Living in the Moment

Singing Bowl

Singing Bowl (Photo credit: Jairus)

Ah…the sound of silence. Just the meditation bell bringing you back to the here and now. The present moment.

Sounds relaxing right? But forced silence, seclusion, and left to your own mind for days can be a scary things. No speaking, no phone, no texts, no internet, no tv, no radio….just silence. Nope. Not even a book.

My anxiety was knocking at the door of my fight or flight center as I pulled into the northern retreat. After six hours of driving, you’d think that I’d be eager to bounce out of the car and stretch my legs. Nope.

I live in my chattering head all day every day, and having nothing to distract me was a little scary. My darlings, I didn’t have a bottle of wine, glass of bourbon, or teeny-weeny-martini tucked away to take the edge off.

It wasn’t quite as bad as my spiritual forray into the world of the Native American Tradition of healing sweat lodges. When the elder asked in what direction I needed to sit  to heal, I said, “Whatever is next to the door.” In other words, I think I can make it through this if I know I have a quick escape plan.

The monastic community that guided us through our meditation process were kind and deeply insightful. The lay practitioners (yes, that included me, and there was no laying of yummy men to be found) were also gentle spirits with deep insight.

The first night I was there, facing a window overlooking a lake framed by evergreens, white birch and ancient rock faces, the vibration  of the bell and etherial chanting struck a hard blow to the wall I’d been holding up to keep myself strong. The sun set to a great release of sadness, anger and suffering.

Tucked into my bed, snug in the pristine white sheets, I listened to the rain outside and felt the breeze blow through the window. How long has it been since I slept with the window open?  I looked out at the black, overcast sky and realized that city living had cut me off from the sounds of nature.

At some point I drifted off to the sound of the rain, and woke in the early morning for 6:30am meditation, safe in the knowledge that I had a KitKat tucked in the bottom of my purse in case of vegan-enforced-diet emergency.

Settling back into the real world is jarring process, but when your perspective has shifted, when your consciousness has been allowed to vibrate at a higher level without mundane distraction, and your sense of your true self has returned, it’s no wonder.

I offer you a song that sums up the teachings;

***For Buddhist practitioners interested in attending retreats such as this please visit the websites for Plum Village, Blue Cliff Monastery and Deer Park***

 

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