Sound Postcard : 29 : Silent Retreat
This past weekend, I went on a three-day retreat to a beautiful reserve in Massachusetts, where I practiced Vipassanā meditation in total silence. As you can imagine, this introspective view on oneself, as well as an acute sensitivity to all surrounding sound, or the lack thereof, had a profound effect on my own mind, awareness, and well-being. While hyper focusing on my own inner consciousness and thought patterns I have discovered many things about myself, such that only can be glimpsed through this practice of self-transformation through self-observation. It was an amazing experience, and I will surely do it again – this time for a longer period, perhaps 7 or 10 days.
Throughout the day I have observed rotating periods of sitting meditation and walking meditation, with a few breaks for food intake and an assigned yogi job. From 5am till 9pm, my mind was at peace, and occasionally buzzing with emptiness. As I write this (on the second day after my return), I’m still coming off this “high”, and will most-likely take an hour to practice again today. During my walking meditation, I decided to capture a few sounds, and create these Sound Postcards (not just for you, but for me as well), to remind me of the surrounding atmosphere at the time.
Throughout three days I did not break the silence or communicate with the outside world in any way – perhaps this recording can be an excused interaction with reality as I tried to capture the moment. This inner passion and activity is another thing I’ve learned about myself: I spend too much of the present moment trying to capture it and record with my mind for a replay later in life; and as such, I am involved in living in the past, rather than the present. This is yet another thing to reflect upon for me. It’s important to point out that with these recordings I did not intrude on any other practitioners, and did not violate our code of conduct.
Mindful walking through the forest, stepping onto the frosted snow, crunchy leaves, and broken twigs, thinking about my feet connecting with the ground, feeling the crunch below every step…
Living in the silent community if the retreat center, this bell is the only sound I hear every hour or so. It is the only time keeping device, announcing another period of meditation. I had the job of ringing the bell at 7am, walking around entire compound, striking the ghanta in different areas of the building. This bell will be forever implanted in my mind even without this recording, but I wanted to share with you the true beauty of the only sound that has resonated through its presence.
At the closing of the retreat, the practitioners were invited into a small room that contained some reading material and books for further study. The room was filled with over 20 people as they walked along the walls exploring the items. The wooden creaky floor beneath their feet sang a beautiful and rare song that I was lucky enough to capture. If you turn up the volume and listen closer, you will hear the muffled rhythm of my heartbeat, as the recorder was stashed away in my jacket, close to my chest…
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