“Journeywork, vision quests, stopover meditation, yoga postures, diet, exercise, language, reading, socializing, eating, drinking, making art…So many things to do in a day. But there must be time for stillness.”

I wrote these words in my journal in February, two months after deciding to attend a ten-day silent meditation retreat at the center and six weeks before arriving. I knew in my heart that seeking the silence in my life, seeking out moments of pause had the potential to change absolutely everything.

At the time, even two minutes of meditation between writing for clients and surfing Facebook seemed like an imposition. A distraction. Too much effort. Seriously, sitting and doing literally nothing for 120 seconds seemed impossible.

I would occasionally listen to guided meditations in the morning and fifteen minutes was excruciating, my body and my mind in a state of constant agitation. I told myself over and over again that the kind of meditation designed to “clear the mind” or to “stop thinking” just wasn’t for me.

Why on earth did I sign up to spend ten days doing it in complete silence?

To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to jump into it so wholeheartedly. But that’s what I did. I knew that a ten-day retreat was required, along with the Module One yoga course, before I could apply for the Hridaya teacher training – something that I am still very interested in pursuing. And that’s all it took for me to commit myself, heart and soul, to this process.

I would love to say that taking a moment or three just to relax and come back to the heart in the middle of a busy workday is easy now. It isn’t. But it is definitely less difficult, which is a big, giant leap in the right direction.

When I wake up in the morning, even if I’m not up in time to participate in regular group meditations, my body says, “Where is the silence today?” When an argument on the internet is getting way out of control, I can come back to myself and say, “Hold on there. Let’s just be quiet for a moment. Let’s think about where this is heading.” When a discussion with my partner is bringing up big emotions, I can allow myself and my lover the space to just feel those feelings, to come back to them later when we each have a better understanding of what’s going on for us.

But most important of all, I know what I am capable of and it has blown me away. Sitting for 6+ hours of meditation each day was a major challenge. By days nine and ten, my body was screaming at me to just lie down and relax. Even sitting with my back straight in a chair was uncomfortable. But I stuck it out. I met the challenge with my whole heart.

Two months ago, I could barely spare two minutes to help bring my life back to the center. And today, two hours seems like something I can do every day. It’s amazing how quickly everything can change once you embrace the stillness and dive into the pause.

~By Bex van Koot, templesacredflame.org

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