In March 2018 I encountered quite a challenge. Even as I encountered it, and acknowledged that I needed to do something about it, I somehow did not feel drawn towards any external sources of support. Neither talking with someone, reading books, finding solutions online, applying any of the many tools I’m familiar with seemed of any relevance. It was as if all I wanted was to be still. As if my entire being was leaning towards a silent space, longing for it.
I had certain obligations though, so I couldn’t just stop everything and go into silence. I had to wait until the beginning of the Easter, where I already had reserved some time for a silent retreat.
Not that I celebrate Easter by the way. But I knew from previous years how deep transformations often do take place around Easter. The time prior to it often having a sense of heavy darkness to it and then things opening up at the end or after Easter… Have you noticed that too?
Anyhow, the retreat turned out to be very different than what I expected! Not that I expected much. All I wanted was a time of nurturing silence, of deep rest. I did not expect any new insights or messages from within. I didn’t expect any problems with staying silent either, because I already lived a very secluded life.
Unexpectedly and without me planning it this way, the 3 days retreat unfolded like a journey, with all the elements that we see when a profound transformation takes place.
There was the confrontation with what stands in my way, the roadblock.
There was the invitation to make a different choice than what I would naturally be inclined to, to unfold something in me that I’d rather not.
There was the reluctance, but then surrender, and eventually a dedication to change.
There was a time of transition when all this was somehow interacting and heating up.
There was the transformation itself, one that we cannot plan for, but which happens through divine interference, like turning led to gold
There was the sense of bringing it all home, of coming home as a changed person.
There was – and is – the post-transformational journey – the integration of the gift, willing and learning to live in alignment with what I dedicated myself to during the process.
I have a sense that the reason why it unfolded so beautifully and on its own had something to do with all the inner work I’ve done previously, alone and with others (for 40+ years). I’m making a point out of it, because for most people, to create a balanced transformational experience I would not recommend going for a deep silent retreat like this alone. Instead, do it with someone more experienced by your side, someone that can support you and guide you each step of the way, someone who knows when to take a break, when to continue and how to deal with the confusion and the pain that the process may bring to the surface. Unless you have the kind of experience it takes, please find someone that can guide you through the process. If you’d like me to be your guide through such a process, request a Light & Joy Discovery Session and we’ll take it from there.
As for the more general insights that I gained through that journey, one of the things that I became more aware of was the subtle way in which I appear silent but am not fully silent after all. Even if it doesn’t feel like I’m thinking, and it all seems quite silent, underneath what we thought was silence there is sometimes a very discrete chatter, like whisper. And the art of it then is to notice this too, and let it be, and let yourself dive even deeper into silence.
And of course, it’s Okay no matter what you experience. Thoughts are allowed, and what are you going to do with them anyway, other than notice they’re there?
Actually, we can do and be more than just noticing. We can practice being truly present, with chatter as much as with anything else. Deep presence is more than noticing, more than observing, more than witnessing. Deep presence is a loving presence. It is observing and noticing with loving care, with compassion.
I don’t know why it’s called mindfulness, when it should be called heartfulness.
The inner shift from mindfulness to heartfulness is so subtle… there is no sudden change in the energy flow, nothing seems to move differently. Yet the effect is as dramatical as in drawing the curtains in a dark room and letting the sunlight in.
To me, this is the intention, in meditation and in life, for it to be heartfulness, not just mindfulness. It feels so much better, so much more connected and whole. So much more awake. And isn’t that what we all want?
It’s not always easy though… Yet surrendering to the not-easy path can bring such gifts…
By the way, I consider making surrender (what it means, how it happens, why it is important) one of the first topics that will be addressed in the Joy Of Purpose Support Group!
Going back to chatter… It reminds me of another form of very disturbing chatter, one that goes back to the mid-90s. At the time, I moved back to Copenhagen to take care of my mother who was dying of liver cancer (and of old age). At that point she was still able to lead a fairly normal life, she was still in her home. That said, her life had become but a pale shadow of what it used to be. Now it was all about the smallest practicalities, talking about illness, body functions, meals, back and forth, over and over. It felt like it would never stop.
I’ve always had difficulties listening to my very talkative mother (that’s the disadvantage of having a highly developed hearing abilities…😊). As her life was coming to an end, hearing her talk about the same details all day long wasn’t a difficulty anymore. It was unbearable. And, there was no way for me to stop it or get away from it. I was the only one there, I couldn’t leave her. My ears were hurting, there was a sharp physical pain inside both ears, and I couldn’t do anything about it.
So I thought until I discovered that there was something I could do after all. I could surrender. Rather than focusing on my hurting ears, I somehow found a way to endure the sound and to focus on love and on my mother instead. In doing so, in being fully and lovingly present rather than trying to escape, I found peace. In the midst of noise I found silence and love.
It’s the same gift that I found during my silent retreat, even if on a very different level and in a far, far more expansive way. And this time it wasn’t just the gift of peace. It was – and is – the gift of of a different way to be with and to receive life.
A presence, a oneness with all there is, where we all connect, underneath our talkative minds and mouths, our many actions, ideas, plans, feelings… The silent space though which it all unfolds, always has, always will.
There’s so much hope there, for us. Such mild sense of joy.
Are you too ready to go deeper into joy, purpose, surrender?
Here’s how I can support you.
This excerpt of the forthcoming book, Awakening to Joyful Living is published here with permission, all rights reserved.