“Our spirit has an instinct for silence. Every soul innately yearns for stillness, for a space, a garden where we can till, sow, reap, and rest, and by doing so come to a deeper sense of self and our place in the universe. Silence is not an absence but a presence. Not an emptiness but repletion. A filling up.”
~ Anne D. LeClaire
When I first began leading silent daylong mindfulness retreats a few years ago, I was met with blank stares as I invited students to attend. “I don’t think I can be silent for a whole day!” I heard again and again. And as a few brave students tried it out, they said nervously at the start of the day “my partner/sister/mother/friend doesn’t think I can do it.” At the end of the day, those same students, so nervous at the start, were looking forward to the next day of silence.
As a part of my personal practice, I have attended a couple of silent meditation retreats each year, spanning from 3 – 7 days. There is a real settling in as one lets go of the external noise of conversation, not to mention media, and all of the other stimulus we typically are plugged into. At first, we notice how truly busy our minds are. Then through the practices, we begin to slow down. We become present to our breath, to our body, to the natural beauty around us. Through the practice of silence, mindfulness of the present moment begins to arise naturally, opening us to the possibility of aliveness, calm, and acceptance of this moment as it is.
It has now been a few years of leading silent day retreats, and I have begun to notice a shift when I talk about silence as a part of the retreat experience. I started seeing interested and curious faces rather than just blank stares. I have even had students asking if I would lead a full weekend silent retreat. Now that more people have experienced the value of silence as a practice on their yoga and mindfulness journey, they are eager for more.
This summer, I am leading another weekend long retreat on the Hood Canal, at the lovely Harmony Hill Retreat Center, and I have decided to use a longer period of silence to deepen practice for all of us. We will maintain silence from Friday at bedtime until Sunday morning. This will be an opportunity for a deep dive inward, unplugging, settling into silence and practice, taking time for stillness and contemplation. Time for questions and discussion with me will be available to support your practice.
If you are eager to deepen your mindfulness practice, I invite you to join me in this time for moving inward. Through a balance of scheduled and unscheduled time, guided yoga and meditation practices, time to rest, be in nature, and delve into a full day of silence, we will practice connecting with and embodying our inner wisdom.
If you are new to mindfulness or new to the silent retreat experience, I invite you to be courageous and dive in. All levels of experience welcome.
“The quieter we become, the more we can hear.” – Ram Dass