June 2023


Claudine Jones | Scene4 Magazin

Claudine Jones

So y'all probably don't know but this makes the 4th time I've been off on a weeklong retreat in the same lovely setting, where I get all my communal meals and a relatively comfortable bed, all cozy by myself in my little room. This is not a silent retreat but it is expected that you will not make noise in your room because noise travels, nor should you carry on a big old conversation out in the hallway because you might be disturbing somebody. After all, might be some pretty heavy meditation going on.

A pretty intense week all in all. Lots of familiar faces, lot of the same kind of food, vegetarian of course. Difference this time being that I have set myself to losing some weight and even though I paid for all this I still don't wanna backtrack on my progress. Didn't bring my breakfast meal bars cause I wasn't gonna waste them. I love them and they are not cheap and so yes saving them for my home routine. And it's really easy to fake, you can just have some fruit and oatmeal that'll do the trick.

We got bumped from March at the last minute for unforeseeable reasons which meant that I think there were some people who couldn't actually come who were blindsided. That was sad for a minute, but then we just deal. Typically somebody will say so is this your first retreat? And you'll say yes, how about you and you say this is number 4 and they say wow. Also how did you come to decide this is what you want to do and you say I found it as a result of a search for in person retreats; the first time I went they were literally just restarting after shut down. That explains how come a lot of us started and are continuing 4 sessions later, spaced out every six months or so. Fall and spring, you know. And we're buddies now.

Here I am, Tuesday day three, in the middle of morning two hour meditation, which is not silent—it's more like a minimalist guided meditation, and for reasons that are probably not going to be explainable in any reasonable way, I go from the pleasant, nay even boring, to the horrific. It seems like it's going to be one of those occasions when a person experiences a mild panic attack and then somebody else maybe has to say Oh yeah don't worry about it, these things happen if it reoccurs you might want to get it checked out. But I don't do this. I've never experienced this feeling like I was in real trouble—unspecified, but definitely right there.

Ha! I just realized, you know what it felt like? Like when I used to have a gallbladder attack! Yeah. There's a feeling of the onset of a disturbance. As though you are not going to be able to concentrate if you're having a conversation. Coincidentally that's kind of the same thing that happens when you're actually going into labor not just Braxton Hicks.

But I digress. And anyway I don't have a gallbladder anymore.

Back to the meditation. This sensation begins with the doom thing, which anybody who has researched heart attack symptoms will tell you that is something of a woman's experience of heart attack onset, so for microsecond there, I'm like OK how ironic, what a way to go, away from home and under such peaceful conditions. That wasn't it though. It was your garden variety inexplicable malaise and it passed pretty quickly, but it certainly took me out of myself. As we were migrating off to lunch I just shook it off.

The way our day is structured you got your two hour morning meditation and then after lunch you got time to go take a nap or a walk or something, and then you got your late afternoon Q & A. And then dinner and socializing. It's all good. I'm pondering what I'm gonna sing for the last night show.

The next day however, I'm going about my business in the Q&A middle afternoon, usual up and down of sometimes not being able to make out what somebody is saying when they ask their question because they're not using the microphone properly even though we're always reminded please hold your microphone up and speak directly into it, we are recording and we want to be able to hear you ask your question. They still don't seem to get it. I've got my hearing aids and my little fiddly remote control so I can modulate in case somebody is kind of aggressive and loud, in contrast to those who are timid and mousey. One old fella later at lunch opined that his hearing doesn't bother him; he stopped caring. I could see that, but ain't there quite yet.

About halfway through, we're talking very specifically about the explicit mandate to choose a way of operating in the world which summons yes and rejects no . For example when politics enters the room, which it unfortunately sometimes must, and a question will be posed such as what do I do with Hitler, how do I welcome what is pretty much standardly acknowledged as an evil motherfucker, with love in my heart. Hitler being sort of the gold standard. And the response is always, nope don't go there. If you have even a microt of hate as your default response to others [read: Republicans], cliched as it might sound, you have then lowered yourself to their level. You're letting them win.

The only way is to default every encounter with yes.

That's when hell sort of breaks loose in me. Talking about this later, I attempted to describe it as like going to the amusement park with the expectation of bumper cars and finding yourself on the nastiest roller coaster imaginable. Seemed like roiled up rage banging around inside.

Much as I try I can't really use words for this. I wanted to get up and run screaming out of the room. Of course I didn't.

Half an hour, 45 minutes later, unlike so many other occasions as I exited with other people, there were no interactions with people, as though we were magnets with reverse polarity gently repelling each other.  

I wandered over to a bank of windows, facing off to the southwest. It was pretty beautiful out there. If I stood very still, faced outward, it was fine. As soon as I make a move to turn back into the space filled with people, whatever it is gets worse.

Found myself thinking huh, I suppose I could just stand here. Nobody's telling me I can't. But for how long?

How long has it been woman equals yes.



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Claudine Jones | Scene4 Magazin

Claudine Jones has a long, full career as an Actor/Singer/Dancer. She writes a monthly column
and is a Senior Writer and columnist for Scene4.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2023 Claudine Jones
©2023 Publication Scene4 Magazine





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