Be a lifetime learner.
Challenge yourself to take risks and operate outside of your comfort zone.
Solicit feedback and learn from mistakes.
Understand the nature of causing breakthroughs and live it as a discipline.
Believe in Magic.
In Kristin Armstrong’s Column for the March 2018 issue of Tribeza, titled “Waking Up,” she writes about her meditation teacher making an interesting parallel between film and consciousness.
“My meditation teacher compared the experience of seeing a film to the experience of living life and waking up and becoming truly conscious. Before such an awakening, we live life much like a moviegoer. We settle into a comfortable pattern and are lulled into the story and the characters until it seems that the film is all there is, all that exists. We are manipulated by the musical score, getting extremely anxious, melancholy, romantic, or triumphant accordingly, as we’re cued. We are pulled completely into every conflict without a thought as to whether it truly involves us, because this is what we do. We assume we have no power in casting decisions or script rewrites, because after all, we’re just spectating. We expend enormous amounts of energy in this way.”
As I was considering the “movie” of my life, taking in Kristin’s practical and insightful words, I smiled at the perfection of timing, having just returned from a 10-Day Silent Retreat.
Knowing I had the privilege to write about our fundamental of the week, I was further amused by “personal growth” being the subject matter.
Over the past 14 years, I had given myself the gift of two 5-day silent retreats. I had been encouraged that going in this deep for ten days was not just twice as good; it had the potential of being exponentially more valuable.
It’s been entertaining, to say the least, to hear people’s responses to my informing them I was going on this 10-day journey into silent contemplation.
Mostly, people thought I was nuts, off my rocker, mid-life crisis kind of stuff (hey, I was thinking they may not be far off.) And a few fellow yogis, friends and clients responded with deep, long sighs of wishing they were going with me.
I pulled into the retreat center, unloaded my stuff, including blankets, running shoes, yoga mat, meditation cushions, books and a journal.
I turned off my phone and left it in my car…for 10 days. Between the daily binge-watching of Father Thomas Keating’s videos on dismantling the false self (mind), hiking through the woods, the creek and along a river (body), and sitting in meditation (spirit), it took me through the end of day 2 to quiet the relentless borage of thoughts, impressions and non-stop commentary on what I was convinced was “my life as reality.”
I discovered when you are still and quiet long enough; over time…you get a full viewing of your “movie” and what condition your interior condition is in. And how deeply I had fallen into the trap of the obsessive mind and the grip of the contractive self (yes, that’s a small s, self.)
The irony here is I had a pretty great “movie” going in my life. Maybe not a BlockBuster, but, hey, life was pretty good, you know?
And then something happened.
Day 3, sitting in our first of three, one-hour meditations: Things. Just. Fell away.
Next, all came quite naturally and effortlessly: the acceptance of this condition, exactly as it was, immediately followed by freedom.
I was awake. The lights came on. And, it got really, really quiet. I could hear the silence.
I had miraculously made the mystical twelve-inch journey from my head to my (burning) heart, in the full presence of the source of all being, the unseen energy: Love. Maybe this is reality.
It’s possible this experience is a big part of what Steven Kotler and Jaime Wheel, in their recent book, Stealing Fire were referring to as flow, and without a doubt, what I experienced as ecstasis continually over the next 7 days, and even now in this moment as I write these words, taking a risk and operating outside my comfort zone.
They mention Eckhart Tolle, in his book, The Power of Now and his sudden enlightenment, non-dual consciousness experience as including what the authors refer to as STER: Selflessness, Timelessness, Effortlessness and Richness.
This is not the first occasion I’ve had this experience. I’m fortunate to have had many touch points with grace. The difference here was the amount of time I was able to maintain this state, in the silence, in the wilderness: a desert experience.
I know I will never be the same, forever altered. The power of the silence was and still is just too delicious to pass up each day.
So, have a seat. Join me.
You can’t mess up meditation.
And, if you’re missing out on connecting mind, body, spirit, then consider starting with a 10-10-10 Practice: ten minutes reading something enriching and inspiring, ten minutes of yoga or stretching and ten minutes in silent meditation.
Once you’ve established a practice, then increase the time on each, if you like.
Make it a daily practice. Better yet, make it a ritual. You won’t regret it. And, please, let me know how it goes.
All my best,