One of the biggest, most rewarding gifts I have ever given myself was a 10-day meditation retreat. It was a silent retreat so I wasn't sure the talker in me could cope. But little by little I settled in. When my fears abated, I found silence wonderfully liberating. In getting quiet one begins to notice. I noticed everything, inside and out. I even noticed others noticing. It was almost comical to be amid 100 other people in silence who were having nearly the exact same experience. It was the ultimate metaphor for the human condition. We all suffer, we all delight in nature and when there's nothing else to do but be still and quiet, we gaze up at the stars and marvel. We inspect the bark of a tree with great curiosity. We pay attention to the birds and watch them build their nests. We turn our faces to the warm sun, tilt our heads back and smile. At the end of the retreat, when the noble silence was lifted, I cried. I felt bereft at having to reenter into conversation with the world again. Somewhere in those long hours of meditation I'd entered a deep, glorious pool of serenity -- a pool that had always been right there in my heart's backyard, only I never knew. In those ten days I felt I'd reached somewhere, located something far more profound than I could have ever imagined and I did not want to lose it. Yet this is what meditation teaches us -- how to lose it and not lose it. How to remain equanimous, how to examine our attachments and aversions, how to notice without reacting, breathe our way through it, then let it go. When I left the retreat center it was with some trepidation, but I quickly learned that my serenity pool would always be there. I had to sift through the clutter of life, extract myself from my surroundings and take a vow of silence to find it, but now that I know the way, I can always find my way back.
Join us in Tuscany, May 17-23, 2020, for the Mindful Living Retreat. Led by Dr. Yvonne Stedham, you will learn simple techniques for how to quell the busy mind and live a more peaceful, serene life. Leave this retreat having cultivated a new relationship with calm.