This past weekend I participated in a silent retreat. A facilitator organized the event, it was in a secluded ranch house in the Texas Hill Country. I had my own section of the home and the facilitator organized my meals and activities with me prior to the retreat. I had an itinerary for the entire time, so there was literally no communication necessary once the 48-hr time period began.
The commitment I made going into this retreat was to be technology-free, so no phone, laptop, iPad, and even no reading on a kindle. No radios or speakers to listen to music. No talking or communicating with the other participants or visitors to the home (yoga/breathwork instructors, chefs, facilitator, etc.).
Now you may think that the tech-free part is the hardest part of this endeavor, I know I thought that the first time I considered doing a silent event. However, that is so far from the truth.
The most difficult part of this type of deprivation experience is being with the thoughts, emotions, and feelings that come up for you.
You see, as a developed, civilized society, we have become very distracted with our day-to-day activities. Many of these activities numb us from feeling what’s really going on deep within our core being. When you take away all of the distractions, we have no choice but to face our inner demons.
2020 has been the year of distraction overload. Even if you are already an intentional person in how you spend your time and energy, with all of the craziness this year has brought our way we can’t help but consume some of the distractions being flung our way.
Let’s explore a small yet powerful list of the diversions we’ve experienced this year: the political shit show including all of the nonsense that entails, Rona in all her over-glorified hype, Netflix, social media (even if it’s for work), mindless scrolling of the internet, TV shows, online shopping or shopping in general, even hanging out with friends and family.
Am I saying all of these activities are “bad”?!
No, of course not. None of these things are bad in and of themselves, in fact, many are great and bring about so much joy and happiness i.e. hanging with friends and family.
However, if we’re always running to the next activity and not making any time to be still day in and day out, then we’re neglecting our innate need for stillness and in doing so suppressing many of our basic desires.
When activities dominate your schedule, are you taking time to check in with yourself to ask:
“How am I feeling today?”
“Why am I easily agitated with the people around me?”
“Why is my energy so low lately?”
“What do I need at this moment?”
Our mind, body, and soul are constantly communicating with us, however when we focus 100% of our time on doing all the things, then we are dismissing our being.
This is why being still and practicing some form of mindfulness practice daily is so important.
When we practice silence, we’re honoring our higher selves by simply taking time to listen. Observing what comes up, without judgment or an immediate need to fix it.
We face our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and sit with them.
This practice allows us to observe what arises without attaching to it.
When we can witness our thoughts in this manner, we become aware of them, awareness leads to consciousness, and consciousness empowers us to become intentional about how we want to process these thoughts.
For example, if a thought comes up like “I’m just wasting my time sitting here in silence not doing anything”.
We have many options in handling this thought, let’s breakdown 2 thought processes here:
We choose to identify with this thought.
We believe we are truly wasting our time.
We stop our practice for that day.
Next time we think about practicing mindfulness, we’ll retrieve that belief that it’s a waste of time and we won’t even try it.
You act as an observer. You don’t identify with this thought, therefore aren’t attaching yourself to it.
You simply notice the thought, like a bubble or a cloud in your mind, and allow it to pass.
If the thought refuses to pass, as the observer, you can visualize opening a door in your mind and telling the thought that you’ve opened the door and it can head on out.
If any more thoughts come up that are ruminating, imagine yourself emptying them out through that same door.
Initially, when practicing mindfulness, the thoughts coming up are random. However, with time, some thoughts that come up will be emotional trauma that we have subconsciously held onto.
When this happens, I still play the observer role as often as possible (some emotions are raw and you can’t help but identify with them, and that’s okay). That way I can have a little inner dialogue to help heal the trauma behind this thought.
EX: if the thought that comes up is something like “I have no support and have to do everything on my own” (Yes, I’m giving you some real shit that came up for me in my time being with my thoughts) I like to trace back to the first time I felt this way and address that version of myself.
Usually, when I trace back the emotional thoughts that come up, they’re always tied to a belief developed by a younger version of myself, I call her ‘Little Sara’. So my inner dialogue would be with her and I would talk to her, in the same way, I would talk to my young daughter if she told me she was upset or hurt. I comfort her, and whenever possible, I offer a better more serving thought to replace the painful thought.
While this is a method of self-healing, and I totally believe that for the most part, we can heal ourselves, responsibly I have to add that when we retrieve trauma that is really heavy, it may be necessary to have a guide or therapist to help with navigating and healing it.
The power of healing our old wounds is empowering beyond words. One of the biggest reasons that adults have issues in current relationships or limiting beliefs that keep them from expansion and growth is because of beliefs and unresolved trauma developed from childhood (and if you’re into the woo, in utero and from past lives).
The sooner we discover these wounds and heal them, the better we will be for ourselves, those around us, and the world.
As for the biggest takeaways from my time in silence, a reminder that I am not alone and I do not have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I am enough just as I am. I am more powerful than I know. I am being guided by Source on my unique journey, and a gentle reminder to hold the vision.
Until next time…
Sending you peace and so much love,
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**Note so my lawyer doesn’t have a heart-attack: All the ideas mentioned on this site are my personal opinions based on my life experiences, and are provided for informational and entertainment purposes only. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk. I am not a medical professional.**