I’ve recently returned from a three-day silent retreat at Gaia House in Devon.
I was last there in 2015 for five days – a long time ago! Whenever I go there, I leave with some insight and intentions.
- We have the answers inside us. We just have to spend time looking within and connecting to the breath and bodily sensations.
- Surrounded by silence and 57 other retreatants, it’s possible to feel totally supported and loved.
- When we speak, we craft how we come across. We perform, we construct our persona. When words are taken away from us, we are ourselves in our purest form. Our true nature shines through.
- Spiritual practice nourishes and grounds me in a way that no other activity can.
- My mind will seek written stimulation wherever possible – intently reading the small print on teabag boxes in the absence of phones, books or the ability to write notes.
- So many of my thoughts are linked to words. Conversations had and imagined, paragraphs of text drafted before pen even hits the paper. These thoughts and plans take me away from the present.
- Stillness allows me to notice the small things. During a standing meditation practice in the gardens, I had the honour of simply watching two mice going about their business collecting grass, ducking in and out through the grass paths and tunnels they’d created.
- I could speak less. The rule of 50/50 in conversations: spend 50% of the time listening, 50% speaking.
- Intense practice opens me up in such a strong way. Lots of emotional vulnerability and increased sensitivity on leaving the retreat.
- Feelings of loving kindness or ‘metta’ towards strangers – compassion towards the farmer who shouted at me when I accidentally trespassed on her land. An opportunity to witness the impact of the exchange on my mind in subsequent meditation practices.
- Create silence where possible. Turn the radio off, enjoy silence in the car when I’m in it on my own
- Awareness of the daily trance – put my phone down
- Sitting or walking practice
- More asana practice
- Get back into the habit of listening to podcasts by Buddhist teachers
- Be kinder to myself. We all make mistakes. Lessen the self criticisms and perceived shortcomings
- Visit Gaia House every year
- Start teaching yoga again…