Nice day for a walk in the park - Silence
So, again and again as I try to sell people the idea of our 7 day retreat I meet with the response.. "oh I couldn't be possibly be quiet for 7 days" or "why would you want to be quiet for 7 days"...... Some of you probably can't imagine how I could be quiet for 7 days... Anyway, I thought I'd write a little about silence.. to demystify it a little.
So why do we do it.... what are the benefits?
Silence has been a valued practice in many spiritual traditions. In Sanskrit it is know as 'muona'. Time and time again I emphasise in classes that we are not monks and nuns, but people drawn to be 'in the world'. We don't have to leave our world to pursue spiritual and self development practices.
However, short retreats - where we temporarily assume a 'monastic lifestyle' - are a very valuable opportunity to take time out and examine....
Examine whatever we feel inclined to examine... in a supportive environment.
Alongside yoga practices – asana (postures), pranayama (breathing) and meditation, silence helps us to slow down and be more conscious.
In our day to day life we are often in situations where we have to communicate. Completely in the flow of our distractable mind, we project ourself into the space in a reflex, reactive and general underexamined way. Often this is pretty harmless and it is the basis of socialising; we are social beings and enjoying interacting.
But how often do we say things that we wish we could take our words back.. Arhh.
In the space of silence though, we don't have to project ourself into the space we are able to relax into our Self (who we are behind all our projections). This is as hard as it is simple.
Our first experience is often to be overwhelmed with the the crazy, busy-ness of our minds. However, this is why we have practices and teachings to guide us – the asana practice grounds our awareness in the body; while pranayama and meditation help us to develop our concentration and kind, self acceptance.
And anticipating the challenges (having done a lot of silent retreating), I share titbits of wisdom from the yoga tradition to guide you. This happens in daily talks, where questions are welcome or in private interviews with more sensitive issues can be discussed.
The benefits of silent retreats.
The side benefits of silent retreats are that we return to our world with greater clarity and powerful, discerning capacity of a refined mind. We are able to be more conscious and selective about what we project into our spaces and relationships. This is the getting to know our Self and it's a pretty worthwile outcome.
Actually most people find the silence a relief. We are relieved of the social pressure to make conversation or small talk. We don't have conversation and communication to distract us. This enables us to relax back and enjoy being present to the beautiful environment and our yoga practice.
It's a like delicious stroll in the park.
So I hope you feel inspired to try out some of the retreats on offer.
If you are not quite ready to plunge into the 7 days, then the next 3 day is Anzac weekend 2016.