I was recently able to attend a retreat with some dear friends and teachers on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. Having lost my beloved father unexpectedly in January and moving a mile a minute since, I was both looking forward to and apprehensive about willingly plunging myself into deep silence that retreat can offer.
For those in the back, just a reminder that the practice of meditation does not mean an obliteration of thought. It can mean the awareness of thought, the endless chatter of the mind. I thought that I’d most likely spend 4 days deeply grieving the loss of my father writhing on the meditation space floor in sobs.
How wrong was I! Time and time again I love how the practice will show me just what I need when I need it. Yes, I did have a deep grief moment but on the whole my experience was very renewing, affirming and grounding. It is hard to capture in words but it finally feels like my brain and body are back in my own body after a year plus of intense caregiving of my elderly parents culminating in the untimely death of my father.
How, you may ask, can sitting in silence at retreat be useful? Or better, yet, “I could NEVER do that!” Trust me, I didn’t think I could either. Even after practicing on/off for 12 years I went into this retreat skeptical of my own practice or lack thereof. But what I was reminded is, there is a deep coming home-ness to sitting in silence. By choosing to explore the depths of whatever may come up in deep silence, I was able to come home to myself. Again.
And that is the beauty of meditation. It is a wonderful way to meet right now right here this butt on this floor again and again and again. It is humbling and expansive all in one.
If you’ve been curious about silent retreats, I say go for it. If you’re not quite ready know that the right time will present itself and a commitment to coming home to you is a great place to start. May you be happy, may you be healthy and may you be free of suffering.