Five years ago, I decided to travel to Bali on my own for an Art of Silence 5 day course.
I was not coping with life in general, and I needed something to get away and re-connect with myself.
I didn’t have high expectations, but was a bit nervous at the beginning. I arrived one day early to have time to be on my own and explore a little of Bali.
Balinese people are very kind, calm and always smile. Simple, beautiful people. I was amazed to see a man sweeping the sand on the beach. What an incredible attitude. He knows that his work will only last minutes. A gust of wind would come, and erase all his work. But he still was there sweeping the sand. Just living in the moment.
When I got back to the hotel for the course registration, I was given a name tag that said I’m in silence. Panic ran through my whole body. At least, we still had the rest of the day to talk to someone, and real silence would start the next morning. I would be OK.
Then it was dinner time, with almost 500 people from around the world, on big tables outdoors, overlooking the beach. Magical.
I met two girls, one from Canada living in Brisbane, and the other one from Denmark. I enjoyed meeting a lot of new people but these two were special.
We gathered together in the big hall. 500 people. Waiting for the guru: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I had never met a guru before and I was sceptical.
He suddenly walked into the room. People ran towards him to touch him or bow at his feet. I was looking from a distance. There was an immense calm in me, as if my mind had stopped. I was still wondering what the hell am I doing here? But I was at peace just by being there.
There are no words to describe the experience of being in silence during 3 complete days. I went through a whole range of emotions, almost all of them. Anger, resistance, happiness, peace, pain. My childhood. Questions. Answers. Dying, being
Astonishment, admiration, boredom, fatigue, the need to run away.
Sri Sri met with each person -of the 500. We took turns by country and were invited to his room for a greeting and a chat. I had no idea on what to do or how to behave in front of a guru. I could see people touching his feet, whispering on his ear, asking for miracles to happen. It was overwhelming.
He had a coffee table full of gifts that people had given him, specially chocolates and sweets.
Each one of us had to go and personally say something to him. It was my turn and I was speechless. I didn’t dare to ask for anything. I only touched his hands and said: Thank you. He gave me a pistachio cookie. He said: I never open savoury things. This time, just for you. It was the best cookie I’ve ever had.
It was almost over. Returning home, chantings under the full moon, the beach, the sunrises, the walks in nature, the people. The friendships, the codes, acceptance, looking into each other, the unexpected.
To have zero expectations and everything happens. Pure joy.