After self-publishing a book about my life story as a millennial going through life, I went through an existential void trying to figure out what is the next chapter of my journey.
When I came across a four-day silent meditation retreat, I knew instinctively that it was exactly what I needed.
During the retreat, there was a moment when I sat alone at the balcony of the chalet right next to a lake studded with lotus plant, smiling like a child and feeling connected to the trees, the chirping birds and the bright blue sky.
I thought, if I died right here, right now, nobody would know. Would people care? Who would miss me? What would I have left behind? What would I be remembered for?
I realized that my book is a precious legacy that leaves my small mark.
That moment, it was clear to me that I wanted to create things that will last and mean something in people’s lives.
Why did I feel lost when I was doing a lot?
I declared a ‘lost mode’ before I came to the retreat.
Looking back, I was trapped in the idea that I had to create a masterpiece that defines who I am. When I couldn’t figure out what that should be, I swam harder in panic, believing that every action should take me somewhere – I can’t waste time.
‘Whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. But why not float if you have no goal? The answer— and, in a sense, the tragedy of life— is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man.’ – Hunter S. Thompson
Were my goals my own, or simply what I thought I should want?
When our Guru talked about Seva (to be in service for others), I realized that even a tree is more useful than I was. A tree gives us fresh air, fruits, shades and wood after it is dead.
I was the center of the universe in my own mind, stuck in a loop of activities without conscious action.
When I sat still, relaxed, and was aware of the present moment, it was as if the sun, the wind, and the trees could satisfy all my ‘wants’ – my desires vanished.
I was enough.
Being kind to myself is a conscious choice I need to make
In the first two days of meditation, I learned where the phrase ‘train of thoughts’ comes from – they were random and non-stop. Our problems start when we hold on to a thought and live life upon it.
Being stripped of connection, gadgets, entertainment, reading and writing, spending my days doing yoga, meditation, eating and walking in nature, I could only observe myself and the surroundings.
Everything I looked at was perfect without interference.
Why was I struggling? Why couldn’t I be kinder to myself?
I finally understood the essence of ‘I am nothing, I want nothing, I do nothing’.
When I ignore myself, there was an empty space where love could come in. I did not want to sit there and smile all day. I wanted to get out there to share, to give, and to bring more people into that space of love.
‘Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, love is knowing I am everything, and between the two my life moves.’ ― Nisargadatta Maharaj
Life is never about getting somewhere
I came back from the silent retreat in bliss and lightness.
My fear and worries didn’t go away, but my consciousness expanded so much that I was bigger than the problems.
In silence, I realised that the universe is eternal, my life is timed. It is precious and it is now.
I shifted my focus to what I could create that matters to myself and others, how many lives I touch, how much freedom I have, how present I am in each moment.
Life is about paying attention to all the emotions and processes, experiencing all seasons in totality, and loving ourselves while we are going through it. @isabellethye (Click to Tweet!)
So, get out! The world is beautiful, adventurous; it is a challenge, it enriches.
While I am here, I will love more, do more, connect deeper, explore broader. I will not be tied down by things that are not real. We all live in the energy of abundance and creativity.
These are the gifts of life in silence, and I want you to have it too.
Isabelle Thye is a coffee enthusiast based in Malaysia. She co-founded a café consultancy business and started her own coffee label CHNO. Besides building her coffee business, Isabelle enjoys writing and backpacking around the world. Her first book ‘The Art of Owning Your Story’ is available for pre-order. Download a chapter for free!
Image courtesy of Daniel Monteiro.