This year's retreat at the Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley was hosted by Dr James and Rev. Leslie Golden. The retreat was titled "Whenever the time is Now" ... and, well, when you think about it, the time is always NOW. Now is the only time it can ever actually really be. People have written books about it. The sages say to "be here now" but sometimes that seemingly simple idea can be difficult to experience. Our mind has an uncanny way of keeping us in the past and the future, reflecting back, multi-tasking and planning ahead.
Spiritual practices are tools we learn and use to make it easier to experience the beauty of presence, being in the Now. This retreat was an amazing opportunity to explore new practices, as well as remember and reinforce those we already knew, to deepen our personal spiritual understanding and awareness.
Spiritual practices can take some effort, a bit of discipline, and this weekend was about honing our skills in that area. Dr. James and Rev Leslie used the analogy of these various spiritual practices as different types of forks, all of them used for the purpose of feeding our soul food that comes from the One Source, God. It doesn't matter which fork you use, what matters is that you remember to feed your soul!
We learned about and were asked to practice more mindfulness during the retreat and over the entire weekend. That means to slow down... move slower in all your actions. Drive slower (at the speed limit perhaps), eat slower and chew your food more thoroughly. Bring more conscious awareness into everything you do.
All the participants took a vow of silence. I had never attempted something like this before, leading up to the retreat I was excited and a little nervous about this part. With an open mind and an open heart, I decided I was ready for some quiet time... to hear the voice of Spirit within me, the One who created me.
I have to say, the mindfulness, coupled with the vow of silence, made my mind seem MUCH LOUDER at first! I had to, as gently and non-judging as possible, quiet the mind chatter and listen for that still small voice within me. The one that reminds me not only am I loved unconditionally, but that our essence is purely and simply Divine Love.
We also learned some Siddha Yoga practices, including singing a chant (yes! out loud! with our voices!). We listened to and sang together, in a call and response format, the phrase: "Om Namah Shivaya" which means "I bow to the God Self that dwells within me - as me." Everyone received a strand of mala beads, which are sometimes referred to as Buddhist prayer beads. They are essentially used for keeping count during mantra meditations and have an added benefit of helping to keep the mind focused. My mala beads are a new favorite "fork" of mine, I use them every day. :-)
This retreat was an amazing experience. It has deepened my spiritual awareness and fortified my spiritual practices in such a complete way. My heart is wide open, filled and over flowing with the Divine Love that God is.
I encourage you, whatever your "fork" is, if your soul is hungry then feed it! If you haven't found a fork you like, come visit us... No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, know that you are always welcome here.
To learn more about the retreat visit...
James and Leslie Golden: www.DreamANewDream.net
Siddha Yoga: www.siddhayoga.org