I will never forget that morning.
Just three days earlier, we had dropped our teenage son off for his first Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme) retreat. The retreat had come on the heels of a particularly difficult time for our family, as we found ourselves navigating the challenges of adolescence with our two sons. As my husband and I struggled to find tools to support our children’s sense of self-worth and resiliency, our thoughts turned to a mindfulness retreat we had attended years earlier. The experience had profoundly transformed us; might it do the same for our children?
As we pulled up to the retreat center that morning, we found ourselves warmly greeted by an open, radiant being. Our beautiful son, who had just days before been wary and constricted in self-protection, was now joyful and grounded. He had visibly reawakened to a trust in the larger world—a trust we feared had been lost. In a myriad of ways, his experience at iBme not only helped him to reconnect with his true self, it allowed our family to reconnect in a place of calm introspection, authenticity, and hope.
Since that day, one of the most powerful lessons we’ve learned is that mindfulness is not a linear path, but rather a beautiful journey that ever deepens our experience. This year, our family’s journey came full circle, as I was offered an opportunity to serve as an iBme retreat mentor, working and learning with teens and teachers at the very same retreat center that had changed the course of our lives.
iBme’s vision is to support future generations of heart-centered, diverse leaders who are prepared to respond to the challenges of their time with focus, resiliency, and compassion for themselves, their communities and the global environment. What I witnessed on this retreat was that vision becoming reality. I experienced first-hand the relational teachings that shifted interactions and dialogue. I watched the transformation that occurred as the teens unplugged, unwound and reconnected to themselves, each other and their greater world. I felt blessed to share in the healing process as conflict was resolved without blame or shame. It all amounted to a profound, inspirational experience that strengthened my belief that we, as human beings, truly can build peace.
Later this fall, our family’s journey will come full circle again, as my husband and I attend the iBme-led retreat for Parents, Teachers, and Youth-Serving Professionals at the Garrison Institute. Leading us through the retreat will be Joe Klein and Jessica Morey, iBme’s founding teachers who first mentored our sons. In listening to Joe describe this retreat offering, he speaks warmly of creating a sense of community, of deepening connection to self, each other and the world, of bringing focus to a felt, embodied experience.
This “magic recipe,” as Joe so accurately describes it, brings ease to the interplay between personal practices where we cultivate quiet, calm and inner focus, and relational practices, where we cultivate an authentic, safe, fun and dynamic community—one in which we are truly seen and heard. By flowing in and out of silence, focusing on inner experience and then engaging with the outer world, we are learning how to show up fully for the life we’re living.
We will also bring special focus to self-care, which leads to compassion and supports our ability to be present for others. As we care for the children and youth in our lives, we often feel their stress, wounding and trauma—much in the way we felt as parents when we first brought our son to iBme. Through self-care and loving kindness, natural wisdom is allowed to arise and be recognized. It is from this place that we are truly prepared to be of highest service.
Years ago, our family found new hope and a deeper connection through mindfulness.
It’s a journey that has brought us full circle in so many ways and continues to do so today. While our sons did not adopt a consistent meditation practice as teenagers, my husband and I believed that, having experienced the power of mindfulness, one day they would return to its life-changing benefits. Now, as young adults meeting the challenges of college, career and full independence, they have both begun to explore the practice again. In ways both big and small, they are incorporating its principles into their daily lives, finding peace, renewed resiliency and reconnection to their true selves.
What more could a mother want for her children than to see them whole and exploring the world with strong minds and open hearts? As I reflect on our family’s journey, I am filled with gratitude for the gifts of mindfulness, for the healing and transformation my family has experienced, and for an ever-growing awareness of just how beautiful life can be.
About the writer: Lori Deckert is the Development Manager for iBme and parent of two teen retreat alumni. Previously, Lori served as the President of the iBme Board of Directors.