Because life can be precarious and the only thing we have to keep it from tumbling over, is our state of mind; I decided to take myself on a five day silent meditation retreat this year for my birthday. I did in an effort to strengthen my state of mind of organic goodness. Here's how it went:
I could tell you about the bells that rang all day from early morning until after dark to signify sitting meditation, walking meditation or mealtime. I could mention the thoughtfully prepared vegetarian food or the beautiful serene forest surrounding that was my comfortable home for the week. But the real core stuff for me, was what was, or actually wasn't happening as I sat quietly there.
In my stillness, as I sat quietly, I watched the busy-ness of my life slowly slow down and eventually fade into the background. The background, that is, of the rest of my life. As the distraction of everyday demands dissipated, the rest of the graceful life in me that had been within all the while passively overlooked, started to gently smile. I was stunned to see just how much overlooked life there was in there and how wonderful it was to hang out in it. This, I guess, is the 'awakening' you hear about.
It was a mini Vipassana retreat of sorts, only five days of Noble Silence, but did I mention it was five days of Noble Silence. No talking, no eye contact. In Buddhist thinking, this is to serve each individual by gifting them an existence free from the involvement of coming out of self (through our words and attention) in order to have, be and do with others. These words and attention that we pay onto others, require more time and energy then we can possibly know, that is, until we stop. The 'stopping' part alone was amazing.
Indeed we are always subjected to the opportunity to give ourselves to everyone and everything around us. In my new awareness of this fact it was also revealed to me how often we make this choice unconsciously. Our choice to get involved or engaged with each other is often involuntary, like blinking or swallowing. (As it turns out, blinking and swallowing are also things we do a lot more of when we are talking and looking at others : )
I realized that much of what we say, most of our waking words, are meant to make sure that we are 'OK' in the world or that whomever we are sharing our space, time and energy with is 'OK' in the world. Odd you are thinking? Perhaps, but this is how it showed itself to me in my silence. When we are given permission however, or in fact mandated to let this unperceived invitation for verbal care and attention go, WOW such a release into a new experience. Magically, in the silence, you begin to see just how 'OK' we all are, without all the verbal efforting and gesturing which attempts to check on that. It is an experience which is rooted in the trust that we are in fact each just right. And, that as our own compassionate witness, we can let ourselves be in love with every bit of our lives, even the hard stuff. Such delightful learning -truly.
As a result, my commitment to my meditation practice deepened as well as my commitment to my work in it's mindful, purposeful ways, and to my newly acknowledged love of solitude. Yes, I discovered joy, bliss and boundless inspiration in the vastness of the still quiet terrain within. Honestly, that does not sound like a sentence I would ever write. But, this is how is was and i'm 'OK' sharing it with you.
Meditation as well as any wakeful quiet stillness, is truly a psychic rest that is essential for keeping our well being complete. For me it felt like a joyful reintroduction to my gentle introverted self. Someone I was happy to get reacquainted with.
Yes of course to survive we must also connect with the external world, give it our attention, engage and ultimately thrive in it. But, no where is it written that to do this we must abandon or disengage from our internal world. So why is it that we all too often do this? Why do we routinely, without thought, move away from the internal home within us? I can think of no good answer. So, I've recently moved back in, and have decided to become a permanent squatter.
If you are curious to explore meditation or desire to strengthen your commitment to your existing practice, be sure and sign up for my newsletter. This way I can keep you in the loop about the 'pop up' group meditation sessions I'll be hosting this summer. Meditating in a group adds a dynamic layer to a solo practice. As we serve as mutual witnesses to each others individual experiences, we also create connection of these experiences to our outside world.