Yesterday I attended my very first day long silent retreat. Before the event I was thinking, “How will I be able to NOT talk when there are 50 people around me? Will I be okay in silence for so long? What is the instructor going to have us do – yoga, meditation, what else? How can we fill eight hours of time without communicating?”
As I often find, worrying about something like this before it occurs usually is for naught, and so it was with this retreat. It was part of the eight week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program I am currently participating in.
What I found was that eight hours in silence, in a variety of walking, sitting and moving meditations and yoga, I found freedom. Freedom to hear my own inner voice. And surprisingly, even with no talking and no eye contact with others, an amazing connection with those like minded individuals.
Our time was scheduled with our instructor doing the talking to lead us. The only unscheduled time we had was our lunch hour, in which we still needed to maintain the silence and reduced eye contact, as well as no technology, i.e. phone time. This was the most challenging. However, the silence gave me an opportunity to really be alone with myself, and with that came the following words, which I now consider a great gift. These words encompass the gift of sitting in silence, the gift of allowing the creative mind to come forth and be heard. I am grateful for the opportunity to hear my soul sing. And now, in reflection from the day, I offer them to you.
Silence (written at silent lunch at MBSR 6/12/16 retreat)
I sit in silence;
I am connected with those who, too, wish to listen
Not through words
But through the beating of hearts
Side by side.
In our silence,
In our gaze beyond what we can see
To a place that is contentment,
To a place that is our individual peace.
How often it is that we seek this place, this peace,
Somewhere “out there” beyond where we are,
When in our heart and soul we know
It is right before us,
WITHIN. –Caryl Derenfeld