Travel Tuesday: Silent Meditation Retreat

Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

It’s so fun to make a list of the places in the world you’d like to go. It’s interesting to ask yourself why you picked the places on your list. I have recently been considering the possibilities and with last week’s post about The Elephant Nature Park, I began this series: Travel Tuesdays. I would love to hear about your favorite places to travel too!

This week, I’m writing about silent meditation retreats. During some online daydreaming, I came across a list on The Huffington Post called, Silent Retreats: 10 Fantastic Retreat Centers in the U.S. For Peace and Quiet. Massachusetts and California rule the list, but there are other highly-ranked  locations in Oregon, North Carolina, and Hawaii.

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I wondered, what would be the benefits and challenges of a silent meditation retreat versus a regular meditation retreat? I can imagine the liberation of releasing the need to verbalize everything or to employ social niceties with everyone you encounter. I think for me it would be relatively easy to be silent…with the exception of the fact that I’m a chronic hummer and self-talker! I can imagine hearing new sounds you’d never noticed before. Like the quote above describes, I can imagine perceiving subtle energies in different kinds of silences. It all sounds lovely.

 "Listening to the Wind in Pines," by Ma Lin

“Listening to the Wind in Pines,” by Ma Lin

And what about the challenges? I know that sometimes when I’ve had a solitary day I feel a little stir-crazy in my own head (hence the self-talk). We are perpetually wanting to say what we think, how we feel. We want to ask questions and inquire. Being called to transcend those impulses would be quite the test. A worthy one I think! I also think there is a good chance that many hidden inner parts, seeking the ear that has suddenly become available, would present themselves and all of their needs. As long as there were skillful guides to help navigate these challenges, I would love to give this kind of retreat a try.

Have you ever been on a silent retreat? If so, where and for how long? And what did you think? Would you recommend a silent retreat to a fellow seeker?

For now, a silent retreat is officially on my list of “Get Me There!” places.

More next week. Enjoy your wanderlust and be beautiful.

~~~S Wave~~~

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Exercise Your Inner Senses

“The inner senses will allow you to perceive the reality that is independent of physical form.… Try this simple exercise.…

…pretend that you are on a lighted stage, the stage being the room in which you now sit. Close your eyes and pretend that the lights have gone out, the setting has disappeared and you are alone.

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Everything is dark. Be quiet. Imagine as vividly as you can the existence of inner senses. For now pretend that they correspond to your physical ones. Clear from your mind all thoughts and worries. Be receptive. Very gently listen, not to physical sounds but to sounds that come through the inner senses.

Images may begin to appear. Accept them as sights quite as valid as those you see physically. Pretend that there is an inner world, and that it will be revealed to you as you learn to perceive it with these inner senses.

Pretend that you have been blind to this world all your life, and are now slowly gaining sight within it. Do not judge the whole inner world by the disjointed images that you may at first perceive, or by the sounds that you may at first hear, for you will still be using your inner senses quite imperfectly.

Do this simple exercise for a few moments before sleep or in the resting state. It may also be done even in the midst of an ordinary task that does not take all of your attention.

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“Meditation” by Jepchumba

You will simply be learning to focus in a new dimension of awareness, taking quick snapshots, as it were, in a strange environment. Remember that you will only be perceiving snatches. Simply accept them, but do not attempt to make any overall judgments or interpretations at this stage.

10 minutes a day to begin with is quite sufficient.”

From Jane Roberts, Seth Speaks

the insistent articulation

In college I majored in linguistics and French. I have worked as a speech-langauge pathologist for almost a decade. I love writing. I have had a good deal of personal experiences with conflict, conflict resolution and practice in self-expression. So I think it is fair to say that language examined is a centerpiece in my life.

 

Today, during my “quiet time” which I set aside for prayer, meditation, and/or inner work I encountered the irony of calling it that. It began when, in a moment of feeling the past and future drift away and resting only in my present and constant connection to God, I had an urge to verbally express the wave of gratitude and peace that was overcoming me. I began to speak.

But instead of remaining in the motion of that beautiful moment, the feeling of connection lessened. With the words out of my mouth, I was fully in my physical body again…using my vocal folds to create sounds, my mouth to create words, my brain to put it all together in an order that makes sense to someone outside of me… I was no longer in that wave of unspoken gratitude and love where God and I meet in heart and spirit.

I thought, Okay, I’ll stop talking for now and just be in this moment. After all, I’ve done that many many times. I figured it would be easy. I returned to a place of connection and did not open my mouth to speak. But the linguistic mind is an amazing thing. We think in words. We can have an entire conversation in our heads without uttering a sound. Even though I had silenced my mouth, my mind continued to talk about what was happening.

Mind 1: What a wonderful feeling this connection is. Thank you for this moment with you, God.

Mind 2: Shhhh…. Stop talking. Just feel it! 

Mind 1: Okay. I’ll stop. I’ll stop talking so that we can just feel. Ready? Okay on the count of three we’ll just start feeling and not putting words to everything like we always do. No words. Just sensation. Wait, would it be “sensation” or “feeling?” Maybe we should just call it “experience?” No, I’ve got it. “Being.” That’s good.

Mind 2: Shhhhhhhh!!!! You’re missing it!

Eventually, I was able to be in a place of even mental non-talk. Not completely and constantly–it’s a hard habit to break!–but to a much greater degree than ever before. I just was. All feeling of gratitude or love in my heart, in the moment of being felt, was already being communicated. No words necessary. As people drifted through my mind with a feeling of connection and appreciation, I let go of the need to open my mouth to pray for them. Instead, I rested with them in that beingness and we were completely known to one another and to God. God knew all I would have prayed for them as I just let myself remain silently in that state of supplication. I could “hear” insight without processing it as language. I just knew what was being relayed.

When your sense of self is no longer tied to thought, is no longer conceptualthere is a depth of feeling, of sensing, of compassion, of loving, that was not there when you were trapped in mental concepts. You are that depth.

– Eckhart Tolle

It was new and beautiful.

There is a time for language. I hold fast to my belief that there is a time for powerful verbal prayer. There is a character that is built through the practice of careful selection of words. But there is also a time for silence, a time for our spirit to drift with the waves and just be.

In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.

– Rumi