It sounded so relaxing and introspective in theory. A whole weekend not speaking, not watching television, no texting, no emailing and no scrolling through social media. Two days to unplug but recharge personally.
I had considered it in my original imaginings of my #50for50 because I’ve never done a silent retreat. The idea was solidified when I found out that my friend, Cameron Kempson, had a Soul Care Retreat kit that would help me DIY.
Her kit includes journal and prayer prompts. Herbal Tea. Finger labyrinths (did you know there was such a thing?). A journey box including Bible verse cards, prayer beads (I’m not Catholic so this was something new and fun for me), a candle and other accessories (in my case a wooden heart and a feather). Art supplies. Plus her new book, Growing Grace: A Book of Psalms Celebrating Creation.
In other words a lot of inspiration to help me create a soul enriching 48 hours.
I picked last weekend since Mike was out of town so I thought it would be easier and less expensive for me just to stay at home. That way the dogs didn’t have to have a sitter. It seemed so win-win.
I knew it was going to fudge a little on the silence because I went to the late showing of Dumbo on Friday night with my friends Roni and Chris. So by the time I said goodbye to them it was after midnight and technically already Saturday.
I also soon realized the dogs were not going to let me stay silent. I was surprised to discover that they had no clue what I meant when I clapped or whistled or nodded or pointed. I guess the fact I had trained them with my voice meant I still had to use it to keep them in line.
Not that a little break in my silence was going to keep me from achieving my goals.
I had a list of intentions. Meditation time. Prayer time. Art. Yoga. Food. And some house work to clean up spaces I knew would help me clear my mind.
I learned I have to have a structure even when its supposed to be rest and contemplating my belly button.
The hours ticked by slowly. Which felt decadent. Just sitting and meditating. Just writing in my journal. Just watching a blue jay out the front window.
In comparison when I’m not on a silent weekend and on my phone searching for the best swim goggles I can easily and quickly waste 45 minutes. Maybe not even buy anything.
But when you have nothing but two needy dogs and your own mind to distract you time passes differently.
You notice smells (I did have a essential oils diffuser working to add ambience). You hear sounds. My neighborhood was abuzz that weekend with people mowing, kids playing outside, and best of all the birds were singing their hearts out.
In addition to experiencing time differently I also experienced eating from a unique perspective. Alone, at my dining room table with no distractions.
Me and a plate of food.
Ok so the cardinal who came and rested on the windowsill then proceeded to watch me was a distraction.
A happy one. The food tasted better because I was paying attention and I felt full quicker than normal.
The other thing that seemed more noticeable was hearing my own thoughts. I hear them regularly but I think I try and drown them out with other things. Especially any thoughts about emotional pain or unresolved issues.
Instead I listened to whatever surfaced, and wrote or prayed about it. Self-forgiveness was top of mind. I also thought a lot about turning 50.
Allowed myself to shed regrets over who I have yet to become and embrace hope over how far I have come.
I’m not crying, you’re crying.
I’d love to tell you that with all this time, good intentions, listening to myself think, and only eating when I was hungry that I completely changed myself over the weekend.
Not so much.
I still had a temper tantrum on my younger male dog for ripping the other dog’s bed to shreds because I had closed the door to do yoga. He got bored, maybe a little anxious. For that I was not at all silent.
I am hoping in fact that the neighbors didn’t hear me.
I also felt bored and lonely some of the weekend because I am obviously pretty addicted to feeling “connected”.
Overall it was a very positive learning experience. Another #50for50 completed.
I won’t be repeating the experience however as my mother, who took my efforts to be silent so seriously she refused to text me, from the hospital on Friday or Saturday while my dad was being treated for a series of small strokes. I found out on Monday evening and although reassured he was home and doing well I was convicted (read: guilted) that if I need quiet time I should make clear to all my loved ones (especially aging parents) I want to be “interrupted”.
So maybe I’ll do quiet not silent. Either way I think its the intention that produces the results.