Opportunity often presents itself at the most meaningful time. The door was recently opened for this mom, after a bustling work season, and her millennial teen’s challenging and successful school year.  An opportunity to get away from digital and social media promised to be rewarding. Our prescription for bonding was going to a silent meditation center in the beautiful and serene mountains, Zen Buddhist Center at Mt.  Baldy.   

Mother and daughter at Zen Buddhist Center

When time is spent daily in silence amidst nature, many insights start to flow and the body and mind transition into receptive mode. By emptying the mind, we become more open to receiving the messages inherent within ourselves.  The world we live in is full of distractions luring us to avoid looking inward and feeling the present moment.  By training the mind to observe the reality of life as it truly is, one sheds the obsession with what “could be” or what “has been,” resulting in liberation and freedom.

A silent meditation retreat starts with a release from all methods of communication.  These restraints include no eye contact, no speaking, reading, music, or phones. Meals are taken in silence in the company of others also focusing on mindful eating. It is amazing how different a meal tastes when one is in her own space void of chatter and distractions.

Following our meals, yoga classes consisted of silent, still, seated meditation. All of the stretches were to facilitate sitting for long periods of time and meditating.  Walking meditation was also a morning practice to become one with nature and to feel the natural stride of the body in space. 

The use of mala beads strung together slipping through our fingers in rhythm with the breath while reciting a silent mantra helped to keep us focus.  A common mantra used during this weekend was “body of light, mind of light, life of light.” This is a powerful mantra to recite and to pause while allowing the mind, mantra and movement of the beads to be in sync.  Moving the breath into the body is the closest thing to welcoming light into the body, so this mantra recited over and over has an illuminating effect of positivity!

The epic lesson of the weekend revolved around silent messaging on how to be in the moment.  One spends most waking hours ruminating on the past or projecting far into the future; yet, we are rarely content with the present.  For a 16-year-old millennial, the lesson will be taken back to school and practiced with discerning observation. At a young age, it is indeed epic to  realize that digital communication consumes and disassociates us from being in the present.  In addition, there are so many daily pressures on young people, and these silent practices can help alleviate this feeling of pressure. 

Both mother and daughter took a mutual vow to stay committed to continuation of this practice in seated day-to-day stillness, especially in times of distraction.  We can always find the rhythm of our breath and allow it to still the mind of its incessant chatter. Through this practice, we can take control of our “monkey mind” rather than allowing it to take control of us.

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