I entered the modern shingled building atop the Vermont mountains and intuitively knew to move slower as I opened the door.
I quietly stepped into an empty dining room. Shelves across the room held bowls labeled with Buddhist names. Mine, just plain old Alison, among them.
I'd stay here four days to teach mindful relating - "Circling" - to this community of people whose life journeys had led them here.
I dawned dark clothing, claimed and washed my bowls every meal, observed silent hours and lived fragrance-free.
A former dream center, the monastery triggered dreams where I carried a devil child in my womb. In another, my close friend murdered me. In two more I unleashed a wrath from decades of unexpressed rage.
4:30am I'd awake to the sounds of chanting leading up to sunrise - faster and louder the brighter the sky.
In the light of day, our circles had us face mortality, love, attraction, repulsion, isolation, connection, spirituality. But most of all, the power of here-and-now.
Talk about what's happening in this moment between us. For seven straight hours a day.
And you get a lucid reality where you cannot look away.