What do you think the first reaction is when I tell people I went on a silent retreat? 99% of the time, the reaction is: “I couldn’t do that!”.
I admit I had the same reaction to the idea a number of years ago. In fact, I would wonder “why would anyone want to do that anyway?”.
Now having done a couple of retreats, I see the huge value. It is a chance to find stillness, even amongst other people, even in the middle of the city. It’s a getaway to experience peace and inner thoughts and stillness.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like, here is how it goes:
- You cannot speak or gesture to anyone else
- You should avoid eye contact
- When it is time to eat, you eat on your own, continuing the silence. Ideally you eat not facing anyone so you don’t have to worry about anyone looking at you. You practice mindful eating.
- Even when the class switches from one activity to another, it’s done mindfully.
- If you must communicate with the facilitator, you can write a note on a piece of paper.
- And you definitely cannot check your cell phone!
The kinds of things done during the retreat:
- meditation while sitting, lying down and walking.
- mat yoga
- standing movement/poses
- eating mindfully
When I was outside walking, the thing that struck me the most was the vibrancy of colours in the flowers. These are flowers I’ve seen many times but it was like I’ve never seen the explosion of colours like this before.
When I think of why people react by saying ‘they couldn’t do this’, I think it’s more that they are saying they don’t want to do it, or are not interested. Or, perhaps if they are curious, then the question becomes ‘what is it that you are averse to about doing a silent retreat?’. It’s interesting to be curious about why you might not want to be silent.
If you are on a journey that includes meditation, or mindfulness, doing a silent retreat is something you may wish to explore at some point. It really centers you and gets to the heart of why people meditate.
Thank you for reading my blog, and I wish you a lovely day.