“Diez huevos orgánicos, por favor. Gracias.”
I spoke too soon.
First, I politely ordered 10 eggs (because I can never remember 12 in Spanish, so I never get a full dozen), breaking my vow of silence on the very same day that I took it. But, breakfast…
For the next 10 days, I didn’t say much more than a few “ow’s,” and listened only to the ridiculous dialogue of my distracted and quite imaginative, mixed tape lyrical mind (whose obscure, and borderline spiritually toxic soundtrack included “Medicine” by Rising Appalachia, chanting Jai Shiva, “Head over Feet” by Alanis Morisette, and “Get Low” by T-Pain), at times laughing aloud at the absurdity of me. I hope did not disturb anyone else’s silence or leave the impression that I am, perhaps, more crazy than I am. Or just, that I am.
That was the simple guiding mantra of the 20 minute to three hour meditations of this 10-day silent retreat. Or rather, the question: who am I?
And the non-answer answer can be found in your spiritual heart. Not your heart heart, that masterful feeling organ that pulses your vitality through your body, but the one that attends similarly to your soul. Your spirit. Your youness and the isness, oneness of everything and everybody. And it is something for which there are many and no words, a necessary experience of existence found in silence, in simply being beyond the doing, “knowing” mind.
And I talked, too soon, after it.
And not enough about it.
That was the second time. Leaving the retreat, I broke the silence in too many ways about too many unnecessary things that took me too far from the palpable result of this whole journey: the undeniable feeling of self.
You feel everything and can deny nothing. It is all there for you because it is all within you, from what you project into the experience to the moments you land back in your flesh from somewhere ethereal and as gorgeous as any bit of jungle I have seen here—from the very marrow of your self. Although my days of sea, salt, and sun, words, movement, and anything in a tortilla are simple and leave plenty of space for me to know me, there is something incomparable to the nothingness that is everything of silence—and its remarkably loud.
To be with you in this prolonged, intentional, intimate way: remarkable.
Any distractions you create become a part of your unraveling, and you have this bird’s eye view on the very wondering of your soul. And when everything is directed toward the heart for observation, it bypasses the didactic mind and instead of undergoing some sort of psychoanalysis of bad or good it just is. Because without the personality to dictate how you are going to perform this quiet ceremony of sorts, you get the undramatized version of yourself and the most tenderly simple resonations of what matters—a quiet symphony vibrating inside of you. And no matter what awful rap song would pervade my space to whichever rawly impactful chakra purging lightening of self that I was immersed in, the sensation of being oh so sweetly satiated by something I could not quite define (never mind control, and really did not care to understand), lasted through the sleepless nights and sunrise walks like an elixir of truth.
Because it was.
Truths. Every meditation, an offering of simple understanding in oh-so-potent form. Epiphanies that landed in ways that were not merely neat, oh-I-get-it realizations but would embed themselves in the very fibres of your being so that you might weave a cloak from the inside to wrap around your exterior, enrobed, embraced by non-duality. I felt as if I were sea glass, softened by the steady massage of the ocean and glowing softly—not in a way that called to be seen, but in a way that was seeing and accepting. So much to see. So much acceptance.
So much to share.
But even this seems like too many words and not enough.
And it is all a bit much—trying to process and digest and remember is pulling at the strings of that cloak and re-sharpening my salt-exfoliated edges, especially when accompanied with re-organizing life beyond the silence. I want to stay in the quiet and the feels.
Last night I was asked directly for the first time after 10 days of silence: how do you feel?
Afraid of losing how I felt in silence.
I struggled as everyone there did: with the stillness—most often ending a three hour mediation in a sort of seated sprawl, with the lack of sleep (dreams are wild when you are in that sub-layer of awareness for hours of the day), with the wandering egoic mind, with the maddening desire for creativity and expression, and was literally in some form of countdown (minutes of meditation, meditations in the day, days left at all) for the totality of the experience to be over and yet now that it is, I want back in.
I want to steep in that heart wisdom for more than hours, for days or for however long, until my entire being emerges, prune like and cared for, and then and only then fully expel every bit of holy-yes for every body, in bit pieces of the most sincere sureness. To share and write, to cry and dance and laugh however crazily from the grandmother soul of my mango-filled belly, head back and heart open.
How do I feel?
Gorgeously overwhelmed. Alarmingly peaceful. At odds. In full surrender. And understanding why after each meditation, the bowl would chime and we would be told “a few more moments” to sit with the stillness we had just witnessed. Sit a little more with the self. No rush, no waiting. Ease of being. Aware. In the heart.
So all I have for now is a passionately suggestive: sit in your heart. And then sit a little longer. Feel something, then feel a little truer. Know yourself, and then dig a little deeper. Trust your intuition. Listen. Love.
Author: Tiffany Anderson
Editor: Catherine Monkman