My adventure started at 5:39pm, Wednesday, June 17th
No YouTube, audio books, social media, movies or music until Friday at 12pm
42 hours of silence and little to no talking. I will only talk to ask for directions and to be kind to others if they speak to me.
I can write, research, read, hike, meditate, work on program development and marketing projects, and train in mobility and movement.
The only rule to each is that I have to do it in silence.
Drink water/coffee/tea and eat.
My first hour…
-Walking around room trying to find comfort in the silence.
-I am conscious of the sound of light rain, a barking dog and blended chirps of birds far away. I think I might even hear a frog.
-I think I might have really good hearing.
-There’s a lot of noise in the silence.
I ate dinner at 630. I did not expect so many people. One staffer talked to me on the way to the dinner tent, so I kindly responded and held conversation until we got to the buffet line. Thankfully, one of her staff friends intervened, dragging her away from me. I gratefully returned to silence.
I picked a community table away from the crowd and sat by myself. Only once did I fear that someone would sit beside me at the table reserved, in my head, just for me. I’m sure I came off as rude, but what am I supposed to do? I want a chance to practice silence and meditation, but creating this retreat is about my experience. This is not a group retreat, this is a retreat that only one person showed up, and that person is me. All the other people are here for their own reasons.
This is not a true silence retreat, it’s just one that I made up for me. The only rules I have is no music, no social media, ted talks, podcast, audio books, movies or TV until Friday at 12pm. I can read, write, research, mobility and movement train, hike, meditate and eat but I have to do it without the noise mentioned above.
The food was good; there was a salad and sandwich bar with cold potato salad and quinoa. I had a cup of hot tea and opened my yogi reminder, “Develop the power of listening.” Umm…okay. I guess that’s what I’m here for. After dinner I walked to the Stupa. I’m not quite sure exactly what a Stupa is but my guess is that it’s a Buddhist temple with a strong lineage of prayer and meditation. It took my breath away, such beauty and magnificence set deep in the mountainous forest. I had no clue it would have this much affect on me. I took off my shoes and went in
I sat on a cushion and had a mini-panic attack. It was so quiet. I had been in silence for a few hours by now, but in my room, even in the silence, there is noise, a lot of noise. The birds, cars, doors opening and closing, distant chatter, frogs…so many sounds, so much noise. But in the Stupa…nothing, a deep silence that felt suffocating. I started to feel panic rise and then I took a breath. Once I took a breath I heard something in the silence. I heard a fly buzzing and I was instantly okay.
I meditated for a few minutes – I mean, I think I meditated. My eyes were closed and I had taken the seated shape of meditation. I sat tall and tried to sit still. But then I felt it; I felt movement. My breath moved me. With every inhale and each exhale I moved. I opened my eyes. Damn it! I tried again. I started to get annoyed by the hum of the fly and I recognized how good it felt to move even bigger with my inhale and exhale breath. I started to accept the buzz above me again. Then I started to rock my body as if there was music playing. I was rhythmic moving from the pulse of the silence. I opened my eyes. Damn it! I was mad at myself for chasing movement again.
It’s time for stillness, it’s time for meditation, it’s time to practice something other than QiFlow… I tried again. I was so over the damn fly. Oh my God, seriously? Why is this happening to me? I can’t concentrate on meditation with that annoying sound that seems to get louder and louder bouncing off the walls of silence only to chop – buzz by buzz – deeper into my thoughts. And then I took a breath. I moved with my breath. I did a seated twist and then I did three more flowing to the rhythm of the fly above. I then got up and walked around the statue. I took in the beauty of the floor. Each step revealed more and more of the beauty and history I was walking on. I felt the stone floor. I felt the edges, the unevenness…
I was finally ready. I took shape again, closed my eyes and meditated. I meditated for 3 minutes. I had to open my eyes. I opened them, then looked in the statue’s eyes and knew, in that moment, that my meditation, my silence, my retreat that I created for me can only serve me if I make it uniquely mine. I walked out of the Stupa feeling peaceful.
My meditation practice, no matter how ugly, worked. I felt the beauty all around me as I walked the long path back to my room. Every moment of every day you can become someone new. You just have to work on yourself, your way, no one else’s way but yours. I can’t wait to meditate Dawnelle style again tomorrow.
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