After completing a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat in November 2015, and returning home with life changing breakthroughs of heightened awareness, love, and insight, I wanted to investigate a bit further. This led me to spend the last week of my winter holiday on a 5-day silent meditation retreat in Joshua Tree, CA. It took being submerged in an environment without daily habits, tendencies, and noise to embrace the powerful act of living. The removal of talking, eye contact, reading, writing, and technology brought my senses, awareness, and overall presence ALIVE. For a moment during the silent retreat, I was completely connected with the desert landscape and thought, “I could be a cactus”, which offered a window for me to reconnect with how good it feels to be at peace. However, this feeling of “peace” was a process of investigation, vulnerability, and acceptance.
By functioning without the perceived vital crutches of talking, technology, eye contact, reading, and writing, a personal door opened into the portal of breath which was my gateway to align with a calm mind. I became aware of every sensation throughout my entire body (exhaustion, discomfort, resolve, and final surrender). The sensations of pleasant, unpleasant, and indifferent, were masks, disguising the acceptance of hard truths that appeared in my body in forms of pain and release. During the process, I was gently guided to remember there is always a gateway to freedom from suffering if one is ready to do the work.
Due to the extreme drowning noise of our outer world, it is rare to have a complete experience into the process of how to get quiet from the inside out; this involves being an active participant in the deep listening needed for growth, healing, and perceived realities of truth.
There is a natural tendency of imprisonment by being on autopilot in order to manage career, family, daily stress, deadlines, relationships and the additional responsibilities of life.
However, when trying to escape the realities of unhappiness, struggle, and unfulfilled purpose, we lose sight of the priceless gift being present and mindfully aware of what we are running from can actually offer.
With current political distractions, ignorant mindsets, fixed beliefs, illness, pain and shame throughout our country and world today, the best antidote I’ve learned to help alleviate my personal suffering is through meditation. In my early trials of meditation, I thought the act of allocating time for “nothingness” was 100% counterproductive.
The mind chatter consisted of: I have so much to do. Sitting still is not going to help get anything done! This voice was also responsible for my thoughts of doubt, not being good enough, personal judgment and more.
However, learning how to arrive into a place of “nothingness” allowed me to discover the power of a calm and clear mind. The work takes place with breath and mindful awareness. Breath is something I can take for grated and fail to remember this healing tool is with me every single second until my expiration date kicks in. Mindful awareness evokes insight, holds safety for my anxiety, and shifted me from living in a reaction-based reality to embracing non-reactivity. It is the art of learning equanimity.
It is with heartfelt encouragement to reach as many human beings as possible that have found themselves on the path of disconnection, unhappiness, false realities, and addictive patterns to reveal a way of being free from our own suffering.
Just a few tips I have learned and choose to embrace along the path:
We all share the same 24 hours a day. Practice: create a fraction of time daily to spend on the process to become aware of breath, thoughts, and methods to settle an active mind. It is a process that needs practice every single day. Do not get discouraged. Start where you are. Trust what shows up with compassion.
Get curious about your breath. Attributes of the breath will reveal aspects about self that are in need of healing. Practice: When you inhale, say to yourself breathing in. Upon exhale, say to yourself, breathing out. Connecting the breath is what is happening in the present moment and allows the body to absorb the floodgates of benefits and healing produced from the parasympathetic nervous system (reduced blood pressure, strengthened immune system, elevated mood levels, and more).
Striving to attain and capture love and approval from someone else whom you think will make you happy, in the end, will only make you miserable. Practice: do one thing special for yourself daily to show, verbalize, and create love. Buy flowers, smile, listen to your favorite song sing it, get outside, exercise, it’s an endless list…
We are beings comprised of energy. When energy stagnates, there is no life. Practice: find a movement practice that allows you to feel connected and engaged with your body. Try yoga, walking, outdoor and recreation activities. We can heal our bodies by using them productively.
5) Clean Eating:
Ask the question: Did this food originate from a package, lab, or from the earth? Practice: choose “earth” option. Food is energetically charged and when eating food that has life, our vitality, longevity, and bodily systems will respond more effectively, efficiently, and productively.
Being grateful makes us feel better. In the big picture of life, our fortune of abundance depends on the lens of perspective we choose every day. Practice: wake up each morning and before your feet touch the floor, bring three things to your mind that make you smile and fill your body with gratitude.
7) Love & Kindness:
We all want love; we want to be seen; we want to be heard; and we want to matter. Practice: Recite I will love more and worry less. Treat others like you would like to be treated. Start with yourself and notice the effects of positive and/or negative internal dialogue. Make note of your energetic response to specific thoughts that affect your mood, body language, activity level, and actions.
I am invested into the process of practice…Practice showing up just as you are, day in and day out. Some days will feel better than others, but practice being curious about the elements of life that manifest and harbor toxicity and how you can find ways to omit them. Rise to the occasion and try on silence to create calm.