Be quiet and reset

My Yoga teacher, Prasad, has taught me the importance of cultivating silence.
At least twice I year, I have created the habit of retiring to the guest house in Mariakloster in Tautra. I am so lucky to have such a place so near Trondheim!
When I am silent, I automatically slow down. When I slow down, I am able to observe my thoughts better and let go of the broken record of rumination, worries, regrets, and attachments. It is often after a period of silence that I move from thinking to reflecting, and that is very helpful.

Sometimes, I experience clarity, sometimes the only experience is the experience of being alone, in silence, in a slow tempo with myself for some days.

This time, I bring back from my retreat two things:
1) A quote from Mother Teresa: “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” A reminder of the importance of putting our heart in everything we do. A reminder of the importance of accepting and embracing what we are put to do in this life. A reminder to not compare ourselves with others and stop blindingly chasing the bigger, faster greater.
2) Thankfulness for having Prasad as my guide. May I remember to be as patient, loving, and compassionate with my students, yoga students, and my own children as he is with me.

Silence 2

I just came back from a weekend in silence. It’s been four months since the last time, and it was only during the evening of my last day that I noticed how needed this silence was. I suddenly sat down to listen to one of my teacher’s guided meditations, and after that, I didn’t stand up for two hours. I felt how my body and my mind wanted me to stay. To not move, to just be.

When I go into silence, I usually ask my teacher what he recommends me to do. This time, he recommended listening to his lectures and continue studying the Gita. The rest of the time, I know I benefit from not occupying my mind with anything else. This means reduce the use of social media to zero (I have to confess that I posted something Facebook on Saturday because I felt I would otherwise forget), no texting, no reading, no radio, no nothing.

I always go into silence with the purpose to slow down, to rest, and to observe what happens. I have learned not to have any expectations, not to have any goal other than to spend time with myself. To be honest, nothing extraordinary ever happens, but some small moments of clarity, of awareness do happen, and I treasure them. I notice better where I keep being stuck in my life, and I decide which way to go. I always come back with some keywords for myself to remember in my everyday life.

Back home, as I sat down to eat breakfast with my kids this morning, I kept thinking how much information we fill our heads with. One thing I like about being in silence is that I never get to know any personal detail of the people I share the guest house with. We meet and greet in the common areas with a smile, but we don’t ask each other the usual questions. We don’t need to. We know why we are there. Some of the most emotional moments I have experienced while being together with my sangha, in silence.

The world is not a perfect place, we humans create quite a lot of trouble around us, and nature has its own force that sometimes hits us quite hard. Life is constantly changing, and we naturally have a tendency to worry about what the future might bring. Every generation has experienced some sort of common fear, my generation is experiencing the fear of the consequences human impact has on the environment. I have been worried about this for some time too. Wondering what should I do, and often feeling bad conscience for not doing more.

What I think now is that we should be careful of what we fill our heads with. It is, of course, important to stay informed with what is happening around us, but how much information is too much information? And what do we do with this information? I believe more and more that each and everyone of us comes to this world with a set of attributes that we can use for the benefit of the whole, but not necessarily to the scale of a Hulk or an Iron Man saving hundreds of thousands of people with super powers, stunts and action.

Most of us can only be everyday heros, maybe even unseen everyday heros if we start living a life of clarity where we know our worth, where we know where we can invest our energy, and we do it, totally. We only have so much time and energy granted each day, and we all have different roles to play, so lets play well the roles we have been assigned and let others play their roles too. Stay informed and do your little (or big) to make a difference, but stop filling your mind with negativity and worry. None of them are known for helping solve any problem. Choose what you read, what you listen to. This doesn’t mean that you ignore the suffering around you, but the more negativity we fill ourselves with is not proportional to the more good we can do. Stop comparing yourself with others neither to feel ‘better’ nor to feel ‘less’. Do your part and feel thankful for being able to do so.