COMMUNICATION: Not just talk.
Two years ago this May, I attended a silent retreat. I was excited to reboot myself after the insane scheduled life I had to live for those last six months, that included a full time job, night school and an internship on the weekends. This ashram/spiritual retreat center is located a little north of Dallas and rests on 200 acres of land run by monks and nuns with the residence of a living enlightened master. SOLD. Actual space and time for me to sit and be. I knew that being completely silent for a few days would be a challenge, but I saw this as a opportunity for me to be able to work through any and all challenges I had faced in the last few months that my busy schedule just wouldn't allow me.
I was wrong.
I arrived to the retreat to check in around 6pm. As I pull up, I see a couple people wandering around and a few others dressed in all white. First thought? Uh oh, I've joined a cult. As I enter the main house I must fill out my paperwork and sit with the master. They told me that I could speak for the evening and start my vow of silence in the morning. I was shown my room and told that the evening mantra would start in 30 mins and then we would have dinner. (By the way, the morning and evening mantras were by far my favorite part of this retreat.) At dinner, I met the others attending. We were all doing different retreats. Fasting, chakra balancing, meditation, detoxing/breaking addiction, awakening of the soul. I was the only one doing the silent retreat. That night I watched the sun set on the beautiful, rolling hills of this peaceful space before I fell asleep.
Day 2 & 3:
6:30am - mantra
7:00am - breakfast
9:30am - yoga
12:00pm - Lunch
2:00pm - Tea time
6:00pm - Mantra
6:30pm - Dinner
Being silent with other people was a difficult challenge, but it wasn't for the reasons I had first believed. I had paper to write on, but I realized that conversations moved too fast and changed course too quickly for me to be able to write something that would actually contribute to the conversation. So when they would take a pause to allow me to add my two cents I had to think: What am I really trying to say? What kind of weight do my words actually carry? Am I truly listening or am I just waiting for my turn to speak?
As you can see in the itinerary, I had plenty of time to myself to think about practically anything. I didn't. I only thought about what I wasn't allowed to do. Talk. Express. Connect. Communicate.
Instead of thinking about all the heartache and struggles I had encountered in the previous months, I was only worried about this present moment of silence. At first, I was frustrated that I wasn't utilizing my time the way I had PLANNED, but then realized that I was practicing mindfulness and was able to be present. Though it was uncomfortable, I was here right now
I left on that fourth morning, refreshed and renewed in ways I hadn't expected to be. As I drove back to Austin, I collected my thoughts and lessons that I had acquired in such a short amount of time. It was this drive back that I made some promises...
I promise to be more mindful of my communication/connection with my fellow humans. To remember that my/our words carry weight and meaning. To be aware of what I am trying to express. To listen and be present for all conversations. Not to just wait for my turn to talk, but truly hear the words of others.
Not only that, but I want/need you to know that communication with my clients is at the top of the list of importance. I will be present with you as you explain what ails you. I will listen to what you need and provide the most authentic work I am capable of. In return, I will express and offer my support as you take these steps on a your journey of healing.
These are still difficult practices I work on everyday. This will be one of my life-long lessons. For more information or maybe you just need someone to hear you. If so, I am here.
Much Love ~