taking time to relax
The first time I heard about Lebh Shomea House of Prayer was about a year or two after we moved to Seguin, and I have been yearning to go to this House of Prayer since then. However, I never made ‘serious’ plans to do so.
NOW I am thinking very seriously about taking a few days (maybe three?) to go to this Silent Retreat. Renewal. Sustenance. Quiet. Meditation.
It seems to be time for me to do this.
The idea of silence as medicine is hardly new. In his landmark 1975 book, The Relaxation Response, Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School explains how heart rate and blood pressure can be lowered and pain and metabolism controlled through Transcendental Meditation (TM), a form of meditation he developed based on the Indian practice of Vedic meditation, which Benson refashioned with Western sensibilities in mind. His concept uses mind-body exercises and a mantra, or chant, to combat stress and calm the body to a state of deep relaxation while the mind remains alert, a state he calls “restful alertness.” TM practitioners believe that in this state one’s ability to reason and learn is heightened and overall sense of wellbeing is enhanced. While studies are still underway, the physical benefits of the meditation are said to positively affect brain function, heart rate, blood flow, and the immune system.
For others still, comfort is found in silence amid the familiar surroundings of a church setting. Episcopal, Benedictine, and Jesuit retreats provide opportunities to reflect upon one’s relationship with one’s self, with others, and with God. At the Jesuit Spirituality Center at St. Charles College in Coteau, Louisiana, “retreatants” meet briefly each day with the individual assigned to direct them on the retreat. The rest of the day is spent taking contemplative walks, in prayer, and in quiet reflection.
Liza Hallman of Austin, Texas, who attended a weeklong silent retreat at the Jesuit Spirituality Center, says of the experience, “It really was transformative in a subtle and very deep way. And, I was ready, like a nut fallen from a tree, ready for cracking.” Each person takes away something different from such an experience. You learn to talk less and listen more. You are reminded to tune into your thoughts, the sounds of nature, and to really listen to those around you.
Our being is silent, but our existence is noisy.