Nine weeks at Satha Sai Baba’s ashram in Puttaparthi, India! An 11-day Vipassana silent retreat in the California Sierra Nevada! A vision quest in the Mojave Desert! Invite me to consider a spiritual day trip and I’m journeying to an exotic locale where I’ll adhere to an extended routine of spiritual rigor.
Since escaping adolescence, I have had one foot on a path of enlightenment and the other tangled in undergrowth of modern neurosis. My wandering mind creates fluctuating levels of discipline, so I can’t truthfully brag about years of yoga, decades of meditation, nor the many books I’ve read. I am blessed to have sat with great souls, visited spiritual realms, and received guidance from ascended masters. And I am still challenged by circumstance and how to tend to my inner wounds.
I want to share with you a recent marvelous discovery: One can have profound experiences by declaring a Day of Sacred Silence. Spend 24 hours not speaking, at rest in the familiar rooms of one’s own home. It’s simple, affordable and limitless. This simple ritual is filled with unexpected, spiritual gifts.
To prepare: Make a list of what you’ll do on this special day and be alert to avoid activities that distract you from yourself. My list has two columns: “What I Will Do on my Sacred Day of Silence” and, “What I Will Not Do.” The “Will Not Do” column contains activities such as watching TV, surfing the internet, cell phone activity, shopping, driving, and home improvement projects. The “Will Do” column includes ways to return me to myself and to Presence: reading, meditation, yoga, listening to Pema Chodron audio-books, art-making, and inner-kid work. Keep this page handy, as there are strong tendencies to drift back to the norm; my hands were on the phone before I realized what I was doing.
In preparation, make sure that you have enough food in the house to avoid the need to shop. Advise those in your life that you’ll be unavailable so that they will understand your sudden absence. If you share a home with other people, this sacred activity is still possible — in fact, they may want to join you!
After the second such day, I realized I had omitted a very important item from my “Will Do” list: Just Be! Laughing, I realized that this was typical of how I operate. My very own “To Do List of How to Be.” Daydreaming and napping should be on everyone’s list. Remember to breathe, and from time to time stop all movement. Each Sacred Day of Silence is completely different, so expectations are not helpful.
I have high regard for this seemingly simple activity. The rewards are unlimited! Each Day of Sacred Silence becomes a talisman, reminding us of our inherent spiritual nature. Once the frenetic muddle of modern life is cleared, a luminous sense of Being surges into awareness, continuing to shimmer throughout the house in the days to follow.