Returning to Our True Nature is the theme of the retreat I am leading with my friend Serra Lynn Smick in Costa Rica 2014! Before I embarked on this amazing journey I wanted to attend a retreat myself and immerse my whole being on the beauty of silence, of going within and be with my breath and myself. I found the perfect opportunity and I attended a retreat led by Peter Russell at Casa De Maria in Montecito. I know what my true essence is, in theory, but I need to be reminded, I need to have this reinforced and refreshed in my mind over and over again not only what it is, but how to practice connecting to it and why !!! We all know a lot intellectually, but not experientially, and this is when immersions, intensives and retreats are needed to imprint in our minds and bodies what we already know in our brains.
True essence is the natural state of calm and ease that we are born with. Our bodies are designed to function optimally when we are in this state. Any other state like anger, fear or sadness are normal and have a temporary purpose but when we operate in life from these modes constantly, over and over again, it can deplete us. Sometimes these patterns are ingrained so deeply that we do not even notice that there might be another way of being.
What separates us from our true essence are thoughts and resistance to what is in this present moment. We do need a thinking brain to make decisions and discern, but most of the time we have allowed our brains to let loose. We have allowed it to rule us, to obsessively plan, think, regret, worry, or be happy if the outside conditions are the way we want them to be. This unconscious-constant activity of our minds is always trying to look for something else to find more happiness. It thinks: “If only I was married, or had the perfect job, or lived in a tropical island or I was 20 pounds lighter, I would be happier”. It looks at the future constantly chasing something and in turn we miss this process called living in the now. We can still have goals, plans and dreams without letting dissatisfaction take over and letting ourselves live in a state of constant resistance to what is in this moment.
I recently watched a video on youtube by holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer and even though her whole family was killed at the concentration camps and she was left alone with her son living in starvation and surrounded by death she says she knew there were bad things happening around but she only looked where there was good. She not only survived. She thrived. She says she was born an optimist so it makes me think that her way of being and attitude where ingrained in her. She did not need to meditate, read affirmations, or any other spiritual practice to be happy. She just saw life one way and she did not let anything change her view. There are some people born with this gift but the majority of us have to put dedication, time and practice to notice the good.
Meditation is a strong spiritual practice that allows us to stop, be silent, notice our thoughts, notice the constant patterns in our thinking, notice what patterns are loving which ones are not and from this awareness we can make choices and transformation is possible. Every time we sit in meditation we are training our minds to be here and from this presence we become aware that there are other ways of being, we can explore relaxing deeper, we can detach from the little voice in our head that says we should be this, or that. We can practice nonjudgmental ways of being even towards that nagging voice in our heads. We might begin to get closer to experiencing our true essence. That simple being that is always aware, always present. Like Martha Beack said:
“To know what that true self is without social pressure is to know your true nature”.
If you are not a meditator it is ok. Start small. Start by making the commitment to seat in silence at least for five minutes a day, then slowly increase it to 10, to 15 and so on. Don’t worry if your mind keeps having a conversation in your head just notice it, laugh at it, and come to the awareness of your breathing again and again.
Too much activity in our minds is like stirred muddy water. It is not clear. Only when the water is calm and still, we can see clearly through it.
Be still and know that you are love, peace, and beautiful.
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