Last month, I spent 10 days in a silent meditation retreat in the Kyoto countryside. Stripped of all that was familiar — my voice, my routine, my mobile phone and all eye contact (!), I dove into 4am wake-up gongs and long, long sittings. I was prepared for yearning and frustration, yet what settled in so quickly, too quickly, was a blanket of utter calm. Turns out, silence and space were exactly what I'd needed; I was too caught up living what I thought was a full life to see that.
Oh, what a treat it was! To embrace the Japanese winter and watch snowflakes dance in the breeze, to make music with the patter of my clogs on the lawn and drink in the sweetness of days unmarred by to-do lists, and to rediscover the primal reactions of my body to my thoughts. Have I really not noticed how my head tingles when I dream up an exciting project, or how my belly clenches at the thought of circumstances and people who made me feel challenged and disempowered?
It was a bittersweet experience integrating back to life as I'd known it after the retreat, but it was neither the waves of people nor throngs of traffic that shattered the precious silence I'd gingerly wrapped in my heart; it was the endless string of Whatsapp, Google calendar and email notifications lighting up my resurrected mobile phone. Who and what on earth have I been saying yes to all this time? With fresh eyes and a quiet mind, I finally saw these signposts of my supposedly purposeful life for what they were — clutter.
So for the past two weeks, I set about spring-cleaning and rediscovering space. Out went the oversubscribed schedule in exchange for a calendar roomy with opportunities for reading, musing and dreaming. Out went futile conversations with people who don't respect my boundaries, so I could hang out with my favourite ones for three evenings straight. And out went work commitments that, if I were completely honest, left me empty inside, freeing up my headspace for heart-driven projects I'd been mulling over for far too long — a women's circle, trainings, immersions and plans to spend my birthday week teaching in Sri Lanka (yes!).
And of course, this newsletter. 10 days devoid of the spoken word in Kyoto has reaffirmed one thing — that as much as I periodically need the space of silence, words will forever be an intrinsic medium through which I share my learnings as I meander in the often overlapping paths of life and yoga.
Till next time, here's a poem I wrote a year ago in Ubud. I'd wanted many times to share it in my classes, but it never felt like the right time or space, until now.
Inhale Arms to heaven, feet apart Exhale Soften now, my beating heart.
Inhale Rooting down, open to grace Exhale Breath and body interlace.
Inhale Fires burn, smelting gold Exhale Trust the whispers, wisdom old.
Inhale Yin and yang, the moon and sun Exhale Surrender to the cosmic dance.
With all my love,