It may not have been obvious or known to visitors and residents of the Wood River Valley, but a number of valley residents and people around the world have been participating in the 2010 Winter Feast for the Soul. Men, women and children have spent a greater part of 2010 meditating every day at guided meditation meetings or on their own.
The 2010 Winter Feast will draw to a close on Tuesday, Feb. 23, with a global peace meditation at 6:30 p.m. at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church on Sun Valley Road in Sun Valley. The meditation event is open to everyone and will be followed by a high tea service after the meditation in the church hall.
"There is no real way to know how many people were part of the feast this year," event founder Valerie Skonie said. "People often write and remind me of that because they know of many people who are participating and have not registered. There are yoga studios, sanghas, schools, churches and families that do not register on our Web site or only one member registers. I think we will never know just how many there are."
The 2010 Winter Feast for the Soul began Friday, Jan. 15, and according to the Feast's Web site, participation was at 20,000 halfway through the feast. Skonie said the feast grew tremendously and people were responding on the Web site.
"We had about 50 people at the opening candle-lighting ceremony at Light on the Mountains at 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 15— it amazed me," she said. "People's practices are deepening. I get letters from people and prisoners everywhere. I have had people tell me the valley is vibrating because of the feast."
Valerie said it's all about commitment, and when the 40 days are over participants understand how a daily practice can change their lives. She said spiritual practice and dedication for 40 days teaches people about themselves on the inside and out.
"I received e-mails from a grandmother in Boston who sits with her grandson," Skonie said. "I was also told about a young boy who now understands what timeouts are about, and they are not bad."
The Winter Feast for the Soul has doubled its mailing list and the number of children participating through the Internet has grown as well.
"I know of at least two schools in the valley who are doing four minutes of stillness for world peace," Skonie said. "Our daily inspirational quotes have been translated into five different languages by volunteers from other countries, which include Dutch, Spanish, German, French and Portuguese. They do this so that their countrymen can share in this part of the feast."
Skonie said a great many people practice at home, and attending the closing meditation gives people an opportunity to see who else was part of the feast and to hear their stories.
"The feast means a great deal to a lot of different people in the valley," she said. "I encourage everyone to meet each other and share their experiences."
For details, visit winterfeastforthesoul.com or call 788-6373.
Sabina Dana Plasse: firstname.lastname@example.org