It’s a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately fill up the space. By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness.” – Pema Chödrön
I recently went on an 8-day silent retreat I felt a few hours of blissful awake awareness that I had only previously been able to hold for a few moments. My body and brain were in the exact same place, and I felt completely at peace. As I wandered through the forest a black horse walked over and placed its head on my shoulder, butterflies fluttered around me and chipmunks popped out of their holes to stare. It was a beautiful moment, and a voice in my head said “this too shall pass”.
As I drove home I watched my body fill with tension. It started between my eyes, wandered down my ears, to my neck, and through my back. There was nothing inherently stressful happening, it was just the way that my body was responding to the speed and outside stimulation. Something as simple as listening to the radio felt overwhelming. I felt afraid to lose my restored feeling of bliss but a voice in my head told me “This too shall pass”.
As I returned home I began to understand why the level of awareness I reached is not sustainable in city life. When you think about it, the average person processes so much; we have constant outside stimulation in the form of sounds, smells, and sight! Through mobile phones and computers, we receive about 23 words per second, that's 105,000 words in half a day. Because of this the body responds, protects, and navigates everyday life with an almost undetectable armor of tension; when we ignore tension it becomes chronic stress and pain.
Being that the senses, brain, and our physical functions all work in cooperation, I am intentionally creating quiet spaces for the body to slow down. This look’s like no telephone for the first hour of the morning, reading paper books before bed instead of screens, and grounding in the present when I start to feel disassociated from my body. These little tweaks are a sweet reminder that bliss is always available, you just need to make a little space for it each day.
Food For Thought: 1) What does overwhelm feel like in my body? 2) Am I noticing and respecting my personal boundaries? 2) Where can I create space for quiet awareness?