This weekend we invited 18 people to join us to enter Noble Silence and practice Mindfulness Meditation. The event was held at the peaceful and lovely Casa San Carlos in Delray Beach and was the first of two other retreats that will take place this year. This was an opportunity to learn how to deepen our connection to the present moment through the practice of seated, walking and mindful eating meditation.
As the participants arrived there was much excitement, fear and curiosity about what was to come. Some participants expressed being nervous about entering silence and especially wanted to know what they could do to fill the time. This tendency towards wanting to fill the silence with doing is exactly what we explore during the meditation periods. As we observe the restless mind we begin to see how distracted, busy and scattered our minds are. We practice training the mind or as I refer to it the “puppy” to stay, so that we can experience what it’s like to be present and connected to the vibrancy and aliveness that is only found in the present moment. We learn how to focus our attention on what heals, restores and deepens our ability to see life beyond the conceptual mind of should s / shouldn’t s, right/wrong and likes / dislikes. As we drop this conditioned way of seeing the world we come into connection with the way life is and in doing this we see the preciousness of life, the healing power of the heart and the wisdom that is found as the mind settles.
Meeting life as it is helps us connect with wisdom and the healing, connecting power of the heart
It is really an act of self-love and care when we step out of the virtual world of thinking and into connection with this vibrant body, mind and heart. And why is this necessary?
- It helps notice when we are caught in reactivity and shift towards practices that calm the mind and respond in a wise way towards what is happening in the moment.
- As we connect with what is happening in this non-judgmental way compassion can arise which helps us turn and respond to the suffering
- We notice how pain is held in the body and mind as tension and as we meet this tension with mindfulness and compassion, reactivity subsides and tension is softened.
- As we learn to stay present with an open mind and heart we cultivate our ability to be kind towards ourselves and others.
- This letting go of needing things, people, events, life be a certain way and seeing life as it is creates room for more openness, possibility and helps us see the preciousness of life as it is.
The preciousness of life is seen when the mind is clear and the heart is open..
Instead of looking at a tree as a source of fuel or paper, we see the aliveness and connection of the tree to the earth. We see that it is a home for many different animals, insects and other plants. Touching the leaves, we can feel the energy in the coolness and if we get quiet inside we can sense the vibrancy that is flowing through it. As we listen with our senses, we hear the birds calling and singing to each other and it becomes a symphony of sound, instead of background noise. And standing on the earth, we smell the richness of the soil and feel the grass beneath our feet. The sunlight becomes a welcoming warm place to rest and the breeze becomes a gentle caress.
It’s also that as we come into silence we begin to see the movements of the mind and how this constant chatter obscures our ability to see things as they are. So, we look at ourselves each other and the world through the lens of judgments, opinions and limited beliefs and as we deepen our ability to pay attention to what’s happening moment to moment in a nonjudgmental way our minds become more open and spacious. This invites curiosity which then calls us to look more deeply. Our hearts begin to open and we see our connection to life as it is happening. This seeing more clearly and meeting life with a compassionate heart allows resistance and reactivity to fall away. At the same time, there are moments where the stories and chatter crank up again and we get pulled into the world of thoughts. This getting hooked in thinking mind propels us into the future or takes us back into memories, traumas and fears from the past. This is where meditation helps us meet these moments with wisdom and compassion. We notice when the thoughts are arising and learn how to focus on a healing and grounding anchor such as the breath or sounds of nature. If afflictive emotions arise we meet them with kindness and compassion. We learn to open to our experience instead of allowing the defenses to take over which then leads us to the land of suffering. During walking meditation, we learn to feel into our body, notice movement and slow down so that we are present for the experience of living in a body that is truly a gift. As we practice eating mindfully we intentionally offer gratitude for all the living creatures and people that made it possible for this food to come to our table. We pause to take in the food through our senses. Free of distractions we open to the taste, smell, feel and sensation of eating.
This is the value of going on retreat. We learn how to be present and open to life. We honor this gift with attention, with a real capacity to open our hearts and be there for ourselves and each other. We learn to relate to what happens in life in a way that liberates the mind and opens the heart and allows us to connect with the aliveness that is right here. What a priceless gift!
The dates of the next retreats are:
April 20th – 22nd from 4pm Friday to 1pm Sunday. The location will be near Naples, Florida and is being finalized as I write this.
October 20th-22nd from 4pm Friday to 1pm Sunday at the Casa San Carlos Retreat Center in Delray Beach, Florida.
To register or for more information about us please visit us on line at wbmindfulness.com. Here you can also learn more about our meditation meetings and our mindfulness community.
If you have any questions please contact Cindy Ricardo at 954-793-6442. We hope you will join us for one of our events!
May you be well!