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Jul 3, 2018

At the end of a busy day, we look forward to those moments of peace we have all to ourselves. The reality is, when we sit down to relax, all of the unresolved to-do’s, the thoughts, and the worries start to rush in. We reach for a beer, for Netflix, or for social media, but this leaves us feeling disconnected. What if we could interrupt this mindless chatter and increase our ability to experience stillness as a means to connect more deeply and to grow? What if we could access something bigger than us, just by taking a few minutes to be silent and go within?

In the book, Sit, Walk, Don't Talk: How I Survived a Silent Meditation Retreat by Jennifer Howd, she begins to dive into what it means to embrace the silence and find meaning. Her book is a light-hearted, humorous take on the experience of her first nine-day silent meditation retreat. She’s an author, editor, filmmaker, and Certified Mindfulness Facilitator from UCLA. A blogger for Elephant Journal, and the Huffington Post, she has co-founded the Eastside Mindfulness Collective in Los Angeles, building a secular mindfulness-based community.

Key takeaways:

Coming out of the spiritual closet. Jennifer had preconceived notions--and even judgmental thoughts--about what it meant to be spiritual. Growing up, she saw people who considered themselves very religious, yet not practicing what they were preaching. Seeking an alternative way to connect with something more significant than herself, Jennifer discovered secular spirituality, which takes a more grounded, pragmatic approach, and created a community where people could connect more deeply, outside of going to church. … [0:02:55]

Sitting in silence. By embarking upon a 9-day silent meditation retreat, Jennifer was forced to face her fears and judgments head on. She noticed how harshly she was judging others, and in turn, judging herself. Our judgment is a spiral, and the practice of meditation can disrupt that vicious cycle. … [0:10:26]

Power of a retreat. You can take time in silence at home, but what other time would you get the opportunity to truly connect with yourself, and to see what you are at the core of your being than when you are sitting in silence? Some people may fear this, because most of what comes up may be difficult to look at. If you don’t recognize your behavior for what it indeed is, you cannot make changes to that behavior. You can not only gain awareness, but you can see how to create change when you turn the mirror on yourself. … [0:22:25]

Take the time to be quiet with yourself, and go within to gain self-knowledge, self-connection, and tap into something beyond your limiting beliefs.

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