As part of spoiling myself for the holidays, I attended a five day silent retreat at Yogaville in Buckingham County, Virginia. Yogaville, I am told, is the largest Ashram in the United States with 200 residents and thousands of day and retreat/workshop visitors every year. It was founded by Swami Satchidananda who was first invited to the United States from India by the artist, Peter Max and gave the opening dedication at Woodstock.
Swami Satchidananda prescribed a spiritual path called Integral Yoga which supports the idea that there is only one Truth in the Universe but there are many paths to finding that truth. Thus Integral Yoga embraces the celebration of all religious faiths.
I decided to go on the five day silent retreat offered at New Years for several reasons:
1. The challenge of being silent.
2. To investigate how silence would affect me.
3. To live a yogic lifestyle of holistic health as a cleansing practice for mind and body.
4. As a way of preparing for the coming year and a rebirth of sorts into the second half of my life (I will have my 50th Birthday in February).
5. Because it fit into both me and my friend, Christina’s, schedules.
Although I was not silent for the five days (we chanted, sang and I spoke out of habit a couple of times), it was a powerful experience that I will savor. I will blogging about it more for VIRGINIA LIVING in collaboration with an article I wrote about Mindfulness in Virginia that will be published in their March/April issue. In terms of dating here is what happened:
- In listening to only the thoughts in my own head, I realized that it felt better to clear my mind of thoughts about dating or relationships. I am actually able to think and respond better if I think less about the whole thing. I was much more calm.
- Avoiding men altogether was refreshing.
- There were two men there that intrigued me. One was wearing a wedding ring and left before we were released from silence so I never got his name or his story. He, Christina and I went hiking one day – without talking- and then he was like our buddy the rest of the time. I was so curious about why he was there and what his story was but I guess I must leave it up to fate and have faith that if it is important for me to know I will get the info some how. The other man was checked out by Christina before we went into silence. He was a teacher from another state and he was single. I worked very hard to avoid any engagement with him during the retreat as I felt it important to keep my focus on my and to be respectful of allowing him his own reflective space. When it was over I gave him my contact info. Turns out his relationship situation is a little more complicated than I originally thought (Ugh!) so I guess I’ve just made another friend until there is more clarity.
I found the experience of Silence to be nurturing spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically and recommend it to anyone who would like to have some space to identify and expunge things that are no longer serving them in any/all aspects of their life and maybe plan some cool things to do next.
Other things I did in preparation for the new year:
1. Set some goals and made a “vision” plan with pictures cut out from magazines and some journaling in a special note book.
2. Shared with my children that I want to nurture and grow our bond as a family and made a plan for that.
3. Started taking some action to achieve my goals for the year.
I also continued spoiling myself through the last day of Christmas (Jan. 6) with long walks with my dog while she was visiting, sleeping in (I spent one whole day in bed – that was truly decadent), meditating longer, shopping for myself, taking my children on a ski outing, seeing some movies, dressing a little nicer, soaking in the hot tub, baking cookies and giving them away, making time to read books, dancing and going to see the season premier of Downton Abbey on the big screen at a local theatre.
What might you do to spoil yourself a bit today?
Hari Om and Happy New Year!