At times you want to go deeper inside yourself to understand your true “YOU” and sometimes experiment with that “YOU.” That was the phase that I was in. I had been trying to do everything that inspired me and was also surrounded by a wonderful being who I can’t imagine my life without. Still the one thing that bothered me was that I seemed to be in a hurry ALL the time – and always lacking time. I wasn’t able to BE THERE wherever I was and fully enjoy everything.
Was it my environment or my mind? I had to find out and bring in some balance to fully enjoy this life that I’ve been blessed with. A silent retreat came along. With a little nudge from my husband I said ok I am ready, let me do it.
I am very grateful for the Sahaj Marg Meditation practice that I have been involved in for the past 10 years. Spiritual aspirants are encouraged to retreat for a period of time for self-reflection, to internalize the practice and dive deep. I planned for a 4 day retreat and flew to Austin, TX where the retreat center is located – on 27 acres secluded from the civilized noisy world, a simple old ranch/farm house converted into a retreat center. A caretaker and 3 peacocks stay on the property.
I checked into the retreat center on a cold Tuesday night and to my surprise I was the ONLY person retreating there for the entire period of my stay; secretly I was very happy. I just wanted that space and time …and here it was. During the retreat, the retreaters are encouraged to maintain silence, focus on their spiritual practice, journal their thoughts and reflect on them. Regarding mundane tasks, the only one was to prepare my own meals – simple food which the retreat center provides with a lot of care and love.
I made my cozy bed and settled down. I didn’t have any plans, and really I didn’t want to have a plan or make one. I just wanted to float with the time. There were NO deliverables, no driving, no meetings or personal or social commitments. Not even my “fun” activities like listening to The Mystic Show, attending Pause Your Life meetups, or participating in my weekly tele-book club. It was just ME and ME alone ……
Now I wanted to find out: Who was the troublemaker? Finally!
There is a very special spiritual atmosphere in “SPURS,” as the retreat center is called. The next morning I was up by 4:30 AM; it was still dark and quiet; except for the whisper of the wind there was nothing. I got ready and started my meditation at 5:00 AM which became my routine during my stay there. What a blessing! My heart was craving for that moment and here it was. So deep and rooted… so close to HIM. I need not watch the clock. I can stay here as long as I want to – NO agenda, NO task list to complete. The time drifted without the mind’s intervention. The Soul was enjoying every moment of it.
Made a simple breakfast (toast with cheese, and chai) and settled down with my journal. The day was breaking – I could see and feel the soft rays penetrating through the thick clouds, and also into myself. What are those shadows?, they were moving gently – O Yes – I forgot about the deer who are often causal visitors here. The peacocks were taking a stroll. I was wondering what it would be like to be like them. Hmmm. I wasn’t sure – do they have any purpose in life? Do they aspire to become more than they are? I don’t think so. Hmm… in that case I wouldn’t want that life J.
Later around 11 AM I got dressed in WARM clothes and headed out for a stroll in the wild. There are no marked trails or cleared paths – I love the fact that I can blaze my own trail. I also enjoy looking for deer tracks and pretending to walk like them. The cold breeze was on my back and the warm sun on my face. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the wilderness. The long wild grasses in silver and gold were glittering and swirling in the wind. The short, hard, dry trees were in clusters. There was movement and stillness everywhere – What a contradiction. Life is both Movement and Stillness … Not sure how long I stayed, but my growling stomach reminded me that I needed to eat. How I enjoyed it – there was no timetable that I had to follow to make sure I started and finished my lunch within an allotted lunch break time period. Why had I been so used to making it hard on myself? Or is it just that we have accepted certain aspects of our society as normal and don’t even think about it any longer?
Made a simple bean burrito with salad and enjoyed it in quietness. No distracting thoughts or actions – just one task on hand – having lunch. I am keenly watching myself, my thoughts. As I said, this was an experiment where I needed to find out the cause and resolution.
There was nothing to do after lunch, and I had an urge to close my eyes and go deeper inside my_self in Meditation. No barriers whatsoever – no right or wrong – the time was just drifting at its own pace. Peace and Calmness surrounding my whole being making it lighter and lighter. I was able to feel how my system was “decompressing” every minute in silence – but how long can it go on this way?
I made notes of my state of mind and the following thoughts in my journal. Hmm… I realized journaling was such a beautiful way to express oneself TO oneself with the least physical motion.
Watched the birds flying back to their nests as the sun was setting. It was getting cold and dark again, but it was still serene, indeed. The mind was still quiet and observing the new environment and experience.
It was time to do the second part of the practice – the Cleaning – where, in a very subtle way, I get rid of my day’s impressions and fill my heart with divine grace.
Time for some dinner – made some pasta – why is it so easy here? Things are very simple at SPURS – the way things are set up is very simple and the simplicity itself kind of blows my mind. It not only reduces the time of completing tasks, but the effort as well. I really need to take this idea with me and implement when I get home – SIMPLICITY.
Now it was getting really dark, so quiet. Wanted to be closer to HIM, went into Meditation like a baby Kangaroo gets into its Mother pouch to be closer to the Mother. Sleep came over me very naturally.
The third day I noticed significant mind activity – I was clearly able to feel how the mind was getting annoyed of the time moving so SLOWLY!!! It was BORED… and tried to move into past memories. The one special effect in SPURS is, by Master’s grace, the mind’s operation is really slowed down. So however hard it tried, it simply could not remain in the past for too long. I, as an observer, like a scientist, was very happy to observe this behavior and was making notes.
The pace of the time never changed but the way my mind was responding to it was changing every day. This was one clue for the answer I was looking for. The struggle was tough to handle, but since I was so aware of it, I was able to calm myself, remembering how I was waiting for these moments of NOT DOING ANYTHING, …NOTHING AT ALL!!! Just to watch the clock tick and just BE. Pretty soon I was filled with this feeling of serenity and again went into deep Meditation.
At the end of the Fourth day, I felt so light and filled with Grace. I knew how much I had benefited from significantly deepening my Spiritual practice. I was also very happy and grateful since some of my questions were answered. I had some work to do after returning home – First: simplify the way I was leading my life, Second: be aware that my mind has a major role the way I perceive and feel the “pressures” of life. So I decided to adopt this method – Any Task I Do, Do it from My Heart with Mindfulness and give the least importance to the Mind. And be aware that there is a huge gap between Clock Time and My Mind Time.
My Theme for 2014 is “Be Simple and Authentic”