You may be wondering why on earth I’d voluntarily choose this for myself. So am I.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Entering into silence
I awoke early today under the light of the moon, me who is a child of the light. Rather than sunbeams reflecting off rolling hills while birds sing their morning song, I was greeted by the spotlight-like intensity of the glowing moon, just shy of her fullness, blazing a beam of insight through the dark night sky. No birds called to me. There was only stillness and quiet. What better metaphor for the journey I am about to enter into.
Today I depart to enter into silence. Today I will turn away from the oh-so-many outer distractions, indulgences and influences that fill my vision and play upon my energy to take a journey inward. Today I will silence my phone, silence my to-do list and silence all that exists outside of me in an attempt to reach something akin to silence within. I will cast most of my life into darkness and focus my beam of light on my inner world just like the moon piercing the vast blackness of night.
I’ll be sitting for my first-ever vipassana meditation retreat. And if the word retreat conjures images of luxury and pampering, you are mistaken. By all accounts this practice is quite austere. Sparse, simple meals and accommodations, just the bare minimum to support you while your days are spent largely in stillness and with almost total outer silence. No eye contact. No conversation. No reading, chanting mantras, prayer beads, yoga asana or journal writing. Basically everything I do in the course of my normal daily spiritual practice must be put aside and everyone I turn to for sharing and support must be cut off in order for me to commit to this experience. I am easing in with a day of nature, then comes ten days of dedicated vipassana practice followed by a final day of words and outer engagement being reintroduced before returning home.
I woke up this morning with a runny nose and an itch in my throat having gone to bed feeling 110% fine last night, a sure sign of my body protesting my heart’s decision. I’ve gone through the mental checklist of all the things I’ll be missing out on while I’m away, weighing them on a proverbial scale against the very substantial weight of this undertaking. And I’ve already begun to feel the wave of contraction creep through me as emotions such as fear, intimidation and worry arise in the face of this profound experience.
And that is exactly why I’m going.
I’ve taken some major leaps toward the things that I’m afraid of lately, and yet I know I’m not done. Maybe I won’t be done after vipassana either, but my gut and intuition both tell me I must do this regardless. When I refer to my gut, I’m referring to my lower chakras, and when I refer to my intuition, I’m referring to my higher chakras. That they are all aligned behind this choice is all the confirmation I need to take yet another leap. Only this time, unlike some of the recent leaps I’ve taken that were actually away from certain things that were no longer of service to my highest vision of myself, this time I’m leaping right into the fire so I can be burned away and arise anew. This is my phoenix moment.
I’ve conditioned myself to be quite masterful at moving through emotions I don’t want to feel. Get knocked down? Not for long. Dust it off, stand a little taller than before, keep moving. That’s me. Resilient. Brave. Strong. Yet there is a piece of me who carries those bruises and scars. There is a place inside where I am the shadow of who I show myself to be most of the time. Reticent. Fearful. Weak.
I don’t want to be fragmented any longer. So I’m going within to claim these pieces of myself and integrate them into the whole for I know that it is only in my wholeness, in the whole of my pain as well as my pleasure, that my full passion and purpose can pour through.
I am claiming the child within seeking approval and a sense of safety. I am claiming the woman who longs to be held in loving, lasting partnership. I am claiming the mother who aches to know the ultimate act of creation and service. I am claiming the priestess who has held herself back and kept herself small. I am claiming the author who has yet to commit to letting her voice be heard. I am claiming the friend who desires to get as good as she gives. I am claiming my grief, sadness, loneliness, pettiness, weakness, anger, lust, greed, yearning and everything else that lives in the darkness of my shadow, claiming it so I can bring it forward to become one with my light.
This sense of separation I’ve lived with, that most of us live with, is a prison. It keeps us locked away from the fullness and richness of our lives. The truth is I actually love my life and recognize the abundance of blessings in it already. So imagine how it would be then to grow that love and increase that abundance by bringing ALL of me forth into the light of my life? And if I can manage that, how sweet will it be to eliminate any sense of separation between me and all my brothers and sisters, the flora and fauna, and the Mother who birthed us all?
My journey into silence will not be easy. I anticipate feeling pain on every possible level. I’d be lying if I said I’m fully prepared for that because how can I be? I’ve never done this before. I have no way of knowing just what will arise throughout these ten days. I know what my intention for this experience is. I know I have the power to choose my reaction to this experience, just as I can choose what it is I need to burn away in the fire of purification so that I may arise anew. So I choose integration. I choose wholeness. I choose to bring darkness into light. I choose a life lived fully and authentically. I choose my phoenix moment.
See you on the other side!