Many of you know that today I was supposed to be attending a silent retreat in Ottawa. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled yesterday afternoon but I thought I would take a moment to address the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of one of these retreats.
A number of you mentioned to me that you would never be able to be in a group of people and be completely silent for that many hours. In fact some of you suggested that it would be impossible to be quiet for longer than an hour.
I have attended several of these experiences and what they have taught me is how easy it actually is, and how much I long for longer periods of silence.
The first time you go into silence is a bit daunting but you must remember that you are being guided the whole time by the teacher in the room. If you have attended yoga classes, it is like this but simply longer. We usually begin with meditation which is guided and it sets the theme for the day. One of the retreats was about forgiveness, another about self care. I have been to about six and each has its own purpose.
After meditation we do yoga and then have a morning snack. All of the food is raw and meant to sustain you in your day long practice. In the past, we have done art, journaling and walking meditation. We are often put into restorative yoga poses designed to release tension in the body.
The idea is to have a place where we can actually hear ourselves think. There is meditation music playing softly in the background but there is no internet access and there are no other voices in the room except that of the teacher. It is referred to as a ‘safe space’ where we can let go and listen to our own hearts and thoughts.
I have to tell you that you come of out of such an experience feeling like you have been on a week long vacation. It is amazing how much we are bombarded by noise and images all day long. We only realize how exhausting this is on our nervous system when we take the time to remove the constant buzz from our day.
I hope that you get a chance to participate in one of these retreats. It is a challenge at first but once you try it, it becomes something that you crave. Silence is really is golden.
Have a wonderful weekend.