I hope you are well. I returned from a week silent meditation retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, which has been my spiritual home for over 10 years. The focus of this meditation retreat was on the topic of Bodhicitta. One of the teachers, who was leading this retreat was my first dharma teacher, James Baraz whom you have heard me speak of and who is also one of the expert speakers in my Mindfully Nourished course. James is a wise & joyful soul who has been meditating and teaching meditation for over 30 years. We have been very close for over a decade and it was very sweet to sit with him this week.
What is Bodhicitta? It is the cultivation of aligning the mind and heart.
Take your hand out in front of you.
Turn your hand so that your palm is away from you. Look at the fingers. That represents your mind. Now turn your hand towards you, and look at your palm. This is your heart. You can see that when you turn your hand away, the mind, this is a very outward focus. The mind helps us to figure things out, problem solve, think of the big picture, it can also get caught in fear and judgment and leading from that space without the feeling and intuition of the heart doesn’t serve one so well. Now turn your hand towards you again so you can see your palm. This turning towards is what we do when we meditate and you can sense the soft feeling tone of the heart. The mind and heart and body are intimately connected and when we are not aligned in these, we can’t bring our full selves to our home or work life.
For the last decade, I have been taking 2-3 weeks of silence interspersed throughout the year to train my mind, open my heart, and really learn to develop a healthy and nourishing relationship with my body. Just like you, I get full, I am vulnerable to the information overload, and I find unplugging is vital and necessary in this digital world. When I go on retreat, I simplify and let go of all the things we are told we need to be happy, and turn towards myself for true happiness.
When I return back from retreat, I am always asked how was your retreat? My answer is always the same… beautiful, difficult, and incredibly insightful. When I am on retreat, I always re-align to what really matters to me. I come back with a greater capacity to love, to bring my gifts into the world, to be a positive influence in my relationships, and am able to simply and therefore avail myself of what really has priority and put more energy and action towards that. I share more about it in the video above and also guide you through a practice to align the mind and heart.
I have felt so inspired by my own awakening from retreats that I started teaching them over 4 years ago in Mexico at a very special and isolated resort on a beautiful beach. The retreats I lead are not in FULL silence, but half silent. There are lots of opportunities to be silent, to explore new ways of being, and to develop more tools for living a life that is authentic and meaningful to you.