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SILENT RETREAT PART 3

COME ALONG WITH LOCAL REGISTERED SOCIAL WORKER CATHY MACDOUGALL AS SHE JOURNALS HER WAY THROUGH HER FIRST SELF-IMPOSED SOLO SILENT RETREAT

Today I awoke early but felt a little funky. I read and then meditated yet felt still tired. I rolled over, tucked the warm blankets around me and lay there, comfortable but not falling back to sleep. It felt safe.

 It was 11 a.m. and I finally told myself to get up, but not really wanting to. Perhaps it was because it was raining, and I was so comfy. It was “delicious.” That is how I often describe one of those sleeps that when you hit the pillow you’re out, and do not wake, even once, until morning. Eight hours of undisturbed and peaceful sleep!

On this silent retreat, I allow myself about one hour of radio each day. However, this morning I missed Tom Power on CBC Radio’s Q, so I did not turn it on. I did not know that I was going to cook but that’s what I started to do when I got up.  I think watching the Italian lady cook simple meals the night before, my one hour of television, inspired me. Afterwards, I decided to go to the local pub for a drive and to use their wi-fi. I wanted to try to access a writing course that I purchased in May but had not started. I thought a lot about the course I was not getting to because once again I was allowing myself to be highjacked into other peoples’ plans. 

I realize this is one of my biggest stressors. One of the things about a silent retreat with yourself is that the layers start to come off and all these sad but true realizations emerge. You cannot ignore them by being busy, or making the excuses that it really isn’t important. I had to take responsibility for not a making the time to start this course. I am also feeling increasingly awful, guilty, and mad that once again, I am not doing anything I want to do. That is on me.

So, I go to the pub and sit in the parking lot for two hours trying to figure out how to get into this course on my laptop. I thought I had this covered by putting it on stick before I left home. The stick worked but the course content, when I opened it, was bunch of gobbly gook.

One might think this would be a frustrating exercise, but no, I was content and happy. It rained, it was sunny, it rained some more, I saw lots of people coming and going to the liquor store as it is the only business opened. Unfortunately, my efforts did not bring me to my course. However, I began seeing the light as to what I will have to do I when I get back to the city. I will have to carve out time for this, without guilt that I am not working or doing anything of value - not prioritizing.

It’s a theme that has come up time and time again. It’s up to me and only me to fix it! That becomes very clear to me. It is interesting to me that such realizations can be both disturbing and exhilarating. The former is about relinquishing control and the latter is about taking control. The latter is where I want to be. It’s only now that I see that in the past few years, albeit a very gradual process, I have relinquished control.

I now know that this is what’s on the line. With those layers gradually sliding away, I can see, more and more clearly, how unhealthy I was becoming.

So, this is one of the benefits of being on your own. Looking inward at patterns that are harming. When you are on your own, there is nobody around to blame. You do see that things still come up – the good the bad and the ugly. You know, all those things that we have trouble confronting. I am no different. When you choose to be on your own then you must be willing to choose to be with it all, until you get to the bottom of it. It’s what I imagine a big dive into unknown waters would be like – daunting, dark, and daring.

But when you hit bottom and start to come back up and rise to something familiar it is a relief. You see an opening. It’s exhilarating! Once you hit the opening you feel quite proud and rejuvenated that you did it. You also know that you are changed because of the experience. You cannot go back on experience so put it to good use, all of it, the good the bad and the ugly.

Lastly, I finished my book…the one I started in June! Yea!

Insights:

·        Taking a deep dive into yourself can be painful, like diving into cold waters.

·        Frustration comes from not doing rather than doing.

·        Shedding the layers is like digging for something valuable that you may have lost, and you are doing something about it.

·        You may not find it as expected, but you feel better for going on the dig and you may find something unexpected.

Invitation:

·        Go on a deep dive or a little dig.

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