Five Lessons from Ten Days of Silence by Rula Sater
June 25, 2015
How many of us would consider a ten day silent meditation as a learning experience? I thought it would be a nice getaway, time to be with me. Never did I imagine that ten days of silence would teach me more than any book or class.
Upon my arrival to the meditation center, I was escorted to the dining area where all students were gathered awaiting the instructions for the next ten days. There were nineteen women and seven men of different ages gathered around the dining area chatting while anticipating that soon the echo of chatter would fade and the sound of a pin drop would be heard. Moments later, the manager of the center appears and plays the instructions from a tape recorder–yes, it was pretty antiquated to say the least, but we weren’t at the Apple Headquarters. The instructions: no talking, no eye contact, no reading, no cell phone, no books, no writing, no exercising, no killing of any insects-including Mosquitos. After the recording finished, the manager said, “From now forward everyone is to honor these noble rules.”
Every morning, we gather in group at 4:30 AM in the main hall for group meditation, and then spending about 12 hours each day learning and practicing the Vipassana meditation technique. The goal is to sharpen your mind, to raise your awareness and to know yourself better.
Five Lessons I Learned in Ten Days:
1) The moment is yours.
This moment is all you have; what do you want to experience? Too many times we are living in yesterday or tomorrow and not in the now. We hear it often, but don’t experience it enough-enjoy the now, it’s all you have.
2) Pain and Attachment
I have often pondered on the question, what causes pain? Our attachment to things, feelings and people causes a constant state of desire to the attachment. As soon as the “attachment” is taken away, pain sets in. Imagine you lose a watch that is very expensive, you get sad and may even cry at your loss of the watch. Now imagine your colleague has the same watch and it goes missing; this time you don’t cry or get sad. The attachment is to the object and it causes misery. Attachment causes pain.
3) Love is yours.
This one lesson is a bit difficult for most to comprehend. No one can actually GIVE you love; it’s yours, always has been and always will be. Others can share their love with you, but never give it to you because love is within you and you already possess it. This in essence proves the notion that you are love.
4) Know thyself.
All great sages and religious leaders advise us to know thyself, not just intellectually, emotionally or devotionally, but know reality experientially. Experience directly the reality of our mental/physical phenomenon; this is what helps us be free from suffering.
5) Compassion heals.
Over ten days of silence and the most important lesson was on my way back home at the airport. I stopped in the food court and picked up a sandwich. After I ordered my food, there was a change of shift. I observed a fragile and sensitive young man who came to the register taking people’s orders in a genuinely friendly manner. I noticed he would often made mistakes on the register and as soon as he made a mistake, he would get very flustered, so much so that his co-workers didn’t want to be around him and it was quite obvious. Instantaneously I felt his suffering as if it was my own. As soon as the customers cleared, I approached him and he warmly welcomed me and asked to take my order. I glanced over at his name tag and responded, “No. thank you Jacob. I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful job you are doing.” Jacob began to cry and reached out for my hand and we cried together. Everyone faces the “universal problem” of suffering, the remedy is also universal…compassion heals. What I saw in Jacob was merely a reflection. Sometimes it’s that simple, people are in need of compassion.
We all seek growth; sometimes we seek it externally, yearning for external praise, status or things. But, growth happens from the inside out, contrary to what we have been conditioned to believe. It is not wrong to try to get rid of the apparent external cause of your suffering. But it is more important to get rid of the internal cause.
May you all experience this ultimate truth. May all people be free from misery. May you enjoy real peace, real harmony, and real happiness.
Rula Sater is a certified coach and Master Neurolinguistic program practitioner. She incorporates meditation and mindfulness in her work with her clients. She primarily works with those in leadership capacity coaching them on breaking down obstacles, understanding how to better communicate and how to reach and utilize their true leadership potential. Additionally, Rula provides leadership training to organizations seeking to create an exceptional leadership workforce. She has been recognized as a Top 40 Trainer Under 40 in North America by Training Magazine. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Organization Psychology.