Friday, March 20, 2009
Unplugging for 45 days
Can you imagine cutting off all your communication for 45 days? That means no TV, cell phone, computer, or Blackberry. But it also means no written or spoken forms of communication. We are so plugged in these days with Facebook, blogs, Myspace, etc. To pull the plug seems so scary or you may even think, "Why would I do that?" My dear friends, I'm pulling the plug for 45 days. From January 27-March 15th I'm heading to Massachusetts to attend a 45-day silent meditation retreat (http://www.dhamma.org/). I have been practicing vipassana meditation taught by S.N. Goenka from India since 1996, when I sat my first course with Seong Yoon (then monk) in Nepal. Being a writer and a person who loves to tell a good story, it was hard to imagine stopping everything to sit in silence. We are a society that lives by status updates. By a click of a button we can find out what everyone we know is doing. I've actually found this to be quite phenomenal and I am so happy for the friends I have reconnected with and the new friends I have made. I am fascinated to read about the amazing things people are doing in the world. But I'm going to let it all go. I know, I know-I'm writing a book, how can I pull the plug just like that? While I am fascinated by all this new technology, I also realize that there is a need for balance. It seems that our world is moving at a rapid pace. We just keep adding more and more to the pile. We have become a society that focuses outward and it has left us sleep deprived. Many people go to bed with thoughts swarming around in their heads and find themselves up at all hours of the night. For fear of silence, some sleep with the TV or radio in the background. If this sounds like you, I have a simple answer. Pull the plug. What would happen if you were completely silent for one day? Could you arrange it? Come to think of it, has there ever been a day in your life when you didn't speak for 24 hours? O.K., maybe when you were born. That doesn't count. Some people ask me, "Why would you do that?" or "Are you crazy?" We haven't been taught to go inside. It hasn't been part of our education. In other parts of the world, like India, yoga and meditation are part of the curriculum in many schools. I guess it would be equivalent to "nap time" in kindergarten for this country. Have you ever stopped to feel your breath? Have you ever witnessed a time when all your thoughts stopped? When you were just there in that moment? It's a remarkable thing, to go inside. When I did my first 10-day course in Nepal with my husband, I was so ready to be quiet. I had this idea that it would be easy and I would be completely peaceful for 10 whole days. Oh, no. While I felt initial peace, other emotions started to emerge. Things that I had pushed deep down inside started coming to the surface. There were memories, pain, agitation, anger. I thought, "This is not what I came here for." By the end of 10-days, I wanted to run far from that place. I thought for sure that it was "the place" that made me feel that way. After the course, as I walked through the streets of Kathmandu, I felt this clarity. Like something had lifted. I felt lightness. I felt a peace I can't describe. So, I kept going. Year after year, I kept meditating. I felt more and more peace and gratitude in my life. I got something. So, I'm going back for another long course. I'll be unplugging myself from this blog. I'll return mid-March (I hope you'll all be eagerly waiting for Lesson 3!!!!) In the meantime, do me one favor, unplug yourselves, even if it is just for an hour (or maybe you'll be inspired to try 10-days). Keep yourselves linked to this site. More is coming soon. Peace to you all for reading this blog and for all your positive feedback. I'll talk to you all when I plug back in mid-March.