I am just emerging from three weeks of silent retreat here in the Himalayas. In my little cottage, looking up at the pristine mountain peaks covered with snow, by the rushing river, I got to be with myself for 21 days at the Osho Buddhafield where 24 of us, including several long time friends and fellow travelers gathered from all over the world to journey inwards.
I would like to say it was deeply peaceful and silent, but it was actually a deep dive into facing parts of myself that were not easy to face. With all distractions taken away; definitely no devices, no reading, no writing, no words spoken or heard (except the ones inside one’s own head!), and no eye contact, one is confronted with the exact state of ones inner world. There were many hours in the day with nothing to do but watch the mind, which is of course what meditation is all about.
The structure was both active and passive meditations, so the 75 minute sittings were broken up with active ways to get out of ones head. I am grateful for Osho’s brilliance in creating Dynamic and Kundalini meditations which book-ended the day, ways to move the energy, release stored up stress and tension from the body, empty out repressed emotions and clear the mind of clutter so that silence can happen naturally.
Along with that we were given time out in nature each day to walk through the countryside, through emerald green paddy fields, along mountain streams and rushing rivers, sitting on huge boulders or under mango trees, listening to the birdsong, watching the changing skies, and letting the beauty remind us of the magnificence of existence. It was wonderful to wander through the small villages and hamlets, being greeted by the simple, happy, heart-full people who are so ready to share the universal language of laughter, or to offer a Namaste (how different the world would be if we all sincerely can say “I honor the light within you”, no matter what your race, religion or color of skin). How wonderful to come across gaggles of giggling children waving their hands in a hearty hallo, unafraid of this strange person wandering through their territory.
I cannot help but compare our complex western psychology with all its stress and strife, with the simple way these mountain people live. We have so much in the west, and yet are so unhappy, and causing so much harm collectively to the rest of the world. These innocent people who, if they have a roof over their heads, a goat and a cow, and a small patch of earth to plant and harvest their food, then they are rich indeed. Not only that, they know their true wealth comes from being connected to the Earth; they know their place in family and community and have a sense of belonging, which brings great trust and security (no Homeland Security here!).
So that reminder of basic trust helped me in my inner work as I journeyed inwards to do a lot of spring cleaning; mostly for me the difficult work of digesting bitterness, metabolizing grief (I still have so much sorrow about the death of my father and the loss of the form of that relationship), finding forgiveness for my own forgetfulness and compassion for our collective unconsciousness that causes so much harm.
In a way for me it was allowing myself to die and be reborn (I can say that now from the other side). The mind has been cleared of all the clutter and cobwebs.
I have been stripped naked of everything I thought I was, my heart has been broken open and my Soul washed clean by all the tears. I am returned to innocence and my eyes are freshly opened to the wonders of the world.
Watching the river flow, I was able to say hello boredom, hello restlessness, hello anxiety, hello depression, hello heartbreak, hello loneliness, hello stillness, hello emotional storm, hello sunshine, hello silence, hello wonder, hello…whatever feeling or mind state would pass through at any given moment.. watching, watching, watching it all flowing on by… and gradually letting the story of me with its accompanying stress and suffering subside with the “prisonality” and all its petty personal preoccupations. Gradually there has been an emerging of the awareness of who I Am in consciousness, open, empty and free.
It was an arduous journey, but so worth it to become so intimate with myself.
I now have a deeper tenderness and compassion in my heart for all of Life.
I am grateful as I move back out into the world, to walk more kindly on the earth, to treat each being with respect and care, to love myself more fully and to give myself the gift of laughter and playfulness.
I spent the next few days in Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans living in exile from their country. It is the place I began my spiritual journey 40 years ago. I was happy to honor my 60th turning around the sun with my best girlfriend Ali, before travelling on for my last stop in India, Rishikesh.
I wish I could give you the gift of three weeks in a Himalayan retreat. Instead I invite you anyway to take a look at what priority you give your inner life. In our distracted modern world, we give so little attention to the deeper needs of our Soul’s longing for stillness, silence and simplicity. Make a corner of your daily life (and your home) a place of sacredness where you can return home to yourself, and remember what is real and important.
Stay tuned for my 21 day Meditation mastery course, where we can journey together into our inner world. Whether you are a long time meditator whose practice has become a little dull, or whether you are just too busy to really give meditation much focus, or whether you are new to meditation but really want to integrate it into your life, this course will be engaged and intimate and powerfully transformative.
Thank your for reading this and for being part of my journey.
Sending you all many blessings of love, light and beauty