Silence is an important part of spiritual practice and a silent retreat draws us into a particular, deeper way of being. What is our experience when the meditation bell finally fades or when we catch the pause between the birdsong? What is it like to relax and live within a deeper flow of quietness? We glimpse the inner resonance of silence in meditation, while silence is also an outer presence and atmosphere. We can feel as if we are moving in a different rhythm and ordinary life resembles ritual. Loosening our deluded fixed view of self, we can feel less substantial and more connected with everything. We can glimpse that ‘form is only emptiness, emptiness only form.’
More simply, a silent retreat gives the opportunity to be with ourselves and go beyond ourselves: whether meditating, walking in the spring landscape or sitting by the window with a cup of tea. We thus develop a deeper but kindly awareness of the play of our minds and of the world of our senses – the sights, the sounds, the scents, the very feel of things and our resonance with them. We are also living in a gentle, unspoken harmony with others.
We will be with the Dharma through meditation, devotional practice and beautiful shrines. The programme will include contemplative standing outside, as well as time to reflect and simply relax. There will be some meditation guidance and optional meditation reviews.
The silence will begin at the end of the very first evening. We will gently ease back into speaking from the last afternoon onwards as a preparation for going back into the world.
Orchid – breathing