About a year ago I went on my first silent retreat – 7 days at Spirit Rock outside of San Francisco. Doing a retreat was part of the requirements for my teacher certification with The Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute – the mindfulness programs that were born at Google.
The silent retreat was one of the hardest and most impactful things I’ve done for my personal and professional growth.
It wasn’t hard for me to not talk (which is weird as talking is a big part of my professional life), but it was hard in unexpected ways. I didn’t expect to be so achy from sitting meditating. We got up every hour, I had every sort of cushion, bolster, and pillow, but I still really hurt. I didn’t expect to get lonely. I’ve travelled a lot by myself, but had never gone this long without talking to my family. It got boring – I’m not used to being so undistracted by outside influences like my phone and Netflix.
I learned more about the nature of my thoughts, and how I deal (or don’t deal) with uncomfortable emotions, than ever before.
I was signed up to do a 10-day loving kindness retreat at Spirit Rock in July. Of course this was cancelled, and the leaders offered a 4-day virtual retreat. At first I thought, ‘how could I do this at home?’ Then I realized this is amazing training for bringing more mindfulness into my everyday life.
I emailed my plan for doing the at-home silent retreat to a friend and here’s what I heard back:
“I can’t imagine doing a silent retreat here at home. I feel guilty enough when I want to drink coffee alone.”
Ahhh… why is it we feel guilty taking time for ourselves? It might be the greatest gift we can give to those we serve and love.
My retreat starts tonight.
Every good wish,
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