When the mental chatter stops

With some hesitation I walked up the hill. I was very curious this see where this would lead me. Would I get the clarity that I so desperately was looking for? Would this resort help me to finally put an end to my suffering?

The intense joy of freedom that I experienced when I quit my job had long gone. It had been replaced with anxiety, stress and unhappiness. Although I had entered a complete new world full of possibilities and chances, I only focused on getting back in the corporate saddle as soon as possible.

Searching, searching, searching

The frustration had run so high that I decided I needed a break. I needed to clear my mind. I took my car and drove to France. No plan or destination, the travel itself would already sooth me. Friends jokingly said I was going on a trip to find myself. I fiercely disagreed as I only wanted a holiday by myself. I was wrong, they were right.

So I traveled around in France in October that year. Beautiful weather despite the low temperature. In the Lonely Planet I had read that not too far from my location was a Buddhist Meditation Centre. It was possible to stay there multiple days. Although I knew very little of Buddhism, I decided to go there, hoping I would find answers there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I approached the resort, a friendly man approached me. He was very happy to show me around. He demonstrated the rituals and explained the possibilities of staying for a few days. After an interesting tour he showed me the meditation room. I thanked him for his kindness and went inside. I grabbed a cushion and started my meditation.

As I started, I took notice of the usual chatter in my head: “I’m not very comfortable in this position.”, “Did I lock my car?”, “I wonder what food they serve”, “I really don’t like these smelly incense sticks!”, “What am I doing? Look at me – what has become of me?!?”, and many many more thoughts. As I focused on my breathing, the chatter started to wind down and I became peaceful. There were no more voices. Finally rest.

Clarity?

And then it happened. A voice, in my head, very loud: “This is NOT for you!”. Again, “This is NOT for you!”. “This is NOT for you!!”. This was no chatter. It was a voice from outside that was addressing me. It was impressive and very directive. A very very strong advice. Although I had free will, I decided not to question this message and take immediate action.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACompletely confused, I opened my eyes and quickly stood up. I put the meditation cushion back in its place and walked outside. Away from the resort, down the hill, to my car. I found it rude to leave so abruptly, but I kept my steady pace. Away from the resort, I noticed a butterfly on the side of the road.

Somehow I felt it was a sign that I did the right thing. Or perhaps I just wanted to think that. As my mental chatter started picking up again, one of the inner voices pointed out that I had now completely gone bananas…

Reflection

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor years I have replayed this day in my mind. Was this divine intervention? Was this message coming from the spiritual world? Or was this my subconscious mind playing tricks on me? What I find most interesting is that ideas and intuition always come with “I” as the subject: “I feel…”, “I think…” “I have an idea…”. This message however was directed at me, not coming from me.

To this day, I do not know. But I do have total peace with it. I do not regret walking away from that resort. I do not know what would have happened if I stayed. I do know that I am very happy with how my life turned out.

Photos are the actual photos taken on that day.

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Bertil Schaart
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