I’m Retreating

Don't think of it as running away; think of it as running toward...

Don’t think of it as running away; think of it as running toward…

I don’t make a habit of retreating–unless you count all the times I have closed myself up in the bathroom for a healthy real-self to mirror-self chat–but I’m due for a retreat.

The only other retreat I’ve ever been on was a Buddhist retreat at the Omega Institute in New York. Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun and one of the only writers on Buddhist teachings who ever helped me understand and apply the teaching to my life, was the speaker for the weekend.

I was really excited about going to this retreat because:

1. I had never been on a retreat (not involving bathroom mirrors and talking to myself) before.

2. Pema Chodron was speaking, and she was a Buddhist Rock Star in my book (I was new to Buddhism and didn’t quite understand that Buddhists don’t go in for all that rock star business).

Maybe he's new to Buddhism, too. He's still got that Rock Star thing happening.

Maybe he’s new to Buddhism, too. He’s still got that Rock Star thing happening.

3. My husband had left me the week before and I was lonely and feeling unlovable. This retreat, I thought, was a great way to connect with people who were kind and loving. As it turned out, it was a silent retreat. I got to exchange many kind glances with friendly-looking people. It was a start.

4. I never went anywhere on my own before, so this was a good test to see if I could manage in the world as a single person. I didn’t get lost or murdered or anything. It was a start.

That was 4 years ago. I’m ready for another retreat.

This time I’m going to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Heath in Massachusetts. I’m NOT going for the yoga. My hamstring is still not healed from my yoga debacle  fiasco  wreck mishap several months ago.

I wasn't ready for a stretch quite that deep, no matter how I was supposed to achieve it. "Hot yoga" isn't all it's cracked up to be...

I wasn’t ready for a stretch quite that deep, no matter how I was supposed to achieve it. “Hot yoga” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

I’m going for a safe, low impact seminar. And I’m going with my niece.

The seminar is entitled “A Weekend for Highly Sensitive People.” Does that sound like it was meant for me or what? The presenter is Elaine Aron, who wrote the book on HSPs, being one herself. If you want to know if you are one, she has a self-test on her website. I scored 26/27. My niece is also highly sensitive.

Supposedly 15-20% of the population are highly sensitive. Of 40 people I counted in my immediate family (I had to throw in a few friends and one really hyper Newfoundland to get the count up to 40), only my niece and I score really high on the HSP test. That makes 20%. Which only proves that numbers don’t lie, but people might make the statistics fit their point. Don’t even think of accusing me of doing that. Why? Because I totally didn’t and I’ll probably cry because I’m a highly sensitive liar.

I was just trying to make a point. Why do you have to make such a big deal out of accuracy and truth. Sheesh! Cut me some slack. I'm under a lot of pressure. I still have to pack for this weekend.

I was just trying to make a point. Why do you have to make such a big deal out of accuracy and truth. Sheesh! Cut me some slack. I’m under a lot of pressure. I still have to pack for this weekend.

I don’t expect this retreat to be silent, but I bet it will be quiet. And calm. We HSPs don’t like a lot of stimulation. I’m pretty sure there won’t be any cocktail parties or keggers. We’re shy folks, us HSPs. I wonder if they’ll ask us not to applaud the speaker? I’ll be sure to wear muted colors. I hope the other HSPs do the same.

I suspect this will be the scene at both the lecture hall and the evening entertainment. But would someone remove that green ball? It's very annoyingly bright.

I suspect this will be the scene at both the lecture hall and the evening entertainment. But would someone remove that green ball? It’s very annoyingly bright.

In preparation for my weekend, I’m going on a technological diet. That means I won’t be blogging after today. No more posts or comments from me. Sorry.

But I’ll be sure to tell you all about my retreat–if there’s anything to tell you. By most of your standards, this weekend will be pretty dullsville, humdrumadum, zero on a scale from 1-10. But that’s how we HSPs like it! (Ooh, even that exclamation point was a bit too stimulating.)

Ah, that's more like it.

Hope you have a peaceful weekend. I expect I will. That’s assuming I can drive there and back without any problems like heavy traffic, any traffic, getting lost, weather requiring me to strain my eyes, getting pulled over for going under the speed limit…You know, the usual hassles one faces on the road from here to there and back. 

~ by Lorna's Voice on April 24, 2013.

43 Responses to “I’m Retreating”

  1. Yes I did and I learned a lot. Thanks for asking, Ruth! I have to find the time to post something about it. Stay tuned!

  2. Normal! I wrote a tongue in cheek blog post a while back calling people at the other end of the spectrum HIPs (Highly Insensitive People). My older sister falls in that category. Isn’t it great to be HIP?! 😉

  3. I took the Highly Sensitive test, Lorna. It was quite interesting. I am not Highly Sensitive. I’m not even close to being Highly Sensitive. I wonder what the opposite of being Highly Sensitive is called?!

  4. did you enjoy the retreat, Lorna? I’ll be interested in what you learned 🙂

  5. I knew I wasn’t getting the whole story! 😉

  6. Oh yeah, I’m also an ax murderer. (Did you say something about humor?)

  7. I hear you Al. We talked about extroverts and introverts. There were even extroverts in the group (a minority, but a vocal one). They were so different from the majority of us who were hesitant to ask questions and wanted to be left alone.

    I used to have put myself out there, too. I did it well (the perfectionist in me), but it drained me. Humor always helped. Can you tell? 😉

    I’m glad you shared your “life story” here, but something tells me that’s not all there is to it… 🙂

  8. That works, too. And I guess you can tell why I’m struggling with a tall, dark and handsome man complex (but it’s not really that complex). 😉

  9. I will. I decided to write a serious blog about what I learned and I’ll write a funny one about my misadventures (because you KNOW I had some!). 😉

  10. 😉

  11. I was going to say it’s a chocolate and English toffee candy bar. I guess this reveals why I am constantly struggling with my weight.

  12. I read this response to Ursula and learned something important, Lorna. Had not heard about the part of the gene that isn’t so efficient in picking up serotonin…that explains even more. I love getting more information about this…it gives me clarity and understanding. Lorna, if you found out about some good books on this trait, please share them with me (us). Thank you.

  13. I was quite interested in your response to Ursula. It sounds like a very worthwhile weekend. I firmly believe in all that you say. Unfortunately as you know, it’s all but impossible (and risky) to have no stimulation all the time. But keeping it limited is possible. I think most people have a misconception of what an introvert is. It doesn’t necessary mean that someone is totally non-social. My understanding is that both extroverts and introverts are “social”, but an extrovert is energized by the interaction, while an introvert is drained by it.

    I was a classic case of an introvert out of his element in one of my professions. I was in industrial sales for 25 years. Much of my job consisted of entertaining customers. I was very good at it, but hated doing it. I don’t think they ever knew it. Most truly successful salespeople are successful because they are born to smooze with other people and love doing it. I hated sales conferences and meetings for the same reason, but did them with aplomb. It paid the bills and put my kids through college. As soon as the last one graduated, I quit and became a paralegal. Loved it.

    Thanks for letting me use your blog to tell my life story. (At least you’ll never accuse me of being at a loss for words again…..big mistake, Lorna.)

  14. “Heath” was the handsome older brother in Bonanza. And yeah, he was important. But I didn’t know he had his own center. Maybe his own fan club… 😉

  15. Just don’t push anyone else’s buttons but your own… 😉

  16. Scrappy and my Phil had a male bonding weekend. Scrappy seems quite content about the whole thing; Phil, not so much.

    I’m no longer doing yoga, having developed an aversion to tearing my tendons. I know some people swear by it. I just swear at it.

    As for the HIGHLY part of the quality of sensitivity, being so prone to overstimulating situations and so averse to anything that smacks of tension, I can only say that people will find themselves on “tolerance to physical/social/emotional stimulation” continuum. Some embrace stimulation–live for it, wither without it. Others like a bit of it, but also cherish their moments of quiet. Still others find even low levels of stimulation quite intolerable–they avoid it like the dentist’s drill.

    It’s not all in our heads, either, Dear U. I learned this weekend that neuroscientists have identified people deemed Highly Sensitive have a certain type of allele (part of a gene) that isn’t as efficient in picking up and keeping serotonin (the short-short allele). It’s real. Yes. Every living thing is sensitive. It’s just that some are more sensitive than others. The same thing would go with any trait, right? Every living thing has height–some more, some less.

  17. NO shouting, for sure! Although I did partake in some rather vigorous and fun yoga dancing. It was wild, silly, and quite fun. All done with about five guys on different drums in the background. Very earthy and elemental.

  18. AS always, so sweet. These retreats are expensive, so I have to parse them out. But they are also quite renewing. These places are filled with the nicest people! 😉

  19. Thanks Christine! I did have a lovely retreat. It’s kind of difficult coming back, though…

  20. Of course we both love her. 🙂

  21. I did! Thanks!

  22. Thanks, Gayle. Wouldn’t it have been great it if would have been there? We could have met! Oh well. Yes, I’ll share what I learned. It may take more than one post… 🙂

  23. I was just trying to be quiet so as not to interrupt your retreat. I know you HSP’s are very sensitive when it comes to your heath. By the way, I know what Yoga is, but what is heath? I know it must be important if there’s a center for it.

  24. So true. I love that there were no TVs or radios anywhere. Only nature, wonderful healthy food and gentle souls with whom to commune. It was divine. And now I’m back in front of a computer screen. UGH!

    Thanks for dropping in and commenting–always so appreciated! 🙂

  25. It was lovely once I got there. Getting there was definitively not lovely… 😉 You’ll hear all about it.

  26. Thanks, I always knew were the HIP sister! 😉

  27. Well I’m back, but it’s a miracle I made it. I’ve discovered that not only am I a highly sensitive person, but I am a highly directionally challenged person. 😉

  28. Forgive Al. It’s obvious that he needs some time away to compose himself (in, what, 46 characters or less).

  29. Al, are you really without any words? I can’t believe it! 😉

  30. 🙂

  31. Oh no you didn’t!

  32. Sounds really interesting. Can’t wait to hear all about the retreat when you get back.

  33. I hope you and S.S. have a wonderful time. I will be busy, as usual, doing my thing. Love ya, Your H. insensitive sister. 🙂

  34. Enjoy your retreat for its calmness.

  35. great post. The vast majority of people are on retreat – but not you. The vast majority retreat into shopping and fashion and food and TV and celebrity. 🙂

  36. I wish I was going too. I read Elaine Aron’s book years ago and realized that I was an HSP too. That explained a lot about my feelings and acute sensitivity. Enjoy your time in retreat and I hope you have some interesting things to share when you return.


  37. Enjoy!

  38. Sounds great. Why am I not surprised that we both love Pema Chodran? Sending you and your niece off with love.

  39. Sounds wonderful! Enjoy!

  40. Have a peaceful and restful weekend at your retreat. It is a wish on my bucklet list that I’ve yet to do. This is your 2nd so I know they must be beneficial for envirgorating the spirit. May you gather positive healing energy.
    Namaste ,,,,
    Izzy xoxo

  41. have a good time.. and please no dancing or shouting..;) learn lots…

  42. Do what you must, Lorna. I shall miss you. And sorry for being so ‘retreatful’ in your comment box in recent times. And thank you for always taking the time for me.

    Now, and I know you don’t like confrontation and it isn’t: There is no such thing as ‘highly sensitive’. A blogger I reserve a particular disdain for will bang on and on and on about her daughters being HIGHLY sensitive. Let’s keep it in perspective: All human beings, even dogs, are sensitive. And some of us (I hope not my own hardened self) have a fine way of showing it. But HIGHLY? NA. That’s one superlative too far.

    Also learnt today, not too soon to make you feel even better, that some yoga positions are positively harmful to our veins, preventing blood being pumped up the highway. If I can think of any more things to make you really look forward to this particular retreat – and enjoy it – I shall let you know asap. Your niece clearly lucky – who doesn’t want to spend time with an aunt full of anecdotes? But what of Scrappy and YOUR Phil?


  43. Have fun. I’m going to a seminar myself this weekend. It’s a class on how to use Twitter. I guess you could call it a retweet too.

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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