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Looking for a way to feel better without any physical exertion?  Spiritual practice and mediation might be an answer for you. I just spent a couple of days out of my “comfort zone”, learning about meditation and talking about the “soul” and “inner peace” and various other unfamiliar topics. Led by kind and experienced facilitators (Micheline and Meghan) in a conducive environment, these foggy concepts became a bit clearer to me.   Spiritual practice does take time and repetition and patience, including both looking inward at yourself and outward for a connection to something greater. Is it worth the effort? That is for each person to decide.

My first spiritual retreat

The beautiful environment at Peace Village

The beautiful environment at Peace Village

This weekend I attending my first spiritual retreat at a Brahma Kumari center called Peace Village, located on top of Hunter Mountain in New York. I attended a retreat for spiritual experimenters entitled “Living From Our Courage:An Empowering Retreat for Women“. I initially was motivated to register since I loved the title of the retreat (what could be wrong with getting more courage? and what a meaningful way to celebrate our over-commercialized Mother’s Day!), and especially since I would be sharing time with my beloved “Brooklyn-resident” daughter, Arianna, for three whole days. On a more personal level, I was motivated by my feelings of being seriously out of balance: too much clutter and negative chatter in my head, and too many “to-do” lists;  feeling stressed out with low energy.  I seriously needed some silence and stillness and reflection.

The power of silence and traffic control

Joan and Ari on hike

Joan and Ari on hike

I was seeking silence and stillness in this retreat experience and I received both. Two interesting exercises we did were “a silent lunch” and “a guided nature walk in silence”. Initially, I couldn’t comprehend how eating a meal in silence could be enjoyable for a gregarious person like me who thrives on chit-chat. But eating in silence relieved me of the pressure of initiating discussion and also helped me focus on chewing, tasting, eating slowly, and my thoughts; the entire dining room was quieted so even the smallest sounds and smells, like the coffee perking, were apparent. Hiking in silence was enjoyable and amplified my senses.  I heard birds and smelled the thyme and was aware of my heightened breathing and sense of balance as I crossed the creeks and climbed hills…sensations I might have missed if I had been in conversation. Traffic control was an interesting practice that occurred throughout the weekend: music would start playing and everyone would simply take pause, stop whatever they were doing, and check in with their inner self – how am I doing, what am I feeling? For me, the use of the term “traffic” related to all those thoughts speeding through my head that needed slowing down. My “traffic” definitely benefited from this control.

What I learned about courage


Joan feeling strong

In preparation for this retreat, we were asked to think about what courage meant to us. My definition expanded into new dimensions by the end of the weekend.  I learned that courage can be small and quiet, as well as big and bold.  Courage can be expressed in not doing something as well as doing. I learned that the root of courage is within one’s soul and expressed as self-love and acceptance. I learned that the quietness and stillness in meditation can enable me to move forward with courage. I returned to my real world with some calmness and clarity and heightened senses. I am meditating. I am being kind to myself.

About Peace Village

Peace Village is a learning and retreat center that offers weekend retreats on a variety of topics where you can learn to meditate and study spiritual knowledge. The silence and tranquility and beauty of the village provides the atmosphere for self-exploration and spiritual practice. There is no cost for attending (donations accepted) and it is accessible to everyone.  Most staff work on a volunteer basis, and all share a common mission of peace. Vegetarian meals and lodging are provided.  I have already registered for my next retreat entitled “Peace of Mind” on the weekend of September 18-20. Please join me. For more information…

View from bedroom at Peace Village

View from bedroom at Peace Village

Ari and new friend, Princess, at Peace Village

Ari and new friend, Princess, at Peace Village

The BK sisters baked a cake to celebrate all "mothers' - big grin from me in forefront

The BK sisters baked a cake to celebrate all “mothers’ – big grin from me in forefront

Our "Courage" Group - the facilitators are in front center, and that's me and Ari behind them

Our “Courage” Group – the facilitators are in front center, and that’s me and Ari behind them

Ari and Joan in Retreat Room

Ari and Joan in Retreat Room


  1. Thank you Joan for sharing this very special occasion. You look very relaxed.


  2. Hi Joan,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. What a wonderful way to spend Mother’s Day weekend with your daughter. My sisters and I went on a similar retreat in the Catskills, and it was really special.

    Happy Mother’s Day,


  3. Thanks for sharing this. So much of life is revealed when silence is allowed to have our attention. It’s easier to see and hear and otherwise know what matters and what doesn’t or at least what’s more important to us. I’m glad you got the chance to connect deeply with yourself, your daughter and friends. You give so much to everyone else all the time!

  4. Thank you for sharing Joan, I think that I am also in need of a peace retreat.

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