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On Retreat with Kalyana Mitta (Spiritual Friends)

Retreat is an essential part of spiritual development. It is time away from one’s “real life” to go deep

within, to reconnect with that which is most important, and be in community with others on the same


Between getting my PhD and the pandemic, I had not been on retreat in a long time before I spent a

week in silence sitting with Jeff Carreira in December. Jeff creates a space that makes it easy to be in

silence. He has two simple instructions: sit in conscious contentment, and don’t make anything a


When I saw that Jeff was offering another retreat listed close to where I live, I signed up right away and

then structured a month off of work to begin with the silent retreat. But the Universe is clever!

Sometimes, there is work to do that you are not aware of. Ah, yes: the beautiful, wily blind spot.

I arrived full of my eagerness to be immersed in silence within the beauty that is Highland Lake Cove

Retreat Center in Flat Rock, NC. I wish I could put into words the energetic power of the place. I began

meeting my fellow meditators, all of whom are powerful lights in the world.

During the opening evening welcome and instructions for the retreat, Jeff explained that we would be in

silence each morning until lunchtime and then we would be engaged in contemplation in the afternoon

with others in the group. So, in other words, this was most definitely not a silent retreat. And for the

next five days, I grappled with not getting what I wanted. I had periods when I couldn’t just go with it,

and when I couldn’t trust that the Universe had other ideas. My inner child was having a temper

tantrum on and off over those five days.

But here’s what happened: I met some of the most amazing people. I had the opportunity to share my

work in coherence and my ideas around what may be possible in groups. I witnessed other people’s

experiences in real time. It was a blessed, sacred time.

Stating and pursuing your needs is very important. I don’t want to pretend that’s not the case. Being

clear on who you are, what you need, and making those things happen are crucial. I talk about

boundaries all the time, and I truly believe healthy boundaries are crucial to a happy, healthy existence.

However, sometimes, the Universe has different ideas. And in those times, allowing yourself to let go of

expectations and enjoy the ride is where magic can be found.

When I did just that – let go and just allowed myself to be – I found that I got exactly what I needed at

the time. There’s something to be said for this nuance: being clear on needs and then letting go in order

for the Universe to be in charge.


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