Journey to Herself
Oprah takes a mini-sabbatical to the quietest landscape on earth.
It would literally be impossible this month to produce Oprah's Cut. In the July issue of O, The Oprah Magazine , silence speaks volumes in the written word. Oprah took time to journey within—and took a vow of silence for three days. Along with meditation expert Sharon Salzberg and a few close family and friends, Oprah took a silent retreat at her home in Indiana. With reading limited to only 20 minutes each day, the woman who has talked for a living for more than 25 years has plenty of time to think. Take a peek at her journal:
Saturday Afternoon: Fighting Off Sleep Our chef, Art Smith, puts the menu on the refrigerator before each meal, which gives us something to look forward to. Today we had turkey burgers and sweet potato fries for lunch, which were delicious.
I'm sitting on my bed now, propped up on pillows, watching the clouds play tag around the sun. I've already been to three sittings, and I don't feel like nary another one. And though I love yoga and went to the first session this morning, I like doing it on my own—not with five people's mats squeezed next to mine. I'd rather sit alone, and I can. Kate has already removed herself from the circle for meditation and meals. So far I don't miss talking, but I do miss reading. Instead of going to the next sitting, I think I'll take a bath.
Many weekends I've done this whole silence thing naturally: walking through the woods, reading, napping. I make a practice of just living in the moment, especially when I'm here at the farm. I try to be aware of every blessed leaf that falls, and I have gratitude journals filled with pages echoing this experience. I come here to get grounded, to feel reenergized. And yet I keep asking myself: What am I doing here today? This process is difficult with others. The purpose of inviting people to the farm is usually to talk, bond, laugh, and share. But a lot of that talking happens to be trivial, so to be with people in a way that connects us and that isn't superficial might justify this weekend.
During Sharon's lovingkindness meditation—which includes a series of phrases such as "May you be happy" that we're supposed to extend to ourselves and to others—I have to keep myself from falling asleep. I'm trying to see the circle of all the people I've known who have shown me kindness. That's a lot of people. Yet I realize that many of them, like the hundreds I meet on my show every day, are not even people I really know. I have this deep feeling that I have been kept afloat by spirits of kindness.
I first extend lovingkindness to myself, then to my family and friends. I've done the lovingkindness exercise many times before on my own, but it's still a reminder for me to open my heart. As Sharon keeps saying, we can always begin again. We're constantly rebuilding, renewing, restoring.
Earlier today Sharon said another thing that is so true: This place of being still and connecting to something deeper within ourselves is available at every moment. I've discovered that the more stressful and chaotic things are on the outside, the calmer I have to get on the inside. On days when I'm feeling pulled in a million directions, I sometimes actually have to escape into my closet and allow myself to go still as a stone. When the closet isn't available, I can just go inside myself, keep breathing, go back to my center—and remember what is most important.