I'd almost forgotten how delightful silence feels. This past weekend, Swami Ritavan Bharati, an advanced teacher in the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition, came for a visit. He is in the midst of a three year vow in which he maintains silence Monday through Thursday of each week. On weekends he talks so that he can teach. The practice of Silence doesn't just mean having silence of the mouth, but, more importantly, it means silence of the mind. So he's very quiet!
I picked Swami Ritavan up at LAX Airport on Thursday afternoon. As I drove him to my house, I not only experienced, but felt, his silence, which filled me like warm water. During our drive and that evening, I spoke to him and he responded by writing on a tablet that was like an electronic chalkboard. We didn't communicate much; I tried to keep the interactions to the essentials to respect his silence.
On Friday, a speaking day for him, we had very pleasant conversations both in the morning at breakfast, and with two others who rode with us to a beautiful retreat center in San Diego where Swami Ritavan was to lead a weekend silent meditation retreat.
Eighteen people were at the retreat, hungry to still their minds and hearts in the practice of silence, and they were not disappointed. Swami Ritavan led the group into a sweet and pleasant stillness through several guided meditations and relaxations. Valerie Reeves led the participants in contemplative walking and digestive breathing, and I offered a practicum on sitting for meditation and gave talks on self-dialogue as a spiritual practice and the Yoga of Emotions.
The retreat was filled with warmth and smiles. In addition, the participants were treated to delicious and healthful vegan meals lovingly prepared by Tahirih Linz of La Jolla, CA. You can see some of her scrumptious recipes at https://salmonberryblog.wordpress.com/
The retreat finished Sunday afternoon with expressions of deep appreciation for the experience and learning all had gained. Several people said they wanted to have another retreat in the future.
Monday was a quiet day of rest and relaxation. Swami Ritavan was back in silence and he and I took a walk in a natural setting. Being with him, within his aura of silence while walking in natural beauty, was deeply calming.
On Tuesday morning Swami Ritavan boarded a plane, leaving behind a soothing residue of silence in many minds.