In the deafening silence, all that can be heard is the thunderous crashing of the waves. This just about sums up how I felt being at a Silence Retreat. I have never practiced meditation before and for those who know me, 3 days of silence is more like a cruel punishment than something I’d pay to be part of. Nonetheless, there I was at Hridaya Yoga in Mazunte, Mexico ready to begin the 3 day silence and meditation retreat. We were encouraged to write a journal of our experience and with no phone, no reading, no talking, music or even making eye contact with each other. I thought it best to take them up on that! Rather than attempt to explain the techniques that we learnt or relay all the fascinating history or the inner turmoil and peace associated with this retreat. I’ll let my inner thoughts, unedited from that journal tell my story . So, through the eyes of an apprehensive beginner and fish out of water…. Here it is.
Breakfast Break. – I’m trying to have an open mind and I have been quite sceptical up to this point. I admire the enthusiasm and excitement from the other participants displayed at the orientation. I do think that I will learn a thing or two and I quite enjoy listening to the main guy (Sahajananda) speak about the origins of the different techniques eg. Buddhism, Sufism, Hindu etc. I’m sure I want to hit a yoga retreat or two in the future and might even explore other meditation retreats. But, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that silence isn’t really my thing. To me it feels a bit false and unnatural not to communicate with others. Adam and Eve did not exist in silence and God did not give them Eden to hang about under the apple tree ignoring each other. Humans are companion creatures and belong together, well that’s my view. Quiet time is golden of course, but don’t even smile at each other. C’mon! Initial practical observations. I have no idea what that white stuff at brekky was and the “oat milk” not great. I’ll pee in the compost toilets but I wont be doing number twosies in there and I also wish they’d stop referring to scorpions, its freaking me out!
Lunch Break – I think meditation for me is the battle between sleep and wakefulness and not in a good way. It’s not about a racing mind or not being able to centre myself. In fact I am so bloody tranquil that I nod off every time I close my eyes, and within minutes! Wow, there are two butterflies dancing in front of me and when they are close to one another “sparks” are heard. (What is this?)… Maybe its the cosmic energy? Weird. Anyhoo, I’m beginning to think my lesson here is to choose my words more, which is a practice I have already begun. Also to practice what I preach and be tolerant and accepting of others wholeheartedly in all circumstances. For we are ALL Gods children. Eg. Is it judgemental of me to see inappropriate attire and think, why do I have to stare at your ass for 3 days? Or do I just need to accept her clothing choices.
Personal Practice – I’m lucky! I have the opportunity to take part in experiences that people would love to have the time and money to do. I’m lucky and I don’t even wish for this experience, it is by sheer mateship that I ended up here and whilst it is not my passion or even necessarily my interest. I am grateful to be here because I’m doing what I set out to do. Immerse myself in other cultures, environments and experience situations that I wouldn’t normally experience. Ok, so I’m not the best meditator in the world, but I bet by day 3 I’ll be better than I am today (If I can stay awake that is). It’s interesting to watch people do their personal practice (I’m sure I’m not supposed to be watching). But, I’m surrounded by head stands, shoulder stands, blind folded meditation, people just chilling, its yoga pose central in here. It looks funny when they are not in unison like in a class. Question. Why don’t yoga people wear bras? Seriously, is there a guideline I missed? Also to note, Tortilla chips and carrot sticks for dinner at a silence retreat… Are you joking?
Bed Time – Holy Shit! I think I just meditated. I didn’t move or fidget, I didn’t fall asleep and I stuck with it the whole time. Well, haven’t I come along way since this morning. One day down, two to go.
Quote of the day – “The heavens and the earth cannot contain me, but the heart of a true believer can”. (Hadith Qudsi,Islam)
Breakfast Break – Ok, so I’m back to the battle. So much so it feels like the charming little bell that sounds is actually putting me in the ring. Ding, Ding, Round 2. In the red corner Therese and SLEEP in the black corner. That was such a loooong 2 hours. I’ll try again next session, maybe brekky will wake me up more. Another thing, it’s quite strange trying to avoid Nea. She’s been one of my mates for 20 years and when I see her coming, I avert my eyes and ignore her existence. I know if we lock eyes, our friendship telepathy will kick into gear and “silence” will be lost and smirks will appear. I don’t want to ruin the solitude for her, but I have a sneaky feeling she’s thinking the same thing. The connection is strong with that one and she can read my thoughts, especially when they are screaming “Oh My God! Is it over yet?” She’s literally inches from me most of the day and its like pretending we are two strangers on the train who don’t want to meet. I’m glad she’s here though, it’s comforting to know we are in this together, even if we can’t actively support each other in it.
Lunch Break – Praise the Lord! I did it again. I truly meditated, no interruptions, not even a flinch and I didn’t notice the time going by either. It’s a good thing too, because I had a little note from one of the monitors today with some helpful advice. It seems my lacklustre efforts from this morning did not go unnoticed. I feel ready to conquer the mammoth afternoon session, after a run and a dip in the ocean of course.
Afternoon Session – I will not be beat! Earplugs and eye mask at the ready, (Thankyou Emirates). Here we go!
Bed Time – I’m not sure this much meditation is for me, but I’m really enjoying the lectures with all the references and comparisons to different religions and beliefs. Our teacher is a wealth of knowledge and such an engaging speaker. One day to go!
Quote of the day “The same tremor of the heart is in the heart of the Hindu that adores Krishna as is in the heart of the Christian that worships Jesus” (Sahajananda)
Breakfast Break – Ok, so meditation, me and the mornings just don’t work. Is it because I’m still sleepy or is it because I am well rested and therefore wide awake? Who knows? I’m excited to be able to at least have the opportunity to try. Last day, here’s hoping for enlightenment and cosmic bliss (hahaha).
Lunch Break – The thing with meditation in this environment, if you’re a newbie like me is, it can be quite frustrating. That said, I think I’m going to enjoy learning and developing my meditation practice later on when there’s not so much pressure on myself to feel zen. Also I’d just like to say, I hate beans! Black beans, white beans, baked beans HATE HATE HATE them and after today I’m never eating one again. The food here has been good, I just never understood why vegan eating has to be so polluted with wretched legumes.
Afternoon Session – I am Victorious! I did come out a few minutes before the little bell but absolutley my best effort to date. It’s almost over and at the beginning when I was feelings so daunted by it all, I heard my mum’s voice “This too will Pass”. That little gem has got me through so much in life. Thanks Mamma.
Bed time – We did it! Who knew I’d miss the sound of my own voice so much (hahaha). We had an intimate debrief with the Guru and I think that was my favourite part. His energy is so infectious and I’d love to pick his brain for hours. Such a warm, open man and a fountain of spiritual knowledge of all persuasions, the Romanian Dalai lama, good and pure and kind. Hilariously, the whole time I was trying to “save” Nea’s solitude by ignoring her, she was thinking I was actually super mad. Oops. 3 days of silence was enough for me, I will be sure to investigate similar retreats without the communication ban. Simply because I love to meet people and learn from their perspectives and enjoy discussing life, love, the lord and everything in between. A fascinating 3 days to say the least. If nothing else I picked up some very effective techniques to get to sleep easily. Not sure that was the point. Over and out (said out loud).
Quote of the day “Silence is the language God speaks, everything else is a poor translation” (Rumi)
So that’s that. I am pleased to have attended and my relationship with meditation has definitely begun. Maybe not in a lifelong partner, love of my life kind of way but maybe I have met a new casual lover and I definitely want to see him again soon.
Yours in Faith,
The Unlikely Pilgrim