This holiday season, things aligned for me to experience my first ever real retreat into silence. Shut up, in my apartment for two days with a plan to focus entirely on my yoga practice and meditation, spiritual literature and recordings, my only hope was to recharge and learn…something new.
See, I am no stranger to myself. Always having possessed a deeply introspective & sensitive mind, I spend quite enough time alone. This time however, would be different in that there would be no distractions to put up between us. No texting or social media, no music to transport or influence me and no fictitious novels to immerse myself in. Purely my Self and the mirror that is the mind. Of course I was a little nervous, as we often become when faced with the unknown, but I am becoming deeply rooted in my faith and was eager to see what would transpire.
Anxiety began the night before beginning, when it came time to turn off my phone, my life line, my right hand man! Knowing that I have become far more attached to this weird little device than I would ever have liked to believe possible, I knew that detaching from it for some time would be very valuable. While I could likely write page upon page in regards to the epidemic that is cellphone/social media dependency, let me simply address what I believe to be the root of this issue; our deep and most true desire for Union. We clutch and stare at these little screens all day long, messaging those we are apart from, stalking the lives of those we envy and ultimately, putting up huge barrier between us and our real natures. We were born to connect and cooperate and the illusions created by modern technology that make us feel connected and included in an instant, are actually growing the divide between what it is we must work to come more closely towards; Our Selves. On the first morning of my silence, my True Self was elated! So eager to profess her love and thanks to me, to assert our bond, now that I was truly listening. See, this is my best friend- always there, forever encouraging and completely loving. We owe it to one another to cultivate this relationship and I can proudly say to anyone who asks and means to listen, my best friend is the ideal companion and she lives in me. We decided to fully enjoy our days together…
The first day started out smoothly, too smoothly…morning prayers & pranayama & meditation, followed by a most nourishing breakfast with no limit to the hot tea and cacaos I sipped while listening to and taking notes on the recorded teachings of my dear Guru. I went on to experience such a blissful asana practice, realizing that by limiting my distractions I was able to be so thoroughly in the moment. My asanas were taken so much deeper as there was no clinging in the mind to hold them back. Just as I was concluding this sadhana and about to enter the practice of japa, I could hear sirens in the distance. While aware, there was no disturbance created in the mind. I still was not removed from my blissed out state as they grew nearer and ultimately stopped outside of my apartment. It was Christmas in Bowness after all, no big deal. Only when I heard a neighbor outside in the hallway shouting that, ‘we’re all going to blow up’, did my peace of mind quickly fade away. I went right back into that scared little girl who cannot deal with crisis. Thoughts jumped between ideas of running out into the hall for answers, to gathering all of my valuable things, maybe even calling my Mom or my Guru or perhaps simply freezing and letting the panic gather around my heart, taking me down slowly. But come on, I was literally just about to start the repetition of my beautiful affirmation, which is the practice of japa, so this was what I did while listening from inside my doorway and experiencing the unpleasant smell of gasoline. Something had happened in the basement and the smell had alerted someone to call the fire department. I am still not sure what happened outside of my door that afternoon. Yet inside, I was gifted with the opportunity to address my fears and insecurity. Most all of us are deeply insecure and this will manifest in various ways. We cling to whatever is available, hoping for some permanence and stability, struggling to remember that We are permanent and We are stable. Eventually we will all die a physical death and have no need to carry these current bodies around with us, let alone the unopened Christmas gifts I was considering gathering before making my quick dash to freedom! So I sat and connected with my eternal nature, repeating my affirmation, as the open window pulled the fresh air in, and out, the lingering hints of exhaust from the surroundings and fears from the mind.
The rest of the time passed peacefully, beautifully. I mean, it was only two days and yet, they were full and they were valuable. On the second night, the last night, Christmas Eve, I had a beautiful meditation and ceremony. I am so grateful for this life that I am leading. I said prayers for those I love and connected with them so deeply as you see, this is what happens as we deepen our connection to our Selves- we generate increased capacity for connection with those we desire it from. At the end of my mini celebration, I received beautiful instruction and support in carrying forward. I had reached this place of serenity, security and love with self in such a short time, but had I become solid enough in it to reenter the dramas of life so soon? Surely the mind is strong and the mind is fearful and it is protective and I did not want to let it go back to having it’s way so soon. The message I received was to give my mind the task of creativity and creation. I love to write and express, and it is here that the mind is happiest and most align with my heart, my True Self, my BFF, Kimaya.
So I will keep writing for my own sake, for my own liberation…I long for it deeply and each word seems to take me just that much closer. And if I can write and connect with the truth in others, proving to them it’s real and it’s OK, then that is beyond beautiful. After all we are here together, to connect and inspire and I must play my part.