Take a deep breath in … and breathe out … and another breath in … and relax. Sit comfortably and allow yourself to do nothing!
Do nothing! Easier said than done and doing nothing in silence for 4 days is even more of a challenge. You see, when you do nothing, everything inside wells up and wants to be heard or actioned. All the voices, stories, criticisms, planning, problems, ambitions, emotions … they all rise and come to the surface of the mind. So when I went on a 4 day silent meditation retreat, I had to look and listen to my rantings and ravings in order to find the peace beneath.
The Art of Silence retreat was with my spiritual group The Art of Living Foundation, founded by guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar from India. There are millions of people all over the world connected with Sri Sri and we have learned to meditation through him.
Nestled in the Girl Guides Camp in the Kuringai National Park amongst stunning nature we were on a gentle quest to find our own inner nature and peace. Through a series of pranayama (breathing practices) asana (body postures) meditation, seva (selfless service like sweeping leaves or washing dishes) and satsang (chanting and singing) we slowly let go our worried, busy minds and opened to deep peace and tranquility that is our true nature and always present.
Over the four days I had many difficulties as well as blissful experiences and learned that they were all necessary and perfect. I had headache and excruciating pain in my lower back as well as emotional nausea while toxins left my body. Then after each breakthrough, I went deeper into peace and discovered hidden inside me was a tiny bubble of joy that gently expanded. I have been told by so many that happiness is found within, but until experienced it is just a concept.
For some sessions our guru’s voice was gently guiding us (via recordings) through ‘hollow and empty’ meditations. I felt his presence very strongly and his soft singing lovingly holding us. It is his voice that wraps my heart in a blanket of love and when I sit in sadhana (daily practice) I hear and feel him.
I didn’t always feel this way about Guruji. When I first came into Art of Living, I didn’t want a guru. I thought it was a weakness somehow. But as I continue to do courses and retreats and feel the benefits of the unique meditations he has created for us, I have slowly opened to his spiritual love. He has given me so many blessings and I am truely grateful.
So hum …
Take a deep breath in … You are hollow and empty … take another breath in … and relax
Jo’s Story: Read my story here