Getting the Silent Treatment
A week ago, I was able to keep my yap shut for 63 straight hours. I had to.
When a couple of friends told me three years ago about their experience going on a silent retreat, I said I’d be interested if they’d ever want to do it again. Well, a little pandemic got in the way, but we finally did it.
Talk about self-discipline! It’s surprising how many times you want to ask a question, make a joke, or ask an opinion during the course of a day—especially when you’re spending it with two great friends. But beyond the initial awkwardness, it was a very rewarding experience.
I wasn’t worried about being smart, funny, on the clock, judged or hassled by deadlines. In fact, every minute—outside of meals and two daily meditation sessions—my time was my own. Any way I wanted to fill it was my choice—except that we couldn’t watch any TV, listen to music or have any outside media. That’s a bit of a change. Even on vacation, we tend to peek a little now and then.
We were in California, near Joshua Tree, in the desert. We took some long walks in the desert. Walking anywhere is good mental time. Your mind can wander as well as your feet. It was a nice break, as the desert doesn’t have any politics, which was a good thing based on recent headlines.
I wanted to do some focused thinking about some business issues, and it was surprisingly easy to let loose and fill multiple pages of notes. I’m certain that I couldn’t have been as productive in small windows of thought, especially if interrupted incessantly by emails.
They had a few books lying around the house we rented. They were an eclectic mix of rock-climbing books (we were at the base of a mountain), modern mysteries, classics and a collection of Reader’s Digest Notable Quotes. I was looking for a little inspiration on this trip and I unexpectedly found some of it through the eyes of others.
If you’d like to hear more about my experience, feel free to reach out. You might want to try a silent retreat sometime. I guarantee that it will take you out to the edge of your relationship with yourself. Interesting territory!
“No man is the whole of himself; his friends are the rest of him.”
—Harry Emerson Fosdick
“Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.”
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
“Failure is an event, never a person.”
—William D. Brown
And one bonus thought...
“When mountain meets sky, it’s a stark contrast, but still seems harmonious.”