When I attended a silent retreat for the first time. The theme was “Coming Home to Kindness.” It was an incredibly powerful and enlightening experience, where I learned how to connect to myself and with others through silence. The retreat was 5 days of dharma talks given by the instructors, yoga, qi gong, 30-minute sitting meditations, and 30-minute walking meditations. I learned that humor is extremely powerful and that I turn towards it in uncomfortable situations. Also, even when you aren’t saying a word you can still make connections with others.
Does anyone else talk to themselves and didn’t know it? I do!! I found that out too! Catch me doing it in the grocery store now and find it funny to catch people glancing at me curiously.
So, during one of the walking meditations at the retreat, I was in a small atrium and I was admiring the plants but at one point, I looked up and I noticed this tree outside that was nestled into the corner of the building. It caught my interest because the back of it was in shade due to the building but the other half was in direct sunlight. , I realized that the front of the tree in the sunshine was beautiful and vibrant, with lush green branches and it was blooming because the branches were strong and healthy. However, the back of the tree was different, it looked as though it was tired and dying, with no green in sight and the branches looked dry and brittle. There was no life to it.
The back half of the tree needed sunlight to survive. It wasn’t getting what it needed so it was slowly dying without such a basic need.
What do we need to thrive?
As humans, we are the same way. When we don’t give ourselves what we need and we don’t give time and attention to parts of ourselves and our lives that are important, then they will slowly wither. Those parts need to be nourished and tended to to bloom.
It can be difficult to notice if there is a part of you that feels neglected or tired because we live in a fast-paced busy world and our attention is constantly being drawn from one thing to the next. It’s when you slow down and go inward and look at yourself and start asking questions, you can start to notice what is truly important.
The Gift of Silence
In silence, we learn about ourselves. Take a moment. Pause. Close your eyes. Draw in a breath and in the stillness ask and listen for the response that comes up first to: How can I be true to myself?
By asking yourself this question a few times throughout the day, you can start to reconnect to the parts of yourself may have been neglected.
It can be as simple as quenching your thirst with a glass of water, or maybe to take a break if you’ve been sitting at the computer for a long time and need to stretch your legs with a short walk. There are other things that you may discover as you start asking yourself this question. You may begin to realize that there are parts of your life that haven’t been tended to in a while such as friendships, activities, or quiet or vacation time to recharge your batteries.
Is there an activity that you have stopped doing? Maybe you like to paint, read, or knit. Perhaps, you enjoy exercising such as running, swimming, or taking a walk but you feel as though you don’t have the time for it. When was the last time you gave yourself time to enjoy quality time with an activity you enjoy? What would it be like to allow yourself to discover the possibilities and enjoy them? Could you do this for 5 minutes? 10 minutes? Starting with small snippets of time will introduce this activity back into your day.
What will you discover if you take the time to find out?