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I stared at the question and tried to formulate an answer, but my mind was empty like my energy.
The question was simple: Please tell us something about yourself, and why you are motivated to participate in a retreat at this time?
I didn’t have an answer.
I can write a children’s book about my life. But the other side of the question, why I’m interested in taking a vow of silence and meditation for 7 days? I didn’t have an answer.
I still don’t and I’m a couple of days from departure.
All I know is I feel tired, I’m having a hard time concentrating, and my memory is as fleeting as a cat on catnip.
So, taking a drive down to Colorado, where I will spend the next seven days in silence and meditation doesn’t sound like torture (as some expressed when I shared what I’m doing), it sounds like Tahiti in the slow season.
Gaining peace of mind and having less stress is a side-effect of meditation.Darius Foroux
One reason I am interested in a 7-day silent meditation retreat is that it’s on my life list.
Well, a meditation retreat is on my life list. I only slotted a day for silence, not a week.
I lacked the guts to type that in their questionnaire. But I dumped all my other personal and professional issues into their inviting blank boxes.
A few months ago, I completed a day of silence and marked another item off my list. It was harder and easier than expected. By the end of 24-hours, I felt many things. What I remember was an adrenaline rush at the ability to make sounds and people understanding what those sounds meant.
No more haphazard sign language or poorly choreographed charades. I could say something with little effort and energy and like magic, it’s understood.
For days afterward, talking felt different. It was a privilege of sound. It felt powerful, like a gift from the gods.
I miss that feeling.
So, I’m paying a 1k to get it back.
Meditate, Not Frustrate
I enjoy meditating in a less power-grabby sort of way.
One of the easiest and most achievable stress-relieving techniques is meditation, a program in which you focus your attention inward to induce a state of deep relaxation.Harvard Health
I have dabbled in the quiet halls of meditation for years. At the peak of my practice, I was doing a couple 15-minute rounds a day.
Since the questionnaire and subsequent guilt, I have ratcheted that up to 45 minutes.
Finding time to do that was hard. Instead of trying to squeeze time it into a jam-packed evening, when I have little energy and less time, I started waking up at 5 am.
I’m now, officially, a weirdo that wakes up at 5 am to meditate. Have I been falling asleep by the end?
It’s 5 am! Most sentient beings are sleeping at 5 am!
Bye, Bye Comfort Zone!
I prefer to think of myself as a boss babe who gives no thoughts or cares to comforts zones, but that’s a lie.
I like my comfort zone.
It’s easy to stay at home where it’s warm, has all my favorite food and the reviews are great (5 out of 5!).
Driving 12 hours, down to Colorado, during winter to stay at a place that has 4 out of 5 stars where I will participate in a program where I have little experience is about as comfortable as sleeping on a mountainside naked.
Truthfully, few things are in my comfort zone. Joining the Navy, Tough Mudder, and leaving the house pushes me outside the warm place of homey comfort.
I do it anyways.
The sage at 1500 Days to Freedom sums it up nicely, “Unless your dream is to watch TV and eat Cheetos, comfort zones are where dreams go to die.”
I don’t want to be a TV-Cheeto champion.
Speeding past the limits of a comfort zone means growth. Sometimes it’s slow and surprising. Other times it’s painful and quick like a pimple.
Either way, I feel the claws of fear and have visions of scary possibilities.
But, I do it anyways.
Bad things could happen but never doing is far more painful.
I did that once.
I didn’t do what I wanted with opportunities that came up in the Navy including learning to SCUBA dive. I waited for others to join and when they didn’t, I let the opportunity pass by.
The pain of regret has lasted longer than any fleeting fears.
Besides, I have a life list to accomplish in T-minus 15 years! I have to start somewhere, and this seems more realistic than visiting Antarctica or viewing a solar eclipse.
7-Day Silent Meditation Retreat
As of late, I have been practicing more deep breathing.
It could be the holiday stress or the list of things I want to accomplish before I leave, or it could be all of the above plus option E: living during a pandemic.
Either way, I have been breathing deeply. I pull air down into my stomach and make it fill like a balloon.
When I don’t focus on deep breathing, I tend to take shallow breaths that cram oxygen into the confines of my chest. Breathing deeper tends to open up awareness. I feel a tightness in my shoulders and a subtle tension that sits tightly like a wound snake. I don’t intend to carry this poisonous stiffness throughout my day, but a deep breath releases the mindless pressure.
Perhaps, that is why I’m ready to dump my worries and woes and drive off to a 7-day silent meditation retreat like a carefree hippy in a VW van, I just need to breathe.