My first Silent Retreat - Part 1
Have you ever thought about spending 5 days in complete silent? Do you think you could manage it?… I thought it would just be impossible for me some time ago…
One of the prerequisites of the MBSR Teacher training is to attend a 5 days silent retreat. So I’ve chosen to do it the first week of January in Germany. As a good start of the year!
When I mentioned that to my friends and family they asked me “but what you gonna do with a group of people if you can’t talk?!!!”.
I think we are so used to be surrounded by noise, that we forget how precious and healthy could be the silence, but to be honest I was also curious about this experience… I thought it would be nice to share my experience of my first silent retreat.
First of all, there are some rules that you need to follow:
no talking during 5 days;
silent breakfasts, lunches, and dinners;
phone switched off (and you can give the number of one of the teachers in case of emergency, if someone needs to reach you during your retreat, that can give you at least some “peace”);
it’s recommended to not read during the retreat;
it’s recommended to not do exercise during the retreat;
no music listening.
So, you gonna ask me “but what did you do for 5 days?!”
Our days were rhythms and well organized. We were mainly meditating from the morning to the evening (7 am to 9pm). We had sitting meditations, walking meditations, body scans and mindful movements.
Every day we also had a group walking in silence, with some stops to bring our awareness to our senses. For instance, “stop and seeing”, “stop and hearing”, “stop and smelling”. That was really powerful to do this walking in a group in complete silence.
We also had some lectures from the teacher who guided the retreat. Again another interesting experience to hear a lecture and not ask any questions.
The first evening, my mind was a bit like this picture: a full mess. I could not stop my mind jumping from a thought to another one. We call this type of mind: the Monkey Mind and I fully agree with this expression !
So, the first night, I took a pen and a notebook and I wrote whatever I had in mind…It helped me a lot. I did the same the following morning and I continued to do it during the week each time I had a creative idea or something that I wanted to remember at the end of the retreat.
Notice your thoughts and "let it go".
The place where we stayed was perfect for this type of retreat. We were closed to nature and we could walk in nature every day. The little park of the residence was also a little paradise. Nature is so precious.
The first morning I was shared between 2 emotions:
excited like a kid, the first day of school, curious to know who will be his teacher and friends during the next year; I had the same feeling, impatient to start this experience;
but I was also a bit anxious or scared about what I could discover during these 5 days, and about which emotions would pop up and with which intensity.