You’re probably wondering how is it that I spent some time with monks. Well, like most great things that have happened in my life it wasn’t planned. Meeting Oprah was also not planned!! Even my own wedding wasn’t really planned; we just went to the courthouse and got married. Since I encountered Oprah on stage at the Life you Want Weekend Tour last September, I promised myself that I was going to work on living out the vision I wanted for my life: “to let go of fear, anger, and guilt in order to build a positive and good life for my family, job, and well-being. I would take the necessarily steps followed by action to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.”
I started going to a therapist to help clear my thoughts, judgments, fears, and angers. It has been great to talk to someone who really listens without judgement and gives you objective and factual advice. I also started incorporating yoga and visualization meditation into my daily morning routines and meeting like-minded people. I decided to take it a step even further and spend two days in solitude at Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey which is an Olivetan Benedictine monastery in Pecos, New Mexico.
An artist carved the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus out of a tree. You’ll see it on one of the trails near the monastery.
Most of my life has been surrounded by constant noise and activity with never a moment to do nothing. At work and with family people are always looking for immediate answers/solutions to questions and to problems. There’s never time to think about a situation or a problem because in the world we live in everything needs to be now or you’re just “too slow to the game” or people think you just don’t understand. Pico Iyer, well-known travel writer, recently did a TED Talk about “The Art of Stillness” and it really caught my attention when he said, ” to enjoy life you must learn to be still in order to not be exhausted or distracted at events or with people.” When you give yourself the opportunity to be still your mind becomes clearer and you’re able to give your true full self to people and life. When you’re constantly going you’re never really there. Also, when you’re still you find out what moves you most and where your true happiness lies. According to Reflections of Buddhist physician Alex Lickerman, M.D.”Silence is a terrific substitute for self-control, not only creating its appearance, but over time and with practice its substance as well.”
What I personally learned on my two days of solitude with no phone, books, make up or
pictures(FYI:the pictures in this post are from a previous trip I took, to the monastery, with
my family a couple years ago). It was just me, myself and I.
-Being silent is really not that hard. However, even though I went on a two day silent retreat I’m not a changed person or saw the light beam upon me. It takes time and practice to slowly feel inner peace within you. I’ll have to practice the act of being still for many more years in order to reap the true benefits. Some say it takes eight weeks to start feeling some ease and mindfulness in your mind, body, and spirit.
-Yes…I was staying at a monastery where monks live but I didn’t think I would encounter them because I was out most of the day doing my own silent retreat. Of course….never say never because on Sunday I was invited to eat breakfast and lunch with them. I couldn’t believe the monks invited me to eat with them but there I was sitting at the other end of the table watching them eat. Most of them ate in silence. I was able to observe the peace in their faces and how gentle they moved and ate. During breakfast time there was a disagreement between two of the monks and instead of getting mad one of the monks simply smiled and calmly stated his opinion. He didn’t need to scream, insult or give explanations why he disagreed he just simply stated his opinion in a calm manner. I guess when you have inner peace there’s no reason to get out of control. I was so blessed to have witnessed such kindness and calmness.
-My many walks: the lake was frozen but it still maintained its beauty. I had fun throwing rocks because they were like hockey pucks, just gliding on the ice. I sat near the lake for a long time because I felt I could just stare and talk to it in a way that’s hard to talk to others. Nature is so comforting because no matter how many changes it goes through with the seasons it still maintains its beauty and calmness. The lake taught me that no matter how the external world may treat you try to keep your true essence intact.
-Things are not as bad as we think and we’re stronger than we think. I was completely alone but I felt fine. Before going I thought I would be scared of being on my own away from familiar surroundings and people. I thought that I would not be able to sleep or go on walks. Well, for two days I went on plenty of walks where I was the only one on the trail. And as you can see I survived, and actually I wanted to spend more time there. Lesson Learned: stop exaggerating and creating stories in the mind of things that still haven’t occurred. If it still hasn’t happened there’s no reason to worry. It’s not until you’ve personally experienced something that you could then think about it as it happened, and try not to embellish the experience:)
I would like to thank the monks and nature for teaching me about calmness, about being present, and about staying true to my core self!!! Please share your thoughts on the Google Group about the post or about a time you were in silence.