Thank you for joining the Holistic Homestead for our third annual online Winter Retreat. I hope that you were able to gain a new perspective on spirituality and health; I hope you were inspired to practice mindfulness, awareness and compassion; and I hope that at the end of our retreat, you “come out” somehow transformed.

In the beginning we talked about setting a goal for yourself, for your practice. How did you work with those goals over the past week? We covered a lot of spiritual territory through many traditions and philosophies – but I hope that you were able to find the thread weaving through the theme of transformation. How have you transformed? How have you been transformed? How are you still transforming?

Closing a retreat is a bit like ending a fast or a cleanse, especially when you have invested more toward finding solitude, taking more time and space for meditation and prayer. Coming “back” into the world can be a bit shocking. The first day after a retreat I often reflect on this quote from Thomas Merton:

Thomas-Merton-Shining-Like-The-Sun

No matter how you did this past week, whether you were able to take five, ten, fifteen minutes a day or more to focus on reading and practicing – we will close our retreat with intention by dedicating any of the positive energy, good karma, spiritual blessings, special insights and physical and emotional benefits to others. This way, we completely let go of attachment to our own accomplishments (or shortcomings) and remind ourselves of the truer, deeper motivation behind spiritual exercises: the happiness of all beings. Imagine that all beings receive the blessings from your prayers like luminous snow falling over all the earth, covering everyone in clear, joyous, warm, free, loving light.

You can use a prayer like this one to dedicate the merit, or make up your own:

May all beings — without limit, without end —
have a share in the merit just now made,
and in whatever other merit I have made.

Those who are dear & kind to me —
beginning with my mother & father —
whom I have seen or never seen;
and others, neutral or hostile;

beings established in the cosmos —
the three realms, the four modes of birth,
with five, one, or four aggregates —
wandering on from realm to realm:

If they know of my dedication of merit,
may they themselves rejoice,
And if they do not know,
may the devas inform them.

By reason of their rejoicing
in my gift of merit,
may all beings always live happily,
free from animosity.

May they attain the Serene State,
and their radiant hopes be fulfilled.

This is a video of my favorite singing nun, the Venerable Ani Choying Drolma, singing the mantra of great compassion. Thank you so much for your practice, for engaging in spiritual growth, for challenging yourself, for taking a chance, for facing your fears, for embracing a holistic approach to health and well-being. Blessings!

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