Silence is Golden

We are having a silent retreat at the Quebec ashram with about 25 people attending.   Most have come to achieve some peace and quiet, to temporarily escape the concerns, frustration, politics, dramas and daily agitations of traffic, work and life.

The retreat began on Wednesday and the energy in the room when the group first introduced themselves was cordial, but somewhat prickly.   The energy in the ashram now is quite sweet.

What is asked of every participant is to remain silent and not to communicate with anyone unless absolutely necessary, through notes, and to do their practice, attend three sessions of 2 hours each (a mix of new and well-known practices and some lecture, a two-hour long asana class and 2, one-hour group meditations).  Otherwise everyone is free to rest or do sitting or walking meditations in the nature that flourishes on our 40 acres.   Everyone seems to be walking with a lighter foot today.    No one seems to be having difficulty with or in the silence, but there is intensity and a sense that there is a lot of inner work being done.

The ashram is a perfect place to practice silence, stillness, contemplation.   We have been told that we are located over an old quartz crystal mine and we do find boulders of quarts scattered here and there on the property.    Perhaps the quartz enhances the energy here.    Surely there is intensely dynamic, yet powerful introverting energy in this place.    Meditation is quite easy here.    We have a meditation kutir by a small lake, which was built by one of the acharyas, Vyasa.    He worked for a month just building the foundation.  It should last a thousand years!   Many of us worked to finish the structure.  We all felt that even before we had dedicated the kutir to the Siddhas and  inaugurated it with chanting and meditation, it had been already enlivened with Shakti.   The very first time we sat there together, we all dropped deeply into meditation.

It is nice working with people who are maintaining verbal silence.   Each day participants arise very early in the morning but even in the afternoon class they are very alert and concentrated on what I have to share.   The class are rather intense and the energy is very deep.  The hour meditation sessions seem effortless for everyone.

Looking from my office window now, I see people roaming about.   A man is raking tall cattails out from the small pond, while another disappears into the dense forest, a woman walking toward the lake in a swimsuit, others sitting on the porch sipping tea.  A steady wind in the trees has been playing a soothing symphony today, inspiring me to blog.

A couple of nights ago, my sleep had been broken by a loud and eerie sound of an animal, with a highly pitched squeal.   I could see nothing from my window, even though the animal sounded close and the moon was quite bright.  I could only hear a single animal raising its voice over and over in the full moonlight.   I could not determine the quality of the sound.   It continued unabated for several minutes and then was abruptly silent.    Had the animal been attacked, was it mating, or was it just howling at the golden glow of the moon?

There is a lot of wildlife around the ashram.   The moose, porcupines and bear are quite shy.   However we have regular silent communication with the muskrat who lives under the waterfall at the pool.  He is quite bold in his possessiveness of the home he has made with his mate.  He often stands on two legs with his arms akimbo starring me down as I work in the garden or as we pass each other on the path leading from the ashram.    Once last summer, when he was standing right at the edge of the pool watching me intently as I weeded ‘his’ garden, a student walked up behind him.  Startled, he threw his arms up in the air and fell backwards into the pool.  Surya ran to the pool and grabbed him up out of the water.  It was a comic book moment that filled me with glee.  Mr. Muskrat shook his coat off elegantly, but without glancing back at us, rushed into his home.    We also have red squirrels with bushy tails and crows that  knock on our back door requesting regular handouts and do the deer, which come up to the kitchen window in the ashram during the most difficult winter months.

On top of our little mountain here, nature radiates her immense beauty in each season—a cornucopia of flora and fauna, sunlight and rain, a wide expanse of sky, amazing clouds,  golden and ochre sunrises, double rainbows,  a range of autumn colors that delight and capture you, stopping you in your tracks, and too, so much snow, so white, glistening jewel-like, so deeply silent.

Nature has provided us a place  to Just Be Still and Wonder at Her Glory.

  1. Durga

    Today I find myself giving up an upset I had with my husband over something that is very dear to me. A practise, which in his eyes, keep me away from home, from him and our son.

    I love what you wrote in one of your posts, in which you say, “If I am to be authentic on this path, I must always be kind to myself and to others and harm no one, not even by accident or negligence. And I must be aware that it is more important to watch my own thoughts than it is to monitor the thoughts or actions of others. It is critical that I acknowledge and correct my wrong thinking and mistaken thoughts about others as soon as I see them. Only then can I slowly eliminate negative seeds and plant good ones. ”

    I see where I have been being inauthentic, and that is, in relating to him as small, in relating to my husband as being wrong, and as though he is not up to anything big in life.

    That is totally inauthentic of me. It is a false truth I constructed in order to punish him for stopping my intention — to finish these studies I am currently taking.

    anyway…thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

    With much appreciation

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