About ten years ago I spent my first 24 hours in silence at a retreat. At first, I struggled, lonely and bored, my mind racing.

As the day wore on, my senses kept opening up. We were directed to find a spot in nature and sit there, as still as we could be. Suddenly, it was as if all of nature conspired to show me that it was a miracle. A tiny sweat bee came and sat next to me, perched on my flip flop that sat on the dock next to me, for the whole several hours I remained there. Fish jumped out of the darkness of the pond at intervals and I watched the bugs skate across the surface of the water in awe. I was on my stomach on the edge of the warm, wooden dock, head hanging, utterly entranced by the shimmering reflection of the trees on the water. All my senses were heightened, everything seemed breathtakingly beautiful, and I touched an edge of bliss and peace and god-consciousness that left me in ecstasy.

When I heard the drum summoning us back to the lodge for a break, I stopped in front of some sunflowers. A large one bowed to me and whispered, “You are the sun.” It was clear and real as any communication I had ever experienced. I shook my head in disbelief but it was clear that I had stepped into a slice of reality that was new to me. As I looked into my own eyes in the bathroom mirror and admired the flush of my cheeks and the joyful smile that creased my face, I knew that something had shifted for good in me. My soul was leading me, and I was in the presence of pure oneness.

Of course, 15 minutes later, I was swept away by my chattering mind, following my thoughts like an obedient dog does her master. While over time, the ego becomes healthier and easier to observe and the soul becomes brighter, broader, and more accessible, we will never be without one or the other.  Thankfully, when we open in this moment, we can recognize that there is actually no separation.

For the rest of my life, I will think fondly of that sunflower, its boldness in speaking to me, and my openness and fearlessness in receiving its mystical offering without question. May I always strive to be that surrendered, accepting, and ready to listen to the Divine. In that moment, my heart was completely open. My mind was quiet. There was no question in my mind that what was happening was “real.” What became abundantly clear to me on that day of silence is that 99 percent of the time we are missing 99 percent of the possibilities of the moment.  Everything we are looking for, striving for, exists in this very moment.  And in this one!  “All” we have to do is become quiet enough to receive what is already here.