By the time you read this I will be switched off, electronically speaking. No phones allowed at the ‘Zen Bootcamp’ I’m headed to. No phones, no TV’s, no music, no reading of books, not even writing, no external stimulation – silence.
I remember my first silent retreat; the prospect filled me with dread, the fear of being bored, of being out-of-contact, of not knowing what was going on, of missing out on something. But once I settled into the silence, under the layers of boredom and frustration, anger and grief I found the ‘something’ I’d been missing all along.
So now I long for silence, I love and cherish it, I nurture it in my day-to-day meditations and I dive deeply into it on retreat as regularly as having a young family can allow for.
On retreat we draw back from the world so that we can see it, and ourselves, more clearly – like standing back in a gallery to witness the full wonder of a masterpiece. Up too close and we only see the marks and strokes, colours are dulled the beauty of contrast is lost; but on retreating back we widen our view and suddenly beautiful new clarity and focus is revealed. The big picture is right here all the while yet only when we are really here ourselves can we experience it with all of our being.
By turning down the volume of outside distractions internal commentary settles down too. Not at first of course whilst the head-monsters and gremlins are shouting out in protest. Some of them are shaken off violently and others gently dissipate as we let go. We let go and let go some more; who knew there was so much we’d been clinging on to? Layers and layers of it peel away with release and relief, tumbling and falling until we are stripped bare and out of a naked knowing emerges the laughter. I laughed so much on one retreat I thought my ribs might crack, it was as though joy was pouring out of me with such force it could have burst me apart. In a way it did.
By switching off the constant chatter of our inside and outside worlds we learn how to listen. When we listen we can hear the truth of ourselves. In disconnecting we create the breathing space to reconnect.
There’s peace in quiet.
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With love, Frances x