Let's just say that at this point I was three quarters of my way to being delivered to a nervous breakdown and I naïvely thought that all would be golden if I followed my bliss...
  1. Your retreat is held on private property in the middle of nowhere. The nearest town had a population of 25.
    They are usually referred to as a center and should not be referred to as compounds — which is what they are.
  2. If you can see your car from the dining hall but it realistically takes 9 hours before you could walk to your car, let alone drive away, fishy.
    You'll be told that it's for safety, to keep you focused on reaching some spiritual plane.
  3. When you arrive, the hundreds of men and women meet in a large room with a billion blankets and pillows with dimmed lights and no one will look at anyone else or speak so much as a whisper day in and day out.
    And be told by the meditation guides who will introduce old films of a long deceased guru who insists there is no competition with the audience's current belief systems.
  4. A few days later the guru will start suggesting, isn't it weird how (INSERT SPIRITUAL BELIEF HERE) says this when this system says ...
    Curiouser and curiouser.
  5. In the meantime, the grounds are idyllic and serene, but everyone is encouraged to lay down when not meditating or having sparse meals and limited water breaks.
    Fatigued, slightly dehydrated, faintly hungry masses are probably easy to brainwash, amirite? You know this if you have ever tried The Master Cleanse!
    We had 30 minutes to eat which meant 7.5 minutes to go through the self serve buffet with 100 women, 15 minutes to eat and 7.5 minutes to rinse dishes in buckets of water that was used to rinse off everyone's plates. BUT THAT HOMEMADE SUNFLOWER DRESSING THOUGH...damn! http://www.myhdiet.com/Fall-In-Love-With-Food-Again/recipe-items/raw-sunflower-seed-lemon-dressing/
  7. Will try to convince you to stay a while longer if you want to leave. A large group will actually try to leave. They are told that they are actually going through an important phase of purification and that their reaction is totally normal.
    I actually asked someone who attended the retreat at a different time and he admitted that it seemed disruptive and rude to leave because they offer the food, room and meditation with no price attached...until you stay and somehow if you stay you are more susceptible to making regular contributions.
  8. What's the first food you crave after nearly a week in a cult? (Again, accidentally. Not like a lifelong dream to surrender my brain to a dead guru.)
    Dairy Queen, chicken fried strip basket with a biscuit and gravy. With muthfuckin' Weeknd playing over the speaker.