“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you” Deepak Chopra
Silence is the sleep that nourishes WISDOM!
I landed at the Monterey Bay Airport after four hours in the sky reflecting on the past month I spent with my family back home in Canada. There seemed to be a lot to reflect upon, not having taken the time or care that I needed to process each day I was feeling a little backed up as I landed in beautiful California; a place that warms my heart and soul each time I come back. Excited to know that I would be entering a silent retreat and plenty of time for reflection & silence surrounded by nature; all good antidotes for a whirling mind.
Upon arriving at the property, Asilomar Conference Center, I immediately settled into the beauty and nature that surrounded me. This magnificent property is surrounded by sand dunes and a living environment with native plants and wildlife, I felt as though I had been transported to another land and the vision of balance that once seemed lost would soon be found again!
Deepak Chopra would be sharing his infinite wisdom with the group each and every day! Deepak is a highly intelligent man who is light years ahead of his time, he shared his insights into awareness day after day. Although, I consider myself to be an intelligent being who has the grasps of spirituality, enlightenment and awareness in hand, Deepak takes it to a new level of understanding that I cannot say I completely grasp.
In the early stages of the retreat we would be instructed to let go of our EGO, you know that constant badgering of thought the seems to interrupt any semblance of silence. They assured us that any self-respecting EGO would NOT be here. Come into self referral awareness, they encouraged, come back to the one that is having the experience. We were told to be alone, limit communication, that our outer experience reflected our inner experience, to be in nature as much as possible and to REST!
We were asked to set an intention for the retreat! Anyone who knows me knows that Intention is my word. Intention has been manifesting in my life for the last few years therefore I am very aware of its magical power of manifestation. I carefully considered what my intention for the retreat would be this time around, I decided to keep it simple and surrender, be present by listening to my body, mind and soul by giving it what it needs, allow whatever comes to come without resistance and to love myself as I am right now without any judgements or expectations. Simple enough.
I decided that I would let go of the attachment of having to DO anything. Give my SOUL all of my attention and surrender to uncertainty, unpredictability and security.
Over the last few years I have been living in the NOW, the present moment, the uncertainty, the unpredictability and security and have become quite comfortable with living in the complete uncertainty but noticed while I was home for a month all of these things showed up for me and bombarded my mind, my thoughts with the fear of uncertainty and security. I suddenly landed in this space where I couldn’t stop my EGO mind from worrying about my future, what was I going to do next, where would I land?
It was starting to look like I had landed in exactly the place I needed to be to deal with these sudden fears of my future. Rest in Silence and honour the power of reality. What is reality? Reality is beyond all points of view, especially the EGO.
Deepak shared with us the value of silence is the value of reality which is beyond all points of view, it discards all systems of thought, it is God’s language, words create our reality and thoughts are words, silence refrains any system of thought that programs us to believe.
He went on to explain that awareness is synonymous with being. Awareness makes experience possible, awareness is the source of our experience, awareness is the knowing element for experience … that in which experience occurs.
“I” equals real awareness, it is the common element in every experience, it is timeless. I am the timeless experience in every time bound experience. The problem us humans have with “I” is we believe we were born but our body is not reality. “I” is not the body. Our body is a stream of sensations, images, feelings and thoughts. In order to grasp the “I” one has to be aware of what is knowing each experience. To be aware of being. Where is “I”. The only thing that is real is “I”.
It was a treat to have Deepak share so much of his wisdom with us but the team of amazing people who surround Deepak to make this week an outstanding experience are the real hero’s as far as I am concerned.
Amanda Ringnalda who is the host/emcee for many of the Chopra events, an amazing soul who shares herself on an intimate level allowing participants to hear stories of real life challenges that she faces which, in turn, allows us to realize that no matter who you are and how much work you have done, we still all face daily challenges with our thoughts and EGO. She is a brave soul who gets up on that stage and shares real life challenges that speak to everyone sitting in those chairs. Amanda has set out on her dharma to heal her canine friends and has created Sama dog, wellbeing for dogs and their humans, putting her many years of experience and applying her knowledge to the wellness of dogs. I am a lover of the canine community and believe that dogs can be loved back to health just like their human counterparts.
For me, I honour and appreciate her sharing because it settled me back into the reality that we are all the same, we are all one, no matter how much experience we have walking the spiritual path we are all souls having a human experience and we will continue to repeat our humanness no matter how much we meditate or sit in silence.
I get in the mindset that I should not get caught up in fear, worries, unsettle because I should know better! Talk about expectations and judgement! I really despise the word should, it is something that I continue to strive to take completely out of my vocabulary and encourage anyone in my life to do the same. It is full of expectations and judgement. Let’s make a pact to stop shoulding on ourselves and others; simply change the word to could! I could not get caught up in fear, worries and unsettle because I could know better, but I am human.
Brent BecVar was our other fantastic host for the retreat. A kind, gentle man who shares his passion for meditation and Ayurveda. Brent is also a vedic astrologer who, apparently, gives out of this world readings. Brent is also a talented musician who is still very much in denial of his great musical gifts. Like Amanda says, sometimes we need a little shove to step into our dharma because being humans we don’t always completely believe but with a little loving encouragement we can shine in our dharma!
Danielle Mika Nagel would be our yoga teacher throughout the week offering restorative yoga as we awakened twice a day and sometimes on the beautiful white sand beach. Danielle turned out to be much more than the yoga teacher, she played the beautiful music and sang chants as well as played the piano while the gifted Brent BecVar played guitar and sang showcasing his dharma.
The late Dr. David Simon was a world-renowned authority in the field of mind-body medicine. As a board-certified neurologist and expert in Ayurvedic medicine and other traditional healing arts, he brought a unique perspective to the relationship between mind, emotions, and health. In 1996, he co-founded and assumed the role of medical director of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, where he served as the driving force in developing and leading the Center’s programs, workshops, and retreats in mind-body medicine, emotional healing, and spirituality. David was also the author of many popular wellness books, including Return to Wholeness, The Wisdom of Healing, Vital Energy, The Ten Commitments, and the bestselling book Free to Love, Free to Heal.
This team of people were the heart of the retreat, with their gentle guidance and attention to the awakenings happening all around them.
Day one we were summoned to silence and all my worries of the past and the future began to fall away and I came into the present moment, what was happening right now in my mind, in my body and in my soul. Silence is that place where we shut out the external world, the external voices and we focus on our selves, our inner world. Sometimes it is not a pleasant experience, hence the reason why so many people avoid silence and spending time with themselves. There are many voices that occupy the space of our mind, each one vying for the top spot, the EGO (the mind), the body (full of wisdom) and of course our precious soul (intuition) the voice of all-knowing.
We would turn our attention to Dharma. David Simon summed it up like this:
Your essence is the heart of your existence. Your dharma is who you are. From your essence arise your intentions. Your intentions drive your thoughts. Your thoughts give rise to your words. Your words become your habits of behaviour. Your habits of behaviour manifest as your contribution to the world. This is your Dharma.
Dharma is your purpose! We ask ourselves why do we wake up in the morning? What is your deep driving desire? As is your desire, so is your will. As is your will, so is your deed. As is your deed, so is your destiny! What is the purpose of your soul?
Dharma is set in motion at birth, we all have a unique gift or special talent that we can offer to ourselves and the world. If you believe, as I do, in reincarnation then we are incarnating this body for this lifetime; there were several before and there will be several after. In this lifetime we all chose a specific dharma before we incarnated into these meat suits we call our body that hold the form for our soul, the driver of our mission, our dharma is our purpose in this lifetime.
My Dharma is to find balance of the my mind, the body and the soul and share it with as many people as I can. To let go of the past, stop worrying about the future and to reside in the present moment, the uncertainty. To share the teachings of finding balance, to write, to share and to heal.
What are you doing when you are so immersed in what you are doing that time literally stops? That is your Dharma.
We would then take a look at Healing and what that means to each of us?
David Simon says it like this:
Healing is when every molecule, thought, feeling, emotion and relationship is resonating on the level of how we are expressions of the same driving force.
Healing to me is letting go of the suffering by allowing forgiveness, letting go of the past, nurturing your body and soul by loving yourself, allowing authenticity, self-care, gentle kindness to yourself and others, rest, quiet and silence. Healing for me takes place in allowing myself that time and space to ensure that self care is the top of my priority list includes my daily practices of yoga or walking, meditation, writing, quiet reflection and spending time in nature.
Healing happens when we become self-aware, when we have unification of the mind, body and spirit, when we take care of our senses, when we all the EGO (judgements and expectations) to take a back seat. Taking care of our senses is a very important factor in healing and has been a vital part of my growth and maturation over the last few years.
Next we would focus on Nature, one of my favorite places to be to come back to NOW, this moment. David Simon has this to say about nature:
Out of silence, nature manifests the world of vibration. Everything that we experience is an expression of consciousness vibrating. Our child’s smile, a sunflower, a wave of sadness, a flash of insight are all expressions of nature’s impulse to create.
When I find myself in nature everything else seems to fall away. The Ocean has always been my place of peace and calm, each time I find myself in front of the Ocean I am immediately calmed. All of the senses come into the NOW, this moment relishing in the sounds of nature, allowing the flow of the universe to be as it is which in turn allows me to appreciate the natural flow of all that is and come back to the notion that everything is in perfect order, everything is in perfect orchestration and manifestation.
Next we would look at Silence and all of its benefits. We dove into silence while participating in the retreat spending time with ourselves, our senses, our body, our mind and our soul. David Simon summed it up like this:
When we spent time in silence, we can hear the voice of our soul whispering its sacred message and encouraging us to make conscious choices that bring us more happiness, health, love, meaning and peace.
Silence for me has become a regular part of my world, I spent time in silence daily and have come to appreciate all that can happen for me when I am silent and listening to my inner voice. In silence we have the opportunity to observe our thoughts, witness our actions and behaviours and allow the sound of nature. Silence allows intuition to speak.
Following silence we would look at LOVE. David sums up love as follows:
Anytime we feel, as a result of a thought, a word, an action, a touch, an idea, that our unity is more profound than our diversity, that is an expression of love.
Love is the aspect that connects me with you. Love is self acceptance. Love is self compassion, forgiveness and affirmation. Loving starts with ourselves, once we can love ourselves we can love another. Louise Hay became a pioneer in teaching people all around the world to love themselves with affirmation and mirror work. Looking into the mirror and telling yourself “I love you” is a powerful affirmation and can cultivate a loving relationship with yourself. This practice has been part of my life for many years. At a time in my life when I felt there was nothing left to live for I stumbled upon the work of Louise Hay and her messages of love and affirmation were an integral part in shifting my negative self-hatred to the start of a loving relationship with myself, the good, the bad and the ugly. My internal dialogue with myself has drastically changed over the years by applying compassion, acceptance and affirmation on a daily basis.
Dharma, healing, nature, silence and love would be the cornerstones of this retreat.
What I have come to realize after many retreats travelling around the world is that everything I need to know is already inside of me and to access all of the cornerstones, dharma, healing, nature, silence and love, I simply have to be aware of my sensations, images, feelings and thoughts and keep coming back to this moment right now!
It is simple really … all we have is this exact moment in time before we even have a chance to notice that we are in this moment it is gone and another moment is upon us.
I realize that in order to be who we really are or who we really want to be we must love ourselves exactly as we are, live in the present as much as we can (we are humans after all), let go of as much conditioning as we possibly can (again, humans), live in this moment. To love and be love as much of the time as we possibly can through acceptance, compassion, non-judgement and without expectation. To be grateful for everything that we are and everything that have, gratitude allows everything else to fall away and we find ourselves right here in this exact moment being grateful.
Silent Awakening is something that is possible and can happen for everyone. Just like any change you wish to bring into your life, start small, be consistent, allow whatever is going to come to come, without resistance, and enjoy.
Be proud of who you are!