THE BLOG

Silent Retreat: The Joy of Now

01/22/2013 03:03 pm ET | Updated Mar 24, 2013
  • Bruce Davis, Ph.D. Author, Teacher, Retreat Leader at SilentStay, Napa, California and Assisi, Italy
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We are stuck. We want to move on. We want our personal story to change. Sooner or later change occurs. One chapter ends and another begins. Then soon we discover life has not really changed so much after all. Our experience, limits, and struggles are just different with new characters, a new story line. Having more or less, better or worse, bigger or smaller is not the answer. We are longing for something. We are not even sure what it is. Meanwhile, life keeps us busy and occupied.

Our daily life is unfulfilling until we discover the joy of now. No matter what are the circumstances of our day, life becomes truly different when we change the habit we didn't even know was just a habit. Constantly thinking is a habit. The endless chatter in our minds keeps us separate from being present, separate from our self and each other. Our thoughts run all the time because we never knew there is another way. Our inner radio is constantly on because we have never been taught it can be turned down and turned off. Even when we sleep many of us don't get rest. Our awareness lives in a mental world of streaming thoughts and feelings. We think this is normal. The more thoughts and feelings, the more stress. Fewer thoughts and feelings and we have moments of peace and quiet. Moments of peace and quiet, however, are not enough. We are called to live fully in the joy of now!

Life in the stream of our thoughts and feelings is like a fish living in a small rushing river always on the move. Imagine the fish coming to a small pond, a lake, an ocean? When our awareness discovers the landscape of the silence of our heart, it's like this fish finding a new home. The boundaries of life are suddenly different. Life's possibilities and potential change. As our awareness finds a larger space to live in, our trust and inner strength expand with it. Our identity, activities, priorities are different. Before, our thoughts and feelings were mostly just reactive to the world around us. Now our thoughts and feelings rise naturally and settle again in our own center of being. Silence and we discover the joy of now. Give our awareness a larger stream to flow in and the radio signal is entirely another wave length. Our thoughts rise out of our wholeness. Our feelings rise out of the truth of our ocean of simple being. This is the life that is created out of the practice of silence, meditation, and the joy of being very present.

To break the habit of constantly thinking; silence, meditation, nature, some simple days bring us to an inner stillness of our heart. Our awareness is home here. The joy of now unfolds in the vast presence found in our heart. Underneath our busy mental world is a well of being in each of us. The silent retreat supports us to be here, in our well of being. Inner stillness is a wedding march in the simplicity of the moment. Here is life's treasure. Our thoughts have slowed down to the beauty of now. The joy in being present grows as the heart becomes more available. A silent retreat is one great conspiracy to quiet the mind and discover our heart.

There is so much to experience in our inner life. The demands of daily life can wait. The joy of now is calling. There is restfulness. At times nothingness is found that is also completeness. Emptiness is also fullness. Darkness is also presence like the night-time sky of endless planets and stars. As the filter of our thoughts grows thinner, our awareness grows larger. There is so much life to experience. Unloaded of all we routinely carry, our awareness is in fact quite bright and free.

Finding the mysterious silent body within is really not a mystery. As normal as it seems for our minds to be occupied with lots of thoughts and drama, silence can bring us to the inner silence where our soul sits waiting. Yes, there are many feelings conscious and unconscious clinging to our awareness. But given the opportunity, our complicated minds surrender to the sweetness that is our true nature. We don't have to be constantly thinking. Our awareness can just be. Our retreat shows us a no self where our awareness is just present and open. We don't have to be busy each and every moment trying to hold life together. We can let go and discover how together life really is. We can live fully in the joy of now. Our no self shelters our personality and give clarity to our lives. The sunshine of our own awareness is showing its brilliance. We make a retreat in silence and before we know it our minds are clear. We have stopped constantly thinking. There is nothing more and nothing less than the joy of now!

For more by Bruce Davis, Ph.D., click here.

For more on meditation, click here.

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