Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Last Wednesday concluded my first five day silent retreat. I went in knowing that it would be silent and that I wouldn't be "hanging out" with Justin. I also knew that it was going to be a time to hang out with myself, by myself, and figure out what was going on in my head, and to let things happen there, and hopefully slow it down a bit.

The eight hour drive down was a practice in silence. Already, Justin and I were hardly speaking, and I was thinking the whole time that we should be just because we won't be speaking for the next five days. For the record, I don't feel that way anymore. If there's nothing to talk about, why fill peaceful silence with mindless chatter? It did help me prepare for silence at the retreat.

To be honest, once we arrived and got settled in our separate rooms, I didn't want to be there at all. I was full of anxiety, realizing that I was leaving behind all the comforts of home and friends completely for five whole days. What if I hated it? What if I couldn't handle what came up in my mind? What if it drove me crazy? Well, I was there, and I'll be damned if I quit something before I even start.

By Saturday afternoon, I was finding that I can sit still, and I can go without speaking. The days would start at 6am and formally end at 9:30pm, with sitting and walking meditation alternating throughout the day. In the afternoons, I helped in the kitchen chopping veggies for dinner, which was also a kind of meditation. It seemed to set me up for my best sit of day for the duration of the retreat. However, I was already feeling as if I were all alone in this room of so many people. I wondered if they felt the same...

Monday...was difficult, to say the least. The five day group was divided into two smaller groups that would be meeting with the teacher, John Travis. My group met in the morning and we all got a chance to ask a question or two, and he/group would comment and advise. I left feeling like my life was peachy, and that the torment that some of the others carry with them everyday would be unbearable to me. I also left with a newfound way at which to look at my meditation practice. While sitting, stories and daydreams come up. Instead of trying to refocus on the breath, I would focus on the emotions that they conjured up and where they took me. This is where the difficulty came into play. Every chance I got to sneak away from view of the others, mostly during walking periods, or the lunch and dinner breaks, I caught myself tearing up. I hadn't spoken to anyone (except my group), or had any physical contact with anyone. I was starting to feel like I was disappearing. And then, I did it. As Justin and I were passing each other, I reached out and embraced him, just for a moment, and then continued on. That bit of contact with him was what I needed, a bit of reassurance to get me through.

Tuesday was the exact opposite of Monday. By mid-morning, I had found, and followed my bliss. I had been told that around day four or five this happens, but I did not expect the depth of it. I would walk around in the woods just smiling, and thinking I'd never been this happy, and content before in my life. I realized sometime that day that my creative mind was making me paranoid for no reason, that things are just the way they are. PERIOD. There is no underlying story, no one is out to get me and make me unhappy. I am the person that makes me happy, or unhappy. I was starting to dread the end of our retreat. Although we hadn't hardly spoken, I was feeling like I knew these people, and that they were my friends.

At our closing circle I cried. No big surprise there. They were tears of joy, sadness and gratefulness. I think I laughed too, or at least I made everyone else laugh, not at me, but with me. And then I was even more sad to be leaving.

What did I take away from all of this? I talk, way to much, about nothing. I'm aware of it, and am mindfully working on changing that. I also don't need to be as busy of a bee as I have been. Yes, I need to keep up on my school work, and hang out with friends, but I also need time for me, without the distraction of others. Also, that I can deal with problems without dragging anyone else in. Although, having a girls night to vent will still find it's way into my schedule!

Upon returning to work and friends, I realized that I missed them both, but also found that they are still overstimulating to me right now. It was nice to stay in last night while Justin went to one of our meditation groups so that I could spend a couple hours alone.

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