As I’m writing this blog, Narayan and I are having a day of silence before leaving the Ananda Desert Retreat. As you read this blog, we will be beginning a two-week camping trip in Sedona, Arizona. Our campground has no cell reception or WiFi. 

We talked about going camping a number of times but this time, Divine Mother was calling us. “Unplug. Let my silent beauty restore you.”

I’ve noticed, since the pandemic began, that many are feeling the call of Mother Nature. Many people are even leaving the cities as the call gets stronger – possibly understanding that a simpler life may be a happier one. A life with less static, less noise, more inner communion. 

So what of us “poor saps” (as Swami Kriyananda used to joke) who have a dharma or a calling to be in the city? How can we stay connected amidst chaos and increasing disharmony?

Here are a few things I think you might find helpful:

  1. Practice Hong-Sau with no agenda. Don’t rush through it on your way to other techniques of meditation. Paramhansa Yogananda called Hong-Sau the most powerful technique of concentration. And it is also extremely calming to the nervous system. Let it, or simply “I am Peace,” be your mantra throughout your busy day. 
  2. Hold silence more frequently. Even just for an hour or two a week (not counting your meditation time). Better still if you can regularly hold silence for one day per week. You will feel your soul rejoicing during this sacred time. 
  3. Be out in Nature and have a heartfelt conversation with Her. Or simply listen. You might be surprised to hear what She has to say to you. Our dear friend and gurubhai, Joseph Bharat Cornell, wrote a book called Listening to Nature. It is filled with beautiful photographs that are paired with inspiring quotes and activities to help you attune to nature. Here’s the one I’m bringing with me into seclusion:

“My heart is tuned to the quietness that the stillness of nature inspires.”

—Hazrat Inayat Khan

“Find a quiet place and listen to the sounds around you. Listen also for the silences between sounds. When your mind wanders, repeat the above saying. It will help bring you back to the present moment. I have especially enjoyed doing this exercise in the quiet of the desert, and in the mountains in winter.”

—Joseph Bharat Cornell, Listening to Nature