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Come along with local registered social worker Cathy MacDougall as she journals her way through her first self-imposed solo silent retreat

Part 2

The idea of journalizing my silent retreat was mine. The idea of writing about this experience and sharing it in the third newspaper was not.

However, the idea stuck with me. It has its obvious risks for me. After some deep reflection around this, I decided that it was a good segue into the world of writing for this grassroots newspaper. Secondly, I decided I might write about things that may open up dialogue with yourselves.

So, for six days I will write about my experiences and share them with you! I will share one day at a time over the next six weeks. It is only my experience so there is no right or wrong. However, if what I write jiggles your own experiences of similar topics that may emerge, please feel free to send me a note. I would love to hear from you.

Day Two

I will begin this entry by saying that this is not my first silent retreat. I have done two with other people, both at a retreat. This is the first I have done at my cabin by myself. The latter already feels different. I believe both are and will be beneficial.

I awoke early but did not get out of bed until approximately 9:30 am, later than I usually do. I went to bed around 8 pm, read until 9:30 or so, when I felt too tired to stay awake. However, I did not fall asleep until about 11pm, a guess on my part since I do not look at clocks very much, especially at night when I cannot sleep. I was very comfy though, and just laid there waiting to fall into a much-needed slumber. I listened to the absolute silence. It is really dark.

I eventually dosed off, unknowingly, and woke up feeling that I did have a good sleep. I felt refreshed. I usually get up shortly after I wake. This day I did not. It was too comfortable! But I did have to convince myself that I didn’t have to ‘get going.’ Old habits do not die quickly. Instead, I read Pema Chodron, whom I love to read. I meditated but only for about ten minutes. Then I became aware of a sense of restlessness. Not unusual. However, I really noticed the familiarity of this restlessness. I have always had this; I can’t remember a time not having this. Having conquered anxiety for the most part, I realize that this restlessness is something much more subtle, perhaps residual from the anxiety, or perhaps habitual? It surprised me when I realized that it’s always been there! How has this impacted me? It’s very true about our habits, good or bad, we do not recognize them.

I decided to stay with the restlessness rather than easing it by jumping up or shaking it. It began to ease somewhat but only for telling myself its ok to be here, doing “nothing.”

I decided to get up around 10am, and I was cognizant that I was, at least, a little more motivated to get back into my daily exercises, which I had not been since May 2023. This gave me hope. I remembered how important it is for me to move. This felt so right.

I ate, another routine I had not been typically doing until mid afternoon. I read, walked, and generally felt increasingly motivated and excited about being here, by myself.

The walk became a wet one as I got caught in some heavy downpours. At first I thought ‘oh s#%t’, but I allowed myself to embrace it. I was too far from home to run, and it was a warm rain, soft and heavy. Turned out that it was a very nice natural cleanse! I felt like taking my clothes off, but I was on the main road, and for the sake of the few cars that passed by me, I decided it might be a dangerous move…for me and them. A couple of cars slowed down but then kept going, hopefully after seeing the smile on my face. It was a great walk and the hot shower when I returned to the cabin was even better! The coup de la ta...icing on the cake! It’s the simple things.

My second day. It was a gooder! I went to bed around 8:30pm and read Demon Copperfield by Barbara Kingsolver until 11. Great book and great author. However, it’s another testament to my need to take stock, and part of the reason I need this retreat. I have been reading this book since June! That is just not right! One must stop to read…get my drift?


· Being on my own is not the same as being alone.

· Retreat is stepping back and stopping, the opposite of pursuit.

· The mind is wonderful thing if you are mindful. It’s the brain that needs to be rewired. Like our bodies, it needs rest. I know that everyone’s need are different, but, even if things are going well, your body knows the score! Listen. (A great resource is the book called The Body Knows the Score by van der Kolk.)

· One of my mottos has always been ‘keep things simple.’ It is so true!

· Lastly, I did not talk to myself as much today.


· Walk in the rain, slowly, and keep things simple.

Until next week….

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