If you rearrange the word silent, it spells listen.

That was the premise behind signing up to my second 10-day silent meditation retreat, or Vipassana. Vipassana means to see things as they really are, and I wanted to see who I really was. So…who am I? For the most part, I feel like I have a pretty good sense of who I am, and who I’m not. I’m aware of the roles I have, my preferences and dislikes. But are these ideas of who I think I am simply just stories that I play out in familiar patterns? 

Who am I? 

When I became silent, I started to listen more deeply, and my mind and reactions became louder than ever. This time, I met parts of myself that weren’t so familiar to me. My shadow side, my darkness, my ego. Grateful for the opportunity to learn more about myself, I endured what seemed like the longest 10 days of my life, sitting silently, patiently, in frustration. I’ve done this before, I thought, I know it’s worth it in the end. But my lesson is right here, now. Listen.

I listened to the judgements, hypocrisies, and bored ramblings of my mind. I also listened to the chorus of birdsong in the morning, the sound of the breeze, and to the subtle flow of my breath. During meditation, I was at ease. When I was in nature, I was in awe. When I listened to my thoughts, I felt a sense of annoyance inside, and a disconnection to the beauty around me. Ok, so don’t listen to everything. This is not me. These are only thoughts. 

As I began to create more space between me and my thoughts, I came to rest in this place of peaceful knowing, of this nature within. I realised that I didn’t come looking for answers. I’m not searching for anything. I came to remember the presence and awareness that is me, and is always there, if I can just turn down the noise of my mind and simply allow myself to listen.

I already know who I am. I am nowhere, I am now-here. I am no one, I am now one. I am now home, and I am listening.

Written by Nuraini Alston