I sit in my chair with a pillow underneath me. I am in the first day of a ten day silent retreat, a Vipassana. We will be meditating for 11 hours of each day. We are allowed to move during our first sitting, to transition to sitting like a statue for the remainder of the time. We are given a few minutes after each hour for the bathroom and to walk around. We are not allowed to give each other any eye contact or interact whatsoever. Interestingly, we move around each other with a flow that only increases in grace over the next 9 days. In this, we are given opportunities to practice patience, to move slowly, to be aware of each other's movements without acknowledging them, but responding in silence and changing the course of our direction.
I find myself feeling 'known' even though I am amongst strangers. It is an odd feeling. I have the opportunity to put myself first, which I have always struggled to do. In this environment, my needs and desires are as important as anyone else's. I can give fully to myself in all aspects. I can almost pretend that everyone else is invisible at times, the way I have often felt in my life. Here, I am seen, even though no one is looking directly at me. I am present - and that is enough. Yet, despite this, there is a bonding that is happening in our movements, our silent commitment to each other and to ourselves. We are respectful of each other in a way that doesn't often happen in the busyness of life.
I fall into the rhythm of the day. The 4:30 a.m. chimes to awaken us. I sit up to meditate. We are allowed the first hour before breakfast to be in our rooms, and not in the meditation hall. We eat breakfast in silence. We flow to the meditation hall at the sound of the chime and take our places. The pillows in each area continue to grow as each day passes. Pains and uncomfortableness are trying to be thwarted with these pillows. It isn't successful. Yet, I am able to concentrate on my meditation and let the energy pass through me. I am aware of each and every block, every pain - physical and emotional. There is a release and a comfort that comes with this focus. At one point, the Kundalini energy flows upward, through my spine and I am elated. Finally! After all these years!
I connect on a profound level, with myself, my spirit guides, and to my experiences, which leads me to a deeper understanding and encourages me along the path that I have started - to live a nomadic lifestyle. The trust and surrender that I have been seeking, seem to be more than possible - they are, at present, a reality.
We are given time to be outside, to walk in the woods. I hear the crunch of footsteps on the snowy trails. There is a pattern to each individual and within the group. There are some who walk the same path over and over, and there are some who walk a different path each time, and some who go with the flow, moving in sync, changing their steps to the rhythm of others - a metaphor for how we walk through our lives? I am grateful that I choose to walk down different paths spontaneously, to explore each trail and to transition to the unknown.
There are times that the meditation is a huge struggle - there is an overwhelming desire to scratch the itches, stretch or shift to relieve the tension and the aches, or just move to distract myself from the emotions that are arising. But, I remain committed - to not moving, to not letting myself get distracted from the goal of this 10 day mediation. It is true, every itch, pain and desire passes with the letting go, with the inward focus, in the silence.
The tenth day comes with mixed emotions. We are now amongst the talking and our 'grace and flow' is disrupted by the chatter. We aren't as present as we were when we were in silence. I am missing the silence. I feel at a loss somehow....I want to hold on to the feeling that I AM, amongst the crowd, no matter where I am, even without the silence. Yet, it is good to hear the laughter as we share our stories, our experiences and observations. I catch up with Randy who had been sitting only a few seats down from me during the meditations. I could sense him but I could not sense his experience - whether it was good or not. We both give each other time to share as much as we want. I do not disclose my own full experience because it feels as though it should be left in my heart. I remember a quote from my Remote Viewing course - Honor the Silence of the Heart. This seems a time to do so.
I walk away from that Vipassana with a lightness that I have never experienced before - in my body, in my mind and in my heart. Meditation, no matter for how long one does it, has great benefits. I am grateful.