This is a true story to inspire the start of a meditation practice; it is my own experience 30 years ago.
In the newspaper I read about a one week New Year's Silent Spiritual Retreat to be held in the hills of Santa Barbara, hosted by the Integral Yoga Institute.
The accommodations sounded like it would be a comfortable stay with dormitories to house men and women separately, 2 or 3 to a room with bath. Also on the grounds was a large cozy conference room with sofas and fireplace, a beautiful chapel, dining hall serving vegetarian meals, and smaller sanctuaries on the wooded property of mostly eucalyptus trees with a stream running though the woods.
The timing was pure synchronicity - it was my 30th birthday that week, and my children were going on a trip to visit relatives in San Francisco on their winter vacation, so I had the week free to myself.
After settling in to my room and receiving the week's itinerary I enjoyed the vegetarian dinner and chatting with some of the more than one hundred participants and my roommates, too. Of course that was to be the end of our conversations as the silent portion of the retreat began at daybreak the following morning.
At 5am we heard the gentle notes of singing to a guitar coming by on the outdoor sidewalks. That in itself was like waking in heaven. To be lying in silence and then hear that uplifting music as our first sound of the day was energizing.
We arose and prepared ourselves for our first sessions of the morning in the still hovering darkness and I walked to my first class - "Beginning Meditation."
The room was still dark and across the front end was a low altar with a lighted candle, flowers and incense burning. Scattered over the large expanse of floor surrounded by floor to ceiling paned windows were participants sitting cross legged on folded blankets - these folded blankets went everywhere with us during the week; draped around our shoulders walking to classes; then becoming our sitting cushions for the following hour or so.
Back to the first morning of meditation. Our instructor, one of the monks in the IYI gave us our beginning instructions on how to sit, and what the plan for the meditation would be. And when not chanting or in group prayer, we were to maintain personal silence.
Well, if you know me, that was my biggest challenge - I am a very social being. But I resolved to sit in outer silence so I could discover my inner silence - dive into that deep well of splendid refreshment.
But, I'm sorry to say, my first lesson in silence was difficult for me to keep, because no sooner had we sat upright with our legs crossed in, then I opened my mouth to ask a question.
And, no sooner were the words out of my mouth, than the monk was reminding me to be silent and become as a little baby, unable to speak.
That was my biggest lesson at the beginning of meditation - be quiet - and listen to my inner sounds, the song coursing through my mind that is present during all the ups and downs of existence.
What I'd like to leave you with today is the suggestion that at the beginning of your meditation practice to be silent and listen. Whether it is your first session, or the beginning of a daily meditation session over the years, listen to words of wisdom arise in your mind to solve problems; listen to the Inner Vibration; and quietly hold intentions for personal and world peace. Today and everyday enjoy the quiet time of meditation!
Article by Susan Kramer
For offsite reading
Meditation for Teens and Adults
More than 70 offerings, from guided meditation techniques to on-the-go stress relief and relationship meditations interspersed with verse, and a section of special occasion prayers. 114 pages.
Meditation for all Kids
Sitting, walking, dance and group circle meditations, along with positive affirmations, verses and benefits of meditation for kids of all ages and abilities in a 100 page book with illustrations.