Since my return from the last Abundance Course retreat at Camp Allen I have been reflecting on why I go to retreats.

It’s pretty simple. There is nowhere else I could spend that week that would support my releasing as much. And I make noticeable progress in my releasing each time.

It is easiest to see the progress I make at the retreat when I return to my everyday life and notice what is different.

This time I noticed that there is increased “ease” in my life. I’m still doing the same things, going to work, being with friends and family, cleaning up my house, etc., but there is less of a sense of a “to do” list. (I have specialized in “to do” lists, prioritizing and then working my way down the lists. While this can lead to a sense of accomplishment, there is not necessarily joy in the process.)

Now, I am actually enjoying each of these things in the moment, without thinking about what I need to do next. In fact, the “need to do” sense seems to be missing in action. Not that I don’t need to do things. I’m just doing them, without that sense of burden.

A couple of days after I returned, I caught myself thinking, “I know what’s different. I’m happy.”

Not happy about an event that just happened, or happy that a potential disaster had been averted. I was just happy, as a state of being, unconnected with anything happening or not happening in the world at the moment.

In this state of happiness, it was no stretch to be happy while I regarded the stack of phone messages, and the box of mail. It was no stretch to be happy while I returned all of those phone calls, and worked late on reports that had accumulated while I was away and had immediate deadlines. Because I now have the experience that my happiness is independent of what is going on around me.

Nobody can make me happy and nobody and nothing can take away my happiness.

Case in point. My 24 year old son has many fine qualities. He’s brilliant, has a great sense of humor, and has chosen the most delightful woman to marry. However, for whatever reason, he has never been willing to wash his own dishes. Not that I haven’t tried every educational and psychological strategy, bribe, and threat.

With a week’s worth of dirty dishes in the sink, I went down to talk to him, thinking maybe I just wasn’t appreciating how big he thought the “yuck” factor was, and maybe we could trade, I would do the dishes, he would…

As we talked, I realized that I totally wanted to change him and I allowed the feelings to leave. In that moment, I saw how I had created our years of impasse on this issue out of my desire to change his behavior. I realized that the dirty dishes were inconsequential.

Inwardly I laughed and laughed, thinking, “So this is to be my first experience of hootlessness!” And as I sat with my son, loving him just the way he is, the happiness was so acute I could hardly contain it. Is he every going to do his own dishes? I don’t know. It no longer matters to me.

Before this last retreat, I knew intellectually that my happiness was inside of me. After this last retreat, I know from my own experience that my happiness is my own, always available to me, and that if I am not happy, I am the one in my own way.

Was dissolving a twenty year conflict with my precious son worth a week of my life? That was just one of my gains for the week.

One day a week I answer releasing helpline calls. Last Friday a woman asked if I knew the winning lottery numbers. I told her that if I knew the winning numbers I would gladly share them with her. We laughed, and then I told her that I felt that I had already won the lottery by finding the Release Technique.

Better than winning a lot of money, I’ve won myself.