales, and Plympton. I’m setting this as an intention and not a goal.  I think that this will allow for some interesting things to happen, and if I just give myself the space for this, I hope they will.

Here’s my first proof:

So, what are you creating in order for interesting things to happen?

I’m just returned from my vacation at Gay Spirit Camp at Easton Mountain, and am in that phase of trying to reintegrate myself back into my life here, but also integrate the special things I got from my experiences. I took some great workshops, met some great new friends, reacquainted myself with established friends, and really just tried to be in the moment and not have an agenda (granted my playful self had an agenda which was to not have an agenda.)

Here are some random thoughts about what I got out of the week-long retreat:

I, and about everyone in our society, is touch-starved. For a whole week, I would get a hug just about every 10 feet I would walk. The culture there is one of not denying the body as part of your spiritual self and safe, respectful touch is encouraged. I had some lovely hour long talks in the main hammock while cuddling with some new friends (thanks each to Scott and Jim) and also took a workshop on Hugging as a Spiritual Practice.

When we deny part of who we are, we are so much smaller for it. I took a great workshop on Respectful Confrontation with Joe Weston, and my major learning for myself is that I need to be on environments that let me be all there. That includes work, relationships, friendships, housing, activities, etc. I might not be big physically (only 5’7″) but I’m big energetically.  I need to be in spaces where I don’t deny myself that.

One of my main goals of the week was not to rush. I normally am very goal oriented and find myself in these weeks thinking “By the end of the week I’ll be relaxed “. I decided this time to try being relaxed the entire time. I limited myself to one workshop a day, made sure I had time for lying in hammocks or having a leisurely conversation.  I needed to practice this so that I can get better at it in the rest of my life.  I’m finding that practice comes up in every facet of my life, whether it’s music, exercise, relationships, work, anything.

What have you learned from this summer that you can take into the Fall? What are you practicing?

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

I am a career consultant who specializes in the connection between what your spirit wants to do in the world, and how to marry that to the work that you do in order to support yourself. While I work with people in all fields, I specialize in working with "creative entrepreneurs" and the LGBT community.

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