My First Solo Retreat
I tried not to have too many rules to follow ... the point was not to force a future self to follow rules set down by a past self.
The point was also not to deprive myself of all possible pleasures.
The point was to schedule an entire weekend for spending time by myself, having only incidental contacts with other people. Spending time by myself was not to include surfing the Internet or interacting via LiveJournal ;-)
At first I thought I would turn the computer off for the entire weekend, but at the last second -- as the sun set on Friday evening -- I decided to turn off only the DSL modem, so I could listen to music and watch videos, and I kept the DSL off until I briefly popped back online Sunday morning to look up some information about one of my DVDs (and let people know I was doing well).
As the retreat began I was worried a little bit, although I knew I needed this, and I knew that it would strengthen me. I was worried that I'd have a panic attack and that I'd either make it worse by forcing myself to remain solitary, or that the retreat would only serve to prove that I could not handle a weekend by myself.
I had a wonderful time, though. I found ways to stuff pleasure into my life without having to contact other people. I wasn't expecting to have so much fun!
Late Sunday afternoon I hit a rough patch. Until that point I'd spent nearly the entire weekend inside my studio apartment. I began to feel constricted within my apartment, I began to feel a bit of the fear that I'd been fearing to fear ... so I escaped into the outdoors for a few hours. I walked for miles, and then I rested while watching the sunset. It was a great day for being outdoors, especially for August in DC!
The retreat was both mundane and spiritually potent. I did simple things like re-watching a favorite DVD, playing solitaire, going to the grocery store, doing laundry, running, sleeping, and eating. I also did a lot of masturbating. Hours and hours of masturbating. Probably more time spent masturbating than any other weekend of my life. I definitely wore myself out in that department ... though I want to find new toys that will push me even farther ...
Along the way I had several potent insights, and I usually took a break to jot them down on paper. Later I tried writing about some of them in my LiveJournal.
By "along the way" I mean, while I was masturbating. I've entered a space I choose to call erotic mysticism :o)
Because of the monkish way I lead my daily life -- no boyfriend, no TV, no radio, no mainstream magazine subscriptions, no car, living by myself, no cruising for sex (either online or off), no pets, daily exercise, no regular trips to gay bars -- I am not so used to some of life's pleasures as you might be. So, when I view a popular TV series like "24" on DVD, I'm amazed ... spellbound ... not just by the story but also by the technology and effort necessary to produce the story. For me, the experience of watching a DVD is spiritual, I feel reverent. Each person listed in the credits labored to produce this work of art :-)
When I do step into this foreign consumer culture, I do not feel like a mere everyday consumer who has expressed a mere preference for one activity among many competing activities. No, I feel like the recipient of a magic spell or potion. And, really, that's what it is. The difference between technology and magic is a semantic mirage. If you brought a human forward 200 years ... from before TV, cars, electric wall outlets, cellphones, antibiotics ... she would experience this modern world as a place of powerful magic.
I bring myself backward and forward through time, to experience my surroundings with a sense of wonder and reverence.
The erotic part of this mysticism is more difficult to write about, but it has the same magical flavor, for the same reasons, the main difference being that I become the work of art, my body, my nerve endings, my internal responses to direct stimuli. I'm not merely masturbating ... I'm a descendant of two billion years of successful life pursuing pleasure for myself ... I'm wired to feel this pleasure, I'm allowed to feel this pleasure regardless of whether I have reproductive goals, I'm giving myself pleasure, and I'm using magical modern technology to extend this pleasure in extreme ways ... modern manufactured toys, lube, intoxicants, porn, and even a comfortable, private, climate-controlled apartment.
Again, I transport myself backward and forward through time to experience this pleasure as a new thing, not to experience it as a modern day gay consumer, but as a newly constituted being of present wonder.
I am finally reaching some of the payback for years of following a Buddhist path. I am feeling joy via extreme (to me) pleasures that other people probably take for granted or never bother to explore.
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