As I pull onto a gravel road, I see signs that warn “loose gravel ahead”. My car is heating up from the sun beating at a fierce 105 degrees. I feel like I am in a bikram yoga studio and realize I am deep in the desert, far from home. I drive up a never ending hill as my navigator instructs me to take a right onto what appears to be a gravel path that seems to lead nowhere. All of a sudden, the trail opens up to a beautiful spiritual retreat center tucked away in Lucerne Valley, California.
I get out of my car and begin to explore this peaceful and quiet sanctuary, decorated with modern day Zen touches, and filled with abundant outdoor footpaths, fountains, and sitting areas to stop, reflect, and connect with nature. I came here for a meditation retreat hosted by the beloved teacher Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, spiritual director of Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles, but had no idea what I was in for!
Upon our first sitting with Reverend Michael we were told this would be a silent retreat and that the best way that one can connect and be impactful in the world, is to first connect with the inner self. Silence, therefore, became the popular sound and created a portal for us to turn within and stay inside of our own experience during this retreat.
Rev. Michael did some teachings before every silent meditation session, but ultimately we spent most of our time with our eyes closed, focused on the breath. He began by teaching us that most people do not have a true relationship with life, but rather have a direct relationship with their thoughts about life. To truly have a direct encounter with life one needs to detach from their thoughts, emotions, distractions, or sensations that appear to be their current reality and enter the present moment with un-distractible attention.
In our very first sitting Rev. Michael guided us to enter the space of silence within ourselves, and close our eyes. I realized at this point that meditation creates magnification. Once we stop and sit and come into silence, all that we have overlooked, pushed away, or disregarded comes rushing to the surface.
As our thoughts, emotions, and sensations arise, we can remember that energy is never lost nor destroyed but transferred from one party to another. If this transfer is not processed, however, the energy becomes stagnant within us. When we meditate all this stagnant energy finally has a chance to reveal itself. This does not feel good, but one can use the breath to move through these moments and finally release this stale energy. One can also understand that as the energetic debris is being released, it is something that our being no longer needs, so it is ok to let it go. Once we allow it to surface without judgment or a reaction, the energy is then transmuted into a higher vibration.
Hour after hour we had arrived, in the town of silence of ourselves, ready to sit in stillness and be in our own quiet. The first evening I was quite surprised about the amount of noise and chatter I had going on inside. I realized that the world is so busy and loud, that we cannot always hear the inward life, even if we think we are in touch with it.
The first night, as I headed back into my room, I heard a loud ringing in my ears. Almost as if I had just come from a loud concert where I had been sitting by a speaker and now could hear the damage I had done to my ears! But this was the reverse experience; I had just come from one of the most silent moments of my life and was now hearing how loud my inner world was.
That next morning my meditation revealed this inner storyteller narrating every single thought. I clearly saw how my mind was continuously involved in this, rather boring, script. I noticed all the stories of my thoughts, sensations, and emotions about me, the day, and my future. I began to understand that thoughts and emotions are not my identity; they are simply a mental activity that I can practice observing, but remain uninvolved in. As I detached from all this mental activity, and connected back to my breath, I began to understand that the presence of God wants to be the activity of my awareness, and this is why we meditate. I then realized that as we get more clear on the inside, we can connect more fully with our higher, truest self.
Through the silence I collectively put together and understood how mindful meditation gives me access to this space where God lives. It showed me this eternal, always there, in everything, in every way, space of God. Below this space sits sleep, above this space sits daydreaming, so training the self to be in the buoyant space of mindfulness takes some practice to say the least. Once we arrive here, distractions lose power, and our awareness is purified.
From this place we are in stillness, we are open and ready to hear the broadcast from God. This broadcast however, sounds silent to most ears, as it is not heard in the physical, but rather with the internal ear. This is the space we can listen for answers to questions we have, open to divine guidance, and receive the abundance that is already here. As we realize that no problem is eternal, and gain access to this continuous broadcast from God, we enter into a higher consciousness.
This higher consciousness allows us the access to higher vibrations of love, beauty, harmony, perfect stillness, God awareness, joy, abundance, wellbeing, prosperity, etc. These vibrations then continue to clean and clear our energy field. This is when the fragrance of love begins to exude through us.
As we sit in this blissful opening to the divine; issues, e-motions (energy in motion), sensations, memories, aches, pains, and distractions may surface, but with training you can always come back to the breath and allow the energy to move. As we move through some of our stale experiences we are cleaning our field of energy, or as some call raising our vibration. This results in becoming of better service to your life purpose and the world as a whole. Meditation connects us back to our wholeness and oneness with God. This is why we meditate; to quiet the inner environment enough, so we gain a buoyant access to this eternal broadcast from God, which connects us to the ultimate truth that we are whole and fully loved.