Eagle Arms

That’s right, being grateful is an attitude and a blessing. I say this as a reminder to myself as sometimes I get in a funk about all of the blessings that happen in life. You know, the blessings that show up as anxiety, grief, annoyances, relationship issues, time constraints, traffic, etc….

I am speaking from experience here when I say that an attitude of gratitude for all of it is the only answer. If we are only grateful for the good stuff that brings us joy, laughter, peace and love, we end up missing an entire realm of life, and ultimately, an entire aspect of ourselves. What if we were grateful for grief, loss, pain, and the annoyance of being stuck in traffic, not to mention all of the issues that come from having relationships with other humans? What if we said a wholehearted thank you very much for ALL of these experiences instead of just picking the sweet, joyous pretty ones for which to be grateful?

The good stuff is such a delight, but it’s the messy, dark, difficult, experiences that can not be easily fixed that are the pot of gold. It is always darkest before the dawn and I am always, usually in retrospect, deeply grateful for these lessons, I mean blessings. Sure, the shiny pretty stuff is nice, but the dark, messy, “sit in the muck of it’, “how the hell did I get here” kind of stuff breaks me open in a way that other stuff cannot. And, for those blessings, I am grateful!

“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.”

-Mary Oliver

Silence is my Secret

Tomorrow morning I will get in my car and drive to Massachusetts to spend a weekend in silence at Insight Meditation Society. It will be my second trip to IMS.  You can read about my experience last year in an article published in MindBodyGreen.  Last year I drove up and roomed with a friend. We maintained our silence the entire time and didn’t talk until we were on our way home to Philadelphia (65 hours later!) This year I am on my own. In Silence. With no one I know anywhere nearby. Just me, the trees, the vegetarian gluten free-food and over 100 other people. Yes, there are other people who choose to do this!

I am a little anxious about going, but mostly I am looking forward to this time to go deep into silence. As Roland Becker said, “Our Lives manifest in motion, but the power of our lives resides in stillness.” As I emerge from the busy-ness of November and December I find myself craving more time and space to do less, but to feel more. Bussy-ness and schedules can act as cloaks and cover up so much. While I have a daily practice of yoga and meditation, the quality of stillness and deep knowing that occurs over several days in silence is profound. It can be compared to skiing one day, or skiing for several consecutive days. The impact of the consecutive days allows you to become better at skiing; more in the “flow”. The impact of several days in silence allows me to be more in the flow of life. It allows me to tune into the frequency of my heart where all of my wisdom emerges. It allows my busy mind to take a much-needed rest and see with more clarity how I habitually meet life. And, most importantly, it allows me to show up more fully in my life and the life of my loved ones.

As Jon Kabat-Zinn has said,

 “You can’t stop the waves but you can learn how to surf.” I am thinking of this as my annual surf camp.

I have a Secret and it is Silence

In an article I wrote for MindModyGreen I share 12 observations about a weekend of Silence.

I recently spent 62 hours in silence at a meditation retreat at Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. Here’s what I learned.

  1. Silence is not always quiet
  2. Food tastes infinitely better, or worse, when you eat slowly, quietly and mindfully.
  3. Silence let me see that I was tired and I require more sleep than I have been allowing myself.
  4. Being alone and quiet is just as important in my life as being with loved ones, eating well and exercising. For it is in the silence that I can hear God whisper in my heart.
  5. Silence allows me to pay attention precisely to the chatter in my mind and then I can choose to let the noise go and rest in being.
  6. Silence showed me that I attach stories to my feelings and that makes the feelings heavier. If I allow myself to just feel the feelings without the cloak of stories, I am lighter and more free.
  7. Silence allowed me to listen to my body closely and hear that my body needs to move. Both slow mindful movement and fast heart pounding mindful movement.
  8. Being silent and paying attention in a mindful way with 100 other people reminded me that we are all Divine beings who have more in common than we do different.
  9. Being silent reminded me that I feel connected to the outdoors. That it is important for me to go outside and listen to the wind, look up in the sky, feel the rain, hear the trees sing.
  10. I learned that stillness is ever-present regardless of the situation. This stillness is Divine. To attune to it,  all we have to do is pay attention to our breath and drop into our body to see what is already and always present.
  11. In my silence, I remembered how important it is to take time every day to be still, quiet and reconnect.
  12. Silence is strong but soft.

Many people have asked me if this was a fun or awesome or a horrible experience. Some people have looked at me like I am weird. Others asked how could I bear to be away from my three precious children for that long and …. all for some silence?!

My response is that it was a profound experience. I came home more grounded, clear and free of the burdens I thought I had.

It’s like taking out the trash or cleaning out that junk drawer. I now have more space to be present. And, YES, I will go away again and be SILENT. But probably not next weekend.