Happy Camper

Almonte massage therapist Ellen SymonsBy: Ellen Symons
Ellen is a registered massage therapist and the owner of Body Poets

I’ve just spent 30 wonderful days at Camp Calm.

Without leaving home.

And I am certainly happier and more at ease because of it.

Camp Calm is David Cain’s “30-day virtual workshop for learning the basics of meditation and mindfulness.”* If you are not already reading David’s blog, Raptitude – Getting Better at Being Human, then I highly recommend that you check it out. And I definitely recommend Camp Calm as a way to start meditating, or to deepen your current practice.

I’ve written about my journey with meditation before on this blog, and reviewed an app here, and because it’s important to me to share things I think others might like, I want to share this most recent experience too.

This was Camp Calm 2 – there were almost 400 campers participating in this second session of Camp, which I find mightily impressive, and I met a couple of dozen from around the world at the online discussion forum. As people shared their questions, confusion, and discoveries about meditation and our individual practices, I found we had a lot in common, no matter where we were from.

Although Camp Calm is designed primarily as an introduction for new meditators, along with the campers who were trying meditation for the first, or almost the first, time, I also met people who were already meditating but wanted more guidance.

Camp Calm allowed each of us to work at our own pace, to be where we are in our practice, and to bring our excited, discouraged, rumpled, or transcendent selves moment by moment through a very practical yet elegant, forthright yet encouraging, gently nudging, and effective exploration of how to meditate.

Those are a whole lot of adjectives, because there’s a whole lot to Camp Calm, and I’m wanting to capture the subtleties of what I think are David’s significant strengths in putting this program together.

The 30-day Camp Calm program, “conducted mainly through email”, includes readings from two of David’s books: You Are Here and Making Things Clear; a daily lesson exploring an aspect of meditation along with a short practice for the day (including some guided meditation segments and audio content); email access to David for answers to questions about one’s practice; and an online group discussion forum where participants can post comments and questions to the group, and reply to each other.

A meditator for 15 years, David has an amazing ability to remember what it’s like to be a beginner. I think he’s done an excellent job of  “removing the confusion, the sternness, and the mysticism” from the teaching of meditation. Although I’ve had a daily meditation practice for the past 3 1/2 years and have poked at the edges of several types of meditation for almost 30, I’m still pretty new at this as a real thing that I really do. And I learned a lot from David’s teachings.

Previously, I’ve tried to be a Buddhist; I’ve sat in a closet-turned-meditation-room in my house; I’ve gone on guided and solo retreats; I’ve used mudhras and mantras and malas. I’ve read and I’ve listened to talks and I’ve found a lot of wonderful – and some confusing and difficult and demanding – guidance along the way. But for me, at this exact time, Camp Calm has been exactly the right fit. This has been the most comfortable, sensible, supportive, understandable, and affirming approach to learning and practicing meditation that I’ve experienced.

Consequently, my practice has grown in depth and stability over the past month, without me having to do anything, really, but pay attention.

Paying attention means I’ve also noticed changes in the way I think about and interact with meditation and mindfulness, and also, therefore and of course, with the world: a softness, an acceptance, and an ease that presumably will continue slowly to grow as I give them space.

Now that Camp is over, I’ve followed the suggestion of another camper and am rereading the 30 daily emails sent by David, and repeating the suggested daily practices. So here it is, Day 18 again, and I’m finding loads every day that I didn’t take in the first time. It’s as if Camp Calm 3 has started right away for me. Also, I’ve had some juicy realizations as I go through my days, things that are suddenly (at least for that moment) easier or clearer as the readings and practices slowly transform my perspective.

If you have half an hour a day, and a desire to begin or to deepen your meditation practice, I suggest putting yourself on the emailing list to be notified when registration opens for Camp Calm 3. It’s not expensive, you don’t have to leave (or be) home, you can be anywhere in the world, with an email address and an internet connection. As Hiker AL wrote on the discussion forum, there’s a peace and calmness in the thought of people around the globe taking part in Camp Calm and meditating together.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

In the meantime, it’s up to me to integrate what I learned about meditation by continuing to practice, and to pay attention. I think I can do that.

*All quotes are from David Cain at Raptitude.

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