Opportunity often presents itself at the most meaningful time. This door was recently opened for this mom, who had recently experienced the after effects of a bustling work season, and her millennial teen’s challenging and successful school year. An opportunity to get away from digital and social media also seemed rewarding. The prescription for this was a mother / daughter bonding by chance to a silent meditation center in the beautiful and serene mountains – Zen Buddhist Center at Mt. Baldy. When time is spent daily in silence amidst nature, many insights start to flow and the body and mind transitions into receptive mode. By emptying the mind we become more open to receive the messages inherent within ourselves. The world we live in is full of distractions luring us to avoid looking inside and feeling the present moment. By training the mind to observe the reality of life as it truly is, one sheds the obsession with what “could be” or what “has been”, resulting in liberation and freedom.
A silent meditation retreat starts with a release from all methods of communication. These restraints consist of no eye contact, no speaking, reading, music, or phones. Meals are taken in silence in the company of others also focusing on mindful eating. There is amazement how different a meal tastes when one is in their own space void of chatter and distractions. Following our meals yoga classes led by a mindful yoga instructor consisted of silent, still, seated meditation.
The practice of yoga was cultivated back in 1700 BCE and the intention of the practice then was to support meditation. All of the stretches were to facilitate the practitioner to sit for long periods of time and meditate. Walking meditation was also a morning practice to become one with nature and to feel the natural stride of the body in space. In addition, the use of mala beads strung together on thread allowed us while meditating to acknowledge the beads slowly, slipping through fingers with the rhythm of the breath and a recited mantra to keep focus. A common mantra used during this weekend was “body of light, mind of light, life of light.” This is a powerful mantra to recite and to pause while allowing the mind, mantra and movement of the beads to be in sync. Moving the breath into the body is the closest thing to welcoming light into the body so this mantra recited over and over has an illuminating effect of positivity!
The big epic lesson of the weekend revolved around silent messaging on how to be in the moment. One spends most waking hours ruminating on the past or projecting way into the future; yet, we are rarely content with the present. For a millennial, 16-year-old the lesson will be taken back to school and practiced with discerning observation. At a young age there can be the realization as to how digital communication takes over and disassociates from being in the present moment. In addition, there are so many pressures daily on young people and many of these silent practices can help alleviate this feeling of pressure.
Both mother and daughter took a mutual vow to stay committed to continuation of this practice in seated day-to-day stillness and in times of distraction. We can always find our breath. We can observe it, and allow it to help support us and quiet the mind from all of its incessant chatter. We must take control of our “monkey mind”. Through this practice; thereby, not allowing it to take control of us.