Blog: Personal Retreat Spring 2022

Blog: Personal Retreat Spring 2022

by Dunya Dianne McPherson


Ravenrock in a Dry Spring
I arrived overwrought and exhausted for a two-week personal retreat at Ravenrock. A parched meadow spread its luminous yellow beneath the blue blue sky. Stillness. The wind started up, trees dancing in a wild dream but inside, the thick Barn walls muffled the howling and pounding. I drank my morning tea, read and wrote poetry. I let go.  

This time
scoured by wind, washed of thought,
brings absence of burden.
Dirty old rags stashed in the heart,
and the surfeit of diamonds wrenched from sleeping rock—all that
is gone.

I have my soft robe, my strong boots.
It is enough.
I have time that doesn’t need to be filled.
We go everywhere together, or stay right here.


Do a practice that my body thanks me for.
Eat in a way my body thanks me for.

At the end of the first week, still unwinding, still emptying, my practice came to embrace me. Unrushed. Sensation fully experienced. It delivered an unexpected way of measuring—my body thanked me for my practice. This is what I need: a practice my body thanks me for. How could this be a surprise? But in my personal practice, as in all of my existence, subliminal drives motoring deep within evade my notice. 

I’ve had insights about this many times before, and had to pull back over and over again. What I hadn’t really lighted on was this idea of doing what my body would thank me for. It means I have to consider the result of my action while I do the action. There is no flinging about while ignoring consequences. Perhaps this is something we can only do when we’ve lived long enough to know about consequences.   

Eating is another important shift. I need to eat in a way that my body thanks me for. I wanted to reclaim the pleasure of being empty or a bit hungry, to eat half, and stop at the first hint of enough.

Body is wise and noble, never devious or duplicitous, cajoling, specious, or delusional. Body speaks truth. It makes its direct way through time.

How differently I would’ve lived had that mantra thrummed beneath all, tuning me to my body’s wisdom; if the ‘church service’ had been a quiet, comfortable listening/moving room without mirrors and miseries; and had the liturgy been respect and awe of flesh. My world, and the whole world, would have been different. We would not be living in hatred and abuse because the body would not allow it.

Do a practice that your body thanks you for.
Eat in a way your body thanks you for.


The Last Morning

My body thanks me for two weeks of quiet here. To breathe and feel my back swell into the chair back. To breathe and smell almost nothing in the sheer desert air. To breathe and let out the dark workings of myself and of the vigilant night workers within me. To breathe out and let dreams wander off. To breathe in the waking. To breathe out the unwaking. To breathe in and out known and unknown, my body rounding into the chair.

I breathe, my shoulder blades wing out, arms drape into hands and pour into these words. The making of  words bores into me, summoning the surrounding shapes and colors and the forces that move everywhere at once in infinite opposition, keeping everything still. 

Our life moves along hauling taut, resistant infinities but is also delicately held by them. We can only move freely between the forces, and slender iotas where, somehow, we are unnoticed or forgotten.

That is the secret. Rumi’s calling out to us in every poem was not the secret. Sirr—‘heart secret’. I feel sirr  moving in me, but I still speak and write, because I always have, though sometimes, and more often, I am far away, in the multitudes and infinities of sirr, watching the shape of relationships. I watch others from inside the shape others know as me, across the edges of self, within and without, and sometimes from a place nearby my shape.

In Oneness there is no need for love or for any equation
between here and there.
The infinite flavors of One are beyond counting.
Put aside elaborate genuflecting,
and rituals of separation that keen with longing.

Cold air regales the tip of my nose.
Morning drapes me with certainty.
My poison drains into bedrock; the underworld will use it.
A raven flies black in a blue sky.

I am delighted that you are with me and appreciate your sharing these writings friends. Thank you!

My work and writing are sponsored by Dervish Society of America, a nonprofit organization helping people realize their human and spiritual potential by honoring their body and its movement ways using evolutionary Sufi Dancemeditation practices. Thank you for your gift. It’s tax-deductible! Contribute Now

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Karleen Koen
Karleen Koen
2 years ago

Reminds me of the rim rock at Ravenrock, ancient with something, spare, magnificent and pummeled into edges by wind…..feel a sharp spareness in this writing,….you’ve got some essence of the place in these words….some essence of its silent medicine…..