“Why would anyone do that?”
This is the most common question people ask me about the retreat. I am not surprised since this question also arose for me when I first heard of silent retreats.
I’ll start by answering it.
Naturally, each participant attends the retreat for their own reasons and their unique circumstances play a role in this. Some people are going through a difficult time in their life (burnout, grief, anxiety), others are looking for the significance of life, some have a longing to ‘awaken’, others are simply curious, some others feel a soul calling and I imagine there are a multitude of other reasons I can’t even think of. Ultimately, regardless of each individual’s ‘reason’, I think it takes courage to sign up for such an experience and I also think that everyone who does is glad they did by the end of the retreat.
The true purpose of such a retreat is Spiritual evolution which can also be referred to as Spiritual Awakening which leads to Self-realization.
I suppose some of you reading will be familiar with these terms but for clarity purposes I’ll share the following definitions which I created from my understanding.
Self-Realization is the ‘realization’ or inner knowing – understanding beyond the mind level of our True Nature or Higher Self: Universal Consciousness, Buddha Consciousness, also referred to as Shiva and God amongst many others names – beyond the ego, which translates as a deep sense of Oneness and connection to all that exists. Examples of well known self-realized beings are Jesus, Buddha, Mother Teresa, Eckhart Tolle and Sri Ramanamaharshi amongst so many others. This state of consciousness is the ultimate purpose of Yoga as it was defined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras and the sole purpose of life according to Patanjali and many other mystics from different lineages – particularly in the Eastern hemisphere of the planet.
Please note that this is a difficult concept to understand since it refers to a state of being / state of consciousness that is not very well-known to humanity, particularly in this day and age, so even if it’s still not clear you can continue to read.
Spiritual evolution and Spiritual Awakening refer to the process of realizing our true nature. This process can run over a long period of time, sometimes a life time, during which there are moments of awareness and deep understanding of this Universal consciousness as the essence of our being. However these are moments rather than a permanent state of being. In most cases a dedicated disciple or devotee will tend to experience these moments with more regularity and for longer periods of time as they continue to practice daily until they eventually ‘attain’ self-realization but there are also many known cases of people who self-realized unexpectedly through the grace of a master / guru or life circumstances – in these cases one could say their soul was ‘ripe’.
What inspired me to participate
I share about my personal experience purely with the hope to inspire others.
For me it was a longing to continue on my journey of spiritual evolution, which translated as a strong soul calling that my mind failed to reason with.
It has been some years now that I have felt inspired to try different practices and medicines (including meditation, many lineages of yoga, breath work, 5-MeO-DMT aka Buffo, Ayahuasca and more) with the sole purpose of growing, evolving, expanding my mind and heart to become a better human, more conscious, more mindful and it is happening! And the reason I am writing this article is not for validation or to celebrate ‘my progress’ but because I truly hope to inspire others to continue, if you are already on this journey consciously or to start if you haven’t already, because I know in the depths of my being, beyond the ego mind, that this is what is needed for humanity to heal and for us to be able to live in harmony with one another and with nature.
I know these are Big aspirations and I also know it can feel like we are climbing a mountain we cannot even see the top of, but the top of the mountain is Here! We are the top of the mountain! And it is always available to All of us, we simply need to remove the veils that make us believe otherwise, and there are practices that work that enable us to remove these veils when approached with true determination and discipline.
Tell me more
Of all the healing modalities I have practiced ‘this’ : the 10 days of silence with the daily 6-7 hours of daily meditation with the self inquiry technique of Hridaya, feels like the most supportive of my spiritual evolution to date. During the retreat I experienced mental void and dissolution of ego which translated into a state of absolute Oneness with All, a state I had read of and even taught about, a state I had experienced while taking plant medicine but never through meditation only.
Naturally, everything I have practiced until this moment has contributed to my current state of consciousness, I started meditating 7 years ago, 5mins every so often, building up gradually to 30minutes daily in the past 3 years, so I wouldn’t say that the experiences of awakening I had during the retreat are only due to the silence and this specific meditation practice but it feels like a milestone, again not for me, but for humanity because each soul’s evolution is a celebration for all souls.
Most importantly, this particular practice feels sustainable because it’s something I am continuing to do every day and intend to continue. Not the silence and the 6-7 hours of meditation, but with one hour every day of the specific Hridaya meditation method, I trust that I am connecting to this depth of my ‘self’ : The Spiritual Heart – the only Self that exists, every morning and this is not something I have been able experience in the past with such regularity.
I won’t share the practice here because I believe it deserves to be transmitted orally. However I truly hope that this article has inspired you to at least consider the possibility of joining one of the 3 or 10 day retreats at a Hridaya centre in the near future (There is one in Lyon, France and in Mazunte, Mexico and they offer weekly online meditations). And for those who are still unsure please feel free to reach out to me personally and I will be grateful for the opportunity to share more about the ‘Hridaya method’ and why I trust it so deeply.
There is so much more I could share about, including the quality of the teachings, the humility and presence of the very special soul who guided us: Sri Sahajananda who is a self-realized being himself, the venue: a castle in the woods, the delicious vegan food and friendly karma yogis, the wonderful group of people I shared this experience with and connected with at the end of the retreat and the many insights I had during the 10 days but I think these are all secondary to what I have shared, so for now, I’ll end this post, and as ever, I am always happy to answer questions and exchange thoughts with anyone interested in knowing more.
Thank you for reading,
Love and blessings to All
Sat Chit Ananda (Existence Consciousness Bliss)
A soul making her way home, like each one of us
I also recorded a 10 minute video to share my enthusiasm as it’s a little easier to communicate this vocally 🙂
And as promised in the video below are the daily schedule and a poem by Rumi: