“My body is busy. Inside, I am still.” Deepak Chopra, from an interview in response to a comment on how busy he is.
Retreat is an interesting word with many associations, both negative and positive. At times, we retreat strategically in relationships. Military advance and retreat. The freeze of fight/flight/freeze allows us to retreat from overwhelming situations. There is space we can clear for ourselves to rest as we retreat from the (over)stimulation of daily life.
A silence retreat is an opportunity to very deliberately take a step back and rest our attention within. When we are very busy, or to be more accurate, we have a very busy thought stream, we can’t deeply rest.
We all intuitively know that rest is beneficial for our nervous system. The structure of our life is often not conducive to deep silence and rest. We need to be intentional about our attention and time for rest.
I wrote about welcoming what is, as a way to work with that reflexive turning away from feeling what makes us uncomfortable. As we remove the obstacles to resting, a natural rest shows up. So much of this is about a stressed nervous system, judging ourselves, and an unfriendly atmosphere within.
It is always helpful to work on multiple supports and from multiple approaches. This week I encourage you to practice silence. This could be for 2 minutes a few times a day. Before you get out of bed, relax your body and notice your breath. As you sit for a meal, take a moment to look at and smell your food. Tune in to your felt experience, using your senses, and notice what is happening in your body.
We long for connection. Especially as children, when we feel isolated, judged, and not seen, we literally experience this as a survival level threat, and do whatever we can to not feel so alone. Often we are not met in our bid for connection. That was then, and we can’t change that. In this moment, we can transform our experience by attending to ourselves.
Sometime this week, join me for our daily meditation practice or listen to a guided practice. Turn off the radio or podcast for ten minutes when you are on your way someplace and simply notice your experience. We can practice mindfulness when we are busy and when we are still.
We are coming to our fourth annual free online silence retreat. I invite you to join us for some or all of it. I will be online with you for 16 of the 24 hours and there will be scheduled breaks for walking in nature, mindful eating, and sleeping. We will do gentle yoga together. Lots of deep relaxation practices. Breathing. Meditation.
Are you interested? Email me so I can include you.