December 24, 2011

Merry Vipassana! ~ Capri Kurtz


In the midst of all that’s happening, taking 10 days off on the winter solstice to do nothing but simply live/live simply, embodying the winter Yin energy feels liberating, natural and wicked scary. But courage! Courage! That’s much louder for me than fear.

Winter, as I study and know it to be, is a time where the qi (energy) is predominantly Yin. Trees & plant life are always a good example when it comes to describing qi in nature. We see that the trees and plants have for the most part lost their leaves, flowers and overall flair. Their life has pulled inside and is stored in the trunk and roots for the winter. This is Yin.

People, ideally, would be reflecting the same qualities as nature during this season – by pulling inward, sleeping when it’s dark, and holding onto our reserves. Winter is about survival and storage.

Right now, I feel that my survival mode is on. I’m in the midst of “the holiday season,” an unconventional graduate school program that doesn’t have winter breaks — aka never-ending assignments/studying, working four to five days at a hoppin’ tea bar, keeping my physical health in somewhat check, and all the other balancing acts one can imagine that comes with the life of a highly dis-tractable twenty something year old living in a freakin’ awesome city.

The word that keeps coming to mind for me is: overwhelmed.

Modern life and society puts a new spin on what “survival” during winter used to mean. At least for most privileged Americans, we don’t have to worry about running out of food, heat and proper shelter. Now it’s about not losing your mind in the midst of a 30 point to-do list, when your body just wants to cuddle up with some blankets and chill out when it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Last Spring, when I was in ultra-plan mode, I decided that it was time for me to experience a Vipassana meditation course. My chosen dates for doing the 10 day retreat; December 21st, 2011 – January 1st, 2012 in Onalaska, Washington. As far as I know based on their website and talking to there’s who have been, this is a ten day long experience of straight meditation and complete silence on the students part. The philosophy is quite simple;

“Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills, an Art of Living.”

Meditation has been in my life for some odd years now but in no way have I been consistent or self-motivated about it. Many studies and people have shown the positive effects that a meditation practice does for literally re-wiring the brain neurology and benefiting one’s overall well-being.

My last attempt at meditating on my own was going well, until I heard the buzzer go off signaling my 25 minutes were up, and found myself standing in front of the mirror brushing my teeth. Must have forgotten I was meditating. The most transcendent of meditative experiences have been with the guidance of people more experienced in meditation.

It is my hope and intention that after going through the Vipassana course I will have the tools to meditate much, much more on my own in 2012. Observing my mind and thought patterns in order to understand my whole self even more fully is going to be really interesting during this course.

This will be the first Christmas of my life not spent with my family in Connecticut. The first New Years not spent partying or watching the ball drop in some celebratory and nostalgic manor. It blows my mind a little to think that I’ve been talking/communicating with my outside world since birth. I will be silent and hopefully in a meditative state for the longest amount of time since my womb days.


Gratefully my family and friends are supportive, interested and understanding of my choice for this holiday season. They know that flying across country for Christmas this year would be an extra energy drain for me. As my life responsibilities are getting more serious, I trust this instinct to buckle up and treat my (western diagnosed) A.D.D. and self-diagnosed responsibility overwhelming with the most natural possible alternative – meditation.

In 2012, I resolve to more consistently and regularly practice meditation and yoga. To continue veganism with a focus on homemade meal preparation. To forego consuming any alcohol or intoxicants for the month of January (and perhaps on) as a way to evaluate their role in my life and put it in its proper place.

This year my relationship with school, learning, studying and others related to Five Element Acupuncture will be at the tippity utmost top of my priority list. I’ll be always true to myself and others, open, increase my compassion and presence, swear less, love more, and not let my green plants get brown, darn it!

I’ve been looking forward to this year. All that’s going on, bad and good feels deeply right. 2012, is a Time for Change.  Thank you so much 2011 for a time that was so very full, juicy and fruitful.

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 Capri Kurtz is working hard/hardly working as a graduate student in the amazing lineage of Classic Five Element Acupuncture. She is inspired by nature and    energized by love and laughter. Striving to evolve-she writes on her blog, Pilgrimage to Balance, and for fun on twitter @fivelementalife.

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