(One of the big takeaways from a recent Silent Retreat.)
I spent 9 days at the Asilomar Conference Center with my fellow Chopra Center attendees, of which 6 were in silence. No TV, no electronic devices, no phones. It takes a while to settle in, but then it is one of the best experiences ever.
Each evening we listened to the brilliant, integrative doctors, Chopra and Suhas. And I will be sharing some of that wealth of information in posts and blogs to come.
But first, one of the lessons I learned.
Staying in silence, there is nowhere to go and nothing to do to distract yourself from the incessant prattling going on in your head. When I go to these retreats it gives me an opportunity to examine my own mind, my own judgments about myself and others, my sometimes silly assumptions, and just how much of what goes on in our heads DOESN’T MATTER!
For instance, getting ready to go to dinner, checking in the mirror, judging that reflection. How old I look, how my hair won’t go right, how my pants fit really doesn’t matter! I am who I am.
Sitting in the retreat chapel, readying for meditation and the teacher says, if you brought your cell phones in, turn them off! The woman sitting next to me pulls out her phone and hits the button quickly, which just puts it to sleep. Oh no, it will still ring!! Oh, right, my new mantra, IT DOESN’T MATTER.
I couldn’t find a way to ship some gifts I’d bought on the last day. Time was running out. I couldn’t fit them in my suitcase. I was practically running back and forth to find a solution, a box, etc. Then I settled down, remembered, it doesn’t matter, released the anxiety. It turned out it was shipped for me, free. Even if that particular solution wasn’t available, it would be worked out.
Watching someone break the guidelines of the retreat, my mind would naturally begin to admonish them, and then observing myself, I’d remember, It Doesn’t Matter.
Most of our thoughts really don’t matter. We’d like to ‘think’ that our thoughts are so very important, but when you stay in silence and get in touch with that other part of yourself, the one who is watching your thinking and doing—your real self—you gain a higher perspective. You see those thoughts as the time fillers they are, like social media, TV and internet games.
It’s good to remember when your mother-in-law says something you decide is offensive, or a co-worker is rude, or any number of things you notice making you upset or off balance. What does all that really matter? You are not affected by it unless you allow yourself to be. And judging others really has no benefit to anyone.
Wait for the thoughts that inspire, encourage, create joy, that are insightful and loving; now those thoughts aren’t from your small self, your ego-self, they are from your higher-self and they do matter!
It is so freeing to be able to tell yourself, It Doesn’t Matter! And move on.
See if it works for you next time you catch yourself lost in these types of thought. Spend one day in silence, on the weekend perhaps, and see what you discover. Share your experiences here with us!