Why go on a Silent Meditation Retreat?
When did life get so busy? Life is running at a faster pace than ever for most of us. Endless to do lists , mental exhaustion, anxiety and overwhelm.
When did we forget to just take a moment to put down the device, to stop, to smell the air, to hear the birds and JUST BREATHE!
As a society we have somehow lost or forgotten the art of doing nothing. How often now do you just see someone sitting on a train or a bus just gazing out of the window or just strolling around a park breathing in the day. Our devices have become an extension of ourselves and with this our senses are dampened, we don’t truly feel all of our experiences to touch, taste, smell, hear- rather we see them through a lens.
Our internal world takes a backseat to this constantly moving external world and with this it is naturally the heart closes somewhat and we have a feeling of less genuine, close human connection that we as humans so greatly need. A sense of not being alone, a sense of community and support.
So to have a day, 3 days or even a week on a silent mediation retreat , without devices or any responsibilities is a real luxury. What a luxury to have time and space to do absolutely nothing but listen to the wisdom of our bodies and hearts.
I believe it’s a necessity to have time to get bored in our society of constant stimulation and overload. Time to sense into our aches and pains in our bodies, notice where we are holding the stresses of life in our bodies and breathe into them and soften them.
With practice we learn to sit with discomfort in body and mind, rather than to numb them with alcohol, drugs or distractions , and we learn to allow ourselves to be just as we are in that present moment. We don’t need to silence our busy minds, we just bring our awareness to all that comes up, greet it and meet ourselves with kindness. Safe in the knowledge all those on the retreat are in this in silence but in it together, that is so supportive to our practice.
And for some blissful moments when the whirlwind mind settles, we sense into the sensations in our body, the sensation of movement of breathe and step back from the cascade of thoughts and simply rest in the non-doing, and for these moments there is this feeling of pure relief that it is ok to not know all the answers. To not plan the next week, year, 10years, our retirement and just be here.
If you have never been on a retreat, I would recommend beginning with a daily meditation practice, this is the foundation. Once this is established a retreat gives you the time and space and perfect conditions to deepen this
During my 3 days at Gaia House (near Newton Abbott, Devon) I tasted my morning tea more intensely than ever, each morning I shared my breakfast with a curios robin who sat next to me on a bench as I listened to the chorus of nature.
My body became so grounded and rooted, I could have been 1 with the earth and after a day or 2 connecting fully with my senses and body in this way my heart seemed to burst open. Kindness to myself and compassion for others became natural, effortless. I felt vulnerable but open and true. Waking up to life and allowing myself to feel it all in this safe nurturing space, surrounded by a community of people in it together
When the final day of retreat came, our teacher very gently invited us to share our experiences in small groups and when we did something magic happened. We saw we are all human, with physical discomforts, busy minds and longing for connection and community. We breathed out a collective sigh of relief and returned back out into the busy world with hope and intentions to let some of this stillness, kindness and connection flow out into life.