Silence In the Mountains
This Spring, I had the chance to experience a silent meditation retreat in North Fork, California. After listening to Craig Mod’s glowing review of his Vipassana experience in Kyoto, my curiosity was piqued and I was eager to experience what a stretch of true silence felt like.
For a period of 10 days, I was one of a group of about 80 mediators who were encouraged to maintain silence and a lack of distraction. Conversation, smartphones, magazines, books, newspapers - any means we typically use to distract ourselves - were not permitted. For 10 full days, our only option was to truly spend time with ourselves and our surroundings.
It was wonderful.
Considering the organizers also offer the retreat on the East Coast, hauling myself all the way from New York to California was somewhat of an odd choice. But I’m glad I did, as it reminded me not only of the value of silence, but of how immersing oneself in nature is good for the soul.
I learned that in the mountains, The snow was unexpected. It was beautiful, the way it covered the surrounding wooded area; the contrast of color between the deep green of the moss and snow on the ground.
(Disclaimer - none of these pictures were taken during the retreat, as I didn’t have access to a camera - or any electronics, for that matter. All pictures were taken on the day of departure.)
After the retreat ended, on the day of departure, I could feel a tangible softness of mind. It’s hard to describe, but there was a gentleness and a quietness that was deeply felt. I could hear it in my voice when I finally spoke to my girlfriend over the phone, standing in front of the pagoda. Everyone else had already left, but I wanted to spend a little more time walking the grounds, taking it all in. The trees, the snow gently melting, the view of the mountains in the distance. And the blue, blue sky.