First of all, I thank you for the public and private support for my determination to head off into the wilderness and experience the sound of silence.  In a word, it was fabulous.  Over the new few weeks, I’ll share what I learned (too much for one post!)  One thing became abundantly clear – I am driven by the clock, and I didn’t realize it until I was disconnected from the clock.

With little prelude, I’m going to drop you into the mid-morning meditation.  Our instructor, Carol, removed four or five beginning mediation students from the rest of the group (I think there were about 25 of us) and took them into another part of the building (a Quaker meeting facility out in the deep woods outside of Chelsea, Michigan) to give them some basic mediation background and techniques.  When she left, her parting words were, “I’ll be back in 30 minutes to let you know it’s time for the walking meditation.”  (The class was a combination of silent sitting meditation and silent walking meditation in the wilderness).

I’ve been meditating for some years as part of my martial arts practice.  30 minutes isn’t easy, but I’ve done it before.  I settled in, closed my eyes, and focused on the inhale and exhale of my breath.  If you close your eyes right now, you will notice that there is no up, down, left, right, forward, backward – and there is no sense of time.  Eventually, I began to feel tension in my stomach muscles which was making my breath shallow. I released those stomach muscles and felt a combination of weirdness and relief – those muscles had been tight for a long, long time (I probably sit with them tight all day long in front of my computer.)  Then I realized that the same amount of tension was in my shoulders – also probably from sitting in front of my computer.  I focused on both areas, reminding myself to relax, only to find a very short time later (how much time? 30 seconds? I don’t know.) they were tight again.  Eventually, with enough reminding, enough breathing, enough letting go, they were relaxed.  This felt great.

I also began to wonder where Carol was.  (If you’re wondering where Carol is, you are by definition, not meditating.)  I told myself to let it go, who cares, relax, breathe… there was no clock and I didn’t have any idea how much time had passed.  I felt a lovely wave of well-being fall over me as I sat there relaxed, breathing, and losing myself in the nothingness.  I sat in that sense of well-being like one relaxes into a hot, silent bath.

When Carol arrived, I was sorry to stop.  I had finally achieved what I wanted – quiet, soft, sweet well-being.  Carol apologized – she had forgotten to tell us that it was time to do a walking meditation.  I’ll never be sure, but I believe we sat in silence for 75 to 90 minutes.  It seemed like forever and it seemed like 5 seconds.  There was no sense of time… It had stopped.

Carol’s mistake was a huge gift to me, and was one of the highlights of my day.  I’ll share more down the road (I’m running out of time as I write this at 6:27 am, which proves I’m back on the Hamster Wheel at least for this morning.)

I want to contrast my “time stood still” experience with something my brother, Matt Monte, created.  Remember I talked about being up north in Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula, being in snow last fall?  The image from my Wonderland post was shot there (I’ve included it again for today’s post).  He lives right on Lake Superior and as such, has access to amazing views of the universe that most of us will only see in National Geographic.

He owns a communication company so he has fine video/photo equipment.  He shot a time lapsed exposure over night and “got lucky” (luck happens when you show up) when the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) appeared.  It’s a deliciously weird, dream-like montage of stars and galaxies and snow and clouds and green dancing light.  Dusk to dawn in under 18 seconds.  Time is truly flying by.

Click on this link:

Password is snowman.

Isn’t it marvelous?

18 seconds or 10 hours?  30 minutes or 90?  Try sitting quietly for 5 minutes, eyes closed, while the voices in your head protest the time out.  It will feel like an eternity (I know from experience.)

Whether time stands still or time flies, it’s all in your head.  It’s worth exploring so that you control it, versus it controlling you.  Gotta run!


    • bkorte

    • 10 years ago

    Wow Maureen (and Matt) – what a great example of the universe doing its thing. Thanks for sharing. I have loved the few times I’ve seen the Northern Lights. There is nothing like standing out in the cold and dark watching that amazing light show. I always feel like it is Mother Nature telling us that she has amazing things to share if we just pay attention.

    Sometimes it takes us slowing down and really paying attention to find the solutions to our problems and our path in life. And don’t you wish sometimes that the crazed person on that conference call would just close their eyes and get a grip?

    I can’t wait to hear more about your silent experience.

      • Maureen Monte

      • 10 years ago

      Hi Barb! Thanks so much for weighing in. I know – can you believe that the video is my brother’s “front yard”? Walk out of the house and that’s what you see. It is amazing and I always feel a bit more connected to nature when I visit them. I agree with your fabulous statement – Mother Nature is there if we can be quiet long enough to see/hear/feel. More to come on my silent experience! :-) Thanks for your comments. Maureen

    1. Barb & Maureen, what if we created a new meeting opening ritual that invited people to close their eyes and ‘get a grip’? I have a group of colleagues that do just that – of course, we went through a leadership retreat together so we have that common connection that makes it OK to break with the norm. We just sit together and breath – disconnecting from whatever came before and being where we are now. Then, we share a word that comes up for us, whether it’s where we are now or what we want to create in our lives. It’s an amazing place to start, welcoming who we are, where we are. What if?

        • Maureen Monte

        • 10 years ago

        LOVE IT! What a great way to take an emotional step back, regroup (and it does require group buy-in and awareness ahead of time) and then finding a word to describe where we are or where we want to be going. I love it – great idea, Vicki!

    • Bonnie Burnell

    • 10 years ago

    I love so much about this – I am so connected, attached, to my watch/clock, I so very much relate. I forgot to put it on the last couple of days and I noticed its absence over and over again. I love your comment about how if you are wondering where Carol is, you are by virtue not meditating..that made me laugh. It’s something I would think in those moments. :)

    I love the connection with time lapse and the video is amazing. I am looking forward to learning more about your experience!

      • Maureen Monte

      • 10 years ago

      Hi Bonnie! So glad you’re here to share your thoughts with us – so you are also connected to the clock, huh? That was an eye opener for me.

      My wondering where Carol was is also a strengths statement. I have Maximizer (excellence is the goal) so if Carol said she would be there, and she wasn’t, my Maximizer would gladly object. Luckily, I was able to let go of it (sometimes we have to put our strengths in our back pocket if they are not serving us. We own them, they don’t own us.)

      Isn’t the video fun? So proud of my brother for being there to do it. More to come on my silent retreat! :-) Maureen

  1. Maureen, thank you for sharing the power of your experience. Time is a funny thing, isn’t she? Or is it a he? Probably neither, ha! I think there’s something to those moments when we lose all track of time and get absorbed in what we are doing. Just today someone was describing children and the way they get engrossed in things so that nothing else matters. Wow, what if we all found that place at our work desks in a way that was aligned with the greater purpose of our company?
    Thank you, Maureen, I love coming here to be with you! I hope someday to meet you in person and even come to Michigan and experience the beauty of your amazing state. Your brother’s part of the Universe is truly profound – I was left wondering why some of us choose anything other than a place where Mother Nature’s magic shouts. :)
    Have a fab weekend, my friend. May you find time irrelevant…

      • Maureen Monte

      • 10 years ago

      Hi Vicki! Thank you so much for making the connection between being lost and absorbed, and aligning that (whatever “that” is) with the purpose of our company. I thought I had achieved that at one point… but it’s eluding me, for the most part, in the present. Room for growth and heaven is right where we are standing! :-) (note to self.)

      I am back from vacation, and you left me a premonition as a gift – I was in a place where Mother Nature’s magic shouts. More to come on that – so thank you for identifying the importance of it… It supports my journey!! (and forgive my delay in replying, I was on vacation WITHOUT A COMPUTER! WOO HOO!)