This Gangsta Goddess retreat is really shaping up to be spectacular…and while we don’t want to give every detail away know that we will start each morning with a period of silence (no talking) that we will hold from waking until lunch time. This practice of Noble Silence is very healing and will allow the silence and the calmness of the space and our place in it to penetrate deep into our flesh and bones. The spontaneous joy and peace of the natural environment – the trees, the wind, the water, the sky and one another’s quiet company – will be able to penetrate our body and mind.
For some, the thought of purposefully staying in silence can be challenging – mostly because it is a new and unfamiliar experience. This is especially true when a person’s primary associations with silence are uncomfortable—for example, when the only experience of social silence has been one of interpersonal discomfort, loneliness, or exclusion – and yet, we will be cultivating a nourishing atmosphere of stillness that will help you to get beyond those first few moments of awkwardness. You may find that you quickly come to cherish it and look forward to it rather than fear it.
This practice may create the much needed space in which we can see ourselves more clearly. Rather than being actively distracted by work, relationships, the internet, music, or various external events, we’ll have an opportunity to notice overlooked feelings and concerns. So often we motor through our everyday lives and make so much noise without even noticing it. Noise often rises as we rise from the bed…and follows us away from our homes to our places of activity and back again. And I am not only talking about being loud – there is considerable noise that is made by stress and worry and mostly all the things we do to keep from feeling a lack of control that is our reality. Even a small sustained period of silence give us a chance to observe the subtle, important motivations and values behind how they live.
And perhaps, like me, it will be a great relief to get to know you (my fellow retreat mates) outside and beyond the limiting stories we tend to tell of who we are, what we do, and what we have done…I find that silence highlights our shared humanity and gives access to a direct feeling of empathy and rapport. It’s great to remember how the quiet ways of being with others can allow for a deep sense of connection. And while I believe most of what the Japanese have to say about our three faces (see image below) I also know that we can and will drop some of the “masks” we show to one another when we can simply share space without having to fill it with stories or noise.
Of course, there are many other benefits too silence. One is the rest it gives to our overstimulated minds…social conversation keeps the mind active, periods of not talking help the mind rest. Silence settles the many emotions that are activated by talking (and the anticipation of talking) and listening…as our mental and emotional lives calm down, our bodies naturally follow suit and relax.
Silence allows for a heightened sense of intimacy with the world. In even a little bit of sustained silence our senses become more acute, and both the inner and outer world can appear to us with greater clarity. For example, we may begin to notice the birdsong we previously failed to hear, or we may tune in to our quieter thoughts, which normally get drowned out.
So, each morning after breakfast, we will take a walk through the woods where we will breathe deeply and enjoy the stillness and the freshness. This practice of mindfulness brings into our being the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. Eventually with consistent practice we bring our body and mind into harmony while we wash the dishes, drive the car or take our morning shower.
In practicing this together on retreat, our overall practice of mindfulness becomes more joyful, relaxed and steady. On these mornings we can become the bells of mindfulness for each other, supporting and reminding each other along the path of practice. Staying in this sacred silence for the morning can help advance our practice of cultivating peace and joy within and around us which becomes a gift for all of those whom we love and care for.
Enjoy your practice of BEING alive while here on retreat. Develop a more relaxed and gentle attitude, an open mind and receptive heart. And again, perhaps like me, as you discover the great value of the occasional slices of chosen silence in your life, you can begin to explore the uses of silence in daily life. Learning to be comfortable with silence expands what is possible in our relationships—both with others and ourselves. Sign up now!