top of page

DAY 6 – THE FINAL DAY OF MY SILENT RETREAT

WE HAVE BEEN ALONG FOR THE RIDE. NOW IT’S LOCAL REGISTERED SOCIAL WORKER CATHY MACDOUGALL’S LAST DAY OF SILENCE. 

I awoke today with a sense of fear, sadness and resignation. Fear that it is my last day in silence, and fear that I am perhaps going back to the way things were. I am afraid that I will fall back into old habits even though this week of silence has allowed me to see and feel very clearly the folly of my ways. Sadness is here for the same reasons, but mostly, because I really loved being in silence. It’s like a loss of letting this go…today.

I see that I really like myself, and how I want to be. I do see that I was falling into a pit where I was not being true to who I want to be, who I am. Now I see something different, no more clearly. I like myself when I am being truly myself.  

Moving forward, it is up to me to keep this awareness and make it my life’s challenge to fall into the endless pit…again.  Resignation describes what I feel because I must accept that it’s over; that I have to go to town, back to my life that I really do love.

The biggest challenge will be implementing the changes that I now see I have to make. I said in an earlier entry that when you are in silence, or on your own, there is no one to blame for all the things you do not like in your life. Your reactivity is yours alone. It has become so crystal clear because I no longer just know this cognitively, I feel it. I feel it. Luckily, I do feel empowered to make some internal changes to the dialogue I have with myself. There are influences that may deter my efforts, but it remains up to me to implement the changes I want to make within myself, for myself, and for my relationships to grow in positive ways. Also, for my overall health. I will continue to work with these revelations over my life, I am sure. It will be my ‘effort’ toward my life the kind I want – a life well lived.

I will continue to do more silent retreats. I need them; that’s for sure. I cannot believe that this week has given me what I hoped for, and more. I am motivated to do this more often, especially now that I have spent time on my own in this beautiful sanctuary. As I have mentioned in an earlier entry, I have done silent retreats in the past but with others. Although beneficial, silent retreats with others are a very different experience. For me, engaging in a silent retreat on your own is the most satisfying. If one is up for it, it is revealing on so many levels. Silence is golden!

I am back at home finishing this entry. I immediately remembered how I felt when I left. I feel so much healthier and calmer then I did then, and it was only a week! I will return to the silence, do another silent retreat, perhaps during the winter. I would highly recommend it to anyone. Let fear be a friend, a guide, not an enemy.

To readers:

This is my final entry in the self -imposed silent retreat that I completed for six days. I hope you enjoyed these journal entries, but more importantly to me, I hope that they have provided you food for thought.

I thank those who have taken time to read my entries each week, and to those who have reached out to me to say they read them and looked forward to the next one. Thank you! Music to my ears.

If you are interested in doing a self- imposed period of silence with yourself, it does not have to be complicated. Keep it simple. Here are 12 considerations:

1.      It does not have to be a week. A day of silence, for example, is beneficial. Go off somewhere… an overnight camping experience; rent a cabin; if one lives by oneself, make it silent in your own home/apartment; a day hike with safety in mind. These are just a few ideas.

2.      Make it purposeful. This means that you know that it is going to be silent, and that there is “purpose” to be on your own. To check in with yourself. To focus on yourself. To be responsible for your self. To gather yourself. The science supports this.

3.      Tell others what you are doing and that you need their support. No contact!

4.      Be willing to stay with unpleasant feelings that might arise and be willing to embrace the positives as well.

5.      Be committed to the silence. This means no contact or conversations with anyone, no phone, no radio, no social media, no screens. This is the most important thing! If you do not believe your ready to commit to this, then wait until you are. This is the very basic prerequisite.

6.      Read up on meditation, mindfulness, and the benefits of doing some form of silence. This hopefully will decrease any fears that you might have, which are quite normal. Make those fears less debilitating.

7.      Journal…everyday, mostly about the experiences, not so much the whys

8.      Be out in nature or be surrounded by nature, if possible.

9.      Listen to the silence, and your own self talk.

10.   Do not have a schedule of what you’re going to do, rather let things just arise. Try to go on this adventure with yourself without any expectations, except have the purpose in mind.

11.   If this is difficult to do then, be open to looking at the expectations without acting on them. The same for restlessness and guilt. They are the emotional habits. Habits can be broken.

12.    Be open. Be non judgemental.  Be curious about any judgements that may arise with yourself. Be willing, thus the commitment to stay with the silence and yourself no matter how uncomfortable it may feel.

I will close off with a quote from 13th century Persian poet, Rumi: “The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.”


Zen saying.

 

52 views0 comments
bottom of page