While my mind is often filled with noise in the form of thoughts and feelings, silence is no longer threatening to me. When my mind calms down, I experience a soft sound that draws me into greater depth and meaning. I no longer perceive the voice of ‘God’ as harsh, annoying and judgemental, but kind, peaceful and loving.
An inner hunger
On a whim of inspiration, I booked myself into a Zen Buddhist retreat last weekend in Dublin. I knew little to nothing about it, but my inner being was hungry for something ‘more’. It consisted of hours of silent, sitting meditation interspersed with silent, walking meditation. My legs and back ached as I tried to find the ‘sweet spot’ in sitting. I tried a sort of knee sitting, cross-legged sitting and chair sitting.
It was all quite uncomfortable, but I stayed faithful to the silence and being with about 35 other people helped. I was advised to focus on my breath, and if I got into trouble to count to 10 as I breathed in and out or in my mind to chant ‘Mooooo’, a non-word that focused on presence. I experienced relative comfort for the last one or two sessions on the final day. And Yay, I made it through in some shape or form!
I noticed some benefits from the Zen retreat over the course of this week. For example, I found myself sitting with comfort on the tram coming from work. I let the usual noise of my inner life – planning ahead, getting distracted, feeling sorry for myself – to sink into my body. This deepest anchoring of spirit made me happy in the best sense of the word. I felt like I was truly and deeply connected with the planet in all its constellations (sorry I can’t quite explain!).
Since I am more comfortable in silence these days, it also makes me more comfortable with others. When a story my colleague is telling reminds me of a story from my own life, I don’t necessarily jump in and say: “That reminds me of….” This habit can take away from deep listening at times.
And the other thing is that I have started to long for a bit of Buddhism again. I may book myself in for another retreat just before Christmas. And my hunch is that this movement may convert me into a Buddhist-Christian. Watch out, ladies and gentlemen 🙂