It’s quite the revelation isn’t it? To sit down, be still and feel the words ‘I am pure joy’ come up. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find when I went on a 4-day silent retreat last week in the mountains of Bali. I joined a group of women, led by Shira van Spanje from Frameless Feminine, in silence at the beautiful Sanak Retreat, nestled in between rice fields. A tad nervous at what might come, but more than anything curious at what might unfold and present itself.
Our days in silence were ceremonially opened with a blessing at a holy spring with a Balinese priest. In the following days, we were guided in silence to meditate throughout the day. Group meditations were interspersed with individual sessions, massage and the most relaxing sound healing by Shervin Baloorian.
It isn’t often that we immerse ourselves in the wide open space of silence. And open it is…. Thoughts come rumbling through at high-speed, clamoring for attention, one shouting louder than the other. But the breath is a powerful instrument. By focusing your attention on the breath, you can each and every time find your way back to yourself. Letting go of every thought that passes by, and coming back to the breath each and every time. And eventually, the thoughts and busyness die down and a feeling of contentment and peacefulness comes through. It doesn’t always last, but for the moments it did, there was a deep inside knowing that all was well.
What perhaps surprised me the most was that I suddenly remembered a story my mother used to tell me about when I was a child. As a young girl, I happily skipped home from school down the street, each day passing the window of a neighbouring painter. Eventually, the artist approached my mother and asked whether he could do a painting of me as he wanted to capture the joyous little girl on canvas. The painting never happened, but for whatever reason, the image of this little girl just came back to me, reminding me of who I am within. Still that girl, skipping along, content and joyful with life. Just simply being!
I forget sometimes that this too is who I am. I think we all forget sometimes. We get bogged down by ‘adult’ life, work and responsibilities. But within us all is still that child, careless and free, skipping down the street, just enjoying the adventure of life as it is.
To feel that she is still within me was such a precious experience. A beautiful reminder that I want to let joy be my compass in life rather than the focus of achievement or some goal in the future. Really, I just want to skip my way through life. I forget sometimes, focusing so much on doing things the right way that joy goes out the window. Yet I truly believe that success and achievement will come as a result of the joy, love, and pleasure that we put into the things we do.
Joy comes from the simple daily things that we experience in life, the people we meet, the experiences we share. The everyday moments that pass by so quickly and that are easy to miss if we don’t pay attention. Happiness doesn’t come from the extraordinary moments in life, it comes from how we experience the everyday moments that together make up a life.
The benefits of meditation have been scientifically proven and without a doubt, they are huge ranging from stress reduction, increased focus, reduced anxiety, increased empathy and compassion to increased creativity. Personally, I believe meditation allows you to slow down life and to approach with a much greater sense of clarity. Meditation creates the mental and emotional space to respond to life rather than react, putting you squarely in the driving seat. It allows you to reconnect to yourself, to really see how you are doing and tap into your own inner wisdom – and isn’t that a beautiful space to be?
For more information on Frameless Feminine Silent Retreats, please contact the lovely Shira van Spanje. For me, Shira is the personification of pure joy. She comes from a place of deep intuition and brings such warmth and energy, you can’t help but love her.
For more information on the wonderful sound healings by the gentle and warm Shervin Baloorian, please see his website. I still can’t explain what happened during the session I had with him, other than that I have never been so deeply relaxed.