A few years ago, during my self-reflection phase (that sounds so silly because if I was really self-aware I would realize that I should always be in a constant state of self-reflection)…anyway, during that time of soul-searching (if you will), I was doing yoga and meditation. That’s how I found myself signing up for a week-long silence retreat. I mean, why not, right?
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it. Like, could I really be silent for a week? Do they really expect us to keep our mouths shut for an ENTIRE week? Well, I booked my plane ticket to Montreal (because that’s where the Ashram that was holding the retreat was located), packed my bags and off I went.
I shared a room with 3 other women. On the first day, it was like camp. The whole place was a buzz with all the meet and greets and excitement for the upcoming week. We were going to meet our guru. They were going to feed us a diet of vegetarian fare and we were going to share in the work (Seva). And there was going to be lots of meditation and yoga and knowledge sharing. I was so excited (are you still with me?) that I signed up for an extra meditation class (because I felt I could be a better meditator and wanted to maximize my time there).
It was an amazing experience. Save for the extra meditation class. Let’s just say, after the retreat, I voiced my concern to some leaders about how I felt about it, which I basically thought was a “meditation-to-go” class. Other than that, everything else was terrific.
While we couldn’t talk after the first day, we did lots of chanting and singing throughout the week. It was truly a cleansing experience. Not just for the mind, but body as well because of the vegetarian diet. We only drank water and tea. I met some wonderful people and gained tons of knowledge. There were a lot of feelings that came up about a myriad of things, and can you imagine, I couldn’t share them with anyone! Not.One.Single.Person. I had to live with those feelings and work them out myself for the entire mother-truckin’ week! But, I made it and it was AWESOME.
I can’t say that I remained a vegetarian or that I have a solid meditation practice (the truth is, I’m not and I don’t). But, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I’m so glad I went. It taught me to be still and really look inside myself. It gave me self-awareness and brought a kind of joy I had not experienced before, especially being among a group of strangers. There were groups of friends, couples, and families (they have classes for teens and kids) there, but I intentionally wanted to do this alone. And, I’m glad I did. I’m sure my experience would have been good if I didn’t go alone, but it would have been different. I loved it so much, I would love to go to a month-long retreat. Yikes! Who’s in?