I was obsessed with Sandra Oh for the first two days of my silent meditation retreat.
As most of you know, I attend meditation and yoga retreats throughout the year. I use them as a way to reset and make sure that my ambitious nature remains in alignment with my gratitude practice—to remember that life is complete as it is. This is why mindfulness is one of the key elements of the strategic system that I lead clients through.
Let me tell you this: taking a vow of silence is not easy. We don’t realize how much time we spend communicating—face-to-face, over the phone, by email and text—until those means of communication aren’t available. I yearned intensely to send emails and watch YouTube videos at different times during the retreat. It’s funny how attached we’ve become to always being connected.
Typically I’m consumed with worries for the first couple days on a silent retreat: Did I forget to set up my out of office email notification? Am I missing an influx of communications from my ideal clients? Am I missing something extremely important in the life of a close friend? The overreaching question is: Why in the world do I keep doing this to myself?
I get through the uneasiness of the first couple days by remembering I’ve done this before and that life is always clearer post retreat. I also remind myself that always being available or in control doesn’t mean I’m a better, happier person. All experiences are teachable moments.
These thoughts are going through my mind during my first evening of silence. I head over to the dining hall, collect my dinner and sit down. As I’m getting ready to eat I look over and notice Sandra Oh, the Canadian actress best known as Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy sitting at the end of my table. Immediately my mind is flooded with new questions:
- Why is someone like her participating in the same retreat as I am?
- How does it feel to move through different environments: one where no one treats you differently than anyone else and one where you have red carpet engagements?
- What was it like to be in an on camera relationship with Isaiah Washington for such an extended period of time?
I wonder how common meditation practice is for people in Hollywood. I also wonder if it’s easier for actors because they literally have to be someone else for the camera. When I finally spoke to Sandra Oh at the end of the retreat, she asked me how it felt to sit with my questions for 11 days. All I could say was that my questions made it more difficult to stay connected to my present experience.
Life is full of distractions. Sometimes, like with social media, text messages, phone calls and navigating a business schedule, they are expected. And then there are the unexpected—like sitting next to a TV star in the mountains of Northern California after you’ve taken a vow to not speak or have eye contact within anyone for 11 days. Our goal is to navigate through distractions with our compass set to our intended destination.
Aside from meditation, I’ve found that one of the best ways to keep my compass set in the right direction is through a mastermind group. I’ve participated in a group throughout the calendar year. We all are full-time entrepreneurs with similar revenue goals, work ethics, and business structures. We all have the capacity to contribute within an open honest forum about business success, issues and goals. Future articles will talk about the importance of mastermind groups.
Back at the retreat, I had questions for other attendees as well:
- What interesting lives do these silent slow food eaters enjoy?
- Are certain career paths more prone to need mediation to stay authentic?
- What circumstances have led all of the strangers to be in the same place at the same time?
- How do they imagine my story?
It’s so funny how many stories you can create about someone without even meeting. During the last evening we were able to practice speaking again. Some people noticed my hiking during our walking mediation breaks and assumed I was a huge outdoorsy person. Others assumed that I was a student since I’m still in this ambiguous age range. Most were curious about how someone that looks like me ended up in a silent retreat in the first place. I love bending the rules of normalcy.
I’m so happy and so grateful to be able to experience silent meditation yet again. I’m easing back into the swing of things at the right time and in the right spirit. Again, I am reaffirmed in my knowledge that present mindedness is something that is beneficial to everyone. If you ever want to mediate with me, please feel free to drop me a line.