When most people consider going on a silent retreat, they think, "This is something I should do. Everyone says it would be good for me to unplug, chill out." But with more thought, silence, days of keeping quiet, feels a lot like eating broccoli. Broccoli for good health, broccoli for the soul, broccoli is broccoli!
But wait, when the facts are in, a silent retreat is much more than broccoli for the soul -- it's an abundance of chocolate! Yes, a retreat is everything chocolate with no worries about sugar, no calories, no worries about anything. We know that dark chocolate is good for the heart. A silent retreat is chocolate, lots and lots of the pure chocolate that is the soul itself. Everyone knows that if any word could describe the experience of the soul, the word would be chocolate!
So which is it: Broccoli or chocolate? Broccoli is imagining day after day of no email, friends, or music on your iPhone. Chocolate is day after day of glorious peace and quiet in spectacular nature. Broccoli is being in nature worrying about all your concerns waiting for you upon returning home. Chocolate is becoming free of all the chatter and noisy thoughts in our mind. Broccoli is being away from all that I should be doing, meanwhile wasting my time doing nothing. Chocolate is finding time to simply be, doing nothing every day, the joy of simply being. Broccoli is missing our partner, children, friends. Chocolate is enjoying the gentleness of silence, having some time to be with the greatest person in the world: myself.
Let's assume for a moment a silent retreat is part broccoli and part chocolate. Either one,
broccoli for the soul or pure chocolate, it's great to make a silent retreat away and out of the superficiality of life. Yes, daily life can be extremely superficial! The chatty conversation, endless errands for endless desires for more comfort, busyness with often no other purpose but to keep busy... all cry for relief, a retreat. It's a welcome break to have time away from all the words filling our day, time for silence only. Broccoli is getting through our mental traffic to our silent retreat. The chocolate is the retreat! Silence is original. It can't be copied in China. Silence is new, once known embracing, and true. Some fear day after day with no small talk, being away from daily routine, they will lose themselves. In fact, we have lost ourselves already in doing everything needing to be done, having everything to have but being little of the joy that is our calling. A life running only on mental energy no matter how financially rewarding or important we think we are is superficial. There is much more. A superficial life is the opposite of real life, which is being vulnerable, open, being in love!
A silent retreat is falling, falling in love. And this is where chocolate comes back into the picture. In normal life we are trapped, watching our mind racing around the track of our non-stop thoughts going around and around and around. Love is a silent retreat, enjoying no mind, no thought. The stillness all around touches the quiet inside. Love is coming home inside to something beyond words, something magical that is in each of us. This love is something we can't lose again. It is our love. It is within the silence, within us.
In retreat, the "Life is a struggle" CD is taken out of our player with a new game played instead. The working mind is turned off and our inner child, our heart, is turned on. A silent retreat is falling, surrendering into peace and quiet. Falling into silence is to fall into our own heart. The process of letting go, being in retreat, is to fall into the arms of something greater, the presence of life itself. In the silence, open arms are discovered waiting for us. The initial feeling of "I can't wait to return home to the familiar" becomes a thirst to return to silence sooner rather than later. Joy is finding our silent well of being again and again. This stillness of the heart is an experience of exquisite timelessness.
Making a silent retreat, making love is a beautiful mystery. The silence, nature, heart-full meditation slow down the mind until something else is found. As the streets of our mind are cleared, an inner landscape opens and opens more within us. A retreat is love's realm, where lots and lots of space is unveiled. This is the first step. Instead of being caught in the parking lot of life, the silence has taken the hand of our awareness, leading us to our heart. A silent retreat, like love, takes us beneath the superficial activity of life to an inner landscape, a vastness. Our heart is the skin of our soul, now uncovered!
This is the chocolate! The second step -- silence, nature, and meditation -- bring inner peace. More space for our heart kicks in. Awareness of our soul, love, grows here. And for our purpose now, love and chocolate are one in the same. The real retreat has begun. We receive deeply the peace and quiet, the inner peace, inner stillness of our heart. This is chocolate, endless chocolate and more! The challenge of every retreat is not the letting go of our machines, the normal routine, surviving the crowded world of our thoughts. The challenge is taking the time to unveil the space of our inner world, receiving the qualities of our heart, the world of no thought, pure being, life as chocolate.
Retreat is not sitting by, watching this new space of chocolate love floating by our awareness. Retreat is heartfully being involved with life as chocolate. This inner experience is not thought, fantasy, our imagination. This pure space in our heart is our essence! It is simple awareness without the clutter of our mental traffic banging for our attention. The chocolate of our retreat is our spirit, soul, God within us. The words are unimportant. It is the chocolate of life that is important! We want to come home inside where everything good is present. Silent retreat, more than broccoli for the soul, is pure chocolate. This is our true ground of being. From here the garden of life grows and flourishes in joy!
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