This weekend I had the privilege of sitting in silence with twenty five educators from the Greater Victoria School District. We have all embarked on an 8-week mindfulness journey where we meet once a week for two hours to meditate and learn about mindful living. This weekend was our meditation retreat after completing 6 weeks so far of being together.
Led my local mindfulness instructor, the lovely Stephanie Curran, we escaped deep into the beautiful sanctuary of West Saanich and had the opportunity to sit in silence for six hours. Going into this day many participants were nervous about how they would feel with no technology and no communication throughout the retreat.
But in the sharing circle, at the end of the retreat (when we could talk again), the energy was full of positive affirmations with participants sharing words about their experience like peaceful, gratitude, open, calm, renewed, love, recharged, happy and more.
For me, well, I was reminded how BUSY my mind really is. I am a planner, a doer, a goer – I like to accomplish things and create change. But throughout this retreat, I had to practice bringing myself back to the moment. I had to practice being still in body and mind. Don’t get me wrong – we weren’t sitting on a cushion for 6 hours meditating. Within the day we weaved in and out of mindful sitting, yoga, walking, body scans, back to walking and so on. It was lovely. We were given full permission to go inward and to disconnect from the external world and really focus on what’s going on for us in our bodies, our thoughts and our feelings in this present moment.
Staying present takes work. One of the reasons Stephanie and I are running these workshops for teachers and school staff is that we really believe that students these days need skills in paying attention, resiliency, self-awareness, kindness and compassion, but so do the adults in their lives. The adults need to model and embrace these mindful practices first, so that our students can attune to a regulated adult.
So then, what did my busy mind accomplish in this process? Well, it gained an enormous amount of gratitude for the nature around me – the sun, the bird, the salamanders, the soft grass, the cool breeze. It filled with compassion for all living things, especially those that struggle. It sent waves of kindness out to all beings, and back to myself. It slowed down, even if for one breathe at a time.
Taking the time to be in silence really reminded me that busy isn’t always better, and yet we live in a society that glorifies this busy life. Being quiet today allowed me to notice what was going on inside me and around me at every moment, and it made me question: What am I missing? As a planner, a doer, a goer – what am I missing in each moment that I’m out of my body and in the future. Can I pay attention to notice the warmth on my face, the sounds of the birds, the beautiful smell of the lavender plants, the joy and gratitude in my heart, not just on occasion but regularly.
I invite you to take a moment to pause. What are you missing when you are too busy thinking?