Running shoes. Check. Hiking trousers. Check. Hot water bottle. Check. You’d think I was leaving home for a month by the size of my bag, but I don’t want to be missing any essentials when I do my latest silent retreat – a full four days. The longest yet!
By the time you read this, I will be somewhere in the middle of nowhere, tech unplugged, mouth zipped shut and my mind hopefully cleansing itself of much of the junk that runs my life even though it’s been swilling round my head for decades.
On the other hand, I may well be strait-jacketed in a mental institute because the Scouse voice in my head proved too torturous. Who knows? Experience tells me that every silent retreat is different and I have no idea how this one will pan out.
I am however, really looking forward to it. No more after hours texts from demanding clients or searching for lost PE kit, ballet shoes, text books etc or worrying about what to cook for supper or getting up early for networking breakfasts. My biggest concerns will be – yoga or sacred walking? The art room or a snooze by the fire? Or maybe even…why won’t that Scouser in my head shut up?
Joking aside, I am desperately in need of some silence. I am also willing to go wherever it takes me, even if it gets uncomfortable, which is highly likely. When there is no Netflix, work stuff or family dramas to distract me, I have no choice but to sit with whatever is going on inside.
My psyche will leap for joy and think ‘At last, she’s paying attention!’ and it will throw up long forgotten feelings and anxieties. I’ll probably experience flashbacks of things that happened when I was a child. I’ll probably cry. A lot. But this will all be good. It’s a bit like a sauna for the mind – I’ve got to sweat out the psychological toxins and will feel a whole load better for it.
The last silent retreat I did was awful. I hated every minute of it and was glad to get home, but even though I moaned and complained all the way through it, something happened on a deeper level that I wasn’t even aware of. I felt like a new born lamb when I emerged – small and vulnerable, but with a big and open heart. Every single silent retreat I have ever done whether it be 6-hours or a weekend, has cracked open my heart. It makes me a better listener. I become more empathic. Less judgemental.
It doesn’t last of course, as I am soon back to my old ways, but it’s good to know that there is a bright light inside me, glowing in the darkness. It never goes away, even when I am angry, bitchy, cold or cruel etc.
Ironically, the one thing I am really going to miss is Netflix. It is my addiction, the thing I use to run away from uncomfortable feelings I’d rather not face. Going cold turkey is going to be tough.
The good news is, I have my ballet shoes. During my last silent retreat, I perfected my pirouette turns. They could still do with a bit of work, as could my turning waltz. What a sight I’ll be. A middle-aged woman doing Swan Lake in the middle of a wedding venue in Wales, muttering under hear breath in a Liverpool accent. It’s just as well all mobile phones are banned as you never know, someone might feel compelled to film me.
Anyway folks – I will see you on the other side!