I recently returned home after spending five days in silence at a mindfulness meditation retreat at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS). IMS is located in rural Barre, Massachusetts, nestled in a beautiful forest with walking trails and even an outdoor meditation hut. The building is a glorious renovated mansion, with a spacious meditation hall, and pristine areas for walking meditation. In the upper walking area with glassy smooth hardwood floors, the room has wooden statue of the Buddha, and two stained glass windows of Jesus. I have previously sat two other silent retreats, and this first two times were blissful. I like blissful. (notice the attachment arising!)
(To hear Corinne speak about this retreat experience and for an overall awesome ACIM-study group call, right-click or control-click here to download the recording)
Leading up to this retreat, my stress level was fairly high. I had an enormous amount of work that I had to complete before I left, and I my mind and body were ON THE GO. The moment I finished my last task, I had to dash out the door and drive 5+ hours to arrive just in time for the start of the retreat.
I’m keeping it real… the first two days of silence were TOUGH! At this mindfulness retreat there was no speaking (not even eye contact), no writing, no reading, and no computers or cellphones. There are absolutely no distractions that you would find in daily living. It is just you and your own present moment experience with nothing to distract you from your own mind and its multitude of insane thoughts! My mind wanted to be anywhere other than in the present moment. I watched my mind bounce from thought to thought, also noticing a continuous faint hum of some old song or annoying commercial that I was incessantly singing to myself in the background of my mind.
This quote from A Course in Miracles arose in my awareness:
“You are much too tolerant of mind wandering, and are passively condoning your mind’s miscreations.” – ACIM
How true!! My mind was all over the place, and although I have a daily practice of getting into the present, I typically use my breath or body awareness as my “anchor” to the present. The focus of this retreat was slightly different, as we practiced simply observing the activity of the mind. And the muck that I was passively condoning was sometimes loud and obvious but at other times, it felt like subtle and elusive chatter.
I silently asked, “Why is the mind so busy?” Instantly, an answer presented itself as if it gently appeared by my side. As I turned toward this quiet answer, this came forward:
Love, which is what we truly are, eternally extends itself. To seemingly be apart from eternity, we had to arrest that extension. We had to build blocks to distort and try to stop the energy of Love’s extension in order to experience this state of separation. The mind is full of chatter and unrest because it is not extending in this Love. This energy of Love instead is twisted and tangled, with nowhere to go, except to project and produce junk in the mind. (Since Love can’t actually be changed, this, of course, can only be occurring in our shared dream.)
When a rubber bouncing ball is thrown with force in a small room it careens wildly out of control off the walls. Similarly, the mind produces random meaningless thoughts and “miscreations” because we’re attempting to hold back the energetic extension of Love.
A Course in Miracles is clear that the thoughts that we are aware of are not our real thoughts:
Nothing that you think are your real thoughts resemble your real thoughts in any respect. Nothing that you think you see bears any resemblance to what vision will show you. – ACIM Lesson 45
This lesson goes on to remind us that:
My real thoughts are in my mind. I would like to find them.
Then try to go past all the unreal thoughts that cover the truth in your mind, and reach to the eternal.
Under all the senseless thoughts and mad ideas with which you have cluttered up your mind are the thoughts that you thought with God in the beginning. They are there in your mind now, completely unchanged. They will always be in your mind, exactly as they always were. Everything you have thought since then will change, but the foundation on which it rests is wholly changeless. – ACIM Lesson 45
Mindfulness meditation has been huge in helping me become LESS tolerant of my mind wandering, and it helps me give my thoughts to the HS, thus bringing my thoughts back to Love.
To practice a simple mindfulness meditation, follow these steps:
- Get in a comfortable position, sitting or lying down.
- Ask yourself, “What am I aware of right now?” You might notice the breath, sound, physical sensation, scents, or anything that registers with the five senses.
- If you notice that the mind have drifted into un-awareness (daydreaming, sleepiness, lost in chatter), gently come back to being aware.
- Ask yourself, “What is my mind doing right now?” Practice being aware of the experience of the mind. Is it busy? Scattered? Dull? Clear? Fuzzy?
- Simply stay in awareness of observing the mind. If you notice that the mind has gone into un-awareness again, with an attitude of kindness, gently come back to being aware.
- Offer your entire practice to your Inner Teacher by saying something like, “Holy Spirit, I am willing give every thought I have to you to receive the miracle instead.”
The act of bringing your wandering attention back to the present is a form of mind training. Try practicing these steps at any point in the day… in the morning, before bed, or when you can take a break in the middle of the day. You can even practice when you’re busy, simply by pausing and asking yourself, “What am I aware of right now?”
If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness, check out my FREE webinar on mindfulness for miracle workers HERE!