As a householder, I did not think it would be possible to embark on a Monthlong Silent Retreat. But I threw caution to the wind and signed up at the last minute. The experience proved to be beneficial in so many ways, some surprising. While I knew I could not cease all external engagement or communication, as in the ashram, just saying yes to a pause in the daily routine and allowing myself the space to go inward each and every day for 28 days was immensely cleansing and healing. My whole being went into slow motion and…. I began to see myself, my habits and reactions more deeply for what they were. The teachings from scripture classes and the satsangs from different swamis and devotees provided the nutrients for reflections upon my own life and on my sadhana. Often the message seemed to sprout in my heart center, giving me a knowing that arose effortlessly.
I felt held in a sacred space by the retreat facilitators, gently opening and closing the day, and being there to guide my meditation, yoga, and spiritual practice. Sometimes the message that came through for me was really what I needed to hear. For example, there was the poignant message from the devotee who was sending loving thanks to the Amma family as her own death drew near. My own seva with the dying puts me face to face with two different approaches to the end of life, one that welcomes the transition of leaving the body, and the other that calls on death as if it were the only doctor left to end the suffering of the body. The first approach is bathed in light and the truth of Amma’s promise to us. The possibility of liberation was not new to me but, for the first time, this message flooded me with an overwhelming sense of security and completeness. It seemed like all the habitual worrying I had done in my life made no sense at all. Truly, what more could I ask for?
I am now post-retreat. I have more passion for my spiritual practice. I am more attentive throughout the day of integrating an inner silence into my doing and being. I feel the wind taken out of my tendency to be plotting the future, even the next hour or day, after years of my own tyranny as a planner. I am more at peace with not knowing, I am more firmly present. As a result, I have given more bandwidth to my intuition, and synchronicities have followed in its wake. I notice I am making better decisions.
But perhaps the greatest and most precious gift of the retreat is that, even without being in the ashram, I had a home and a group of instructors that nurtured my longing for God. By the grace and the blessings of Amma, may the urgency to be one with Amma never wane. And may it be so for all of Amma’s children and for all beings. I offer these words at the Lotus Feet of our beloved Guru Amma.