A few weeks ago, I had the luxury of attending a 5-day silent meditation retreat in a location surrounded by luscious trees, rivers and an abundance of wild life. Prior to going to the retreat, I had been experiencing a lot of fatigue and loss of inspiration even though I thoroughly enjoy my work and lifestyle. After recently beginning a vegan home delivery food service in Argentina, I found myself in dire need of an energetic re-boot.
At the beginning of the retreat, I noticed that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The minute I went into meditation, I would immediately fall asleep. If the instructor of the course was talking, I found it hard to stay alert and pay attention without wanting to dose off. However, once the silent period begun which lasted three full days, days in which we were instructed not to talk, read or use the computer or phone, I slowly began to recapture my energy and connection with myself and the world around me.
In the beginning, I was surprised by the obsessive chatter and repetitive thought patterns of my mind. I recall having two predominant worries that week in which I mentally went over them again and again in my mind. Even though there was no action I could take in that moment, whether I had been at home or at the retreat, I couldn’t stop my thoughts and fears from coming. On the one hand, I found it irritating. However, I also realized quickly that this is what human beings do and that if we could incorporate practices into our lives that help us to quiet the mind, our health and state of being would vastly improve.
Eventually, somewhere in the middle of the second day, my mind began to quiet and I began to let go of the worries and stress that I realized I had invented and brought upon myself. I began to accept the beauty of the present moment and to realize that no matter what would happen or not happen in my future, I would never lose my essence or internal being, a powerful part of myself that would always prevail despite my circumstances. The instructor told us that as change is always occurring, there is actually a time limit of about 2.5 days that a person can have the same thought over and over before a change in the mind will have to occur. After that period of time, either the intensity of the thought will change or the worry will begin to disappear or take on a new form. For me, this information provided a bit of relief…especially during a week when I could do nothing but here the constant chatter of my mind.
At the end of the week, after days of observing my mind, spending time in nature, and allowing myself to relax and breathe, I noticed a profound change in my energy, attention span, and connection to everything around me. I experienced a distinct expansion of love within my heart and a deep sense of happiness, unattached to any current circumstance in my life. I also felt reconnected to all of the people and life surrounding me, which lifted me in a way that is hard to describe in words.
When I returned to talking and my day-to-day life, I regained my inspiration and energy and felt a renewed sense of purpose in the work that I do. Just in the past few weeks, I’ve noticed how this has impacted the quality of the service I’m providing to others as well as the way I’m able to approach each of the challenges I face professionally and personally on a daily basis.
Although it is not easy for everyone to take time out of their lives for days of dedicated silence, finding a way to incorporate a bit of time to this practice each day can be tremendously beneficial for one’s health and wellbeing. Even though there are many spiritual leaders who have been telling us this for centuries, until one actually experiences for themselves what silence can provide, it may sound more like a good idea rather then a necessity to living a healthy, energetic and inspired life.
Following the retreat, I did a bit of research and found many websites touting the benefits of silence. Here are a few that I came up with or resonated the most with.
- The opportunity to preserve energy otherwise used for talking
- Time to notice our emotions, feelings and internal state of being which can help us find new clarity and direction in all areas of your life
- A moment of rest which can connect us to the peacefulness of the present moment and alleviate the fears associated with the past and the future
- A reminder that we are human “beings”, not human “doings”
- An opportunity to practice love and acceptance of ourselves, an absolute necessity to living in balance and harmony with the world and environment
The good news is that silence can be practiced in many ways. Meditation, walking in nature, prayer and creative expression are all ways to be in silence. For those that haven’t fully developed their spiritual side, even a bit of quiet exercise time each day, without music or the noise of a gym, can produce wonderful results. My advice is to find a practice that works for you and commit to doing it daily for at least a month to fully recognize its benefits. Once you’ve developed the habit of dedicating time for yourself, it will become easier and easier to continue on a long-term basis. By doing so, I believe that you will notice a greater sense of balance, love, health and connectedness that will alter your experience of life in very positive ways.
Published On: July 29, 2010