Silent retreats always come with a spiritual health warning, or as my mentor calls it ‘after care’ tips. If you’ve never entered into long periods of silence during waking hours you might be wondering what the hell I’m on about, after all, why would loafing around on a yoga mat all day require any kind of special support?
Mentally speaking, a day of silence is a bit of a spiritual marathon, or at least that’s what it can feel like. When you dive into utter peace and quiet with no distractions, there is nothing to see, but yourself.
I can never tell which bits of myself or what emotions are likely to bubble up to the surface in the weeks, days, hours even seconds before a silent retreat begins. Yesterday’s certainly wasn’t what I expected. I felt wrung out afterwards and I was glad to wake up in the relative tranquility of my Dad’s house.
I’ve spent a lot of time here lately and I am missing my husband, but I found the perfect post silence antidote this morning as I went for a run through a local nature reserve. I haven’t donned my running shoes all week and it felt so good to be moving. It felt even better to be slap bang in the middle of nature with the sun shining and spring bursting forth all around me.
The retreat sparked a headache that hasn’t left me, but I do feel a bit more human. My spirits have also been buoyed by Dad’s perkiness. One minute he looks as if he is on his last legs, the next, he is out and about, eating eggs on toast and contemplating trips to the cinema. He had immunotherapy on Wednesday – could it be working? I don’t know, but he looks better than he has done in ages and has eaten well for a change. Today, he could pretty well have managed without me, which is good to see.
Anyway, he has been the ideal post silence company and hopefully, by tomorrow, I’ll be ready for the cacophony of home life. In fact, I’m missing it already and suspect it might even be music to my ears.