Clearly the most profound experience of my stay at Rose Mountain was our teachers, what they taught us about writing (and about living). Both Natalie Goldberg and Sean Murphy are talented and powerful mentors. I am fortunate to have experienced their wisdom and that it lives on in my mind, my practice and in their books. But I have wondered what aspect of this experience made it so difficult to re-engage when I returned home, so much so, that it took a full two weeks before I could feel my feet firmly replanted in everyday life again. I have concluded it was the silence. The silence of the mountain, the silence we observed just after meeting each other--thirteen of us inclusive of teachers, the silence of meditation, of walking, of writing and of listening. There was nothing superficial, shallow or pretentious to occupy our minds. Everything around us was real and pure, the air we breathed through our nose, the earth squarely solid beneath our feet, the whisper of the wind in the pines. There was nothing in the way of our opening up.
Without everyday distractions and demands to hold you to the surface, as your pen moves across the paper, what bubbles up is what matters. And what matters comes from a deeper place. And when you go deep you heal and become open to who you are.
As we read what we had written aloud to each other, this bubbling up was honored with silence, reverent, affirming silence. No reassurances bombarded you. There were no attempts to repair your composure or make your voice go away. No criticism or ‘fix it’ responses, no rushing in to make you feel better. There was only listening and silence. And how does this feel? Uncertain at first. It’s unfamiliar. But what follows is a very settling and strengthened certainty that you have honored who you are. You have listened deeply and heard what you had to say and in the midst of that profound silence, you know that is all that really matters.
The challenge then becomes, how do you hold on to that when you return? How do you incorporate that into your everyday life despite all the surface clamoring? The answer is, you practice.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.