• The year is winding down, and I’m about to start my yearly 10-day silent retreat. I wanted to connect before I completely go inward. Preparing for the retreat, I already feel quieter, calmer, more spacious. My mind is focused, sees a few tasks to be completed and nothing else. It’s a real blessing.

    Perhaps a little Retreat context for you. These ten-day silent retreats are much more than the silence they offer. They are a chance for purification of the mind and heart. Participants are expected to abide by eight precepts. That is to avoid: 1. Harming or killing, 2. Speaking, 3. Taking that which is not offered. 4. Consuming intoxicants that dull the mind, 5. Sleeping in high places 6. Tending to self beautification, 7. Eating at inappropriate times, 8. Sexual activity.

    The structure includes increments of walking and sitting meditations from 5 AM to 9 PM with breaks in between, eat one meal a day, and tune-in to teachers’ insightful dharma teachings. Teachers who are highly accomplished in their spiritual practice. The practices of Mindfulness and loving-kindness are a fraction of what is cultivated. The results are a greater understanding of one’s mind, heart, body, and the natural laws of the universe. Purifying the heart and mind from judgments, expectations, jealousy, envy, and all the ways that we have misunderstood life. This marks my tenth 10-day retreat, cleansing, purifying the mind and heart. It’s a work in progress. I feel so much more comfortable about my life and skillful in handling uncertainty and challenges. I feel peaceful, grateful, unconditionally kind and compassionate.

    As a frame of reference, in traditional religions, people make an homage to the person who has undergone spiritual and personal efforts and transformations. In the Islamic religion, when a person visits Mecca for such activities, upon their return, that person is highly revered for they have worked on a greater capacity to uphold higher values and principles of generosity and kindness, truthfulness, and wise-action. Here, in the West, when someone says, I’m going on a 10-day or a long silent retreat, people cannot appreciate the magnitude of this undertaking. The first thing they think of is, “Oh no, there’s no way I can do that, be silent for even a day!” Not knowing that the person goes through long periods of reflection, encountering one’s own demons, shadows, and goodness as well. Experiencing such intimate facets of life, time after time leads to great insights into the reality of things. Of course, I can only speak from personal experience and about the retreats that I have attended so far.

    This is not to encourage you to put me or anyone on a pedestal. On the contrary, to find their efforts inspiring and educational.

    You, too, can begin to purify your mind and heart or at least reduce mental clutter by implementing simple changes. i.e., turn off all television sets in your home for 24 hours, or just for one night. You may discover silence, may even like it, and feel more present.

    What a year this has been, filled with mysteries and unexpected events. Before the emergence of Coronavirus, life was going really fast for so many of you. From home to work and building businesses and projects, to entertainment and around and around. Sometimes no time to breathe. And Suddenly, life took a different shape causing so much hardship.

    Did you know that the many ways Perfectly Here supported you in these pandemic times dealing with anxiety and the hardship of Covid 19 were all or mostly provided by one person? From organizing, calendaring, writing announcements, developing curriculum, and teaching over 400 hundreds of hours of Mindfulness classes, one person took care of all of it and with very little or no pay! As it turns out, the heart of compassion and generosity has its own will-power and point of view!

    More than 65% of the participants were able to benefit from our scholarships and reduced fees. We’ve received many notes of gratitude for the peace and healing participants have gained.

    This Thanksgiving, I wish with all my heart that we could have an adequately paid staff so that our offerings’ extent and impact would be much greater. So that we could invite other teachers, confident that we could pay them what they’re worth. To make this happen, our Board of Directors concluded that we need to employ a grant-writer or two to help raise the funds we need to hire supporting staff and diverse teachers. For that, we need seed funds.

    Your support, in the past 13 years, has always made an immense difference and energized our efforts. Many of you know firsthand about our programs’ benefits.

    I’d like to invite you to partner with us by contributing to the funds we need to hire grant-writers. Our goal is to raise $50,000 by March 21st and employ well-qualified grant-writer and supporting staff at the beginning of spring.

    If you feel grateful for our work, the work of Mindfulness, Wisdom, and Compassion, please click here to send your contributions. Or send your checks to Perfectly Here, 9320 Hartman Way, West Hills, CA 91304.

    Mindful Valley, dba Perfectly Here is a 501C3 Non-profit, and all your donations are fully tax-deductible.

    Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving. Please be safe and Mindful with your life. Make this Thanksgiving count.

    Love always,

    Manijeh