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I am on a silent retreat, co-presenting with my friend Patrick Kearney. This is our third attempt in combining orthodox Theravadan teachings on sati-pattana (the four foundations of Mindfulness) with explicit body work that is designed to bring awareness to the present, in the body and, not trivially, to show peple how to sit without pain in the body, so the work of  sati-pattana can be done with full awareness—of the patterns and structure of your thoughts and emotions, rather than on the pain in your back or your knees! I know that every retreat I have attended before working with PK on these ones, as soon as moun (silence) is lifted, most of the initial conversation is about the pain people have suffered, doing this most natural of things: sitting still.

You may read about this workshop HERE.

My friend and colleague Dave Wardman and I have agreed to blog for 90 days continuously, so here is my first of 90 posts.

His blog is HERE.

But this post is about my sleeping bag: bought for me by Olivia, at a Mont sale; I have spent many happy warm hours in it. It unfolds to a quilt (albeit a rather unusually shaped one, given the shape of the bag):

Only half opened while I write this blog

Only half opened while I write this blog

When I do a Yoga Nidra, or relaxation practise, I use it over my legs so I stay warm; when I am writing or reading, I make a half-tube and put my legs inside (it gets cold at night here in Govinda Valley) and because I run the first session in the meditation hall each day, I need to be up at 04:30, and it is particularly cold then.

That puddle of red in the left lower corner is a silk ‘inner bag’: these are essential for two reasons: cleanliness (very quick and simple to hand wash; silk dries very quickly); for maximum warmth when you need it; and to reduce wear on the bag—if you use a silk inner bag, you can move around inside the bag more easily, and stress the seams. less. My bag is now eight years old, and it looks brand new (and I use it regularly; in addition to retreats, I use it if we have guests in the house, and when I visit my Mother, to reduce “house pest” stress (thanks Kinky Friedman).

When not in use, I leave my bag stuffed lightly in the linen cupboard, so that it retains no memory effects. And (most readers will know this) if you want a bag to last, do not store it in its bag and, when you do need to put it in the smallest place possible, always stuff the bag into its container randomly.

Anyhow, I find this technology beautifully rendered. When I need a new one, I will get one that allows a bit more feet space (I have the bottom of the bag unzipped for this movement); this is the only aspect of the design I would change. Otherwise, in my life, I find this an essential.