As Mindful Eating teachers, we are strongly recommended to attend a week-long Silent Retreat once a year. Jan & Char describe this beautifully in their teachings, talks and teacher’s Manual.”The importance and benefits of a silence retreat as a foundation to our teaching”. And I would like to add, “and to our lives”.

Retreat Center, Egino, Alava

I have recently attended a Vipassana silent retreat for a week. My first Vipassana retreat. Initially, my biggest concern was related to my body and the long sitting hours. Little did I know…

On day two I managed to maintain my concentration and posture for an hour and a half and naively I thought “this is it, I have done it. I managed. I am a super-duper-meditator…what am I going to do for the rest of the week?” I could feel my pride swelling as I got up from my zafu. I even checked to see if anybody had noticed.

Being aware of that was my tipping point. Before that moment, I was “doing” a retreat. After realizing the nature of my thoughts, I started “being” in a retreat. By the end of the retreat, the things I thought were all important in the first two days were minor compared to what I learned about my mind.

Every snowy cloud . . .

Among many things that came to the surface to be worked with, there were a couple that impressed me and I would like to share:

  • How natural the mindful eating practice comes along when it is supported by meditation. And you might say, “But of course, you do not have to go into a retreat to learn this”. And yes, it is true. But what I mean is, when I create the space, connect with myself, and empty my life of unnecessary things, then it is not a practice anymore but it is a natural outcome. The natural wisdom lies within me all the time, but all the noise created internally and externally keeps me from accessing it.
  • Heart hunger’s true dimension is seen in the midst of silence. Needs, real truthful needs, only get to the surface when holding this extended mindful space. And only when I am willing to stay. When all the chit chat dies of boredom. When giving heart hunger the space… and time. I wrote a lot in my diary during the retreat. When I re-read the words I wrote is when I realized how deeply honest and profound one can get. From this experience I understand why a silent retreat is needed.

. . . has a silver lining.

I came out of silence on my birthday. Leaning against my bedroom door there was a gift from one of my retreat colleagues. It was a book called “Silence” with a heartfelt personalized dedication. The beginning of the book read…“Only when I first understood that I had a primal need for silence, I was able to begin my search for it – and there, deep beneath a cacophony of traffic noise and thoughts, music and machinery, iPhones and snow ploughs, it lay in wait for me. Silence.”                   – Earling Kagg

What is the most precious gift you got out of the silence? How can you nurture silence in your everyday world?

Cuca Azinovic, Spain